Category Archives: Crime

Small Great Things- Jodi Picoult


Synopsis

When the baby of .a white supremacist dies fingers point to black nurse Ruth who had been banned from caring for the child.

Review

I was excited about reading ‘Small Great Things’ as I generally really enjoy what Picoult writes, but I was also a little unsure. For a white author to write in the voice of a black woman could be problematic, I was concerned about stereotypes, or just that generally the character wouldn’t be right. Thinking about it more I thought that maybe I shouldn’t be concerned about it, after all part of Picoult’s writing is about people who aren’t herself. She can never be a black woman, but then she can never be a male lawyer with epilepsy either, or a child who speaks to God (or at least she can’t be that and a teenage witch, school shooter, abused teenager, abused child, suicide victim) so why shouldn’t she be able to imagine the voice of a black woman?

Whether she wrote an actual realistic representation of a black woman, I can’t say, but I didn’t think that it was stereotypical, and I did think that an interesting view was put on racism which seemed rather empathic. Whether she was actually a believable character is a bit of a moot point, because Picoult definitely did a good job of highlighting, sometimes unnoticed, elements of prejudice and racism.

What I was more surprised about was how Picoult managed to make the voice of the white supremacist a voice which couple be understood and sympathised with- beyond simply as the voice of a man who had lost his child. It wasn’t so much that you could understand why he was racist as you could see how someone could fall into that life.

There was one part of the story which I did find hard to believe, and I don’t think it was really needed. Maybe Picoult just wanted a twist at the end. I won’t say what it was because of spoilers.

I found when I started writing this review that ‘Small Great Things’ is being made into a film– lets hope a better job is made of it as there was on ‘My Sister’s Keeper.’

4//5

Buy it:

Paperback (£2.99)

Kindle (£4.99)

Hardback (£4.99)

Other Reviews:

Annette’s Book Stop

So Many Books, So Little Time

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

Did I miss your review? Leave me a link in comments and I will add it here

Leave a comment

Filed under Contempory, Crime, Fiction review

Double Dexter- Jeff Lindsey



Double Dexter is the sixth novel in the Dexter Series.

Synopsis (from amazon)

Everyone’s favourite serial killer is back and deadlier than ever…

A witness. Such a simple concept – and yet for Dexter Morgan, a perfectly well-disguised serial killer, the possibility of a witness is terrifying. As an upstanding blood-spatter analyst for the Miami Police, Dexter has always managed to keep the darker side of his life out of the spotlight. An expert at finding truly bad people – murderers who’ve long escaped justice – Dexter has long been giving them his own special brand of attention.

But now someone has seen him in the act. Dexter is being followed, manipulated and mimicked, leading him to realise that no one likes to have a double – especially when his double’s goal is to kill him.

Dexter is not one to tolerate such displeasure … in fact, he has a knack for extricating himself from trouble in his own pleasurable way.

Review

I’ve recently finished watching Dexter on netflix which made me want to read more of the series (which I hadn’t read so far because of the size of my to be read pile) so I borrowed ‘Double Dexter’ from the library. The TV series is pretty much a completely story to the books, so one doesn’t spoil the other, although if you try to compare them it just makes you annoyed that the TV series is so different, and that I suppose is what made me want to keep reading the books. The TV series is good, as a TV series, just not as an adaptation.

In ‘Double Dexter’ Dexter is, well, different. He gets seen and that puts Harry’s Code under threat, because he has to deal with this new threat.

One thing I really feel shows skill when it comes to Jeff Lindsey’s  writing is how he makes the reader actually feel sympathy with Dexter. It makes some sort of sense in the other books because the people who he murders are murderers themselves, it’s a sort of vigilante justice. That isn’t true in Double Dexter, because the person who he is trying to kill did nothing criminal- he just saw Dexter at his work. However we still feel sympathy for Dexter.

One thing though I tend to get with the Dexter books (and I have mentioned it before) is that sometimes Dexter seems very slow. I’m not sure if that is just that I’m cleverer than Dexter, or if there has become a certain predictability with the books.

This one though is the first time I’ve got frustrated with Dexter for other things. Like how he expects Rita just to have the dinner on the table. Sort of sexist. Except is he sexist or is he just single minded? Because it’s always been like that does he just not question that maybe it shouldn’t be like that?

3/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.74)

Kindle (£5.99)

Leave a comment

Filed under Crime, Fiction review

Circ- Various Authors


Disclaimer: I was given this book free of charge (by the publisher) in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from amazon)

Razvan Popescu lives in a flat overlooking the seaside town of Skegness. He keeps himself to himself and few know the man at all. Even fewer know his past, which he has tried to leave behind in the Romanian woods.

But when a tattooed man is found murdered on the beach, it is clear that some of that past has followed him to this tacky seaside town. As battle erupts within the criminal fraternity, dark forces gather around the town and Popescu’s acquaintances find themselves dragged into a world of violence, fire and fairy tales.

One thing is certain: the circus has come to town.

Ten To One is a novel writing project in which ten authors write a novel together, seeking the approval of a judging panel and a public vote to keep their character in the story.

Circ, the first Ten To One novel, is written by Simon Fairbanks, Maria Mankin, Yasmin Ali, Jason Holloway, Livia Akstein Vioto, Luke Beddow, Danielle Rose Bentley, William Thirsk-Gaskill, Sue Barsby and Giselle Thompson.

Review

The main reason I agreed to review this book is because of the concept. I was interested to see how a story could be pulled off with so many different authors, when the author changed not just from chapter to chapter but within chapters. And where nobody really knew where the story was going t go, because they didn’t know when they would loose different stories. Of course it would mean working together, and knowing each others plans for the characters.

I had had the concern that the story wouldn’t be very cohesive, that the writing styles of the different authors would be too different. It gelled much better than I had dared hope though. The first chapter, admittedly, took me about the same amount of time to read as the rest of the book as a whole. I think that was just because so many characters needed to be introduced, it was a lot to be crammed into one chapter. From the second chapter on however things continued to get better, until I was enthralled by the end.

As you would expect from a novel where characters were voted out some stories remained somewhat unfinished, and I would have liked to see what would have happened to some of the characters later. I think that shows good writing though, that I became interested in the characters.

The story itself was sometimes a little strange, which may be due to the nature of the peculiar writing process. However it was exciting, and had a lot of twists (not shocking really as even the authors could be sure what they would get). It kept me reading, and at times on the edge of my seat.

I am interested to find out more about the writing process, so to that end I’m hoping to get to the Separated By a Common Language event to see what I can find.

4/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£3.09)

Paperback (£7.99)

2 Comments

Filed under Contempory, Crime, Fiction review

Dexter is Delicious- Jeff Lindsey


Dexter is Delicious is the fifth book in the Dexter series. You can read my reviews of the previous books using the Jeff Lindsey tag

Synopsis (from amazon)

Everything’s changing for our friendly neighbourhood serial killer. As if getting married wasn’t enough to complete his nice-guy persona, Dexter is now the proud father of a baby girl. And disconcertingly, he actually seems to care. But even if fatherhood is distracting Dexter from his midnight excursions to rid Miami of a few more lowlifes, there’s no let-up at work. Two young girls are missing – and it’s not long before one of the bodies turns up, partially eaten. But as Dexter and Miami PD’s finest investigate, Dexter can’t shake the feeling that somebody’s watching him…

Review

Dexter is Delicious is probably the most disturbing book so far of the Dexter series. It’s kind of sick, and even the title makes me remember and shudder a bit. It’s strange because it’s not like there aren’t other gruesome crimes in Dexter books, chopping up and freezing body parts is probably the least gruesome, cuttings off parts of someone’s body whilst they are concious is a particularly cruel way to go, and the idea of body parts and death as art is not without its gruesome factor either.

Maybe it’s the nature of the death. It wasn’t exactly intended as something violent or something to kill someone, it was more like survival in some weird twisted way. Plus there was a sexual element (something between necrophilia and some sort of sexual fascination with death) which is just uggh.

It wasn’t violet as in violent for the sake of violence is what I suppose I am trying to say, but in a way that made things worse.

It’s also however part of what made Dexter is Delicious more interesting to me. It was sort of intriguing. I also liked seeing a bit more of a human Dexter, and how he was squaring his ‘human’ side with his ‘monster’ side.

4/5

Buy from an indie store (via Hive):

Paperback (£7.99)

e-book (£5.49)

Buy from amazon:

Paperback (£5.99)

Kindle (£5.49)

1 Comment

Filed under Crime, Fiction review

The Silkworm- Robert Galbraith


The Silkworm is the second book in the Cormoran Strike series

Synopsis (from amazon)

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days – as he has done before – and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realises. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives – so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him.

Review

After really enjoying the first Cormoran Strike book I was rather excited for the second. In terms of excitement it was probably a bit higher than The Cuckoo’s Calling, although it took a little longer to set off. However it missed a certain something which The Cuckoo’s Calling had, something which I struggle to put my finger on, but which made the book less easily readable.

Maybe it was that in The Cuckoo’s Calling Cormoran was working completely on his own theories. As far as the police were concerned it was s done deal- as it were, whereas in this one Cormoran was still trying very much to work on his own and use the same theories but he was investigating something a the same time as the police. It felt more like he was snubbing the police, and that he didn’t think they were good enough. He could have worked with them but he kept information from them. I get that he was being paid a fee, and I get that they didn’t agree on certain elements, but maybe if a bit of information sharing went on there would have been able to work together.

He was certainly still clever, and Robin was still very much his right-hand woman. There were still lots of twists and turns. It still kept me on the edge of my seat. I still really enjoyed it. There was a certain sense of ‘this is an adult novel’ about it. There was a particularly graphic scene, which did add something to the story, but was also rather brutal. There was lots of sex, which didn’t always add something.

4/5

Buy it from an Indie store (via Hive):

Hardback (£15.60)

On CD (£25.18)

Buy it from amazon:

Kindle (£6.99)

Hardback (£9.99)

Other Reviews:

Alison McCarthy

Recovering Potter Addict

Mama Kucing Books and Ravings

The Eye of Loni’s Storm

 

1 Comment

Filed under Contempory, Crime, Fiction review

Dexter By Design- Jeff Lindsey


Dexter By Design is the fourth book in the Dexter series. You can find my reviews for the previous books here.

Synopsis (from amazon)

Being a blood spatter analyst who hates the sight of blood has always made Dexter’s work for the Miami PD tough. But it means he’s very neat when it comes to his out-of-hours hobby: murder. Of course, the fact Dexter only kills bad people helps too.

Now Dex is facing a disturbing situation. He’s used to blood at work, and blood when he’s out with the dark passenger (the voice that guides him on his deadly outings). But he’s not sure what to make of the man who says blood is art. Using bodies as his canvas, someone is out there expressing themselves in the most lethal and painful of ways.

