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» Listings for August 2011

  1. Oliver Stark 88 KillerMy Rating: 5/5

    Oliver Stark released his debut novel American Devil in 2010 which I devoured and absolutely loved. Sometimes when an author produces such a great debut there is an impending sense of doom. Maybe the next one won't be as good? How can it be with such a great start? Thankfully Oliver Stark has not only produced a great debut, he has produced a second book that is equally as good.

    I downloaded the Kindle version and didn't realise that his second book is no less hefty than the first coming in at just under 500 pages. His first book introduced us to the two characters featuring in this story also. Denise Levene is a psychologist that was previously treating Tom Harper. Tom Harper is a copper that has a talent for catching the most evil of criminals. Both characters I fell in love with last time as they were a little different from the normal stereotypical characters. This time around we see them following the harrowing incident in the last book.

    What I loved about the characters themselves is that Oliver Stark hasn't pretended the characters are indestructible. In the beginning of the book we see both Tom and Denise struggling with their demons after the fall out of the last serial killer they were up against. It makes the characters a lot more likeable as they aren't perfect. Sadly the two of them don't have time to reflect for too long as before long they are drawn into the three cases that at first glance seem unconnected.

    As with his last book I found the beginning a little slow to start. However, after reading two of his books I realise that this must be a style for him, where he starts off with the background and slowly make the pace pick up speed until you are unaware how fast you are reading!

    The crimes and crime scenes are gruesome and extremely descriptive and you get a real feel for what is happening. After the first third of the book I was reluctant to put this down. If you didn't know it you may mistake the author for being American as he gives a great backdrop for the American setting. He also doesn't make it to easy, you really get an understanding that solving cases is not easy and that the characters make mistakes as well as having to really work to fit the pieces together.

    This book is again a true testament to a fantastic new author; a man that has a real talent for this genre and I would highly recommend.

  2. Karen Rose I Can See YouMy Rating: 4/5

    I am a pretty avid Karen Rose fan I must admit, and I have been slowly working through her older books I have yet to read. Before I started this one I glanced on other Amazon reviews to see what other people thought. One thing that frustrated me was a low rating this book was given due to the `romance' aspect of it. The one thing I do know about Karen Rose, and something potential readers should know is that her genre is `romantic suspense'. The genre kind of gives it away, but if you only want murder and mystery and no more then maybe this isn't for you. Myself, I see nothing wrong with a bit of romance and lust thrown in over a serial killer or two; I find it `lightens the load' so to speak.

    This book in particular, like many others of hers, is not a short one. The hardback is a pretty hefty weight and all in all has nearly 500 pages. As usual, it took me no more that one or two chapters to be drawn into the book. Once you have read a few of Karen Rose books you realise that various characters appear in more than one book. Although this is the case each of her books can be read as a stand alone. We meet Eve who is a woman (previously featuring in another book Nothing to Fear) with a past. She is trying to rebuild her life after a terrifying ordeal where she was kidnapped, tortured and left for dead. She works part time in a bar while studying her thesis which involves an online game called Shadowland.

    The first thing that struck me about this book is the fact that this was a perfectly believable situation. With the online gaming world taking off it put the fear of God into me while reading it (ridiculous I know)! Pretty soon after meeting Eve we meet Noah Webster who is a copper with his own secrets and past. Along with his temperamental partner Jack we see them dragged into a case which should be a simple suicide. It becomes clear pretty quickly that it isn't the case and before long they are dealing with a serial killer.

    The story is quite long and detailed with numerous suspect possibilities and just when I thought I had it figured out, I realised I was wrong. I was wondering if this book was a bit too long but by the halfway mark I literally couldn't put it down. Yes there is a predictable element of romance within the book and some pretty hot and steamy scenes towards the end, but to be fair the people involved had a very bad week and I think it was deserved:-)))

    As I have read a fair few of her books now, I wouldn't say this is my favourite but was still a riveting read as usual. Overall, another great book by Karen Rose and one that I would highly recommend.

  3. Sam Baker To My Best FriendsMy Rating: 4/5

    As I had never read any of Sam Baker's books I had no clue what she was like but thought the synopsis of this sounded different. That is one thing I was right about as this book stretches into areas that people may not be that comfortable reading about.

    We meet Nicci very early on and soon realise that she is on her death bed, and her final wishes are put into letters to her husband and her three close friends. Her three friends are Mona, the young single Mum who struggles with commitment. Jo who is stepmother to her husbands kids but struggles to conceive her own, and Lizzie who is very unhappily married.

    Very early on I liked Nicci's husband David as his grief is all too real and there are no hidden agendas with him. The book itself is a little different and because of the sort of storyline it is, it made for really interesting reading.

    I liked Lizzie and Jo but if I am honest I never really warmed up to the character Mona. The story spans many months following Nicci's death and it is nice to see how all the characters progress following the death of Nicci. Having said that, although the grief is clear I think Sam Baker has done a cracking job of not making it too depressing. It is real life with a capital R, but done sensitively and with feeling.

    I also liked the fact that although some parts of the ending I was happy with Sam Baker wasn't frightened to leave some things open ended, much like life itself. I will definitely be looking out for more Sam Baker books as I thoroughly enjoyed this one (albeit a sad story). Her writing style is easy to read and the book flowed well for me. This may not be everybody's cup of tea but I quite enjoyed it.

