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» Listings for April 2010

  1. Karen Rose Dont TellMy Rating: 4/5

    I had never read any Karen Rose novels but a friend of mine mentioned I might like her books.

    When it comes to genre I am a little bewildered. The front of the book as well as the jacket information gives the impression that her books are thrillers. Yet her website seems to suggest that she writes `Romantic Suspense' books. After finishing her book I am not sure I would quite call her genre this but can see that she does have a romantic element running through the story.

    Having said that this book is far from Chick Lit and the happy and bubbly lives the characters seem to lead. This book is real in all its glory. It's almost real to the point that some people could empathise with the character. This story is based largely on a woman's survival following years of domestic abuse.

    Caroline Stewart has created a new life for her and her son and is trying to do the best she can to move on. 9 years after leaving her husband after faking her own death, a new man enters her life and she has all the challenges that a woman in her position is not used to dealing with. The aspect of the book that deals with the nicer side to Caroline's life is refreshing. The reason I say this is that we also see the fear and absolute terror she is subjected to. Karen Rose has hit the nail on the head in terms of balance.

    In my opinion, any author that can create a character like Caroline's husband has done a first class job. It has been a long time since I have read a book that raises such hatred in me towards a certain character. Make no mistake, after reading this around a third of the way through, I was already hoping that the husband would wind up dead and in a long and painful manner.

    The book takes us through Caroline and her son Tom's life after their awful experiences with Rob, Caroline's husband. Not only that, with the introduction of Max, Caroline's new boss, we see how her son Tom reacts to the presence of a new man around the place. When Caroline's car is found in a lake her husband realises that the chances of Caroline being alive have been upped. He is furious that he `stole' their son away and is determined to find them.

    The author picks up the pace considerably with Rob trying to trace Caroline and there are various scenes where he is seen for what he really is, a psychopath with a taste for murder. This book isn't all roses but is a gritty and real thriller that I literally couldn't put down. The author manages to create a fast paced book with the element of `real life' added to the mix. I thoroughly enjoyed it and have already got my next Karen Rose novel ready to read.

  2. Craig Robertson Random
    My Rating: 4/5

     The cover of his book is pretty eye catching with its red cover and a picture of a figure in the shadows. The jacket information was even more interesting with a description of a Serial Killer operating in Glasgow. He has been nicknamed The Cutter by the media and the police are baffled by the killings. DS Rachel Narey is on the case and she cannot seem to find any connection between the victims. There seems to be no real motive or reason for the murders and there seems to be absolutely no links between the people.

    When I opened the book the first thing that was strange was the fact that the book is written in the first person, and said first person is the killer himself. There was something slightly unsettling about that in the beginning for me. As the book progresses the story is stretched and we learn more not only about his mindset but the reasons behind the killings.

    I don't particularly like spoilers but this book is very hard to describe without some risk of spoiling the plot. I will say however, that the more you read the more you will question "what would I do if that was me?" I found that over halfway in not only had the unsettling feeling I started with gone, I found myself seeing things through the eyes of somebody in his position.

    Ultimately as the title and jacket information describe, the serial killings are made entirely at random. This is not only a disturbing thought, but one that is written with incredible skill. I was amazed at how I felt whilst reading it and felt myself becoming more and more absorbed by it. The story is set in Glasgow and the writing and speech of the Glaswegians is done superbly.

    The pace of the book is also pretty good, I wouldn't say particularly fast but reasonably paced with more intent on seeing things from the `bad' side of the fence. This gave the story good momentum and more intent on the sheer genius of being inside a killers mind. I cannot say anything bad about this book; I thoroughly enjoyed it and eagerly await the next novel by Mr Robertson.

  3. My Rating: 5/5

    Well it has been 11 long years since Lisa Jewell released a book entitled Ralph's Party. She wrote and I read Ralphs party (unbelievably) 11 years ago and even back then her writing was great.

    In Ralph's Party we meet the residents of 31 Almanac Road, who consist of flatmates Ralph and Smith and their new neighbour who moves in, Jemimah. Upstairs live Karl and Siobhan and they have been unmarried for fifteen years albeit happily. When Cheri moves in to the flat above them she causes havoc by deciding that Karl is the man she wants and sees no reason that a girlfriend should get in the way. The book itself leads us into their lives and sees the end result with both Ralph and Jem getting together and leaving the book with that happy ever after feeling.

    However, Lisa Jewell decided that 11 years later she would transport us back to Ralph and Jem's current relationship with her book entitled After The Party. So a few years down the line we find that Ralph and Jem are unmarried, but living together with their two young children. Things are not all sweetness and light and Jem is feeling unsettled with just about everything. She is currently trying to raise her demanding and Diva like daughter Scarlett, still nurture her baby boy Blake, and keep her career going with a difficult client as well as keeping her marriage to Ralph on an even keel.

    Both Ralph and Jem find that life doesn't seem that simple anymore. Jem begins to feel quietly disgruntled with everything that Ralph does and Ralph is feeling more and more like he's not even part of his own family. Slowly they realise that their ideal family life that they viewed all those years ago through rose tinted glasses is nothing like their present reality. Whilst Jem and Ralph both go on their own paths of discovery they both wonder at whether their relationship can survive. Will they make it through or will they be like the thousands of others that have tried and failed to make a marriage work.

    Firstly, I cannot believe that an author has finally made the fantastic move to revisit a previous `happy ending' story. I really enjoyed Ralph's Party but found that not only did I enjoy this current book, but I fell in love with the characters all over again. Lisa Jewell has exceeded every expectation I could have imagined and produced an absolutely first class book. She didn't take the easy option of the characters being 100% happy with a perfect life. This book is far from what most would expect an easy `chick lit' author to produce. Lisa Jewell tackles all of the gritty real life issues that couple who are married and with a family may encounter.

