RSS Feed

» Listings for November 2011

  1. Erica James The Real Katie LavenderMy Rating: 4/5

    It has been a year since I read an Erica James book and was looking forward to her new offering. At 448 pages it certainly isn't a short book but I settled myself down to what I hoped would be another great book.

    We meet Katie Lavender very early on as we see her get some shocking news from her solicitor. Learning that her life as she knew it was not what she thought was a great opener for me and I was soon gripped by the turn of events her life was going to take. Katie is a really likeable girl without being too predictably weak. I liked the fact that she took the bull by the horns and sets about learning what her life and family are really all about.

    The Nightingale family are from the outside the perfect family, but once Katie becomes involved she realises that there is more to them than meets the eye. She is then party to a number of crises that hit the family and before she knows it she is a part of their strange but interesting lives.

    The Nightingale family made for an interesting read with the family members all having their own skeletons in the closet. Stirling Nightingale was interesting for me as I couldn't decide whether I liked him or not, but it certainly kept me reading to find out what would happen to the whole family. The additional family member that really added some spark was Cecily, the grandmother, who seems to have more spark and get up and go than all of them put together.

    Towards the end, I found that some characters grated on me but I think that was the whole point, and overall I liked the ending and the way that things turned out for all involved. It certainly wasn't Erica's best book ever, but it was a book that kept me turning the pages having the right mix of love, tears and laughter. An enjoyable read.

  2. Sheila Quigley Bad Moon RisingMy Rating: 3/5

    Sheila Quigley is still a relatively new author to me and I only recently finished her first book in the series featuring Detective Inspector Lorraine Hunt. In the first book we meet Lorraine as well as some of her colleagues she works with such as Carter, Luke and Sara. We also see featured some of the Lumsdon family who were in the first book.

    The one thing I liked about reading book two is that I already have a feel for the area and the characters and how they interact with each other. I know Lorraine's feelings on certain people which makes me feel like I know the characters that little bit more. Having said that, it certainly isn't necessary to read the first book as this book gives you adequate background.

    The story itself sees Lorraine and her team tackling a series of murders at a time when the town is preparing for an annual event called Feast Week. There is also an interesting second thread concerning a missing young girl which made for an interesting take on all the things happening in the town.

     The book, as with the first one, was very easy to read and there was plenty going on. However, this one was not as good as the first on, although I can tell you I will certainly be buying book 3! The one thing that irritated me in this book was Lorraine trying to deal with her feelings for a certain fella'. This is a woman who has numerous jobs to juggle and murders to solve, yet when it comes to a man, she seems to become a simpering wreck? That aside, the story was great and the writing style good enough to keep me turning the pages.

    One thing that readers should know is that the book and characters are from the north of England, so Sheila Quigley has written the narrative exactly as the dialect is spoken. It certainly doesn't bother me and I think adds to the realism of the people; however some may find it a little hard work. Although I didn't think the story was as good as the first, Sheila Quigley has me hooked on these characters and I am looking forward to the third book in the series.

  3. Veronica Henry The Beach HUtMy Rating: 4/5

    I only picked up my first Veronica Henry book towards the end of 2010 which was the first book featured in the Honeycote series. That was quickly followed by the others the Honeycote Series, and following that I just haven't picked up another. I really enjoyed the Honeycote books, but they weren't books that left a lasting impression.

    I started the book with an open mind and within a few pages, I was hooked. Jane Milton is the main focus of the story and before long we learn that her husband has died leaving her in serious debt. The Beach Hut in Everdene is the hut that her family have used for years, only this time she is visiting for the last time, before she is forced to sell up. Quite early on in the book, the reader is transported back to when Jane was younger, which I was instantly gripped with. However, just as I was getting my teeth into that, Veronica takes us to a new chapter, a new hut, and a glimpse into somebody else's life.

    There is a huge selection of characters built up around the Everdene Huts and to be quite honest although I was surprised, it made such a refreshing change to see glimpses of numerous characters, but with enough information to whet the appetite for the next character. Usually, so many people in one story would put me off, but this book does the opposite.

