RSS Feed

» Listings for June 2010

  1. Mandasue Heller The Driver
    My Rating: 3/5

    The Grange Estate is known locally as a `rough estate' and Joe Weeks has just moved in. Joe is laid back but is quite eager to make friends with his neighbours. He meets Carl and Cheryl and before long he is one of them. With their regular parties and weed smoking, Joe fits in a treat.

     Eddie Quinn also lives on the estate and is known as the hardest man around town. He is also living from his reputation which is one that you don't wish to cross. When Joe is asked if he wants to work as Eddie's driver he jumps at the opportunity. Joe soon runs into Katya who is a very frightened prostitute who is trapped as a practical slave and wants nothing more than to escape from Eddie. Joe soon gets drawn into a dangerous life surrounded by death, drugs and prostitutes.

    Well first off I have to say I was shocked at the small offering that arrived when the book turned up. I am used to receiving a Mandasue Heller book that is a hefty offering as opposed to this slimmed down version. I picked up the book hoping that this one was better than her last book as I wasn't that impressed with it. Initially the first few chapters seemed to be going well. We get introduced to Joe and get to know the goings on of all the people who live on the estate. Joe as a character isn't the strongest Mandasue Heller has ever written but he was a likeable guy.

    We also see the bad guy Eddie who again I didn't think was that strong a character. Yes he seemingly had the right ingredients, the build, the attitude and the hard man look about him. Unfortunately that was all he had! Around the halfway mark I was beginning to wonder when the gritty storyline would jump in but sadly it didn't materialise. The book wasn't an awful read by any means it just wasn't particularly strong or memorable.

    The last portion of the book saw a rise in tempo slightly but it had an air of `unfinished business' about it. In actual fact this was how I felt about 90% of the book. You felt like you got to know the people involved but beyond that, nothing. I have read all of Martina Cole's books and felt bitterly disappointed that her more recent stuff was nowhere near as good as her original works. Sadly, it seems that Mandasue Heller is suffering the same fate. The storyline felt very lacklustre and had no real oomph in it. In addition to this, nothing that drastic or meaningful happened. I can tell from the writing style that Mandasue Heller still has a great writing style, but sadly the plot and characters are seriously lacking her usual standards. 

    I was bitterly disappointed with this and was hoping that we would see a return to her previously wonderful writing. Although the writing is there, it seems that nothing else is there with it. If I am being honest I wouldn't recommend this particular book of hers and would say try her earlier works which were brilliant. I can still live in hope that she will return with a vengeance with her next book.

  2. Jane Green The Love VerbMy Rating: 4/5

    Jane Green is a best-selling author that has been writing since 1997 with her debut novel Straight Talking. Once I had discovered her, I read every single book she had published. I then ensured that all of her new publications were on my pre-order list. However, when I reached her book Girl Friday I felt such disappointment. I felt like she had gone off the boil and lost her touch. When I saw that her new book had been released, I ordered it with the hope that maybe the last book was a blip. I think that after reading this book I am in two minds.

    This book is about two sisters Callie and Steffi. Callie is the typical mother with husband and two kids who lives in the suburbs very happily. Her younger sister Steffi is the free spirit that still lives in the heart of New York, moving from job to job and man to man. Callie has everything and more, her children are her life, her relationship with her sister is good and she is still madly in love with her husband. Steff is working as a chef in New York and dating her latest in a string of Rock Star boyfriends. We also meet Lila who is Callie's best friend. In the past she has struggled with relationships but has now met the man Ed who she thinks is `The One'.

    It is extremely hard to give an idea on how the book progresses as it would be a major spoiler, but hence to say there is a `life changing experience' that effects everybody's life. The characters are written in true Jane Green style and I felt like her writing was back to her best. Although her writing was great the story itself was a little too sad for my liking. Having read to the end of the book Jane Green has written a chapter about why she has written this book and I have to say I believe this book was a good thing for her to do.

    The story itself was well constructed and the characters were loveable. Many people will be able to empathise with the situation but I defy many to not reach for the tissues when reading it. I can only hope that this book was her comeback and maybe a soul-searching experience for her. I just hope that Jane Green in future returns to her well loved recipe of great writing and storytelling with that feel good feeling about it. I would recommend this book but just be warned that is not the happiest book you will read and maybe you need to be prepared for that. 

  3. My Rating: 5/5

    Belinda Jones has finally released her book after a gap of two years. She has written in total ten books, two of which were non-fiction. She is without a doubt a classic `Chick Lit' writer and I personally have been a fan since she began with her debut novel `Diva Las Vegas'.