Review

I’ve started watching the TV show of Dexter recently. I was under the impression that each series followed one book (I couldn’t have been more wrong as it turned out…but that’s a post for another time), so I had decided to let myself watch up to series 4, but no further until I had read the next book. So as I was drawing to the end of series three I bought book four- Dexter By Design.

The previous book, Dexter in the Dark had been disappointing for me. I’m used to Dexter books having certain qualities and Dexter in the Dark was low on those qualities.

With Dexter by Design it certainly picked up again. Back to the strange and rather gruesome murders- this time with murders as ‘art’. All I can say is be prepared to get grossed out! In particular one of the first scenes seems really…oh I’m just shuddering thinking about it.

As it so often seems Dexter had attracted some attention from the killer (doesn’t it seem strange that other killers seem to recognise Dexter but ‘normal’ people don’t?). So, with a new family, should Dexter be more cautious?

It’s the usual fast pace that I expect from Dexter, but there is also a more emotional element which we didn’t get in the past. I suppose you could say we can see Dexter growing.

Actually possibly the best Dexter I’ve read so far.

4/5

 Buy it (from amazon):

Paperback (£5.59)

Kindle (£5.49)

Other reviews:

Book Sanctuary

Did I miss your review? Leave a link in comments and I will add it

2 Comments

Filed under Crime, Fiction review

The Cuckoo’s Calling- Robert Galbraith


Synopsis (from amazon)

When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts, and calls in private investigator Cormoran Strike to look into the case.

Strike is a war veteran – wounded both physically and psychologically – and his life is in disarray. The case gives him a financial lifeline, but it comes at a personal cost: the more he delves into the young model’s complex world, the darker things get – and the closer he gets to terrible danger . . .

Review

Ok, everyone know it, but we can’t not mention it can we? Robert Galbraith is J.K Rowling. She always said she wanted to have a pen name and write crime after Harry Potter.

Would I have read it if I didn’t know it was J.K. Rowling? Probably not. For one thing until it was leaked that The Cuckoo’s Calling was written by J.K it wasn’t an especially well known book, for another I don’t read that much crime.

The person who ‘discovered’ the truth said that it was because they could recognise J.K’s style of writing. I certainly could see her style, especially in the opening to The Cuckoo’s Calling. I don’t know if I would have noticed if I didn’t already know Galbraith and Rowling were one and the same, however. Unless I approached every crime novel released post-Harry as having the potential to be written by J.K

One more thing, before I get to the actual review. I kept hearing an Audible advert for The Cuckoo’s Calling on Spotify before I read this. Anyone else find that really off putting? It almost made me not want to read it.

I did like The Cuckoo’s Calling, you know. It was rather compulsive reading. There were lots of twists, and the end was unpredictable, I might even go as far as to says it seemed impossible…except it wasn’t! It’s rather memorable too, I was trying to think of what I wanted to write in this review (I’m about 10 books behind…I think I need a bloggiesta…), and little bits kept resurfacing in my memory- although nothing specific that I want to mention.

There was one little thing that annoyed me. There were moments when strange specifics were put in, like the names of pubs, or even the beer that Cormoran was drinking, they weren’t important to the story, maybe they were meant to make things more authentic, but I began to think that the series had been sponsored by Doom Bar (and I can tell you it doesn’t stop in The Silkworm either)

4/5

Buy it from an Indie Store (via Hive):

Paperback (£7.11)

Hardback (£12.75)

 Buy it from amazon:

Kindle (£2.79)

Paperback (£3.85)

Hardback (£14.95)

Other reviews:

Recovering Potterholic

The Eye of Loni’s Storm

Quirky Bookworm

Alison McCarthy

Books By Rotten

8 Comments

Filed under Contempory, Crime, Fiction review

The Pre-Raphaelite Seamstress- Amita Murray


Disclaimer: I was given this book free of charge, by the author, in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis (from amazon)

It is the 1860s, and Rachel Faraday is trying to follow in the footsteps of the Pre-Raphaelite artists. Struggling to make a living, in a world that looks down on female traders, she paints her fabrics in the colours and styles of the artists and sells them to wealthy women who daydream about clasping the men of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood between their thighs. One night, she meets a man, who, after the coldness of her cottage and the loneliness of her existence, shows her the possibility of a different life. The next day, he is arrested on suspicion of cold-blooded murder. As Rachel sets out to prove his innocence, she realizes that she must come to terms not only with the evidence in front of her, the vagaries of her trade, the hot-blooded attentions of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, but her own erotic longings and the secrets of her past.

Review

I’m trying to remember anything of note about The Pre-Raphaelite Seamstress. There isn’t a hell of a lot to be honest. In fact the main thing of note I can think of is that as a historical novel it seemed loose. I wouldn’t really say historically inaccurate, but it had little real history except for the setting.

As a crime novel it was better, but a little sketchy. Not as much detail as I would have liked, but enough to keep me wondering and reading.

The sections with Rossetti were…strange. It seemed almost as if Murray wanted to write the story about  Rossetti but couldn’t find a whole story there so decided to find a place in another story for it. It fit in with the rest of the story, but only slightly, it seemed an unnecessary plot line.

There was a romantic element too. Which was a driving force but a minor element to the story, according to amazon this book is the first in a series which is yet to be finished, I can see the romantic element being a larger plot line than in this first book.

3.5/5

Buy it:
Kindle (£0.77)
Paperback (£5.43)

 

1 Comment

Filed under Crime, Fiction review, Historical, Mystery, Romantic

Weeks in Naviras- Chris Wimpress


Disclaimer: I was given this novel free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis (from amazon)

It’s late afternoon in the tiny fishing village of Naviras, where Eleanor Weeks is sipping wine and watching the ocean.

Even though she’s been there dozens of times, how she arrived that particular afternoon is a mystery to her. Until she remembers she’s the wife of the British prime minister, and that she’s just been killed in a terrorist attack.

As Ellie explores her personal afterlife, she recalls her troubled marriage during her husband’s rise to the very top of British politics. She remembers the tragedy and secrets which dominated the last ten years of her life, before recounting her role in a conspiracy which threatens to destabilise not just Britain but the wider world.

Review
This book wasn’t what I expected at all. I expected an introspective look back at what had gone wrong. Maybe a view other that Ellie’s at what had happened, and why. Possibly a detached look at what happened afterwards.
There was an introspective element, however that was about as far as it went. Mainly we saw Ellie exploring the world of her afterlife- but it wasn’t all that it seemed. Heaven? Maybe? Or hell? Either way there was something not quite right.
I expected, I don’t know. Something more political and less thriller. That doesn’t mean it was bad, just different. I think I might have prefered what I expected, however this probably is an easier read than the novel I expected, and it certainly kept you hooked.
There was a slight paranormal element which I wasn’t expecting, and which I still can’t quite figure out. If I’d known that there was a paranormal element I probably would have turned the free copy down. However it did make for a unique story, and I did rather enjoy it in the end
3.5/5
Buy it:
Kindle (FREE!)
Paperback (£7.99)

2 Comments

Filed under Contempory, Crime, Fiction review, Mystery, Paranormal

Before I Go to Sleep- S J Watson



Synopsis (from amazon)

Memories define us.

So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep?

Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love – all forgotten overnight.

And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.

Welcome to Christine’s life.

Review

A couple of years ago everybody was raving about Before I Go To Sleep. I didn’t read it then, partly because I’m not the biggest fan of crime fiction, partly because of my ever expanding to be read pile, and partly because the last raved about crime novel I remembered reading was The Da Vinci Code– which I have no desire to re-read. My Mum had read it, and my boyfriend and a handful of people from BCF had been very positive about it.

However it wasn’t the positive reviews which made me interested so much as the slight psychological plotline- that of Christine having basically no memory. Either way I was interested enough to go out and buy myself a copy, but when my Mum was sorting out books to get rid of (we have nine bookcases in our 3-up 3-down house, so need all the space we can get!) she put Before I Go To Sleep in the pile, and I moved it to my shelves (along with The Tiger’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry). When I actually got around to reading it I was in the mood for something which would be a quick, easy, but (hopefully) gripping read. I read crime the way other people read chick-lit, it’s more of a relaxed easy read (generally, there is some really good crime out there that you really can’t figure out, and that is more taxing). My Mum’s reaction to it more than anything showed me that Before I Go To Sleep would be what I was looking for.

It was that as well. Gripping enough whilst it lasted, but it didn’t really leave any lingering feelings. I guessed the twist quite early on, which meant that anything else was mainly just confirming my theory, although there were enough little twists on the way to make me want to keep reading for the story itself.

I had a bit of a love hate relationship with Christine. She was just too trusting! I understand that you have to trust someone in that situation, but it wasn’t even that she trusted people she met, she tried to force herself to feel things which she thought she should feel for them, I don’t really understand that.

The story was pretty unique. Which probably puts it above other crime novels of a similar quality. However it was just of standard quality. If you’re a fan of crime novels  then you may like this one, but I wouldn’t expect it to live up to hype.

Before I Go To Sleep is meant to be coming out as a film later this year. Nicole Kidman is playing Christine, which must mean they have made her younger. She’s not right for the part at all.

3.5/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£3.89)

Kindle (£2.99)

Other Reviews:

Leeswammes’ Blog

Girl Vs Bookshelf

Heavenali

So Many Books, So Little Time

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

Giraffe Days

Wensend

Piling on the Books

Nose in a Book

Literary Lindsey

Knitting and Sundries

Have I missed your review? Leave me a link in comments and I will add it here.

4 Comments

Filed under Contempory, Crime, Fiction review, Mystery, Psychology (fiction)

House of Glass- Sophie Littleford


Disclaimer: I was given this book free of charge (by the publisher, via netgalley) in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from amazon)

Jen Glass has worked hard to achieve the ideal life: a successful career, a beautiful home in an affluent suburb of Minneapolis, a seemingly perfect family. But inside the Glass house, everything is spinning out of Jen’s control. Her marriage to her husband, Ted, is on the brink of collapse; her fifteen-year-old daughter grows more distant each day; and her five-year-old son barely speaks a word. Jen is on the verge of breaking, but nothing could have prepared her for what is to come….

On an evening that was supposed to be like any other, two men force their way into the Glasses’ home, but what begins as a common robbery takes an even more terrifying turn. Held hostage in the basement for more than forty-eight hours, Jen and Ted must put aside their differences if they are to have any hope of survival. They will stop at nothing to keep their family safe—even if it means risking their own lives.

