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» Listings for February 2011

  1. Rosy Thornton Crossed WiresMy Rating: 4/5

    Rosy Thornton has written 4 books, and the first of her books I read was the most recent, Tapestry of Love. Having loved that, I went on and brought her other three.

    This one is very different to the other two I have read so far and is more of your typical `chick lit' with a dash of real life thrown in for good measure. The book introduces us to Mina who is working at the call centre that she doesn't particularly like, but it pays the bills. Her next caller happens to be Peter who has had an accident in his car. For some reason the two of them click and they are eventually drawn into each others lives despite the geographical difference.

    We get to see a bigger portion of Peter's life that we do Mina's but as the story progresses this makes sense. The two of them share common ground in that they are both single parents. The element of real life I mentioned in the story is that of the parent role of these two people. It is written really well and we get to see the trials and tribulations their kids put them through, which I am sure many parents could relate to.

    Peter and Mina find themselves drawn over experience and as a reader we get to see how things pan out, and how mistakes can be made when you only have one version of events. The thing that really struck me is the fact that there is no real storyline that is the major thread of this book. I know that sounds strange, but that is what makes it so special. This is about two people facing every day things that many people will understand. We meet their children, friends and family who also made the book even better. Peter has twin girls and Mina has a daughter and they are very close in age making the subtle link and bond between Peter and Mina very real.

    The children in this book, Cassie and Kim the twins and Sal, Mina's daughter, all played a part in the story in their own way. We get to see their lives and how things affect them and how this in turn affects their parents.

    We also see Mina's mum and stepdad Dave as they tackle the issues surrounding Mina's younger sister Jess. On the other side of the fence we see Peter's friends and neighbours Jeremy and Martin (who I adored as characters) as well as Trish who occasionally babysits for him.

    I can honestly say that I really, really enjoyed this. I was so shocked that such ordinary events could be structured into such a lovely book, as normally we have a main story to entertain us. In my opinion this just goes to show how good a writer Rosy Thornton is, a woman that can take every day, mundane stuff and turn it into a story. My only gripe was that I wanted it to last a little longer.

    Don't be put off if you read the back and think it's a typical story revolving around a single parent woman who wants to be rescued. It's truly the opposite and was an absolute pleasure to read.

  2. Miranda Dickinson Welcome to My WorldMy Rating: 4/5

    I never read Miranda Dickinson's debut novel so this second book of hers left me with no expectations. The front cover is a pretty standard affair when it comes to Chick Lit novels and as I had no comparisons I set out to read and hopefully find another great Chick Lit author.

    In the beginning of the story we meet Harriet (better known as Harri) who has locked herself in the cubicle of a toilet in the village hall. You as the reader have no clue what has happened to her, and we only get snippets of how she is feeling. You are then transported back to how it all began. Throughout the whole of the book we continually come back to Harri in the cubicle and get given another snippet of the story until finally at the end it is all revealed.

    We meet Harri and the people that live in the local area. The story is helped massively by the setting in which Miranda Dickinson has set it. It is painted as the typical local village where everybody knows everyone else's business. This meant that we meet a lot of the people living around the village who are part of Harri's life including her friend Stella, her boss George, her friend Alex's mum Viv amongst others.

    We also meet Harri's infamous best friend Alex. Alex spent the best part of ten years travelling and has finally settled back in the village opening his own coffee shop. He and Harri have a great friendship and this shows through with the writing and creates a great pair. I also liked Harri's work colleagues George, Nus and Tom as they added a little bit of humour to the story.

    This book was so easy to read it was untrue. The writing is good and I actually really liked the characters and the setting. Having said that there are elements of this that are a little too predictable, but to honest this didn't stop me enjoying it at all! I think to sum this kind of book up is that it is enjoyable, lighthearted and easy to read. I would definitely read another Miranda Dickinson and would recommend this to people that want an enjoyable chick lit book.

