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» Listings for February 2010

  1. Jill Mansell Take a Chance On MeMy Rating: 5/5

    Cleo and Abbie Quinn are sisters. Abbie is happily married to Tom and has been since she was young. They are envied by people living in their village as they seem to have the perfect marriage. Cleo on the other hand has never had much luck with men. Her latest boyfriend Will seems to tick all of the boxes. One of Cleo's old school friends Johnny LaVenture turns up back in the village and he has never been Cleo's favourite person. Having teased her mercilessly at school Cleo can't bear to be around him. Meanwhile Abbie's husband is behaving strangely; he is being very withdrawn and is definitely hiding something. When she finds out the shocking truth, she is not only shocked, but completely unaware that her life is about to turn head over heels. Both sisters realise that the past is never too far away and that it can ultimately destroy everything.

    I have my preference for reading and it falls either into the Crime/Thrillers genre or Chick Lit. When it comes to Chick Lit, Jill Mansell is one of the favourites amongst many of my friends and family. I have read every single one of her books and thoroughly loved at least 95% of them. However in recent years with other authors breaking through and the older authors producing great stories she hasn't shone as much for me. Luckily with this book she has re-taken her crown. She is firmly placed in the Chick Lit Elite and quite rightly so.

    It is very hard to review and give opinion when you don't want to give too much away so forgive me if some of it seems cryptic. Overall this story flowed off the pages and with each page I read it became even more enjoyable.

    The two sisters are nothing like each other, which personally I love. They have two completely different situations to deal with but throughout the whole story are there for each other. Mansell writes two threads in the book one for each sister. They are a joy to read because each of them has their own strange quirks which make them pretty loveable but not perfect.

    Cleo's story is difficult to comment on but it was written extremely well with one of the two men appearing in her life getting a great come-uppance. Cleo is a chauffeur and on her journey we get to meet a famous start she is driving around Casey Kruger and he is written as the bolshie and obnoxious typical star. We also meet Ash who is Cleo's best friend and neighbour. Not only is Ash a neighbour he is a minor celebrity in the village hosting a Radio Station Programme where he has a devout following of female fans.

    Abbie on the other hand is battling her issues with her husband. She manages to get the wrong end of the stick and gets herself in a sticky predicament that could cause the break up of her marriage.

  2. Katherine Bucknell Canarino3My Rating: 2/5

    I have read quite a lot lately, but found myself with nothing left on my `read' list. My friend offered to lend me a book by an author that I had never heard of. To be honest if I was in a bookshop and saw this I wouldn't do more than glance at it. The front cover is not exactly the most enticing and the jacket gives little away as to the sort of book it is. I decided that I would give it a go anyway and started reading it as soon as I got home that night.

    Synopsis: David is an American Investment Banker and he lives in London with his wife Elizabeth and two children. His wife decides that he must retire; leaving the life they have in London and moving to a remote and rural area of America. Elizabeth goes ahead with the children and on the first evening in his London home David is contacted by a very old friend. This is the start of a story of betrayal and lies and delves deep into the relationship between two friends.

    Well where do I start? The first chapter is kind of a head scratcher. We are introduced to both Katherine and David along with their children. The first chapter itself is slow because of the way the author describes everything in such detail. I persevered and found that at chapter 4, I wanted to just shut the book and not return to it. However, I was not going to be defeated and convinced myself it was one of those books you needed to really involve yourself in.

    The basic story and plot is a good one. It is very difficult to give too many details as it would spoil the book but essentially the basis for the story is okay. The characters I found extremely hard work. I began to realise little over 6 chapters in, that I didn't like the writing style of the author. The reason I didn't like her style of writing is that this particular author examines the minds of the characters in great depth and can continue for half a chapter just explaining what they are thinking. She also writes with a slight poetic and dramatic edge, which if I'm honest isn't something I enjoy. The drama, yes, the poetry, no.

    Like I said, I persevered and once I adjusted my mindset to the author's way of thinking I found it easier to read. However, the book actually lacked any sort of substance because; I would go as far as to say that there was too much depth to the characters. Just as you are beginning to understand what they are thinking you forget why you needed know in the first place. The depth never leads to anything; it just seems to add to the poetic edge of writing.

    Over halfway in and I enjoyed it a little more that in the beginning as the story progressed and other characters were brought in. However, the story itself revolves around 5 or 6 main characters and I didn't like one of them! They were all written with great feeling, that much was obvious, they just weren't that likeable in my opinion.