 

Review

Have you ever watched the TV show Hostages? (Don’t bother is you haven’t it’s compulsive watching, but generally rubbish). There are certain elements of House of Glass which remind me of Hostages.

Obviously they both have a hostage type situation, there is also a hell off a lot going on in each of them which doesn’t really seem like it matters that much to the plot. It’s worst in Hostages because you know why the family are being held hostage, and therefore the extra bits are basically padding. Whereas with House of Glass you don’t know why the family were picked (you know to a level why they are being held hostage, but not enough), so anything which doesn’t seem to be related to the family being held hostage could be a reason.

They do seem both a bit contrived. Like there is too much going on for just one family. Everyone seems to have something bad going on, in the case of House of Glass only one of them is unlikely to be connected to the hostage situation. It feels a bit like there wasn’t enough story so Littleford added extra plot lines to stretch things out a bit.

They also both have a bit of the kidnapper’s own story. It’s something I like about both of them. In House of Glass it’s told through the hostage’s eyes, so you can never truly work the kidnapper’s out. Having said that it was pretty obvious- at least to me- who had bought the kidnapper’s to the family’s door.

It’s pretty action packed and keeps you reading. I wanted to know the truth throughout too, but it wasn’t the best crime book I’ve read, or the best thriller, or the best ‘issue’ book. The previous Littleford book I read was better, but then it was a bit more my type of thing, it’s what made me want to read House of Glass.

3/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£0.59)

Paperback (£8.97)

Other reviews:

Have you read this book? Leave me a link to your review in comments and I will add it here.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Contempory, Crime, Fiction review

Dexter in the Dark- Jeff Lindsey


Dexter, dexter in the dark, book, jeff lindsey, dexter books

Dexter in the Dark is the third book in the Dexter series

Synopsis (from amazon)

Dexter Morgan is busy planning his wedding to Rita to complete his nice-guy disguise.

But when a student is found burnt, molested and headless – seemingly sacrificed to an ancient god – and Dex is brought in as forensic analyst to help investigate, he realises he could be dealing with someone a whole lot more sinister than he is. Soon it seems the dark passenger in Dexter’s head has gone into hiding. And when something creeps out your friendly neighbourhood serial killer, you know it’s serious . . .

As Halpern and Dexter are stalked by death, it looks like it’s getting personal – especially as Dex now has a family to protect. Gradually, Dexter realises his stepchildren might share his extracurricular interest in death. Could he help them target their bloodlust, just as he steers his own? But to do that, Dex must cope with a certain mutilated sergeant from his past, and more importantly . . . stay alive . . .

Review

I introduced the boyfriend to Dexter recently and he’s overtaken me now (that’s what you get for having a TBR pile of 50, and your boyfriend has one of 0). So he read Dexter in the Dark before I did. HE told me it was more fictional than the others, which seems a really strange thing to say about a fictional book, but he couldn’t tell me how it was more fictional without spoiling it.

Actually, turns out I get how it is more fictiony. The most I can say without spoiling is that the Dark Passenger becomes more of his own entity, rather than just a part of Dexter.

As far as a comparison to other novels. I found this a little slower, less gruesome, less inventive, and actually a little predictable. Yeah we had more information than Dexter but I still found myself wondering how he could be so stupid. I don’t think he could have guessed the solution exactly- as the reader might, but he certainly didn’t seem to be linking together the clues he did have, and he could have come pretty close.

However towards the end I must admit I couldn’t see how it could end in 50 or so pages, there still seemed so much to happen. I was worried it would be rushed, and a little (considering my TBR pile in growing faster than I can read, even with a book buying ban) concerned that there would be a cliff hanger which would make me want to read Dexter by Design straight away.

Luckily it was neither. It was certainly action packed, but it felt steady enough, and considering the events the fast pace I think might have made us feel a fraction of what Dexter would have been feeling.

The very, very end I was not so keen on. I don’t think it fitted with the idea, but it makes the next book possible I suppose.

3/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£5.59)

Kindle (£4.99)

Other reviews:

The Book Sanctuary

Have I missed your review? Leave me a link in comments and I will add it here.

2 Comments

Filed under Crime, Fiction review

A Cupboard Full of Coats- Yvvette Edwards


A Cupboard full of coats, Yvvette Edwards, book, book cover
Synopsis (from amazon)

For fourteen years Jinx has been haunted by the brutal murder of her mother. Crushed by the weight of loss and guilt, she is unable to move on from the memories of her childhood that are poisoning her life and all her relationships. The sudden arrival of Lemon, an old friend of her mother’s, changes everything. He wants to talk about that night and he won t leave until she’s shared her story her whole story. Over the course of one searing weekend they strip away the layers of the past to lay bare a family drama full of jealousy and tragic betrayal. Fuelled by Lemon’s sumptuous cooking and intoxicating story-telling the intensity mounts and dark secrets are uncovered. But as Jinx’s life threatens to fall apart for a second time, she finally begins to believe that redemption may be within her grasp. Blending true East London spirit with a heady Caribbean spice, Edwards has crafted a novel of breathtaking elegance, announcing a fierce new talent in British fiction.
Review
A Cupboard Full of Coats was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2011 (in fact it’s the fourth from that year’s list I have read- a rare thing for me), and I can see why critics might like it. It has a rather distinctive voice, a bit British, a bit Caribbean, a bit lost.
It is interesting how Jinx’s life seems to parallel her situation. Even before the murder of her mother Jinx was finding it hard to find her place in the world. Her friend was growing up, but leaving Jinx behind. Then her mother meets a new man, her first relationship since Jinx’s father died when Jinx was a young child. Jinx doesn’t want everything to change- she doesn’t try to know or like her mother’s new partner, she doesn’t try to meet her friend halfway.
In a lot of ways the older Jinx is still a child. She still has a rather childish reaction to what happened. Her relationship with Lemon, and even to an extent with her son, are rather selfish and nieve.
At first I did find A Cupboard Full of Coats a little difficult to get into. I wanted to know what happened to Jinx’s Mum, but it took a long time for that story to get started, and once it did it was slow to really get going.
I liked it, in the end (except maybe the very end) but it was a bit of a struggle to get there at times.
4/5
Buy it:
Kindle (£4.45)
Paperback (£6.47)
Other reviews:
Have I missed your review? Post your link in comments and I will add it here.

4 Comments

Filed under Contempory, Crime, Fiction review

The Officer’s Lover- Pam Jenoff



Note: In the US this book is sold as Almost Home, which was changed for the UK sale. Personally I think the US name is more appropriate for the story (which is really a discussion for another day) but I’m referring to it as The Officer’s Lover because I’m based in the UK, and my Amazon links are for Amazon UK.

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Ten years ago Jordan Weiss suffered the devastating death of her boyfriend Jared, a gifted rower at Cambridge. Since then work as an intelligence officer has taken her to the world’s hot spots where she has faced terrible dangers. However, it’s the thought of returning to England that haunts her most. But when Jordan learns that her best friend, Sarah, is terminally ill, she transfers to the State Department’s London office to be close to her. In London, she and rakish agent Sebastian Hodges are assigned to an investigation into mafia activities that quickly throws Jordan into a whirlwind drama of lies, cover-ups and corruption. Who can she trust? As she desperately tries to pull the pieces together, secrets start to emerge that are strangely connected to her past and will ultimately shape the course of her future …
Review
The Officer’s Lover had been on my wishlist for a long time, and on my shelf for almost as long and, you know what? I really wish I had picked it up sooner. I really didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did.
The story really got me hooked, with all it’s twists and turns. I thought I knew what was going to happen at several points, but then something else would be revealed and throw me right off track again. However one big thing that I expected, but thought might be  bit too clichéd did happen. I was happy because I wanted it to, but it was a little too perfect.
The end was rather open however, which I liked. It took away some of the perfection and meant you could make your own end up. However some people might like more of a sense of closure.
I really liked the main character, Jordan, and I wanted things to turn out well for her. There were a few points where I wanted to give her a shake, but that just made her all the more realistic. Seeing the story through her eyes was good too. It meant that we saw things as she saw them so we got all the same surprises as she did, and understand her judgements (even when I didn’t agree with them).
4.5/5
Buy it:
Paperback (£5.59)
Kindle (£5.51)
Other Reviews:
I’m sure I added this book to my wishlist because of a blogger’s review, but without a search function on my feed reader I have next to no hope of finding it 😦
If you have reviewed this book leave me a link in comments and I will add it here.

4 Comments

Filed under Contempory, Crime, Fiction review, Mystery

Dearly Devoted Dexter- Jeff Lindsey


Dexter, Dearly Devoted Dexter, books, book, book review, black, red, white, black and red, black and white, red and white, black, white and red
This book was read as part of the Wishlist Challenge

Dearly Devoted Dexter is the second book in the Dexter series, you can read my review of the first book here

Synopsis (from amazon)

Miami’s best-dressed serial killer is back and on the prowl, at least he would be if he could shake off his permanent shadow. Ever since their paths first crossed, Sergeant Doakes hasn’t let Dexter Morgan out of his sight. Dexter may well be the Miami PD’s blood-spatter analyst, but Sgt. Doakes has a pretty good idea of how Dex likes to spend his free time and he’s determined to catch him in the act.

Dex hasn’t killed in months and is getting twitchy. To throw Doakes off his scent, he’s spending more time with Rita, his girlfriend. But no matter how many cosy nights they spend in front of the TV, Doakes is still watching.

Then a body turns up, horribly mutilated and barely alive. To trap the torturer, Doakes and Dexter will have to work together, if they can trust each other. It’s a devil’s pact and one of them will have to be the bait…

Review

It was over a two years ago that I read the first Dexter book, Dearly Devoted Dexter has been on my wishlist (on amazon and bookmooch) ever since, but due to my habit of not buying from my wishlist it’s just got pushed further and further down, But a few weeks ago it came up on bookmooch and I snatched it up.

Despite it being over two years I remember certain parts of Darkly Dreaming Dexter quite vividly. I can’t see this happening so much with Dearly Devoted Dexter. It’s not that it wasn’t bad exactly, there were just less singular events which I think will be memorable, all the crimes were very similar, so whilst I think the general theme of the torture will stick in my memory I don’t think any specific victims will in the way they did for the first book.

The criminal was undoubtedly psychotic, as with the first murderer, however he was maybe less imaginative. And there were times when the plot seemed to drag a little for me.

However there were certain events which make me think that the next book in the series could be rather interesting.

3/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£5.59)

Kindle (£3.99)

Other Reviews

Book Sanctuary

Did I miss your review? Leave me a link in comments and I will add it here

5 Comments

Filed under Crime, Fiction review

The Specimen- Martha Lea


Disclaimer:  book was given to me free of charge by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis (from amazon)

The year is 1859. Edward Scales is a businessman, a butterfly collector, a respectable man. He is the man Gwen Carrick fell in love with.