  3. Niamh O Conner If I never See You AgauinMy Rating: 4/5

    Well, I have to be honest and say I was really surprised. This book was recommended to me via Facebook from somebody who was currently reading this book. I fancied somebody new and realised that it has only taken me a few days to finish this and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    I loved the setting in Ireland as it seems lately a lot of crime books I have been reading have been set in London. Niamh's writing is pretty good too. It's an easy to read style, nothing too taxing and complicated but enough to draw interest (nothing worse that reading a book and feeling like you are taking a course in forensic psychology!). Jo Birmingham is a good lead character and her situation is one that is not uncommon, in books or in the real world. She is a typical working mother that has to try and balance work and home. What I really liked about Jo was that she wasn't made as perfect as other characters I have read in the past. Typical lead women do NOT have to be perfect and sometimes (like in the case of this book) it's nice to see them make mistakes and doubt themselves.

    I also loved the other characters that make appearances throughout the story, namely her ex-husband Dan and her colleagues John Foxe (known and Foxy in the book. What a great nickname!) and Gavin Sexton. The story itself is built up in layers which made it more interesting to read, we weren't thrown out of the frying pan and in to the fat. The story is built up as we learn more about each person and the role they play following the discovery of the first body.

     From the perspective of the crimes themselves, this was the area I felt it lacked a little something. Other crime writers are far more descriptive with murder scenes and this book lacked that certain something that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when reading about a murder!

    The killer itself was not somebody I guessed which pleased me a lot (nothing worse than guessing half way through and being right) and although the ending was okay it wasn't the greatest. It felt a little rushed towards the end and amybe a little 'unfinished'. I wouldn't say that the book was perfect and at the moment there is so much competition in this genre that it is very hard to stand out from the crowd. Having said that; this book is certainly a great read, and is a great catalyst for a series featuring Jo Birmingham. Crime itself is relentless wherever you are in the world and her personal life could go either way. Having loved the characters and enjoyed the writing I am looking forward to her second book featuring Jo. I think overall for a debut novel this is a great book and I would recommend it.

  4. Jill Mansell To The Moon and BackMy Rating: 4/5

    I was so excited to get Jill Mansell's new book. It seems like forever since her last one although in reality it has only been a year. Thankfully Jill Mansell has produced a book that every chick lit fan will enjoy. When I first received the book I was please to see that even the cover looked inviting in a lovely sea blue! The strength of this author is the characters she creates and in my opinion this is what has crated her huge following of fans. This book is no exception to that rule and the main character Ellie Kendall is a great girl and one that you can imagine living next door to.

    Her tragedy is the catalyst for the next stage in her life. Thankfully there is the crazy neighbour Roo who comes in to her life and reminds her what it's like to be a `normal' girl. As per usual there is a stunningly handsome man in the story, meet Zach McLaren. I must say that this particular male lead was an absolute corker and he worked a treat in this story. The three characters all have their own life and part to play in this story but they also all cross paths which makes the book that little bit more interesting.

    The story itself is one tinged with sadness but is still not too dreary. We get to see Ellie try and re-build her life in the best way possible (that's all I can say without spoiling the main plot too much). Roo was a brilliant girl and by the time I had read just a few chapters I had a real feel for the girls and Zach. This book was so pleasurable to read. It was light hearted and easy to read with a sprinkling of romance. Chick Lit in general is never going to throw many surprises up but shockingly this one did. We meet Tony Weston who is Ellie's father-in-law and he brought a great thread to the story with a bit of a surprise at the end.

    All in all as ever I have absolutely nothing but praise for Jill Mansell. She continues to produce great books that are a joy to read, I can only cross my fingers and hope that the next one is just as good.

  5. DSM Running Hot
    My Rating: 4/5

    I only recently discovered Dreda Say Mitchell and was blown away with her two latest books Geezer Girls and Gangster Girls. I decided to buy her other two books and pre-order her newest which is due for release in March 2011. This book Running Hot was her debut novel which was published in 2004.

    When the book arrived I was surprised to see it was a little shorter that the other two at just over 300 pages. I liked the sound of the write up on the jacket and was really looking forward to this one.

    The book doesn't take long to get in to but the only thing that is a vast difference to her others is the setting of this one. Set in Hackney in London we meet people from `the street' and what goes with that is the way they talk. I worked in South East London for over 8 years so had no problem deciphering what the street lingo was but some people may struggle at times. To give you an example the word `ting' is used for `thing' so if you struggle with language written the way it is spoken on the street you may not be a fan.