    I was reading a page and coming to the end of a chapter near the end of the book and when I turned the page I was shocked to realise that I had finished the book. That was it, no real ending as such, no loose ends tied up, and the author just decided enough was enough. I was so frustrated that not only had I had to force myself to read this, that the ending was so abrupt. I felt like the author couldn't be bothered to finish the work she had started. Out of curiosity I looked up this author on Amazon thinking there may be a follow up, but there wasn't. What surprised me even more was that this particular book was rated as 4 out of 5. I was gobsmacked to say the least. I also wondered about the title of the book. Canarino is a lemon drink and the only reference to this drink is that Elizabeth drunk it when she first met David. That about summed up this book, it's like hot lemon water, it may be good for you but not everybody likes it!

    I can honestly say I will not be reading any more of her books and felt very disappointed with the book. Maybe I am not educated enough to appreciate this poetic style of writing, but if the truth be known I like it brash, loud and straight to the point!

  3. My Rating: 5/5


    Kat's Review: There are three people involved and none of them can predict just how dangerous things are going to turn out. DI Tina Boyd has a past that is littered with trouble and she just seems to attract it wherever she goes. She has been part of the team that has tracked down and now arrested the serial killer known as `The Night Creeper'. The only problem is he has now been kidnapped and it's Tina's job to hunt him down.

    Sean Egan is an undercover cop who has managed to become embedded in a dangerous criminal gang posing as another gang member looking for work. He is roped in on a job that means kidnapping the serial killer known as `The Night Creeper'. What he doesn't realise is that he will be forced to make decisions that could not only end his career but his life too.

    The Night Creeper is in custody arrested by DI Boyd. Not only is he a dangerous and sadistic killer but he is acting and looking like an innocent man. The reputation he has built was based on his brutality that all the police witnessed at each of the 5 murders that he committed. The only problem is, once in custody, he is claiming that he has a watertight alibi meaning that if he didn't commit one, then did he commit any.

    OH MY GOD! There are so many words that I just can't find to explain this book. Corker, cracking, brilliant, exceptional, breathtaking, fast, edgy, the list goes on. What I will say is that this is a five star book that confirms that Simon Kernick deserves his place in the world of crime writing.

    I have been an avid Crime and Thriller reader for the best part of 16 years and am shocked at the fact that I only discovered Kernick by reading Relentless a mere 8 months ago. Relentless was itself an absolute gem of a book (for which I rated it 5 out of 5) and I was pleased that I had read one of his books and planned on reading a lot more. Unfortunately for me my `to read' list was getting longer and Simon Kernick went to the back of my mind. That was until Tuesday of this week, when I wandered into a book shop, only to see his new release sitting there on the shelf. I grabbed it with earnest and placed it at the top of my list as it had been 8 months since I had read Relentless and wanted to see if this was as good as the last one. I needn't have worried as this book was, if possible, even better than Relentless. Hence the reason for the review a mere 2 days later!

    With this authors genius style of writing it took me no more than one chapter to become engrossed. The story hits you in the gut from page one and doesn't give up until the very last page. It had all the ingredients of a crime book that any reader wants. Great meaty characters, all flawed in their own strange ways. A story that is paced so quickly you feel like you're in the passenger seat of a Formula One car, and to top it all off a story that takes you on more twists and turns than a roller-coaster ride.

    The characters Sean and Tina are written extremely well in the first person and I loved the fact that the switch between the two was easy. Tina has her own demons, as does Sean which always helps towards the realism of a character in my opinion. They weren't picture perfect and both have the same streak for doing things their way, no matter what the cost, or what rules they have to break. The chapters weren't too long and were punchy and to the point.

    The crime scenes themselves are written extremely graphically, which not to everybody's taste I understand, was completely relevant to the story and the type of violence that Sean and Tina were surrounded by. I could find no flaws with this book and am already adding him to my pre-order list. I suggest that if you haven't read a book by Mr Kernick that you add him to your list now, you won't be disappointed.

  4. Erica JAmes The Queen of New BeginningsMy Rating: 4/5

    Clayton Miller has lost everything. He was one of the country's best selling comedy script writers. His writing partner and best friend Bazza drops a bombshell and leaves not only the partnership but takes Claytons long term girlfriend Stacey with him. Clayton is on the edge and when the press start hounding him, his agent decides that a break out in the sticks where nobody knows him will do him good until the media hype dies down. Clayton moves into a house through rented by one of his agents friends. When he arrives he doesn't expect to see anybody, so when a cleaning lady turns up from the agency he is shocked. Alice Shoemaker is the cleaner, except what Clayton doesn't realise is that she is actually a Voiceover artist and is doing this job to help out a friend. Alice quickly realises that this rude and obnoxious man is acting suspiciously. Clayton in turn is also realising that Alice is not quite telling the truth. Over time the two of them form a friendship but what they don't realise is the extent of the deception that both of them are guilty of.