Gwen Carrick first meets Edward Scales on a windswept beach in Cornwall. The spark is instant and the couple begin to forge a future together. Seven years on, Gwen’s world has fallen apart and she finds herself in the docks at the Old Bailey, charged with Edward’s murder.

Could Gwen Carrick really murder the man she loved? From country house drawing rooms to the rainforests of Brazil, The Specimen explores the price one independent young woman might pay for wanting an unorthodox life.

Set in a Victorian world battling between the forces of spiritualism and Darwinism, polite society and the call of clandestine love, Gwen and Edward’s tale is a gripping melodrama, a romance and a murder mystery that will compel readers to its final thrilling page.

Review

I cannot remember the last time it took me this long to get through a book. It’s taken me a while to write this review too, mainly because my overriding reaction was ‘YAY I managed to finish!’

I had fairly good hopes for The Specimen, a bit of a mystery, a bit sciencey, a bit romantic, maybe a little feminist. Sadly I was disappointed. It did have all the elements I expected but not to a satisfying level. To try and order my thoughts I’m going to go through each expectation at a time then add anything I haven’t covered.

Mystery, well, I never really wondered who killed Edward. It was basically old from the beginning as if Gwen was guilty. I wondered why she might have done it, and I think I eventually got an answer, which was, to be honest a bit of a cop out of an answer considering other things which had gone on and could have been built to a motive. I had expected Gwen to be married to Edward at the time as well which took away a large chunk of the drama for me.

The science was probably the best in terms of detail, but it was also the bit I was anticipating the least. I thought the Darwinism issue would be interesting to read about, but there was less of a debate as a general feeling that everyone wanted to prove Darwin right, and even that was brief. I dud however like how involved Gwen was in her biologist role and how interested she was in the creatures.

At first there was a fair bit of romance in the way Edward and Gwen interacted but this seemed to very suddenly just disappear for no reason, and I was waiting for a moment that showed they loved one another. There was a sort of intensity to the times when the ‘love’ was there which made me unsure of how genuine it really was, and how but Gwen and Edward really knew each other.

Actually the only thing I really did like was that Gwen was quite a feminist. She wasn’t to be able to explore the world in the same way that a male scientist would, and she- most of the time- expected to be listened to the same as a man would be. I respected her for that although I didn’t exactly like her the whole time. She was certainly an improvement over Edward, even before they went away I started to loose any reasoning as why she liked him, and it just got worse.

There was a certain element to the book which was hard to follow. The time kept switching and I was often confused as to how the events fitted together. Plus there were a few sections which didn’t seem to fit in with everything at all.

2/5

Buy it:

Hardback (£8.96)

Kindle (£7.12)

Other reviews:

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

Have I missed your review? Link me in comments and I will add it here.

4 Comments

Filed under Crime, Fiction review, Historical, Mystery

The Woman Who Died a Lot- Jasper Fforde



The Woman Who Died a Lot was read as part of the Wishlist Challenge.

This is the seventh book in the Thursday Next series. You can read my reviews of the previous 5 Thursday Next books by using the Thursday Next or Jasper Fforde tags.

Synopsis (from Amazon)

The BookWorld’s leading enforcement officer Thursday Next is four months into an enforced semi-retirement following an assassination attempt. She returns home to Swindon for what you’d expect to be a time of recuperation. If only life were that simple.

Thursday is faced with an array of family problems – son Friday’s lack of focus since his career in the Chronoguard was relegated to a might-have-been, daughter Tuesday’s difficulty perfecting the Anti-Smote shield needed to thwart an angry Deity’s promise to wipe Swindon off the face of the earth, and Jenny, who doesn’t exist.
And that’s not all. With Goliath attempting to replace Thursday at every opportunity with synthetic Thursdays, the prediction that Friday’s Destiny-Aware colleagues will die in mysterious circumstances, and a looming meteorite that could destroy all human life on earth, Thursday’s retirement is going to be anything but easy.

 Review

As with the previous book The Woman Who Died a Lot read much more like a series book than the previous books did. That is that it is harder to understand if you didn’t read the previous books.

I found that this book was a little more predictable than the others. I quite often guessed what was going to happen before it did, which hasn’t generally been true of the Thursday Next books. However enough was confusing and there were enough twists that I didn’t guess everything, so it was still exciting and intriguing enough for me to want to keep reading it.

I did kind of miss the bookworld element which wasn’t in this book, and the literary references were a bit less frequent.

Eagerly awaiting the next one now.

4/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£5.59)

Kindle (£4.99)

Hardback (£10.87)

Other Reviews:

Alison @ Piling on the Books.

Have I missed your review? Comment with your link and I will add it here

2 Comments

Filed under Contempory, Crime, Fantasy, Fiction review

Deep Powder- Dirk Robertson


This book was my first read for the Out Your Comfort Zone Challenge. The idea was to take a random book from a section of the library/bookshop which you don’t normally visit, but seeing as the central library in Birmingham  is moving soon they have booked up most of their books, and so don’t have any sections. This meant I just picked the first book I wouldn’t normally read.

Synopsis (from amazon)

Black snowboarder Finlay turns amateur sleuth when his gardening expertise leads him to believe that the death of fellow snowboarder Animal, is no typical slope accident. Things heat up when he learns that the flashy new snowboard he promised to test is designed to not only cut through snow, but to transport another kind of powder. With a little help from his friends, Finlay gets closer to the truth, and as the tables begin to turn, the line between friend and foe begins to blur.

Review.

Oh my God this book was sooo bad, just simply terrible. Words cannot describe. I probably never would have even finished it is it wasn’t for the fact that my kindle broke, and slightly because I didn’t want to give up on a book I was reading for my own challenge.

First off there were just factual errors. Whoever heard of a high-pitched Birmingham accent for one thing? Then there were continuity errors. At one point someone watches someone else die after he has already made sure that he has expired!

There seemed to be random events thrown in which had absolutely nothing to do with the rather absurd (and at times very predictable) plot. The worst being a very clinical, very pointless, very unlikely, and very badly written sex scene.

It was just…urgh.

2/5

Buy it (maybe for someone you hate?):

Paperback (£7.19)

3 Comments

Filed under Crime, Fiction review

My Dead Friend Sarah- Peter Rosch


Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge via netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from amazon)

Mere months into recovery, Max, an alcoholic with twisted control issues, meets Sarah – the same woman that for years he’s habitually dreamt will die after a botched abduction. “Doing the next right thing,” a popular AA phrase he’s picked up in the rooms, means befriending Sarah long enough to warn her and hope she takes him seriously. But when Sarah falls in love with Max, his newly sober thinking drives him to choose his overly devoted wife, and he abandons Sarah – even when it condemns her to death. When Sarah goes missing, the NYPD suspects Max’s dream may have been a pre-crime confession. The truth, all of it, lurks inside of Max, but only by drinking again does he recapture the nerve and clarity vital to free his wife, sponsor, and himself from a life imprisoned by lies.

Review

It’s taken me a little while to get around to actually writing this review so I don’t remember the story perfectly clearly, however I will do my best.

I enjoyed this story, it was pretty easy read but I don’t think it lost any thrill or quality from that. The chapters were split up into chapters narrated by Max and by Sarah so you could see two sides of the story. That is up until the moment of Sarah’s disappearance. It was quite clever how Sarah’s voice just stopped. It makes the reader sure that Max’s conviction that Sarah is dead is correct, but you still hope he is wrong.

You really feel as if you know the characters, and as such there is a certain level of inevitability.

4/5

Other Reviews:

If you have reviewed this book please leave me a link and I will add it here

Buy it:

Kindle (£2.60)

Paperback (£8.27)

1 Comment

Filed under Crime, Fiction review, Mystery

Genus- Jonathan Trigell


Synopsis (from Amazon)

In the Britain of a few tomorrows time, physical perfection is commonplace and self improvement has become an extinct expression: all the qualities men and women could aspire to can be purchased prior to birth.

GENUS is a time of genetic selection and enrichment – life chances come on a sliding scale according to wealth. For some there is no money or choice, and an underclass has evolved; London’s King’s Cross, or The Kross as it is now known, has become a ghetto for the Unimproved. In The Kross, the natural, the dated, the cheap and the dull, live a brittle and unenviable existence. But unrest is growing; tension is mounting and a murderer is abroad in these dark quarters…

Review

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Boy A (which was Trigell’s first novel) so when Genus was sent to for review I thought why not? I’ve not actually read Boy A so I don’t know if it’s worth of the praise it has received but knowing about it probably did heighten my expectations a little when it came to reading Genus.

At first I really can’t say I was much of a fan. The chapters kept jumping from character to character- sometimes with a heading to say which character’s point of view you were seeing, but not always, which made things a little confusing. Plus at first there seemed to be few links between the characters which felt like I was reading lots of little stories based in the same world, this just added to the confusion. However as the story progressed the stories seemed to intertwine which reduced the confusion- in fact by the time all was revealed the only confusion I felt was the confusion I imagine the reader was meant to feel. That is the confusion about the murderer.

Tone wise Genus reminded me quite a lot of Super Sad True Love Story, which wasn’t really a bonus because I had been rather disappointed by that one, so it didn’t really build good associations. There were certain parallels in the novels too. Both set in a dystopian future which have a certain basis in reality that suggests that everything might come true.

Genus definitely has more meat to it though. The future presented is more scary. The idea of being a lower class just because you hadn’t been a designed child. The vicious circle of it all, the Unimproved couldn’t get the good jobs, so they couldn’t pay for their children to be Improved so if they had children they were condemning them to the same fate. The laws that were meant to protect the Unimproved just made it easier to know who was Unimproved and therefore discriminate against them.

We see this future through different eyes. Some Improved, some not. There’s a suggestion that even life for the Improved is not fantastic, but that nobody would want to be Unimproved, if if they were lucky when it came to natural gene selection. Mainly we follow Holman, an Unimproved of the most obvious type. A midget with legs which do not work as they should, and who is old for his age. In ways he is lucky, he has a natural talent for art which may one day get him out of The Kross, born to an Unimproved, but rich and beautiful mother who is happy to support him. But Holman seems entangled in the murders, is he next to go, or could he even be the murderer?

By the end I just wanted to find everything out, but to be honest most of the time I found I just wanted the story to be over already, it was only in about the last 30% of the book that I started actually getting interested, and the last 10% was pretty riveting. If you’re in for the long haul you may enjoy Genus, but I didn’t find the last section really made up for the rest.

3/5

Buy it:
Kindle (£5.31)
Paperback(£5.59)

Other Reviews:
Leeswammes’ Blog

Have I missed your review? Link me up!