    Although Jane and her family are the focal point, we get to witness many different situations and scenarios which are all playing out around the Milton family. The character of Jane Milton was a great one, a woman who has been there and seen it all before, but somehow is managing to take it in her stride and not become too bitter. Running parallel, we see Roy who has know Jane his whole life, and has grown up in Everdene having never set foot outside of the county, let alone out of the country.

    We get such a mix of people that it keeps the book fresh right the way through. We follow Jane from a young teenage girl, with a storyline concerning an author she used to work for, and which I absolutely loved. I can explain this book as almost like 5 or 6 short stories thrown in with one main theme.

    Overall, when I finished this book I couldn't wait to see what else I had by VH. This book was a dream to read, it keeps you really interested right the way through and I would highly recommend it. Now I can look forward to reading the rest of her books.

  4. Linda Castillo Pray For SilenceMy Rating: 3/5

    I was looking forward to reading Linda Castillo's second book after enjoying her first so much. We see the return of both Kate Burkholder and John Tomasetti. Except this time around we are around a year after the setting for the book Sworn to Silence.

    When the police arrive at the Amish farmstead in Painters Mill following the sound of screaming, they can't imagine the horror that awaits them. An entire family slaughtered: the men shot, the young women tortured and killed. They need to work out if this is random or intentional and planned. Kate decides to call on John for help. Jon is having his own career crisis and finds that the call from Kate comes at the right time.

    Linda Castillo's writing was just as good the second time around. However, a few chapters in and I was getting the distinct feeling that I had been here and read this before. The story wasn't as complex as the first and I found myself getting frustrated with the plot. I wasn't however dissapointed with the characters. I like Kate Burkholder and John and think the dynamics of their friendship/relationship was the more interesting part of this book?!?!

    I was over half way through and kept expecting there to be a big surprise or plot twist. Sadly, I was still expecting it right up to the end, only to be left feeling disappointed. Don't get me wrong overall I enjoyed the book, but I wasn't sure what the overwhelming dislike was. Was it the fact that the Amish angle to the story was now a little dull? Or was it the fact that the story just wasn't as good as her first book? I don't actually think I know the answer even having finished it.

    As a summary, I would say that this is a read that will keep you reasonable entertained, but not gripped. Anybody looking to read another great book in this series may be left feeling a little cheated. All of that said, I will still buy and read the next book in the series which has already been released in the hope that this book was just a minor blip

  5. Milly Johnson An Autumn CrushMy Rating: 4/5

    I had never read a Milly Johnson but was looking forward to it after a combination of seeing the cover, reading the synopsis as well as the rave reviews on Amazon. It took me less than two chapters to absolutely fall in love with the brutally honest but loveable Juliet Miller. Her quest to find a flatmate works out well as we meet the second female character of the book Floz Cherrydale. Floz is the polar opposite to Juliet as she is quiet and a little bit withdrawn but a lovely girl.

    We also meet Juliet's twin brother Guy and his best friend Steve. Guy is a chef that is working for a pig of a man and in his spare time he wrestles with his friend Steve. Steve is a wrestler who would love to do his job all of the time but with the declining interest in the sport has to settle for plastering as well. Steve and Guy are fabulous characters and with the unusual nature of the wrestling in the story it made it that littler bit more interesting.

    The book flows really well and at an easy pace where you become wrapped up in their normal world with a little bit of excitement added when the girls watch the wrestling matches that Guy and Steve take part in. After seeing Juliet and Steve's disastrous night where they get drunk and end up in bed the story gets that little bit funnier too.

    I loved the characters and the fact that this story was about four normal people who have different goals and their personalities make it very interesting. The one element of the story that surprised me was the one involving Floz and her secrets from her past, and this extra nugget of information made me read much quicker in an attempt to find out what it was all about.