    I have read each and every one of Erica James' books. I have always enjoyed them and rated them at least 4 out of 5, except for her last book `It's the little things'. I was disappointed to a certain extent and only gave it 3 out of 5, so I was hopeful that this book would be an improvement on her last as I have always enjoyed her books. Thankfully this one is a definite improvement.

    The story is pretty quick to gather momentum and I fell for the characters almost immediately, which is always a positive in my eyes. Clayton is a great character and although the beginning of the story introduces him to us as a bitter and grumpy man you can't help but feel for him. He is like a duck out of water having previously lived his whole working life in London. Now he finds himself out in the sticks with just fields for company.

    The initial meeting with Clayton and Alice is also quite funny and the author has written it incredibly well with just the right dose of humour. Her books in the past sometimes are meaningful and sometimes more the romantic type but with this one she seems to have hit the mark and got the balance just right.

    We meet a few characters along the way which I can imagine fitting in perfectly in the village. We meet the crazy neighbour known as George. Her first meeting with Clayton sets the scene perfectly for just how eccentric the old lady is. We also meet Ronetta, Alice's next door neighbour and friend along with her son Bob who has a soft spot for Alice.

    The character Stacey is the perfect woman that we all love to hate. Selfish, money grabbing and very cold hearted. Although Bazza has done the dirty on Clayton you can't help but root for him. I wouldn't like to add spoilers but the way things end with Stacey was absolutely perfect!

    The story is told with snatches of Alice's past built in to explain the current state of play and it makes for fantastic reading. All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this book and thought that it was a perfect mix of all that a reader wants. Unfortunately, I wouldn't rate the book as a 5 star because there are other books that I have read very recently that in comparison are much better, but it was a great read all the same. I will continue to read Erica James and only hope that her books continue being this enjoyable.

  5. Carole Matthews Its Now Or NeverMy Rating: 5/5

    Kat's Review: This story introduces us to twins Annie and Lauren. The opening of the story is the two of them attending their elder Sister Chelsea's 40th Birthday party. At only a year younger than her Annie and Lauren can't understand quite where their own lives went wrong in comparison to their elder sisters. Chelsea looks like she has the perfect package. Two beautiful children, a handsome and doting husband, the perfect marriage and to top it all money! With this in mind the pair of them makes a decision that this year will be their year. No matter what they will both chase their dreams.

    Annie is married with two reasonably grown up children and a husband of over twenty years. She works for a company as a receptionist and the most excitement her life sees is the visitors to her company. Her husband is certainly devoted, just not to her. She is a fishing widow and to top it all off she begins to feel completely unfulfilled. Lauren is the polar opposite to Annie working in Sales for a successful company. She has no ties and no responsibility. The only problem is her life revolves around her married lover. She is hopelessly in love with him and truly believes that it is only a matter of time before he enters her life permanently. Or is it?

    Carole Matthews never ceases to amaze me. Her last book `That Loving Feeling' was a corker and this one is no different. As an author she tends to give the audience exactly what they want without compromising her own writing style. This story is written around a situation that many women will empathise with being realistic, but not overboard. Annie is a typical married woman who still loves her husband and children but is going through a phase where she just wants a bit of excitement. This makes for some very funny situations which women around the world will be laughing at.

    The same applies to Lauren, Annie's twin. She is a typical woman that wants it all but knows that she can't really have it. The two characters Annie and Lauren have been written extremely well and I loved them both from Chapter one. The male characters are also fantastically written without being too `overdone'. There is nothing better than reading a character that you can actually imagine meeting. I don't want to go in to too much detail with regards to the actual story because I don't like spoilers but the men and women featured in the storyline are fab!

    Another thing that I like about Carole Matthews style of writing is that she tends to come out with some very funny one liners or situations that make me laugh out loud. I think it isn't so much the actual words themselves but the fact that they are something you can maybe imagine yourself, or somebody you know doing! Look out for the Car Wash incident (v. v. funny). I confess to still somewhat missing Carole's contribution to her `Chocolate Lovers' series. For some reason these books have always been my favourite of hers, having said that this most recent book and her last one I would give 5 out of 5.

    Overall Carole Matthews produces typical Romantic Comedy in her own style and never fails to amuse me in some way, shape or form. Don't get me wrong, yes all of her books are of the same Genre and style but that is why I continue to read them. If it's not broken, don't fix it and Carole Matthew's books certainly don't need fixing. After all you don't buy a Horror Film expecting to see romance do you?!?