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» Listings for October 2010

  1. Rosy Thornton More Than Love LettersMy Rating: 4/5

    I only recently discovered Rosy Thornton with her release of her book Tapestry of Love which I really enjoyed. What I didn't expect was a book like this. I opened the page and was immediately worried. What faced me was a series of letters and emails. Not only was this the beginning of the book, it seemed that the whole book was made up this way. I would be lying if I said it didn't bother me. How on earth was I supposed to get a feel for the story and characters through letters? I am pleased to say I was completely wrong!

    The letters and various emails we see going back and forth are between the main characters of the book, and what characters they were. We see Richard Slater emailing his friend Michael Carrington who works in the Home Office. We also meet Margaret who frequently writes to her Gran and regularly emails her friend Bec's. In addition to this we see the minutes to the WITCH meetings (Women of Ipswich together combating homelessness).

    By around the 30 page mark I began to realise that this was not only cleverly written but was warm and funny. There is nothing better that getting a feel for people by reading the written word.

    Margaret's emails to her friend Bec's were hilarious as we see them spouting off about their own lives. In addition to this there is a theme running through all of their emails where they try to integrate some of the lesser known words into their conversation and in turn award each other points for the use of the word. Never before in my life have I read a book and then actually gone to a dictionary and looked up a word. (By the way I can now tell you all that facinorous is another word for atrocious!).

    I loved Cora, who was the woman who Margaret lived with and we see her take on things as she writes lovingly to her husband. In addition we see Margaret's Gran writing back to her granddaughter to update her on her life and how things are going. I was very shocked and quite saddened at the realisation of Cora and her letters at the end but it was written so well that it all made sense!

    All in all, I never imagined that I could enjoy this as much as I did due to the fact that it was all letters and emails. Rosy Thornton has done a grand job in writing a clever, warm and funny book by merely meshing together people's thoughts and feelings. As much as this wasn't the normal sort of book that I would pick up if I was in a shop, it just goes to show that Rosy Thornton can clearly produce a great book by doing things differently.

  2. Kim Chambers The BetrayerMy Rating: 5/5

    Maureen Hutton lives on a council estate in the East End of London with her three children. Her husband was a waste of time alcoholic who never helped her and she has had to go it alone ever since. Maureen's life over four decades sees the ups and downs of her family's life. Unfortunately when she is told a secret that may tear her family apart she has no choice but to get rid of the betrayer before it is too late.

    Okay first off, what planet have I been on? Why on earth I haven't picked up a Kimberley Chambers book I do not know. What I do know is that every book she has written I have now ordered and I have no intention on missing out on her future releases.

    Kimberley Chambers has written a book that reminded me of the first book I read by Martina Cole. Her style is something of a slap in the face. It's hardcore reality and immerses you from page one. I actually picked this book up because of the rave reviews here on Amazon. Of each of her 5 books, none of them have rated less than 4.5 out 5 stars ranging from a minimum of 9 reviews up to way over the 30's. This alone was enough to grab my attention. I randomly decided to choose The Betrayer as it had a whopping 15 reviews rating it as 5 star. Thankfully, all 15 people were right!

    The book itself starts off by introducing us to Maureen Hutton in 1975. We meet her three children, Tommy the eldest son, Susan the middle daughter and her youngest son James. Living on a council estate in the east end of London in the seventies is difficult for anybody, but for Maureen it is all she knows.

    Her children are all completely different and we watch as each of their lives revolves around decisions they did or didn't make when they were younger. No matter what happens to them they can always rely on their Mum. The story picks up pace from the word go and we see Maureen's eldest son Tommy make a choice that affects the rest of his life and that of his family. It sets the precedent for their futures and as usual Maureen is the glue that holds them all together.

    Kimberley Chambers has an uncanny knack of making you feel like you are living their lives alongside them. The characters she created makes for real emotion towards each one and by around chapter five I had an intense loathing for Tommy Hutton. As the years progress we see her children grown up and break away from Maureen all doing their own thing. Some of their lives they keep secret from her for fear of upsetting her. Maureen's daughter is also somebody that I instantly disliked although James, the youngest son I fell in love with.

    The story itself immerses you into a world where drug addiction, the underworld and dysfunctional families is all part and parcel of everyday life. If you are easily offended then you may not like the language in this book but for me it is what makes it all the more real. There is no hiding from the reality of being brought up the way the Hutton's were and everybody'd secrets get dragged out over time. I love the fact that the story was set over four decades and this just made the reality set in even further. I almost had a longing to find out what was going to happen and was annoyed that I couldn't read faster.

    Kimberley Chambers is genius and has produced a top notch book that Martina Cole and Mandasue Heller fans will love. She is certainly creating her niche and in my opinion is one her way to fighting for the crown of the best female crime writer around! If I was you and you haven't heard or read Kimberley Chambers before, I suggest you start right now. Trust me, if you don't you may well regret it.

  3. Louise Bagshawe DesireMy Rating: 4/5

    I have never read a Louise Bagshawe book and only picked this up because I read and loved Scandalous written by her sister Tilly Bagshawe. I must say the first thing that surprised me was the content of the story itself. The cover is a glamorous hot pink colour with a woman at the edge of an infinity pool which screams Chick Lit at you.

    However, when you read the book you soon realise that this book is a Chick Lit book with a bit of thriller thrown in for good measure. What a great job Louise Bagshawe does of it too! The first few chapters are filled with tension and pace as we see Lisa wake to a persons' worst nightmare. A she flees the scene and tries to get out of the country we also see Sam start to be dragged in as he is the wedding journalist who happens to be there at the wedding and seeing it all first hand.