    However, this was no issue for me and I found myself being drawn into the world of Schoolboy. In actual fact I think the way the language is written makes it more urban and gritty and takes a lot less time and imagination to really get a feel for what life is like in that part of Hackney for Schoolboy.

    When he discovers the phone at the very beginning, we also see excerpts from the people that are hunting the phone, and they are not happy people! The whole story is based on what on earth Schoolboy can do to get rid of the phone that everybody seems to want and at the same time get the case he so desperately needs to start afresh.

    The one thing I really liked is the fact that this story and style was completely different to her other books and it makes it all the more interesting. If I was being completely honest I would have to say I prefer her newer stuff but this was still a great book. You get the impression that the descriptions and scenarios that play out sometimes are not that far from the truth of some of London's more shady areas. We meet other characters along the way, and the most memorable would be `Queen' who quite frankly would not be somebody I would want to get on the wrong side of. There are other people who pay a part in Schoolboy's life but to be honest the book focuses solely on his dilemma and the highs and lows of his life.

    I liked the ending and finished the book thinking that I had read something a little bit different. Like I said I couldn't compare it to her newer stuff as they are exceptional but this is still a great read and definitely something fresh and new as far as writing goes.

  6. Dorothy Koomson The Woman He Loved BeforeMy Rating: 5/5

    As always with Dorothy Koomson, I am unsure that she falls into the Chick Lit genre as her books always have an element of drama about them. Her books always seem to radiate true emotion and I always finish one of her books feeling sad that I have to wait for another. This book was no different and as I write my review I can't help but be annoyed that I will again have to wait what seems like forever for another one of her books.

    This particular story seems at first glance to be a straight cut story about Jack's wife who died Eve. However, things are far from straightforward and as soon as you pick up the book and start to read you are drawn into the current life of Libby who is struggling with things, as well as Eve's past life and the secrets she holds.

    The story is told cleverly and although towards the latter part of the book I thought I had it all figured out, I was shocked to realise I was wrong. Libby is a lovely character who has her own insecurities about her husband Jack and the things he hides. Although it's clear that Jack has a troubled past you can't help but warm to him as a reader. He may not be perfect but you can't help but feel that his heart truly belongs to Libby.

    Dorothy Koomson has again written a book that is not only powerful but one that is quite heart wrenching. When the past of Jack and Eve begin to come out you begin to realise that things are quite as black and white as they seem. I found myself desperately wanting everything to be okay.

    I loved the fact that story had two very separate threads, one in the past and one in the current, but the two stories would intertwine magically. I also loved the setting being mainly in Brighton as well as London. The main topics that are dealt with in the book are always the easiest for an author to deal with well but this book truly relays the situations in a great way. That may sound slightly strange as I haven't revealed the topics but to do so would be a real plot spoiler.

    As ever DK has produced an outstanding book that I literally couldn't (or wouldn't as my husband kindly pointed out) put down. I cannot recommend this book, or for that matter this author highly enough. I have yet to find fault with her writing or any of her books. An absolute joy to read and one I suggest that you put on your list to read!

  7. James Patterson Tick Tock
    My Rating: 3/5

     I have become very jaded with JP's work recently, especially those that are co-written with the exception of the books following Michael Bennett. In particular his most recent Bennett novel Worst Case was a great read so I had high hopes for this one.

     The greatest part of a book is when an author develops characters you like and Michael Bennett is no exception. I did find that in this book he didn't seem quite the same. I love the fact that he is a hardworking cop that has a huge brood of children that make up his family. I also love his Grandfather Seamus who is a cheeky but lovable part of Michael's life. I can't put my finger on why Bennett was so different this time round, maybe it was the fact that we see him enter into dangerous territory with two women and he just doesn't handle it all that well.

     The biggest let down for me was the story itself, it was lacklustre and to be honest a wash-out compared to the last one. The plot was pretty weak and the killer was all too predictable this time round. The addition of Emily Parker to the case didn't add much to the actual plot with the killer and it lacked being genuine. It felt like the story plodded along and there was no real urgency like there is with many other Patterson novels.

     Having said that I haven't written off the Bennett series altogether yet I just hope that in the next instalment the main plot is a lot stronger than this one. I think that the majority of fans will enjoy this book but it certainly won't stay in your memory as being a `great' book.