    When I reached the ending I was smiling from ear to ear as the book panned out exactly as I had hoped. I thoroughly enjoyed my first Milly Johnson book and have already got another couple waiting to be read. It reminded me slightly of Carole Matthews in her early days and I am really looking forward to the next one.

  6. Steven Scaffardi The DroughtMy Rating: 5/5

    Occasionally I receive emails from authors asking if I would be interested in reading their debut novels. Steven was no different and to be honest when I checked out the bio of him I was a little shocked. Yes I had heard of `Lad Lit' but to be honest had never really delved into the world of the Mike Gayle's and the Nick Hornby's. I figured that as I was being offered a chance to read it free, then why not. What I didn't realise was that Lad Lit is the perfect combination of humour and reading for me and my dry and crude sense of humour!

    When I read the synopsis I realised that Lad Lit really is just that; Lad lit! The stories regarding love and romance; albeit from a slightly different perspective than that of a woman! As soon as I started reading a few things became apparent. The first was that this author's humour was right up my street. Brash, crude and direct but laugh out loud funny. Dan Hilles is a `typical' bloke. In the beginning of the book we see him break up with his terrifying girlfriend (blimey, she was enough to give all us women a bad reputation). Dan was a likeable bloke though and it didn't take me long to realise that Dan's life was not going to be as easy as he thought.

    The whole idea of the book is that we see Dan struggle through single life on a `drought' meaning no sex and even less female interaction. I read a review on Amazon which said that the book was repetitive in its nature and that the reader knows that Dan is on a sex drought. Well I have to be honest and say I was confused by that statement. Yes we know he is on a drought, that's what the whole book is about, and believe me it is very funny.

    Yes, you certainly have to have a certain type of humour, but I cannot imagine one of my friends not liking this book. Obviously if you are somebody who prefers to read books that don't involve swearing or sex, then maybe pass on this one. If not, do yourself a favour and give this book a chance.

    I was reading this book on the train on my journey home and actually managed to spit my tea out where I was laughing so hard. The man opposite me was not impressed! As the story moves forward we see Dan's attempts at getting some female attention becoming more and more daring, and to be honest more and more of a failure. This book had me cringing, laughing and smiling all the way home. I read it in a day and a half and have already started telling my friends about it. The women will (like I did) laugh at the shocking truths some of which will be close to home, and the men will laugh at the sheer truth of it all.

    I can tell you now that I didn't know an awful lot about the author until after I had read the book and I checked out his website. I was shocked to realise that he self-published. Maybe, having not read any other `Lad Lit' I cannot compare his book to others in that genre but I honestly think this would be a fantastic author for a publisher to pick up! All I can say Steven, is I seriously hope that even if you don't sign a publishing deal, you continue to self-publish because I will definitely be buying the next one. Overall, an absolutely cracking debut novel and I will be waiting for the next one. HIGHLY recommended!!!

  7.  Peter James Perfect PeopleMy Rating: 5/5

    I hold my hands up; I am a true Peter James fan and in particular am partial to a bit of Roy Grace! For those not aware of Mr James or indeed my lovely hero Mr Grace, start paying attention! Peter James has been writing for many years and his most recent and very popular series of books features Superintendant Roy Grace. Although many of Peters fans, myself included) may prefer the Grace novels, Peter James has been writing stand alone novels since the very early eighties. His latest release entitles Perfect People is quite possibly the perfect book?!? I shock myself with that statement, but I seriously feel that this book is quite possibly one of the best I have read in a very long time.

    When I read the back of the book, and realised that the story dealt with a couple who would follow the path of genetically modifying their child, I worried. What was Peter James thinking? Why on earth would a brilliant author like him want to write about such a controversial subject that could possibly go belly up? Well, having finished the book I can tell you there must have been blood, sweat and tears from him to produce such a fine book, clearly he worked hard to achieve the perfect balance and it resulted in just that!

