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  1. Simon Kernick SeveredMy Rating: 4/5

    Former Soldier Dan Tyler is about to have a very bad day. He awakes to find himself in a strange bed with your girlfriend lying dead next to him. Not only is she dead but he is covered in her blood and according to the DVD in the machine, it was him who killed her. He is then instructed to deliver a briefcase to a shady address in East London and then wait for further instructions. There seems no way out for Dan so he has no choice but to follow his instructions and only hope he can survive the next 24 hours and uncover what really happened before he ends up dead too.

    My first Kernick book was Relentless which I cannot praise highly enough. I then moved on to his most recent book The Last Ten Seconds which I loved too. I had really high hopes for this book but it didn't quite live up to expectation for me.

    Don't get me wrong, it certainly wasn't a bad book, but in comparison to the last two I have read it just wasn't as good. The great thing about Simon Kernick's writing is that he isn't backward in coming forward. Each book I have read starts at 100 miles per hour and doesn't seem to let up in pace. Normally the first few chapters are what grab you and pull you in. In this respect Severed is no different and he certainly manages to do this. However, the story was a little on the side of too un-realistic.

    I must confess that although believability is good, the whole point of reading is for fun so if the realism isn't there then it doesn't bother me too much. Having said that, this story at times, fell too far over the boundaries of being far-fetched for my liking. That aside, everything else needed for a great read was there. The character Tyler is an ordinary guy who happened to have served in the Army for quite a while. It is pretty clear from the beginning that there are not many people he can trust or turn to for help.

    His army training certainly helps with some of the situations he comes across though and pretty soon we meet many other shady characters. Aside from Tyler we don't get to learn too much about the other people in the story unless they are absolutely necessary which makes a refreshing change. Sometimes there is too much background on characters, whereas with this it felt quite balanced.

    The first half of the book is spent with Tyler following orders and suffering the consequences, whereas the second half of the book changes pace again with him fighting to get some kind of control back into his crazy day. The story is split over two days but the vast majority of the book is over 24 hours. Along the way we meet the likely suspects for Tyler's set up but as the story progresses it appears that nobody is who they appear to be.

    Yes, this book is a little unrealistic but the writing is fantastic. As a reader I am drawn into the plot (no matter how far fetched) and find myself wondering who is involved from page to page. Yes this book is escapism with a capital E but it is a worthwhile read. Towards the end of the book you are thrown a few plot twists which I liked and the story is finished with an Epilogue which wraps it all up nicely. I enjoyed this book, although not as much as Relentless but I will continue to work my way through the rest of his books and look forward to it. 

  2. My Rating: 4/5

    Hooray, Cathy Kelly is back. I have read every book she has written and loved the vast majority of them. However, her last two books didn't rate that highly for me and I was beginning to wonder what had happened to this wonderful writer. Thankfully she has returned with an absolute corker of a book.

    We meet the four wonderful women who are living in Golden Square. Eleanor is the first person we meet and you soon realise that Eleanor is not the normal character you would expect to find in a Chick Lit novel. Thankfully, she is the glue that holds this story together beautifully.

    Eleanor is a wonderful and wise character, a woman in her eighties that has wisdom and knowledge on her side. From the very beginning we see extracts from her mother's handwritten cookery book. Only the cooker book is no ordinary book. It seems to teach valuable lessons to Eleanor who then in turn will share with the other three characters we meet.

    Megan is very glamorous and having realised following her disastrous love affair had gone wrong she retreats to her Aunt Nora's home. Megan is a young and very glamorous woman who we see struggle with her grief at her loss of the man in her life she loved. Rae is the mother hen of the bunch who everybody adores and Cathy Kelly has painted a wonderful picture of her. I even got to the point where I could imagine this being made into a film. Connie is also a great character who has an air of humour about her. She struggles with her lack of sense when it comes to men and spends more time helping out others.

    The story itself was wonderfully told and I adored the setting of Golden Square. The characters all had great strength without being too much, but at the same time they all had their secrets, neurosis and funny quirks. The book is a really good read and is the perfect length. I loved the way their lives all interact and there is a dose of old fashioned faith with the addition of Eleanor's mother's cookbook. This was a joy to read and I was as pleased as punch that Cathy Kelly has gone back to her (IMO) former glory. There is nothing I can criticise about this book and it was a thoroughly enjoyable read that I would highly recommend.

  3. Sheila OFlanagan Stand BY MeMy Rating: 4/5

    Dominique Delahaye is married to successful businessman Brendan. However, when Brendan disappears, leaving Dominique and their daughter to cope alone, things look very bleak for them. However, will Brendan ever return or is it too little too late in Dominique's eyes?

    This is a pretty hefty book at a little over 500 pages long. However, normally I would settle straight into an O'Flanagan book but this one took me a little longer than usual. What I absolutely loved was the fact that this story is told from beginning to end. Although the start of the book sees Dominique in the current day, you are swiftly transported back to when she was just a young girl and met Brendan for the very first time.

