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» Listings for February 2012

  1. Jane Green The Patchwork MarriageMy Rating: 4/5

    It has been a year and a half since Jane's last book and I was really looking forward to this one. As soon as I received it I got stuck in and it took me less that a few pages to be completely absorbed in the lives of the characters. Andi and Ethan are married and Ethan's two children Emily and Sophia live with them. Her whole life Andi has waited to fall in love with a man like Ethan and to receive a ready made family is the icing on the cake. What she didn't prepare herself for was the difficulty in becoming a stepmother to these two children.

    The main focus of the story is Emily, Ethan's eldest child who is nothing short of difficult. She is making life for Ethan and Andi very difficult and straight away I did not like this spoilt child. I was hoping that underneath it all was a likeable but troubled young girl! Like her last book, this one features the realities of life and stepchildren is a commonplace issue now for many people (myself included). It was refreshing to read about the not so nice side of this story and how trying to do the right thing by Stepchildren is not as easy as it sounds.

    After years of trying to resolve the situation Andi finally gets to breaking point and decides she has no other option than to leave. That is before Emily turns up with a major bombshell that changes everything. It is difficult to discuss major points of the story without spoiling it, but all I will say is that life is made even more complicated for all of those concerned.

    The story is not the flowers and roses kind of fairytale but one that shows how real life can be and the curveballs you can be thrown. I thought that this book and especially the way it was written was great and made for a compelling read. It kept my interest especially as the story is set over a few years. Jane Green's books have a very different feel to them in comparison to her earlier books such as Babyville but they are still great books to read.

    Although I am limited in what I can say for fear of spoilers, I will tell you that this book was certainly a great read and one that I would recommend.

  2. Robert Crais The Monkeys RaincoatMy Rating: 3/5

    This is my first Robert Crais and also the first in the series of books featuring Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. I always like to start books at the beginning of a series and in this case this first book of his was published back in 1987. The book starts off a little strangely and straight away you can tell that Elvis Cole is not going to be your typical `hero' of a book. He is a Private investigator who has a case trying to locate a missing husband and son for Ellen Lang.

    What at first seems like an open and shut case of finding the missing husband and son takes Elvis down a deep and murky path of sex drugs and murder. I couldn't help but really like Elvis from the very beginning. He is sarcastic, witty and very, very readable. His partner Joe Pike doesn't seem to make that much of an impact in this first book and seems very much a background addition, albeit an interesting one. Pike is an ex-Marine who says very little but still seems to make an impact.

    I admit that this first book I found myself struggling with in parts where I felt it dragged a little bit, but soon enough the personality of Elvis Cole dragged me back. There are quite a few things going on plot wise and it held my interest, but I felt that this was more of a book to establish the characters and use this as a great springboard for the rest of the series.

    Towards the end it got a bit more interesting and when I had finished I knew I was on to a winner because I certainly wanted to read more about Elvis and Cole. Overall, the story wasn't the best, but the writing of Robert Crais and the production of two great partners has spurred my interest. When I consider this book was written over twenty years ago I realise that as a debut novel it's a pretty good one. All I can say is that I have an awful lot of catching up to do with the series and I'm looking forward to it!

  3. Jill Mansell A Walk In The ParkMy Rating: 5/5

    Another year has passed since I read one of Jill's books and I was so looking forward to her new one. I got mine in the post and realised that it was in usual Mansell style a reasonable sized book with over 400 pages and a gorgeous cover inviting me to start reading! Within the first four chapters I realised that my plans for the evening were finished. There would be no cooking or cleaning done, all that would happen is that traipse back and forth to the kettle whilst still reading the book.

    Lara Carson starts the story off with a bang. She left her town at 16 and following events that unfolded has now decided to move back and start over. At the same time, her old friend Evie is getting ready to marry her man Joel. However, within the first quarter of the book, both women are up to their eyes in drama.

    It is quite hard to review a book without giving away a lot of the story but all I will say about the storyline is that it certainly won't disappoint. It had a lot going on and kept me on tenterhooks all the way through. As for the characters, this is what Jill Mansell does best. Lara and Evie were lovely women and you warm to both of them right away. In addition to them there is an eclectic and interesting bunch of people that all feature heavily in the story.