    The book is as usual a good example of how skilled Peter James is as a writer and within the first few chapters I was completely absorbed. The two main characters were a couple; John and Naomi, and all they want is a child that will not be born with the same disease their last little boy had died from. Having lost their little boy, this normal couple decide to put their faith into the hands of geneticist Dr Leo Dettore. Right from the beginning I couldn't stand Dr Dettore but as the story progresses and you see the couple follow the procedures to choose what they do and don't want their future child to have, you can understand with how badly they want this. I could even understand how they put Dr Dettore's scientific brilliance before his less than appealing personality.

    I was slightly concerned that I would be baffled with too much of the science side of things but thankfully, everything you read and the way it was written made it easy by anybody's standards to understand the basics. The story itself picks up pace as major events happen in the first quarter of the book. I worried we had seen too much too soon, until you realise that the main event is lurking around the corner. I shocked myself at just how badly I had to keep reading this. Each time I think things are settling, something else shocks me and once again I feel that I just can't put it down.

    Before I started reading, I was very specific about my feelings on messing with genetics, and I can truly say that by the end of the book it made me re-think my opinions. The subject matter is certainly different, but the issue itself is dealt and in such a way that you empathise with the people making the decisions and the eventual outcome. It is very difficult for me to expand on this review as should I do that certain spoilers will ruin it for people.

    What I will say is that the only reason I actually brought this was because I am a Roy Grace fan. Had the book been written by somebody else, I may have given it a wide berth. I am extremely glad that I didn't do that as this book opened my eyes. The writing was brilliant, the tension high and the underlying `horrible feeling' I had didn't leave me all through the book. I think for me one of the main underlying thoughts I had all through the books is that one day, this could actually happen. What would I do if I was in their shoes? Decisions that I previously thought would be easy to make, have now left me feeling like I didn't have the first clue.

    I can honestly say that this book truly took me by surprise. Touching on subjects that I had no interest or real in depth knowledge of yet had me staying up way past my bed time as I had to finish. If I could give you one piece of advice, it would be to go and buy this book, no matter what you think of the synopsis. This is normally not the sort of book that I would read, but am truly grateful I did. HIGHLY recommended.

  8.  My Rating: 4/5

    This book was sent to me by the author and when I opened the package I nearly fell of my chair in fright. The front cover is certainly something that does not depict the sort of book this is. I read the back of the book and to be perfectly frank, wondered why the synopsis gave away so much of the story. Not letting that put me off, I settled down and made a start.

    The first thing that struck me is the sheer evil of these characters. Barry has absolutely no problem translating this evil from pen to paper. Elizabeth Waverly is truly a despicable character. The first few chapters give us the evidence of their cruelty whilst at the care home although it doesn't take long before we see their capture and prison term handed down.

    Pretty soon the story changes pace and we move onto their next plan to swindle an inheritance from Victor Carragher. The story is set in the UK and then swiftly moves to the island of Majorca. The body count is particularly high and its no holds barred for the descriptive deaths of some of the characters. I found that as the story moved along we were give short glimpses into Elizabeth Waverly's upbringing and this only added to the tension of the story.

    There are lots of characters involved in this plot, maybe at times one too many but Barry has managed to juggle this well, leaving the reader wondering where all these intricate plot threads will lead. Initially this was described to me as a horror, but to be honest it was more of a thriller with and element of horror to it. I am certainly not a horror reader, but thoroughly enjoyed this book.

    Towards the end of the book, the horror element does pick up, but to be honest it was done in a good way and I could see where the story was going. I thought that the story was well done and it was overall a really enjoyable read. That said, I think the synopsis and front cover made it not quite a perfect debut. Overall, who can criticise a man who has published his own book, and is donating all the profits to Cancer Research? I would say that next time round Barry should definitely choose a different front cover as I am pretty sure the current one would put people off. Secondly, I would say that the synopsis should give readers the taster, but not the whole meal.

    I personally, will look forward to seeing where his next books take him as he certainly has a talent for writing. I think that this book was a brilliant debut and I look forward to the next one!