    Belinda Jones started out as a magazine journalist and travel editor. It is clear from each and every one of her books that travel is the key to her heart. She has successfully made herself a firm favourite amongst us avid readers as she somehow portrays her love of travel into every book she produces. Her latest effort is no different.

    We meet Carmen and Beth who are best friends. Carmen works in the same industry as Beth but more behind the scenes. Whilst Beth is up there struggling to be noticed for her natural talent as a dancer, Carmen is the one who not only creates but adjusts the costumes.

    Carmen is currently working her way back to being a happy single girl as she recently split from her boyfriend Lee. Beth meanwhile sees the perfect opportunity for both of them. A TV advert is placed looking for somebody to learn the Tango in Argentina, the Flamenco in Spain and the Salsa in Cuba. There's only one catch, they need to be a dance novice.

    When they find themselves on the plane and en-route to their first destination they realise that this is the beginning of more than a reality TV show. The question is what will they discover along the way As usual Belinda Jones manages to write a fabulous book in which you find yourself immersed with the story. The characters Carmen and Beth are complete opposites but both are written so that you love them just the way they are. The journey they take has all the right ingredients, fun, glamour, romance, emotion and a slight teary eye. Belinda Jones has created a recipe with the perfect ingredients and has produced a book that not only tells a story, it takes you along for the ride.

    Her love of travel is evident in a huge way, and she has a special `something' with how she describes places and scenery. The actual story itself is very funny in places and you find yourself rooting for both Carmen and Beth. We also get to see what has happened to Carmen and her boyfriend in the past and how Carmen deals with it going forward.

    The length of the book was just right and some of the characters I loved even though they weren't perfect Rick the TV producer being one of them. The crew that are filming the girl's journey also become part of the story and we meet Simon the sound man and Dan the cameraman. There are many locations and different dance partners but all in all the story threads are simple and well thought out. I read this over the course of a day and a half and loved every single chapter. There was only one thing that was slightly unusual and that was the fact that with any other Belinda Jones book, I am hooked from chapter one, but with this it developed a little slower. I found myself warming up once I hit chapter 8 or 9.

    What I did find surprising was when I reached the end of the book. I had finished the story and enjoyed it, when I realised there was a short Q&A from the author at the back. I was surprised to learn that Carmen's relationship issues are something that came from the authors own experiences. All in all I would recommend this book for what it is, a light hearted but wonderful read.

  4. Jessie Keane Jail BirdMy Rating: 5/5

    Jessie Keane is an author that had her debut novel `Dirty Game' published in 2008. It was the first in the Annie Bailey series of books and was followed by `Black Widow' and `Scarlet Women' in 2009. 

    I read her first book and was hooked. Annie Bailey was such a great character and I was fearful that Jessie Keane would follow the all too predictable path that others do of relying too much on a good thing.

     After reading all three in the Annie Bailey Series I was even more worried. How on earth could she top her last three books? Not only did I love her style of writing but I fell in love with the characters. How would I feel with a new lead character? Would it be any good or would she fail at the first hurdle? To my absolute relief Jessie Keane is made of sterner stuff. Through my letterbox came her latest offering entitled Jail Bird and I excitedly ripped it from its box and settled myself in for the duration.

     Lily King has just been released from prison. She has spent the last 12 years of her life behind bars for the brutal shooting of her husband Leo King. When she is released she is determined to set the record straight. Not only does Lily have to prove she didn't kill her husband, she has to find out who did. She is battling not only Leo's family who want her dead, but her own daughters who can't stand the sight of her.

    This book was an absolute corker and I read the book cover to cover in 2 days. It is everything Jessie Keane does but better. We meet a great leading character in Lily, she has guts and determination and is absolutely focused on finding the truth. She has her battles along the way and the characters that make up the King family are right on the money. The storytelling is, as usual, brilliant and she manages to create very believable scenarios without it bordering on the unrealistic.

    It's a pacy book with plenty of plot twists and enough action to keep you both interested and guessing. I particularly liked the fact that there are lots of different characters all being brought together by one event. There are just enough to keep you intrigued but not too many that it get's confusing.

    After reading a short Bio on Jessie I realise how she manages to exude an air of masculinity into her writing being the youngest of 8 children, all boys! I have been a fan of Martina Cole for years but to be honest, find myself not looking forward to new books she releases as they are all the same sort of thing. Don't get me wrong I still read them but don't have the level of interest that I used to. If like me, you were a Cole fan in the early days, get yourself down the shops for a copy of Jessie Keane's book. She reminds me very much of Cole's early work and she is certainly giving the likes of Mandasue Heller and Karin Slaughter a run for their money. If I were Martina Cole I would be looking over my shoulder for a certain Ms Keane! Now all I have to do is wait another 7 months for her new book!