    Dominique is a very young girl and her parents are devout religious people who try to mould Dominique to be more like her brother who wants to be a priest. Dominique has other ideas and becomes very independent even from a young age. Sheila O'Flanagan does a fine job of creating the typical religious Irish upbringing that Dominique has and you almost feel yourself rooting for her to create her own life away from her parents.

    Dominique's husband Brendan is introduced to the story very early on and we get to see how their relationship progresses and their family as well as Brendan's business grows. Before long you find yourself slap bang in the middle of Dominique's seemingly perfect life.

    When Brendan disappears and leaves Domino (his pet name for Dominique) and their daughter Kelly to fend for themselves I found myself beginning to loathe the character. The story itself is wonderful in the sense that you get a real perspective of how their loves have become what they are and the reasons behind it.

    The story is all consuming and I love the introduction of Brendan's brother Greg and his wife, who also happened to be a school friend of Dominique's. It makes for an interesting dynamic of the story and by the last quarter of the book I was so conflicted with how I felt about the different characters I almost got annoyed. The fact that I could get worked up over a story tells me the author has hit the nail on the head as far as the story goes.

    The ending was wrapped up with what I felt was a good conclusion but it would have been nice to see an epilogue maybe a year on. Sheila O'Flanagan has produced another great book which I thoroughly enjoyed.

  4. Carole Matthews The Only Way Is UpMy Rating: 4/5

    Kat's Review: This book is on the money. Right at this moment in time it seems that many people are struggling with money and the economy is not exactly at its peak at the moment. This is why I feel a story like this at a time like this is perfect.

    It doesn't take long, no more than a few pages, to get into the story with the Lamont-Jones'. The story is written as usual in an easy style which really gets the reader connecting with the characters. Lily and Laurence is a seemingly perfect couple that have it all. However Lily finds that Laurence has lost his job and on their return from their holiday they are left with nothing. Although Laurence has made many mistakes you can't help but like the guy. His story is one that is not that far from reality as I recall reading about other people that had been in that situation and tried to sweep it under the carpet.

    Following their swift departure into the world of the poor and penniless we see the family relocated to a rough estate where their world goes from bad to worse. Once they are situated in the house, they have to literally build their life up from scratch and they manage to do it with the most unlikely of people.

    In addition to loving Laurence, I also fell in love with Lily, who although slightly spoiled as a stay at home mum when Laurence was working, is actually a funny and warm person who I loved from the very beginning. We also meet Tracey the Lamont-Jones new next door neighbour who is brilliantly written and I could almost picture this book as a film.

    Although this particular book isn't the first type with this kind of story, Carole Matthews brings it to life with great humour and wonderful characters. Her writing style is easy to read and the pages practically turned themselves. There are some very funny events in this book too which had me laughing out loud which is always a plus for me. On top of all that the ending was perfect.

    I must say that since the release of Carole Matthews Chocolate Lovers series, I have never found anything I liked as much, until this. This book was the perfect combination of a great story, brilliant characters and a brilliant setting. All in all this was a wonderful read and one that I would highly recommend.

  5. Oliver Stark American DevilMy Rating: 5/5

    Synopsis: The Killer has entitled his masterpiece The Progression of Love. All he needs is 7 beautiful women. He is a violent killer who is preying on the young and beautiful women of New York. Detective Tom Harper is currently on suspension after hitting a superior. However, the NYPD feel that he is their best chance of catching the killer. He is taken back on the case on the proviso that he seeks therapy from psychologist Denise Levene. The NYPD have to hope that as unpredictable as he is, that he won't fall apart or ruin their case as they must catch the killer before he completes his mission.

    My Review: Oliver Stark...where have you been hiding? I am a typical Crime and Thriller fan and read through numerous books a month. Yep I have my favourites and the typical series of characters I typically return to such as Alex Cross and Roy Grace. Mr Stark has just upped the ante.

    When I got the book I realised that it was a pretty hefty read at 576 pages, but as usual, didn't allow that to put me off. I started the book and was instantly drawn into the sheer violence of the lunatic killer. Yes there are hundreds of crime writers who churn out books about serial killers but there was something different about this book.

    First off the characters were incredibly strong but not contrived. The lead character Tom Harper has a lot of issues which make him a great lead. However, although he has a number of attributes that other famous characters have, such as having an issue with authority, Oliver Stark somehow made him completely unique. Tom Harper has a serious chip on his shoulder but that doesn't stop him from being a great copper. He isn't the typical one man band who solves everything and is God's answer top the best Detective, and the story shows that great team work in involved.

    We are also soon introduced to Denise Levene who is the psychologist treating Tom. She is also a very strong character but comes across as a well balanced but intelligent woman. Somehow in many books with a lead female, some of the women are made out to be overly macho or pathetically weak, but here the balance was perfect.

    The story itself can seem in the beginning a little slow but as you read on you become more and more hooked with the story developing quickly and the killer becoming more and more brazen as time goes on. I love the fact that many mistakes are made, and that the killer is openly challenging the police.