2 Comments

Filed under Contempory, Crime, Dystopian, Fiction review, Mystery

The Baby Game- James A. Thomas and Vidya Samson


Disclaimer: This book was given to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Schoolteacher Samantha Morgan wants nothing more than to go to India and pick up the baby that’s being carried by a surrogate–the baby belonging to
her and her beloved late husband.

But a mysterious woman contacts her and brings up a long forgotten
event: her seduction by an older man at age fifteen. Samantha tries
to put that back in the past, but a friend and fellow victim of the seducer delivers some startling news: that older man is now the Republican candidate for president and is about to win the election.

A phone call urges her to come forward, tell all, and destroy his chances. She wants no part of the notoriety that would bring. Then her friend’s home is blown up, and it’s obvious that another, more sinister group wants her silent forever. She and her friend flee to India to get her baby, and there the real troubles begin.

Review

It’s taken me a while to get around to writing this review. Not because I disliked the book exactly but because I didn’t know what to say about it. I still don’t really but seeing as it was a review request I thought I should at least make an attempt.

To be perfectly frank I was just a bit, well, meh, about this book. There were elements I like but it felt like everything was kind of crammed in. Like the authors didn’t feel that one story would be enough so they crammed two stories together to try and make for more action. Either story alone was maybe believable but together it was just a bit far fetched. Then there were little subplots that were, well, just to much.

I did like the political angle- although not so much the way it was conducted. I still thought it was a good general idea.

The action wasn’t bad, but it didn’t stick out either- although without it I may never have even finished the book.

The quality of writing was just so-so. Not what I would call bad, just there was nothing about it which made me connect with the characters or the situation. It didn’t really draw me in.

2.5/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£1.95)

Leave a comment

Filed under Crime, Fiction review

The Child Who- Simon Lelic


Image from Amazon

Synopsis (from amazon)

A quiet English town is left reeling when twelve-year-old Daniel Blake is discovered to have brutally murdered his schoolmate Felicity Forbes. For provincial solicitor Leo Curtice, the case promises to be the most high profile – and morally challenging – of his career. But as he begins his defence Leo is unprepared for the impact the public fury surrounding Felicity’s death will have on his family – and his teenage daughter Ellie, above all. While Leo struggles to get Daniel to open up, hoping to unearth the reasons for the boy’s terrible crime, the build-up of pressure on Leo’s family intensifies. As the case nears its climax, events will take their darkest turn. For Leo, nothing will ever be the same again .

>Review

This book was not what I expected. Maybe partly because I hadn’t re-read the synopsis before I started reading the actual book (although that is only usually something I do if I can’t decide what to read.

It wasn’t that the book was bad, it’s just it really didn’t reach it’s full potential. I expected much more about Daniel, and his reasoning behind the murder, and that was the part I was really interested in. Actually the whole Daniel thin felt like it had been skimmed over and the focus was much more on Leo and the effect the case had on him and his family.

It’s not even that I didn’t find the Leo side of things interesting I did, especially after the main event happened, but it pretty much made the fact that a child was involved in the case pointless.

There was a certain crime/mystery element but I would it rather predictable, so really that’s didn’t keep me hooked.

It was an easy read however, and interesting enough to keep me reading.

3/5

Other Reviews:

Farm Lane Books

If I’ve missed your review add a comment and I’ll add your link

Buy it:
Kindle (£3.99)

Paperback (£4.71)
Hardback (£9.09)

2 Comments

Filed under Contempory, Crime, Fiction review, Mystery

Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination- Helen Fielding


Image from Amazon

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Enter Olivia Joules: fearless, dazzling, independent beauty-journalist turned master-spy – a new heroine for the twenty-first century. In Miami for a face-cream launch, she spots Pierre Ferramo across a room. Dangerously charismatic and undeniably gorgeous, with impeccable taste, unimaginable wealth and exotic international homes, he seems almost too good to be true. But what if Ferramo is actually a major terrorist bent on destruction, hiding behind a smokescreen of fine wines, yachts and actresses slash models? Or is it all just a product of Olivia’s overactive imagination?

Review

Last week I was having real reading trouble. Nothing on my TBR pile (either in paper books or e-books) inspired me, I was tired and run-down with a cold, I had next to no concentration, and what energy and concentration I did have I was using for work. I tried to read my current paperback, I tried a few things on my kindle, nothing was working. I needed something light and easy, and, well, I don’t usually go for light and easy, so there wasn’t anything of that type around.

However on Wednesday I went to a coffee shop which just so happened to have a bookcrossing shelf. I thought why not have a look? I might find something to fix my slump. Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination is what I came back with.

I read Bridget Jones’ Diary when I was about 17 (I think) when it was at the height of it’s popularity (wow that’s like 8 years ago…I’m still 21 dammit!), and at the time I didn’t really get the hype around it. It was ok but nothing special when it came to chick-lit (and I read a fair bit of it at the time). I didn’t really like Bridget, I found her to be a bit of an idiot to be honest. Maybe I would have got it more if I was a 30-something singleton…maybe not…I don’t know.

Anyway I expected Olivia Joules to be a similar fit. Easy to read but a bit of fluff. I had never looked into reading it because I didn’t like Bridget Jones, so why read something I thought would be similar? I was wrong though. Well maybe sometimes Olivia is an idiot, she jumps to conclusions, but when she is it tends to be funny rather than annoying. There was a little bit of love fluff but mainly it was a bit of a mystery/crime/action story, and that made it much more enjoyable. The funny made it not like other action type books, and because of Olivia’s overactive imagination I was always second guessing myself, not sure what was going to be true and what would be imaginary. It was a little far-fetched but I think that worked well with her having an overactive imagination.

It still had the readability of Bridget Jones but plot wise I much preferred it. It was the perfect thing to get me out of my reading slump.

3.5/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£5.60)

Paperback (£5.99)

Other Reviews

Leeswamme’s Blog

Have I missed your review? Link me up!

2 Comments

Filed under Contempory, Crime, Fiction review, Humour

One Breath Away- Heather Gudenkauf


Image from Amazon

Disclaimer: I was given this book free of charge via netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Note: This book is not yet released in the UK. It is due to be released on 6th July 2012

Synopsis (from Amazon)

He has a gun.Who? Tell me, where are you? Who has a gun?I love you, Mum.An ordinary school day in March, snowflakes falling, classroom freezing, kids squealing with delight, locker-doors slamming.Then the shooting started. No-one dared take one breath…

He s holding a gun to your child s head.

One wrong answer and he says he ll shoot.

This morning you waved goodbye to your child.

What would you have said if you d known it might be the last time?

Review

I’ve often heard Heather Gudenkauf being compared to Jodi Picoult, who is a bit of favourite for me. I’ve only read one book by Gudenkauf before, The Weight of Silence, which I partially read because I had read a good review, and partly read because it looked at a topic Picoult hadn’t explored- so I didn’t have to worry about comparing it to another novel. Picoult has written a book about a school shooting, Nineteen Minutes,  so I was a little concerned that I would end up comparing One Breath Away to Nineteen Minutes. Fortunately the parallels pretty much ended with the main topic so I was able to more or less read One Breath away as a book in its own right.

A big storyline was about trying to work out who the shooter was without seeing them. There was a certain element of mystery in this for the reader, however as the reader was able to see the shooter some of the theories were obviously untrue. In some ways I think it may have been better if the shooter was referred to in a more neutral way (e.g. by simply calling them the shooter which wouldn’t reveal anything about their gender, age, or race), this would have made it more of a mystery for the reader. Still it held enough mystery and suspense to make me want to keep reading to find out the answer- who was the gunman and why was he attacking the school. I did guess who it was before the end but I think maybe Gudenkauf writes so the reader will guess a little before the characters make a discovery because there is some victory in being able to guess ‘who dunnit’. Personally I prefer to be a bit shocked and surprised but I can see how some people may prefer being able to correctly guess.

I did really enjoy the shooting storyline, especially how the reader could see different points of view of the shooting. It would have been nice to see the gunman’s view to an extent, however it wasn’t essential and it would have taken some mystery out of the story.

I did have one problem with the book though, there were just to many different storylines. There was of course the main storyline of the shooting, but all the characters seemed to have some other issue which was effecting their lives. I can see why Gudenkauf did it generally- it provided more possible suspects- but it was just to much.

3.5/5

You cannot yet purchase One Breath Away but you can pre-order it from Amazon:

Paperback (£3.92)

Kindle (£6.39)

Other Reviews:

Giraffe Days

Leeswammes’ Blog

Have I missed your review? Link me up.

4 Comments

Filed under Contempory, Crime, Fiction review, Mystery

Beneath The Shadows- Sara Foster


Image from Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me via netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from netgalley)

When Grace’s husband, Adam, inherits an isolated North Yorkshire cottage, they leave the bustle of London behind to try a new life. A week later, Adam vanishes without a trace, leaving their baby daughter, Millie, in her stroller on the doorstep. The following year, Grace returns to the tiny village on the untamed heath.  Everyone—the police, her parents, even her best friend and younger sister—is convinced that Adam left her. But Grace, unable to let go of her memories of their love and life together, cannot accept this explanation.  She is desperate for answers, but the slumbering, deeply superstitious hamlet is unwilling to give up its secrets. As Grace hunts through forgotten corners of the cottage searching for clues, and digs deeper into the lives of the locals, strange dreams begin to haunt her. Are the villagers hiding something, or is she becoming increasingly paranoid? Only as snowfall threatens to cut her and Millie off from the rest of the world does Grace make a terrible discovery. She has been looking in the wrong place for answers all along, and she and her daughter will be in terrible danger if she cannot get them away in time.

Review

I had intended to review this book before it was released but after a weekend in London I only managed to finish it on the train yesterday. Still it was released today so I don’t think I am to far behind if I manage to finish this review today!

The main reason I decided to read Beneath The Shadows was because it was described as ‘gothic’. I have a bit of a thing about gothic literature, it started with reading Jane Eyre and looking its gothic elements when I was studying for my a-levels, it’s even what I write on the rare occasions I manage to write anything other than the first few lines of a story!

I really liked it as well. I loved the way Foster used the surroundings not only to reflect what was going on but also to reflect Grace’s state of mind. I also liked how sometimes Foster used what you expected to be foreshadowing as a sort of trick when really nothing that suspicious was going to happen, it got me every time!

The only really problem I had was that I started to guess at the truth early on. I never guess the whole story behind everything that had happened but guessing a bit took some of the climax out of the book.