  4. Catherine Alliott A Rural AffairMy Rating: 4/5

    Kat's Review: I have read all of Catherine Alliott's books and looked forward to another (hopefully) good read. When I ordered my book from Amazon I couldn't help but notice that there were already 4 reviews, 2 of which loved it and 2 of which loathed it. I was quite surprised by such an extreme reaction.

    Having now read the book I can understand why there was such a divide. Happily for me I liked this book. In the intro of the book we meet Poppy, the wife who sometimes resents her mean husband. The type of lady that can have bad thoughts about her husband, although she may not want those bad things to actually take place! As soon as I had read the first chapter I realised that I loved this type of character. The one which isn't all sweetness and light, the sort of woman that certainly isn't perfect and has the occasional dream about the what-if's.

    In addition to Poppy we meet her three friends, all of whom are not perfect. Her neighbour Jennie with the disastrous husband, newly separated Angie and the older and chain-smoking Peggy. All in all they are a bunch of women who all have their own issues and are far from happy in their own way.

    The story is based around Poppy trying to move on and find happiness after the death of her husband. There are a couple of scenes in it that had me laughing out loud even if they were a little far-fetched. I didn't particularly love the characters individually, I just felt that it was nice to read something that was a little nearer to the truth than some other books you read and made for a refreshing change.

    There are other characters that make an appearance such as Jennie's stepdaughter Frankie and some of the villagers and they all added to the eclectic mix of messed up and confused people trying to make the most of their lives. This book is certainly not romance and roses, but is more a true to life look at real women struggling through trying to make the right decisions. It may not be to everybody's taste and for those that are maybe not amused by black humour, maybe it's not for you. I tend to have quite a twisted sense of humour peppered with huge doses of realism so for me this book was perfect. Maybe a slight variation from what she normally writes but I really enjoyed it.

  5. Jessie Keane Playing DeadMy Rating: 5/5


    If you haven't read the previous Annie Carter books, you should read them and not read this review as it will inevitably contain spoilers!

    I (for some reason) was under the impression that Annie Carter was part of a trilogy only and that after the third book that was the end. How wrong (and secretly delighted) was I when I realised her new book was featuring the one and only Annie Carter.

    As those who have read her previous books will know she is now married to Mafia Mob boss Constantine Barolli. The book takes us straight into the action of Annie in New York with her husband before tragedy strikes. I must admit that it only took me a matter of two or three chapters before I was drawn into Annie's world again hook line and sinker!

    Annie's life is once again in turmoil and as she heads back to London she has no idea what is in store for her. We once again see the old faithful characters re-appear that have featured in her previous books such as her friend Dolly who now runs the clubs in London for Annie, as well as Ellie and Chris who run the brothels.

    In addition to the older friends we meet the newer members of Annie's family in the form of her stepchildren, and what a bunch they are. Constantine's three children were fabulous characters and I absolutely hated two of them from the very beginning.

    Added to Annie's pressures of her extended family is the re-appearance of her supposedly dead ex-husband Max which puts a completely different spin on what has happened in the series so far.

    The story has incredible pace from the very beginning and we see a slightly more timid Annie try to get her life back together in London. In the beginning I was wondering what had happened to the feisty woman we met in the last three books but thankfully as she fights back to get her life together we once again see her character come back to life.

    The book picks up pace nicely and the ending was brilliant (although I figured who the bad guy was around the halfway stage). Jessie Keane has yet again produced an outstanding book, and one that I think Annie Carter fans are going to love. Lots of twists and surprises all the way through, combined with brilliant writing made for a top notch read in my opinion. I suppose now all that's left to do is count the days until the next Jessie Keane release.

    Highly recommended, although I would suggest starting at the first book in the series to gain the background of Annie Carter!

  6. Adele Parks About Last NightMy Rating: 3/5

    Having only read 1 other Adele Parks before, I was looking forward to something different. A chick lit write producing what seemed like grown up chick lit made for a refreshing change. When I started the books I began to realise quite quickly that the author was producing a lot of background, thoughts and feelings with very little speech (if that makes sense).

    The character Steph I found very hard to get to grips with, she seemed very cold and mechanical, whereas Pip was a delightfully scatty character that you couldn't help but like. The story centres on the two women's friendship and just how far you will go to help a friend.

    I found that around the halfway mark I felt like the book was dragging a little bit and was struggling to keep my interest. Having said that, I enjoyed reading about the two women and how their lives had come to the stage they were at now. The writing was clever and I can certainly see where Adele Parks's talent lays, but I couldn't help but feel that there wasn't much happening.

    I certainly didn't dislike the story and there is a certain element of realism to it, but I just think I struggled to keep up with the lengthy narrative. I would have loved to have seen more `real conversations' happening between the characters. I understand that this is probably a bit more meaningful as we get to see the whys and what' if's with each woman, but it just felt like a really long book.

    Overall, this book certainly won't put me off reading more Adele Parks books, but in all honesty this style of book was not my cup of tea. I'm all for meaningful books, but a little more action and a little less description would have been better. Overall, not a bad read, but certainly not an out and out winner in my eyes.