    Gigi was an adorable character and actually reminded me of somebody I know. We meet Lara's aunt Nettie, Don who owns jewellery shop in Bath and superstar rapper Enjay Seven. Like I said before the storyline I can't mention but what I can say is that the scenes between Enjay and Harry had me laughing out loud. My favourite character (and a pretty central one too) was Flynn. He sounds like a truly wonderful bloke and I kept my fingers crossed that things worked out how I wanted the whole way through the book.

    Overall this book is one of the best Jill Mansell has written and I loved every bit of it. Having read it in under a day I can only say that I suggest you get yourself a copy and settle yourself in for the night with a hot cuppa and a duvet. What better way to spend an evening? This book is a true testament to why Jill Mansell has been a successful author for twenty years. As for myself, I will settle back and wait another long year for the next one.

  4. Mike Gayle The Stag and Hen WeekendMy Rating: 5/5

    My first Mike Gayle book was his debut novel My Legendary Girlfriend that he first published back in 1998. I only read his book around a month or so ago and was very unimpressed. It certainly wasn't the writing; it was clear that he had the talent needed, but the main character in that book irritated me beyond belief. It seemed that the more I read the more I disliked him. I think for that reason Mike Gayle just didn't stick in my mind as much as he should have.

    With his newest books hitting the shelves last week, and there being a difference of nearly 14 years between books; I figured this would be a good way of seeing if I liked his books. When I got the book I didn't realise the concept. When you pick the book up it has a lovely pink cover and you open the book and start reading all about Helen and her Hen Weekend. However, it took me a little while to realise that you flip the book over, and a nice blue cover appears and you can read the Stag weekend part of the book. As the reader, it's up to you where you start. This alone I thought was so original and an absolutely brilliant idea.

    I decided to start with the ladies and found myself completely immersed within the space of two chapters. Helen and all her friends were easy to like and their Hen Weekend to the Peak District was far from quiet. When it appears that Helen's ex Aiden Reid is also staying at the hotel it doesn't take long for things to get complicated.

    The ladies Hen Weekend I read in half a day but by which point it was way past my bedtime and I figured I would start the boy's Stag weekend the next day. I devoured the second half of the book in half a day too and thoroughly loved every bit of it. Phil and the boys hop off to Amsterdam and we see them get up to your typical Stag weekend antics which had me chuckling. What I loved the most is that you know the reasoning behind both Phil and Helen's thoughts and it makes for a truly brilliant read.

    One of the best things about the book was the fact that it was a little open ended. There wasn't a nice neat little ending that had a bow wrapped around it; the reader gets to decide what happens when they both get home. I can honestly say with my hand on my heart, after finishing this book I now realise why Mike Gayle has such a loyal following.

    I think his first book just didn't sit well with me because of the main character. But this one had everything and more, great characters, lots going on and was so enjoyable to read. Overall it was an absolute pleasure and I am now really looking forward to reading some more of his stuff.

  5. Ben Cheetham Blood Guilt
     
    My Rating: 4/5

    This book is one that has been on my `to read' list for a while and for some reason kept getting pushed to the back of the pile. Thankfully, I got myself organised and dug out all the stuff I have been meaning to read and I am very glad that I did.


    I read so many crime, thriller and mystery books that it's hard to see where one ends and another begins. Typically, I have my favourite authors that never seem to fail, and the writers that have been producing books for years that never seem to fail. However, there is nothing nicer than coming across a new author who you have never heard of that actually produces the goods. Thankfully, Ben Cheetham is one of them.

    We meet Harlan who is having a very hard time with his life. He is a D.I whose life seems to be spiralling following the death of his son in an accident. His marriage is in danger of finishing and on a lonely night out drinking the worst thing happens. Harlan gets into a fight and a single wild punch leaves a man dead. I think the shocking thing is that from the outset you feel sorry for Harlan, and when he ends up killing a man there is a certain element of fear, because it can all to easily happen.

    The story moves forward four years and follows Harlan upon his release from prison. His life is a mess and he is now divorced and spending his days alone and living with the guilt of killing a man and depriving two children of their father and a woman of her husband. One event soon changes everything and pretty soon Harlan's life holds meaning. He has a challenge to meet and will do everything in his power to get the results he wants.