4.5/5

Buy it:

Hardback (£13.98)

Other Reviews:

Chrisbookarama

Leeswammes’ Blog

Have I missed your review? Link me up

6 Comments

Filed under Contempory, Crime, Fiction review, Mystery

1Q84 (Book 1)- Haruki Murakami


Image from Amazon

This book was read as part of the Murakami Reading Challenge 2012

Synopsis (from Amazon)

The year is 1984. Aomame sits in a taxi on the expressway in Tokyo.

Her work is not the kind which can be discussed in public but she is in a hurry to carry out an assignment and, with the traffic at a stand-still, the driver proposes a solution. She agrees, but as a result of her actions starts to feel increasingly detached from the real world. She has been on a top-secret mission, and her next job will lead her to encounter the apparently superhuman founder of a religious cult.

Meanwhile, Tengo is leading a nondescript life but wishes to become a writer. He inadvertently becomes involved in a strange affair surrounding a literary prize to which a mysterious seventeen-year-old girl has submitted her remarkable first novel. It seems to be based on her own experiences and moves readers in unusual ways. Can her story really be true?

Both Aomame and Tengo notice that the world has grown strange; both realise that they are indispensable to each other. While their stories influence one another, at times by accident and at times intentionally, the two come closer and closer to intertwining.

Review

I read this book as part of the longer book which holds books 1 and 2. I had always intended to write a review at the end of book one then continue on to book to immediately, however just book 1 has taken me the whole of the year so far (alongside my kindle books, and with a break for Catching Fire) so I really feel I need a break. It’s not that I haven’t liked 1Q84 so far exactly, but I have struggled some what. The story seems to be going quite slowly, although it’s become more interesting in the last 100 pages or so.

The book is split into chapters from Aomame and chapters from Tengo, one from Aomame, one from Tengo, then switching back. At first I found Aomame’s story the most interesting, although I loved Tengo as a character, I can certainly see why he is so popular! Gradually though I became just as interested in each storyline. In fact Murakami seemed to have a tendency to finish the chapter just as it was starting to interest me- which was a little annoying because it made me just want to skip to their next chapter. It was interesting as well how he built in areas of the two storylines which fitted together but only really mentioned them briefly. It made me want to read more to find out exactly how the two stories linked together, and just work out the general puzzles of Murakami’s normal oddities. Having said that the oddities were few and far between in comparison to other Murakami books. Not really sure how I feel about this though as the oddities did seem to be building as the links became more frequent.

Overall. Well, book 1 was a bit like an introduction. I didn’t feel like much happened despite it being almost 400 pages long- however things were introduced which I think will be important later on, and it very much opened up avenues for the other 2 books. I’m still going to have a break in case I find book 2 hard going but I am certainly not going to give up

3/4

Reviews of 1Q84 from other challenge participants:

Sam Still Reading

Tony’s Reading List

The Akamai Reader

Buy it:

Hardback- Books 1 & 2 (£12.00)

Kindle: Books 1 & 2 (£9.59)

Paperback: Books 1-3 (£13.00)

Paperback: Books 1 & 2: pre-order (£8.09)

15 Comments

Filed under Contempory, Crime, Dystopian, Fiction review, Literary

I’d Know You Anywhere- Laura Lippman


Image from Amazon

Note: This book is also known as Don’t Look Back. For some reason when I put the IBSN number into goodreads it came up as I’d Know You Anywhere (which was the name I had known the book by before I bought it) even though in my Kindle it’s called Don’t Look Back.

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Eliza Benedict’s past returns to haunt her when the serial killer she escaped from as a young girl walks back into her life. The new nail-shredding novel from New York Times bestseller, Laura Lippman.25 years ago, he stole her innocence. Now he wants to get in touch.Eliza Benedict cherishes her quiet existence with her successful husband and children in the leafy suburbs of suburban Washington. But her tranquillity is shattered when she receives a letter from the last person she ever expects – or wants – to hear from: Walter Bowman.In the summer of 1985 when she was fifteen-years-old, Eliza was kidnapped by serial killer Walter Bowman, who targeted young girls like Eliza in a sexually motivated killing spree. Now facing lethal injection on death row, Walter is keen to make contact with Eliza, seemingly motivated by a desire to atone for his sins before he finally meets his maker.Carefully, with some reluctance, she lets Walter enter her life, first by letter, then in person. Walter is keen to convince Eliza that he has changed but it becomes clear that Walter has more of an agenda than he first revealed. Cunning and manipulative, Walter is never more dangerous than when he can’t get what he wants, and he wants something very badly. Disturbingly, he seems to have an ally working in the outside, one who seems to know everything about Eliza’s life – including where she lives.As Walter once again manages to exert his malign influence, Eliza must draw on all of her reserves of wisdom and strength as the battle of predator and prey once more plays out and she must face the past head on if she is to survive.A taut and mesmerizing novel by the highly-acclaimed author of Life Sentences and Every Secret Thing.

Review

Note on review: For clarity I will refer to grown up Elizabeth as Eliza and young Elizabeth as Elizabeth.

Ok so my vision of this book may be a little skewed by the fact that novels having their names changed is one of my pet peeves, I really don’t understand why thy do it, it just confuses everyone. I think I am at risk of going on a rant but I shall hold back and maybe do a musings post on it at some point in the not to distant future.

As for the book itself. It was ok. As a crime novel it didn’t do great. There was no real mystery, especially as we saw the criminal committing most of his crimes. As a thriller I can’t say it was that great either. I was intrigued as to what Walter was trying to get from Eliza, but didn’t really expect anything very dramatic. The only real mystery I found in it was [highlight for spoiler]not knowing if Walter had actually raped his victims or not, and to be perfectly honest I didn’t really care, or at least I didn’t care enough to give it any real thought.

When it came to the characters I didn’t like Eliza. She just seemed a bit pathetic to be honest. She talked about being worried for her kids but a lot of her actions don’t reflect that and seem to have been put in just for the author’s convenience. I preferred Elizabeth I think, she seemed more genuine, but maybe I only think that because that was the part of the story which most interested me. Walter interested me more, possibly that’s just the psychologist in me talking but I felt in a way we got to know him best, and in a way could understand him more.

3/5

Buy it:

Paperback

Kindle

2 Comments

Filed under Crime, Fiction review

The Girl Who Played with Fire- Stieg Larsson


Image from Amazon

This is the second book in the Millennium series. You can read my review of the first book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, here.

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Lisbeth Salander is a wanted woman. Two Millennium journalists about to expose the truth about sex trafficking in Sweden are murdered, and Salander’s prints are on the weapon. Her history of unpredictable and vengeful behaviour makes her an official danger to society – but no-one can find her. Mikael Blomkvist, editor-in-chief of Millennium, does not believe the police. Using all his magazine staff and resources to prove Salander’s innocence, Blomkvist also uncovers her terrible past, spent in criminally corrupt institutions. Yet Salander is more avenging angel than helpless victim. She may be an expert at staying out of sight – but she has ways of tracking down her most elusive enemies.

Review.

It’s taken me over a year to finally get around to reading this book. I wasn’t especially impressed by the first one in the series but interested enough to want to read the second, I just wasn’t in any hurry to do so. Consequentally I have forgotten a lot of what happened in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and they made some of the reference in this book a bit difficult- but did not stop me understanding the story as a whole. I think maybe I would have enjoyed this one more if I had read them close together but I still enjoyed it a fair bit.
For my memory this one is better than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I was more interested to see what would happen next. I’m still unsure though if it was actually better or if I just has less expectations of it which made it easier to enjoy, I wasn’t waiting for it to impress me the whole time.

3.5/5

5 Comments

Filed under Crime, Fiction review

The Economics of Ego Surplus- Paul McDonnold


I was sent a copy of this book free in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Part action novel, part literary novel, part guidebook to economics, The Economics of Ego Surplus is the story of college instructor Kyle Linwood. Anticipating a relaxing summer with his girlfriend and his PhD dissertation, he gets recruited by the FBI to help with an obscure case of terrorist internet “chatter,” which explodes into a shocking, mysterious assault on U.S. financial markets. As the economy melts down and a nation panics, Kyle follows a trail of clues from Dallas to New York City to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. In his quest to discover the truth, he will be forced to confront the assumptions underlying his education as well as his life. But will it be enough to save America from the most brilliant terrorist plot ever conceived?

Review

I must admit I was sceptical about this book. I liked the idea of trying to teach something about economics through a book, but I guess my ideas of economics and of crime novels just didn’t fit together. I was intrigued to see how McDonnold would teach while still making the book entertaining.
I must say I was impressed. It took a little time for the book to get going but once I got into it I really couldn’t put it down! It was pretty exciting and I was waiting to see what the main character and the ‘terrorists’ would do next. I’m not sure if their sabotage of the economy is really plausible but it made for a good read.
I do think I actually learnt a bit too, I think I understand a bit more about how the market works now, and it gives some grounding behind some of the ideas the government have been flying around in the last few years, things such as to keep spending to help the economy recover, something which seemed a little strange to me before. As I was reading it to review I was trying to see if it would teach me anything but I don’t think it would be obviously doing so if you weren’t looking for it.
Actually the main problem I would say is the name, I kind of get how it fits in with the story as a whole but from just looking at the cover I wouldn’t see it as a crime novel, I may not even see it as a novel at all, at least not until I had read the subtitle.