    As the story progresses, the pace increases and I found myself turning pages at the speed of lightning. This debut novel is outstanding and by far the best debut I've had the pleasure of reading all year. There is a lot of detail involving the crime scenes, forensics and police procedure so not for the faint hearted.

    Patricia Cornwell used to be one of my favourite authors however I gave up the ghost last year and no longer read her work. This book reminded me of the type of work Cornwell produced in the early years. I cannot recommend this highly enough and would recommend it to people who are a fan of this genre. All I need to do now is impatiently wait for instalment 2!

  6. James Patterson Postcard Killers
    My Rating: 2/5

    James Patterson seems to continually disappoint me these days. It's bad enough that I hated his last two books, but this one is only marginally better. Many people are die hard Patterson fans and until quite recently I would have also put myself in that category. Unfortunately, I am now becoming very cynical when it comes to any book he has co-written.

    This particular book I was actually looking forward to due to many reasons. The first is that he has never co-written with author before; and secondly because Lisa Marklund is a successful author in her own right. Once again I have been let down.

    The story itself sounded pretty good from the bog standard jacket info. NYPD Detective Jacob Kanon is on a tour of some of the most famous European cities. However, his reasons for the tour are not what you imagine. His daughter Kimmy was brutally murdered along with her fiancé while visiting Rome. Since then other couples have been found murdered in many other cities. There seem to be no connections except for a postcard that is sent to a local newspaper prior to each of the murders. Jacob feels that he has to track the killers down to find himself some peach and the only way to do that is team up with Dessie Larson, a reporter that received a postcard in Stockholm.

    The first few chapters are pretty good with non stop action from the killer and the detectives. Gruesome crime scenes and the police scratching their head is the general theme of the story in the beginning. This book actually had the potential to be really good.

    Sadly, both Lisa Marklund and James Patterson got bored around halfway through this book and decided to slow the pace and the storyline at the same time. The story itself was okay, but it seemed to become more lacklustre the further into the book you got. The main character Jacob was not the strongest character I have read, but by no means the worst either. The relationship between Jacob and Dessie was also a bone of contention for me as it was very unbelievable and stilted.

    Besides Jacob and Dessie, the only other characters that the reader is drawn to, is that of the killers. The killers were so mentally unbalanced it was laughable. There was nothing like the connection you feel to characters when reading a Cross novel. This is one of the major factors that is turning me rapidly into a Patterson turncoat.

    I still pray that when the next Cross novel is released by Mr Patterson alone that I will take back all my words of criticism and be a number one fan again. I think that overall Patterson fans want just that, Patterson and Patterson alone. Leave the co-writing alone for a while!

  7. DSM Gangster Girl
    My Rating: 5/5

     I have a large list of authors that I repeatedly pre-order books for and at least 70% of them I have read every one of their books. However, I enjoy adding new authors to that list and Dreda has just shot straight to the top of it.

    Nearly all of my books are brought through Amazon and every time I pre-ordered a book by Mandasue Heller, Martina Cole or June Hampson this authors name kept popping up. What caught my attention was the reviewer rating for each of her 4 books. 2 of them had the maximum 5 star rating and the other 2 were a 4 star and 4.5 star. I decided to take a chance, ordered her latest release and hoped I wouldn't regret it.

    As I opened the book and started to read I was transported back to the time when I read `The Ladykillers' by Martina Cole. The reason I say this is that when I read that first Martina book she had a raw energy which hooked you as a reader (it's just a shame it doesn't still happen with MC). There was the same feel with this book and I just knew I was onto a winner. Dreda Say Mitchell has a knack with her writing style which conveys an authentic feel to the story and characters. It took me no more than 3 chapters to be totally absorbed.

    Daisy Sullivan is a brilliant character who I adored from the very beginning. Yes she is a gangster's daughter but this element of her was not overdone and the storyline that drags her past into the present is totally perfect. There is nothing about it that felt over the top and she was the perfect mix of bad girl turned out good. The other characters which appear are also written with equal skill. Ricky Smart is the opposite of Daisy but as soon as he comes into the story you can't help but want him to be the perfect match for her. The pace itself was quick from the outset with events spiralling the further into the story you get. I love a book that makes me want to read quicker to find out what happened and this book did exactly that.Lastly, I have to say that any author who can have as many plot twists as Dreda did is the best you can get. There are some major twists in this story which I didn't see coming at all and the author manages to reveal them in the last 4 chapters.

    A soon as I finished this book I was determined to get her other three books and stick them in my to-read pile. This is possibly the best new crime author I have found this year. She is now a permanent fixture on my author pre-order list and I can't wait to get cracking on her other work. Dreda Say Mitchell is a rising star in my opinion. The likes of Martina Cole need to be fearful, because once this lady gets a following (if she keeps on writing like this) she will be a serious threat to all those who take their fans for granted. If you like authors such as Mandasue Heller, Martina Cole and Jessie Keane then do yourself a favour and pick up this book; I promise you won't regret it.