    The story picks up even more pace as we see Sam get closer to Lisa and the lengths that she is prepared to go to for her own safety. The speed of writing and the chase itself doesn't relent until the very last page which I absolutely loved. There are many people in other reviews I have seen say that this book is similar to another she has written. With this one being my first I can only judge it on this story alone and I absolutely loved it.

    In my eyes it is the perfect combination of Chick Lit and Thriller all rolled into one. Yes the hardcore Crime and Thriller fans may not like it but this had the balance just right in my eyes. I will certainly be continuing to read her books and only hope that I enjoy them all as much as I did this one. I can't really find too many negatives with the book although it did have a certain inevitability to it which was maybe the only thing I could criticise.

    The writing style was really easy and the chapters the right length too. There was an easiness to reading this which I have missed in some of the more recent books I have read and I love that feeling. It is an absolute pleasure to pick a book up and immerse yourself in their world without too much cramming of information or facts going on in the background.

    It looks like the Bagshawe sisters will be earning money from me in the future because they are both very talented women and I look forward to reading more of both Louise and Tilly's work in the future.

  4.  Martina Cole The FamilyMy Rating: 3/5

    Martina Cole used to be one of my favourite authors until recently. Hard Girls was an awful read and The Business was even worse. I was convinced that Martina Cole had lost her skill however I am pleased to see that maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Don't get me wrong, this book was not in the league of the books from her early days such as Ladykillers, but it was a massive improvement on her last two books.

    Early on we are introduced to the Murphy family and we meet Phillip the head honcho. He emanates the self importance of being the leader of such an influential crime family. We meet Phillip and his family along with Christine very early on and learn how the family all came to be in a position of such importance.

    I liked the fact that the book is set over many years with the early introduction of how Christine and Phillip met and the sort of woman Christine was. We see their love affair turn to marriage, children and lastly the solid family Phillip wants and expects. Phillip is the eldest of the children in the family and although the main story leads with him we get to see the effect he has on his brother Declan and sister Breda. They are both part of the family business and as such get caught up in all the drama.

    The story itself was a vast improvement and it was a pretty fast paced read. There is lots of action and business very early on and the tension runs high in the book which I loved. Martina Cole has also slightly changed her chapter style for this book with many shorter chapters as each persons role and situation changes. I wouldn't necessarily say this was a bad thing and I think it helped highlight certain key situations.

    I liked the characters she created and loathed Phillip Murphy from the outset. Although I must admit that Christine just wasn't a strong enough character in my book. She is the woman that is put into a situation where she no longer recognises the man she has married. This was a major opportunity in my opinion to develop her as a woman and to fight back. However, this doesn't really seem to happen and she just drowns her world in drink and prescription pills.

    The story itself is a typical crime and underworld family involved in business that can and does go wrong so from that point of view it was okay. Due to the storyline and Phillip Murphy the book was a surprisingly easy read. The thing that still bothers me is that this still seems to fall so short off the mark of what she used to produce. Whether that is because there is so much competition or whether MC has lost her touch, I don't know. All I do know is that this was much better than the last two and I can only hope that her next one is even better and maybe we will see the Martina Cole of old.

  5. Sophie Kinsella Mini ShopaholicMy Rating: 2/5

    Well my opinion is really divided. I have read all of the books in the Shopaholic series and have enjoyed them all. I thing the biggest winner in the series is the character Becky. She is so loveable yet clueless and she manages to get herself in all sorts of bother.

    The other side of the coin for me is when I sat on a plane and decided to watch the film that had been made from the book Confessions of a Shopaholic. The film, albeit not the worst I have seen, wasn't great either for me. As usual the character I had built in my head was a major disappointment as I saw Isla Fisher trying (and failing) to play the part of Becky Bloomwood. Maybe this has been what lingered in my head the longest as I picked up the latest instalment in the Shopaholic series. Overall I have rated this book lower than I expected to but I suppose every series has its limits.

    When we are re-introduced to Becky we see her back to her usual tricks of shopping for ridiculous things that she doesn't need. We also meet her daughter Minnie who was written reasonably well and had taken on all of her mother's traits, including screaming mine at regular intervals. We also see Luke her husband busy with his business Brandon Communications. As an ever patient person he tends to ignore a lot of Becky's strange stories as this is part and parcel of who she is.

    I still love the character Becky and think she is incredibly funny and her one-liners that she uses to get herself out of trouble are funny. However, this particular instalment of the series only had that to fall back on, Becky herself. The storyline was the weakest I have seen in a long time, with seemingly no structure at all. The whole plot is centred on Becky planning a surprise party, which considering the title is not what I expected. Yes we do see Minnie and her tantrums along with the addition of Nanny Sue who is a childcare expert. But that is it, literally!

    I found myself dragging my heels and wondering when something was going to happen. Sophie Kinsella definitely has the skills as a writer but I am beginning to wonder whether this series has now had its day. I think the film production was what ruined it for me and from looking at other opinions it seems I am not the only one that feels that way. There were some redeeming qualities and that was things we have seen in previous books such as the relationship between Becky and her parents as well as her friendship with Suze and Tarquin.

    It only took me a day and a half to read this book but ended up feeling quite disappointed, and felt that I had only finished it out of obligation. I can only hope that Sophie Kinsella either creates a new series or continues with her stand alone novels.