4/5

You can read an extract of The Economics of Ego Surplus at Starving Analyst Press

4 Comments

Filed under Crime, Fiction review

Darkly Dreaming Dexter- Jeff Lindsay


Image from Goodreads

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Dexter Morgan isn’t exactly the kind of man you’d bring home to your mum. At heart, he’s the perfect gentleman: he has a shy girlfriend, and seems to lead a quiet, normal life bordering on the mundane. Despite the fact that he can’t stand the sight of blood, he works as a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami police. But Dexter also has a secret hobby: he is an accomplished serial killer. So far, he’s killed 36 people and has never been caught because he knows exactly how to hide the evidence. And while that may lead some people to assume he’s not such a nice guy, he tempers his insatiable hunger for brutality by only killing the bad guys. However, Dexter’s well-organised life is suddenly disrupted when a second, much more visible serial killer appears in Miami. Intrigued that the other killer favours a style similar to his own, Dexter soon realises that the mysterious new arrival is not simply invading his turf but offering him a direct invitation to ‘come out and play’…
Review
I’m sure I’ve said before that crime novels are not usually to my taste. I find them not exactly predictable but somewhat formulaic and it kind of puts me off. I can really enjoy a good crime novel though and I’d heard lots of good things about this one so I thought I would give it a go. The Dexter books sounded pretty original to me too so I wasn’t expecting anything very formulaic
Well I can certainly say I raced through it. I can read about 100 pages a day without too much of a struggle but it doesn’t happen very often. Still I managed to finish Darkly Dreaming Dexter in just under two days which is pretty fast for me, especially when one of the days is a work day. I found the story very compelling and I really wanted to keep reading.
I found I had a somewhat of a love hate relationship with Dexter himself. Which I think was really that I enjoyed reading him as a character but felt I shouldn’t like him because, well, he was still a murderer, even if he was one with a ‘good heart’. In some ways I think the love hate thing gave me more of an understanding of Dexter too as that seemed to be his attitude towards himself.
I liked how the story was actually told by Dexter. It felt like you could really see how murderers tick (whether or not Lindsay had researched criminology I can’t say but it felt genuine). I think it was the psychologist in me that liked that, even though I haven’t studied criminal psychology since I was doing the a-level. In ways the book made me interested to look a bit more at criminal psychology (and I may well do that).
The actual storyline was exciting, I could never figure out things before Dexter did- but I suppose that is because I cannot think like a murderer (thinking about that it makes the idea of meeting Lindsay a little scary!). It’s an aspect that kept me going with the story and even at the end I was still scratching my head trying to work out what happened between the last chapter and the epilogue. The major twist at the end I never expected although parts of what made it work I had considered.
Adding the next to my wishlist right now!
4/5

CymLowell

19 Comments

Filed under Crime, Fiction review

One of Our Thursdays is Missing- Jasper Fforde


1. Marts: Ny Thursday Next!

Image by emme-dk via Flickr

Synopsis (from Amazon)

It is a time of unrest in the BookWorld. Only the diplomatic skills of ace literary detective Thursday Next can avert a devastating genre war. But a week before the peace talks, Thursday vanishes. Has she simply returned home to the RealWorld or is this something more sinister?

All is not yet lost. Living at the quiet end of speculative fiction is the written Thursday Next, eager to prove herself worthy of her illustrious namesake.

The fictional Thursday is soon hot on the trail of her factual alter-ego, and quickly stumbles upon a plot so fiendish that it threatens the very BookWorld itself.

Review

For the purposes of this review Thursday refers to the real life Thursday Next, Thursday refers to the written Thursday Next.

I found One of our Thursdays is Missing quite different from the other books in the Thursday Next series, not least because you could tell it was written Thursday who was speaking. Although the tone was similar the way in which Thursday approached things was markedly different to that of Thursday. Partly because of this I found the One of Our Thursdays is Missing was a little slow to start, however I did also find this about First Among Sequels so it may just be the pattern the series is taking, certainly in both there was more that needed to be explained,

Having said that having Thursday speaking made a big difference which somewhat slowed down the plot I did like the new Thursday. She was much more pondering and less action focussed than Thursday and it felt like she was discovering things along with the reader rather than leaving them puzzling. I suppose that could be a bad thing but at points she left little tantalising details which suggested that she knew more, I liked that because it made her seem more like a written person, like she was trying to make a narrative, and it kept me interested to find out what she knew.

There were a lot of things I did love about this book. I loved how where before there had been references to novels now there were references to writing, I especially liked when the characters got lost because of lack of references to who was speaking! I loved Thursday, she was like a softer version of Thursday and it was nice to have a little change, even if it meant the book was more pondering. I loved learning a bit more about the book world, about the politics, about how in joined up and how different areas interacted with each other, supported by the rather intriguing map at the beginning and the quotes from Bradshaw’s Guide to the Bookworld. There was less about the real world too, I always preferred the Bookworld side of the storyline so I liked that. Plus where the real world was included in the story I found it really interesting to see it from a fiction point of view.

Again the end seems to lead on to another Thursday Next novel which makes it seem more series like than it once was. In ways I don’t like that, it somehow makes Thursday Next seem more commercial, but I won’t complain about there being more to come!

As a side note the acknowledgements are well worth the read (I was on the bus when I finished, it’s not usually a section I read). There is a section about what happened while Fforde was writing One of Our Thursdays is Missing which is rather entertaining and makes me like him even more (and no, not just because he’s a fellow mac user!)

4.5/5

8 Comments

Filed under Crime, Fantasy, Fiction review, Sci-Fi

First Among Sequels- Jasper Fforde


First Among Sequels

Image via Wikipedia

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Thursday Next is back. And this time it’s personal . . .

Officially, Literary Detective Thursday Next is off the case. Once a key figure in the BookWorld police force, she is concentrating on her duties as a wife and mother. Or so her husband thinks . . .

Unofficially, Thursday is working as hard as ever – and in this world of dangerously short attention spans, there’s no rest for the literate.

Can Thursday stop Pride and Prejudice being turned into a vote-em-off reality book?

Who killed Sherlock Holmes?

And will Thursday get her teenage son out of bed in time for him to save the world?

Review

I must admit to start off with I wasn’t especially impressed with First Among Sequels when compared to other books in the Thursday Next series, it seemed pretty slow to get going and it felt like more of an artificial sequel than the others had. It felt a bit like it had been written for the sake of writing another rather than because the series lent itself to a further book after Something Rotten. Having said that we did know that books would be written about Thursday at the end of Something Rotten and the idea of a fictional Thursday is a little too intriguing to pass by. The different Thursdays were very well done too, it created so much comedy, especially when the two fictional Thursdays were so different from each other. There were some very clever parts of this book too I especially liked (highlight for spoiler)when I thought the ‘real’ Thursday had won only to find out that the voice we presumed to be Thursday was Thursday 1-4, but then actually found that Thursday had planned for that all along! In fact I really liked all the playing round with the different Thursday’s identities.

By the end it did actually feel more like a series book than the others, because it definitely lends itself to there being a further book. I now understand why Jasper Fforde said that One of Our Thursdays is Missing is the first sequel that is really a sequel, and I can’t wait to get started on it,

In retrospect First Among Sequels could actually be my favourite Thursday book.

4.5/5

1 Comment

Filed under Crime, Fantasy, Fiction review, Sci-Fi

Something Rotten- Jasper Fforde


Something Rotten

Image via Wikipedia

Something Rotten is the fourth book in Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series.

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Thursday Next, Head of JurisFiction and ex-SpecOps agent, returns to her native Swindon accompanied by a child of two, a pair of dodos and Hamlet, who is on a fact-finding mission in the real world. Thursday has been despatched to capture escaped Fictioneer Yorrick Kaine but even so, now seems as good a time as any to retrieve her husband Landen from his state of eradication at the hands of the Chronoguard.

It’s not going to be easy. Thursday’s former colleagues at the department of Literary Detectives want her to investigate a spate of cloned Shakespeares, the Goliath Corporation are planning to switch to a new Faith based corporate management system and the Neanderthals feel she might be the Chosen One who will lead them to genetic self-determination.

With help from Hamlet, her uncle and time-travelling father, Thursday faces the toughest adventure of her career. Where is the missing President-for-life George Formby? Why is it imperative for the Swindon Mallets to win the World Croquet League final? And why is it so difficult to find reliable childcare?

Review

I seem to forget just how much I love Thursday Next between reading one book and the other, this one was no exception. Funny, exciting, and rather odd. I love Thursday and I liked the addition of some of the new characters. How you can get so much humour from a baby I don’t know but I loved Friday, and I really liked Alan too…although I did miss Pickick’s ‘tricks’ a bit. I loved all the fiction related references and jokes, as always. I don’t think there is really anything specific I want to say about this one. Or at least not that I could say without spoilers. I think it has been my favourite Thursday Next so far though, I just wish I hadn’t waited so long to read it.

4.5/5

5 Comments

Filed under Crime, Fantasy, Fiction review, Sci-Fi

The Big Over Easy- Jasper Fforde


Cover of "The Big Over Easy"

Cover of The Big Over Easy

Review written 7/08/09

Synopsis(from Amazon)

It’s Easter in Reading; a bad time for eggs; and no one can remember the last sunny day. Humpty Dumpty, well-known nursery favourite, large egg, ex-convict and former millionaire philanthropist is found shattered beneath a wall in a shabby area of town.

Following the pathologist’s careful reconstruction of Humpty’s shell, Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and his Sergeant Mary Mary are soon grappling with a sinister plot involving cross-border money laundering, the illegal Bearnaise sauce market, corporate politics and the cut and thrust world of international Chiropody.

As Jack and Mary stumble around the streets of Reading in Jack’s Lime Green Austin Allegro, the clues pile up, but Jack has his own problems to deal with.

And on top of everything else, the Jellyman is coming to town…

Review

Have been meaning to write this for nearly a week but don’t really have much to say. I really liked it, but not as much as what I’ve read from the Thursday Next series. It was funny and I loved all the nursery rhyme references. In a way that bit was better than the book references in the Thursday Next books because I’m more likely to know the original stories. My favourite character was Jack, I really thought he was great.

4/5

9 Comments

Filed under Crime, Fantasy, Fiction review

The Well of Lost Plots- Jasper Fforde


The Well of Lost Plots

Image via Wikipedia

This review was written 5/6/09

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Leaving Swindon behind her to hide out in the Well of Lost Plots (the place where all fiction is created), Thursday Next, Literary Detective and soon-to-be one parent family, ponders her next move from within an unpublished book of dubious merit entitled ‘Caversham Heights’. Landen, her husband, is still eradicated, Aornis Hades is meddling with Thursday’s memory, and Miss Havisham – when not sewing up plot-holes in ‘Mill on the Floss’ – is trying to break the land-speed record on the A409. But something is rotten in the state of Jurisfiction. Perkins is accidentally eaten by the minotaur, and Snell succumbs to the Mispeling Vyrus. As a shadow looms over popular fiction, Thursday must keep her wits about her and discover not only what is going on, but also who she can trust to tell about it …

With grammasites, holesmiths, trainee characters, pagerunners, baby dodos and an adopted home scheduled for demolition, ‘The Well of Lost Plots’ is at once an addictively exciting adventure and an insight into how books are made, who makes them – and why there is no singular for ‘scampi’.

Review

Again a book which fails to disappoint. Funny and exciting. I found this one a little slower to start than the previous two but once it got going the action was at least as good. As always some great funny bits, I particually liked the was was conversation, which was both humourous and a little confusing. I don’t think I really have anything to say much that I haven’t said before. I did find this book, sadder in a way (highlight for spoiler)because the loss was more psychological than in the past books, and for the reader it was hard to see Thursday forgetting about those she loved. I even almost cried when she forgot she as pregnant because that was her one remaining link to Landan and evidence that he had existed.