    She managed to keep the spirit of these characters but yet developed them as older and wiser from what they were in Ralph's Party. There are some sensitive issues that I think are dealt with incredibly well although I'm reluctant to be specific as I don't want any spoilers in my review. The story is started with the current situation that Jem finds herself in and slowly introduces the past year and the story unfolds as the reader gets further into the book. What I also loved was the fact that the author didn't rush the ending and the reader is still wondering what will be the outcome right until the last few chapters. I cannot praise this book enough and would highly recommend it to anybody. It's isn't necessary to read the first book Ralph's Party but for those that have I think this is a wonderful way to look at the progression of Ralph and Jem's life. An absolutely fabulous read that can't be awarded anything other than 5 out of 5. Get out there and get yourself a copy!

  4.  James Patterson 9th Judgement
    My Rating: 3/5

    The women who have all been part of the `Women's Murder Club' do all appear in the story but to varying degrees.

    You have Lindsay Boxer the lead character who is meant to be a feisty detective and she works alongside Rich Conklin. Cindy is a reporter and not only does she cover the case of Hello Kitty she is also in a relatively new relationship with Rich Conklin. Yuki is a lawyer and isn't directly linked to the cases but appears in the story albeit briefly. Claire is a Medical Examiner and has a family of her own. She features more prominently in this story as she attends all the murder scenes.

    The story itself is a vast improvement on the last one in the series. I have said before, and will say again, I wonder at the speed in which James Patterson produces books. They come out frequently and some books tend to have that slightly `unfinished' feel to them. This one had some great twists in it and like I said before the actual storyline was pretty captivating. It made a change to have two stories running parallel through the book that eventually intertwine at the end. The chapters were written in the classic Patterson style; short and sharp. I have personally found that this makes the book very edgy and easy to get pulled along with.

    The characters themselves are another matter altogether. As I have read every single one of the series you find yourself knowing the characters that bit more than a stand alone novel. All I can say is WHAT HAPPENED? Our leading lady Lindsay Boxer has had a personality transplant, and not one that I like all that much. She has always been a very strong woman that has had to fight her way through the usual politics within law enforcement. Although she is involved in a long term relationship with Joe, she has always been fiercely independent. Suddenly she has become this wimpy woman with no backbone?!?

    The other women characters are all pretty strong too but with the author and co-author suddenly `finding' Yuki a man it seemed ... well... just wrong. It didn't fit, as the relationship between Cindy and Rich just doesn't fit. I felt like the characters have changed too much and I can't see many fans of this particular series liking it all that much.

    Overall I am glad that the story and writing itself was a vast improvement but the characters lost so much that it made the book that little bit less enjoyable for me. I would still recommend.

  5. My Rating: 4/5

    Steve Vail is a Bricklayer. He is however no ordinary bricklayer. He used to be a former FBI agent who didn't like taking orders from anybody. When somebody begins killing FBI agents, Deputy Director, Kate Bannon decides that she needs his help. Vail will need to go back to the world he abruptly left to see if he can help the FBI track down the murderer.

    As this is Noah Boyd's first novel I had no expectations other than the jacket info which always seems to promise the best novel ever. With the front cover holding the words "Move over Jack Reacher, here comes The Bricklayer - James Patterson" it had me hoping that this debut would be a good one.

    First off the author is not silly; he has all the components needed that have made previous authors successful. Brooding lead character that doesn't like the rules, yep he has that. Female character that is somehow persuaded to go along with the idea of breaking every rule there is, yep he also has that. Storyline involving crazy psychopath murderer that seems to know all the tricks in the book, yep, got that too. Noah Boyd has all the ingredients that other have previously used with one exception. Noah Boyd has actually worked for the FBI.

    The experience tells through the storytelling somehow making this tried and tested formula work even more than usual. The storytelling itself is good, being fast-paced and edgy without being too over the top. The actual writing of the two main characters was great and the rapport between them is built up gradually. I also fell in love with Steve Vail's character; he was witty and charming without being smarmy. On top of that he seems more real the way he is written, as does Kate Bannon.

    Some may say that Steve Vail is nowhere near as good as some of the other characters people have come to love such as Jack Reacher and Alex Cross. However remember that this is a debut novel and there is loads of room for this character to develop. That is of course on the proviso that Noah Boyd wants to continue with this character. I think a follow on book to this would be great.

    I can honestly say there is nothing I didn't like about this, admittedly Steve Vail hasn't wormed his way to my heart like Peter James has done with his lead character Roy Grace, but a follow up might just do the trick. Its tough competition out there today for crime writers; especially when creating a fresh story. I think Noah Boyd has done this well because the authenticity show through the story.

    Note about the Author: The Author: FBI agent Paul Lindsay received commendation and a $600 incentive award from FBI director William Sessions for helping spearhead the capture of serial killer Benjamin Atkins. After writing his first novel in 1992, Paul Lindsay -- a twenty-year veteran of the FBI -- became the victim of a vicious backlash. The Bureau threatened to fire Lindsay for insubordination, claiming he violated a company ban on accepting outside income. Was that the case? Or did Lindsay expose too much about an agency that likes to remain in the shadows? He went on to write another 5 books before writing under the name Noah Boyd.Sadly Paul died in 2011 while in hospital suffering from pneumonia . He was diagnosed in 2005 with a blood cancer that compromised his white blood cell count, the possible result of his exposure to chemical defoliates when he served in the Marines in Vietnam