4/5

1 Comment

Filed under Crime, Fantasy, Fiction review, Sci-Fi

Therapy- Sebastian Fitzek


Cover of "Therapy"

Cover of Therapy

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Josy, a twelve year old girl, has an inexplicable illness and vanishes without trace from her doctor’s office during treatment. Four years later: Josy’s father, well-known psychiatrist Viktor Larenz, has withdrawn himself to an isolated North Sea island in order to deal with the tragedy. Until he’s paid a surprise visit from a beautiful stranger. Anna Glass is a novelist and she suffers from an unusual form of schizophrenia: all the characters she creates for her books become real to her. And in her last novel she has written about a young girl with an unknown illness who has vanished without a trace.

Is the inconceivable possible? Do Anna’s delusions describe Josy’s last days? Reluctantly Viktor agrees to take on Anna’s therapy in a last attempt to uncover the horrible truth behind his daughter’s disappearance . . .

Review

I’m not really a big reader of crime stories. The nearest I usually get is Jasper Fforde, which sn’t exactly typical crime. I’d read a few good reviews of this one though and it sounded a bit different. I must admit though that I wasn’t very impressed with it. It’s not that it was bad. It had some good twists and turns, although I was able to predict most of them. I never really cared about the characters though, except Josy, and only really because you can’t not care about a missing child. It was an easy read, and towards the end I found the twists less predictable so it became more interesting, but still nothing special.

2.5/5

2 Comments

Filed under Crime, Fiction review

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo- Stieg Larson


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Image by Kirsty Komuso via Flickr

Synopsis (from Amazon)

“I want you to find out who in the family murdered Harriet, and who since then has spent almost forty years trying to drive me insane”
The Industrialist:
Henrik Vanger, head of the dynastic Vanger Corporation, is tormented by the loss of a child decades earlier and convinced that a member of his family has committed murder.
The Journalist:
Mikael Blomkvist delves deep into the Vangers’ past to uncover the truth behind the unsolved mystery. But someone else wants the past to remain a secret and will go to any lengths to keep it that way.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo:
Lisbeth Salander, the enigmatic, delinquent and dangerous security specialist, assists in the investigation. A genius computer hacker, she tolerates no restrictions placed upon her by individuals, society or the law.

(it’s actually the same as the back of the book, Amazon’s own synopsis had a bit of a spoiler)

Review

Took a while for this to really get going, while I was quite enjoying the build up and all the background information I was also eager for things to start happening and this wasn’t until about halfway through. Plot wise this book was pretty great, once it got going it was a real page turner with plenty of twists which made it hard to predict.

(Highlight for spoiler)For a couple of things I never expected Martin to be a murder, and I didn’t even begin to entertain the idea that Harriet might be alive! I never did suspect Celia was guilty though, even if it had been her in the window

There were a few things I disliked about it though. I found the number of characters quite confusing, especially at the beginning, and especially where some of the names were similar. I also didn’t think the style of writing was that great, I’ve read worse writing, but I’ve certainly read better too. I’m ready to forgive the writing quality though as the book is a translation.
All in all, if you like mysteries for their twists and turns this is a great book, if you’re more in it for excitement there are more exciting mysteries and you may find that you are waiting for things to happen a lot but there are exciting moments- if you can be patient they are worth it!
Oh and another thing there are a few gory descriptions which might put some people off, but I think they were needed and while I don’t really like gore it wasn’t so much that it was unbearable.

3.5/5

8 Comments

Filed under Crime, Fiction review

Lost in a Good Book- Jasper Fforde


centre

Image via Wikipedia

This review was written 29/3/09

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Thursday Next, literary detective and newlywed is back to embark on an adventure that begins, quite literally on her own doorstep. It seems that Landen, her husband of four weeks, actually drowned in an accident when he was two years old. Someone, somewhere, sometime, is responsible. The sinister Goliath Corporation wants its operative Jack Schitt out of the poem in which Thursday trapped him, and it will do almost anything to achieve this – but bribing the ChronoGuard? Is that possible?

Having barely caught her breath after The Eyre Affair, Thursday must battle corrupt politicians, try to save the world from extinction, and help the Neanderthals to species self-determination. Mastadon migrations, journeys into Just William, a chance meeting with the Flopsy Bunnies, and violent life-and-death struggles in the summer sales are all part of a greater plan.

But whose? and why?

Review

This book seemed much more like part of a series that The Eyre Affair did, partly because knowing what had happened in the previous book was fairly important (of course that couldn’ happen with The Eyre Affair because it was the first one!), and partly because at the end the story didn’t quite seem finished (highlight to view spoiler) while it was a conclusion in a sense and deffinately a good stopping point, the fact that Landon was still lost means that part of the plot was left incomplete, meaning you cannot get away with not reading the next book. I must admit this put me off the book a little as I felt I was (in a sense) being forced to read the next in the series, I would have read it anyway because I have enjoyed the series so far but I would have liked to feel I had some choice in it.

I found this story a little more confusing than the last too, with allthe jumping in times, between worlds and distortions in probability, but it was just as exciting. I also found that I understood less of the references to literature in this one- although I’m sure people who have read the books refered to would understand them, and well having read them would have added something to the plot it wasn’t necccersary. I do think because of this I prefered The Eyre Affair though, but not by a significant ammount. I want the next one now!

4/5

Leave a comment

Filed under Crime, Fantasy, Fiction review, Sci-Fi

The Swan Thieves- Elizabeth Kostova


Synopsis (from Amazon)

Psychiatrist Andrew Marlowe has a perfectly ordered life ? solitary, perhaps, but full of devotion to his profession and the painting hobby he loves. This order is destroyed when renowned painter Robert Oliver attacks a canvas in the National Gallery of Art and becomes his patient. Desperate to understand the secret that torments this genius, Marlowe embarks on a journey that leads him into the lives of the women closest to Oliver and a tragedy at the heart of French Impressionism. Kostova’s masterful new novel travels from American cities to the coast of Normandy; from the late nineteenth century to the late twentieth, from young love to last love. The Swan Thieves is a story of obsession, history’s losses, and the power of art to preserve hope.

Review.

Having read and loved The Historian I was eager to read this one, but trying not to get my hopes up too high. I was not disappointed. Although it doesn’t have the same pace and urgency of The Historian it had just as much mystery, and in some places the mystery in the Swan Thieves was, maybe not better, but cleverer. There were so many time when something which had previously seemed to be a throwaway comment of little importance became a great clue, and it wasn’t until a mystery was solved that you realised how vital that comment was. At some points you had even forgotten about what was said until it was put into a new context.

The Swan Thieves was slower than The Historian, and stuck with me less between reading, (However I didn’t miss the funny dreams that The Historian gave me…or the having to get up in the middle of the night to check there was nobody in my cupboards!). At the end though I felt much more satisfied, and kind of thoughtful. I suppose maybe because The Swan Thieves is more realistic, or just because the overwhelming feeling from finishing The Historian was one of safety. I can’t say this one hooked me in the same way- most of the way through I had little trouble putting down the book (it was only in the last 100 or so pages that I really felt I couldn’t not read The Swan Thieves) whereas I often staying up reading The Historian late into the night.

If you’ve not read an Elizabeth Kostova before I would recommend The Historian over The Swan Thieves but this was still an extremely enjoyable, and very clever book.

4.5/5

4 Comments

Filed under Contempory, Crime, Fiction review, Historical

The Full Cupboard of Life- Alexander McCall Smith


Note on the review

I have found my reading mojo has been a bit lacking this last week or so. Part of the reason I picked this book is because I knew it would be an easy read, but my lack of mojo may still have made itself known in my review.

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Mma Ramotswe, who became engaged to Mr J.L.B. Matekoni at the end of the first book, is still engaged. She wonders when a day for the wedding will be named, but she is anxious to avoid putting too much pressure on her fiance. For indeed he has other things on his mind – notably a frightening request made of him by Mma Potokwani, pushy matron of the Orphan Farm. Mma Ramotswe herself has weighty matters on her mind. She has been approached by a wealthy lady – whose fortune comes from successful hair-braiding salons – and has been asked to check up on several suitors. Are these men just interested in her money? This may be difficult to find out, but Mma Ramotswe is, of course, a very intuitive lady …

Review.

I like the No. 1 Ladies Detective agency books. They are pretty easy reads, they are a sort of alternative detective story. Not full of action or great crimes, but still interesting and maybe more easy to relate too. I’ve actually read The Full Cupboard of Life before, but wasn’t sure from the blurb if I had or not. It was only towards the end of the book that I became sure I had read it before. I suppose that is a good thing in a way because at least parts of the story seemed new too me, it was more the bits that I thought I might have read before that were distracting. I kept thinking, did I read this or was it part of the TV show?

There is little really to be said. A simple story but engaging. You don’t really feel like you need to know how things work out, and some things are obvious. In parts it is quite clever but not sophisticated. All the same an enjoyable read, and some really great characters which I love to read about- that it what really comes out of it, a real sense of the characters- and an enjoyment of them.

3/5

The TV series by the way is rather good and worth a look. Do read at least the first book first though.

3 Comments

Filed under Crime, Fiction review

The Fourth Bear- Jasper Fforde


The Fourth Bear

Image via Wikipedia

Synopsis (from Amazon)

The Gingerbreadman – psychopath, sadist, convicted murderer and cake/biscuit – is loose on the streets of Reading.

It isn’t Jack Spratt’s case. Despite the success of the Humpty Dumpty investigation, the well publicised failure to prevent Red Riding-Hood and her Gran being eaten once again plunges the Nursery Crime Division into controversy. Enforced non-involvement with the Gingerbreadman hunt looks to be frustrating until a chance encounter at the oddly familiar Deja-Vu Club leads them onto the hunt for missing journalist Henrietta ‘Goldy’ Hatchett, star reporter for The Daily Toad.

The last witnesses to see her alive were The Three Bears, comfortably living out a life of rural solitude in Andersen’s wood. But all is not what it seems. Are the unexplained explosions around the globe somehow related to missing nuclear scientist Angus McGuffin? Is cucumber-growing really that dangerous? Why are National Security involved? But most important of all: How could the bears’ porridge be at such disparate temperatures when they were poured at the same time?

Review

I really do like Jasper Fforde novels. They’re like nothing I’ve ever read before. Like crime stories but with a bit of a literary twist. This one was particularly good, or at least better than the previous in the nursery crime series (The Big Over Easy). While I still prefer the Thursday Next series in general this is a strong contender to knock them out of place. In ways these are easier too seeing as it’s pretty easy to miss the literary references in Thursday Next, but I have a pretty wide knowledge of nursery rhymes.

I found the general storyline of this one better than the previous in the series, more compelling somehow, and the twists and turns kept me guessing. In fact the only thing I really didn’t like about the book was how much the title gives away, and that there were plenty of alternative titles which wouldn’t have done that.

4.5/5

Leave a comment

Filed under Crime, Fantasy, Fiction review