    I admit, I read the first half of this book in one sitting. I just wasn't prepared for a book as good and as fast paced as this one. The pace picks up at the halfway point and there are enough twists in the story to keep you hooked. There is a certain element of predictability about it, but I find that very few books out there manage to not have it!

    This may well have been my first Ben Cheetham but I can assure you it won't be my last. I am really looking forward to reading more stuff by this author and think this was a brilliant first book for me!

  6. Jessica Ruston The Darker SIde of LoveMy Rating: 4/5

    This story introduces us to four women who are firm friends. Caroline, Stella, Izzy and Harriet and their partners/husbands are the focus of this story starting in the nineties. Initially, it can seem a little overwhelming with the amount of characters that appear very early on. However, when you begin to understand each of their lives it becomes easier to distinguish between these very different characters.

     Jessica Ruston introduces each character and their partner or husband and how they fit into each others lives become apparent very early on. The first thing that struck me about this book was how different it was to the previous book of hers I had read. She fell firmly into the Bonkbuster genre with her debut novel, but this story is slightly different. It's clear from the outset that this is, as the tile suggests, the darker side of romance. Call it reality if you will and we see each person face their own issues or demons.

    The story itself kept me interested as you see each woman face challenges and we get to see the vast differences in the women as they try to tackle their own problems. This book certainly has the element of reality in it and I think many people will be able to empathise with something in the book. Jessica Ruston certainly had her work cut out to cover all the different elements that were found in the book.

    The synopsis shows the reader that eventually a crime will take place but you have no idea with which character, and to be frank, as I read further into the book it could have been any of them! We see adultery, drug use, domestic abuse and the general hard work it takes to make life work. I found myself more and more embroiled in the story and eventually read the last quarter of it in one sitting.

    This book was certainly a departure from the normal but I still finished the book having enjoyed it thoroughly.

  7. Carole Matthews Summer DaydreamsMy Rating: 5/5

    Kat's Review: First off I need to admit I am a big Carole Matthews fans and a huge fan of the Chocolate Lovers series of books that she wrote. Having said that, I'm certainly not biased and if I don't enjoy one of her books I will say. Her last release Wrapped Up In You I enjoyed but it wasn't my favourite.

    Moving onto this latest Release Summer Daydreams, we are in a whole new ball park! Within the first two chapters I had fallen in love with the fabulous people. Nell McNamara works in the chip shop and lives locally with her boyfriend Olly and her young daughter Petal. What starts as a makeover for the chippy, pushes Nell into a new line of work designing her own handbags.

    What caught my attention from the beginning are the people. Nell's boss Phil, her two work colleagues Constance and Jenny and Nell's partner Olly. They are all so readable and lovely. They all have their place in the story and before the first few chapters I couldn't get enough of them all.

    Nell was likeable but frustrating as you see her try to juggle her home life with work and making something for herself and her family's future. As Nell realises that she may well have talent, you see her facing all the trials and tribulations that I imagine many people starting up on their own face. She has to work out how it all works, against the constant pressure of rising debt to fund her business.

    While she is doing all this things start to go wrong, and once they start down that route they only seem to get worse! Towards the middle I realised that I had been reading it straight and had only picked it up that morning. I also realised that these were the first set of characters I had read since the Chocolate Lovers girls that I wanted to see more of (although they still remain my absolute favourites).

    Having worked my normal day job I excitedly finished the rest of the book literally not being able to put it down, as I so desperately wanted things to work out well. I finished this in one day and must say it is one of Carole's best books I have read in a long time. I devoured this and would love nothing more than to see these characters again in the future. Whether we will or not remains to be seen, all I know is that her Carole's latest release is a true testament to why she is a very successful author. Highly recommended!

  8. Lisa Gardner Catch Me
    My Rating: 4/5

     Lisa Gardner has been on my must read list for some time now and I have particularly loved the Quincy/Rainie series. However, in more recent books the DD Warren series has been predominant which I have taken my time to grow to like as much as the Quincy books. Having said that; after Lisa's last book in this DD Warren series I can honestly say I was hooked. DD Warren is a typical no-nonsense Detective, and she has her work cut out for her in this latest book.

    Charlie Grant is the main focus of the story and from the very beginning we are shown her sheer terror. Charlie is convinced that on 21st January she will be murdered. Whilst dealing with another crime scene, Charlie confronts DD and asks her to make sure she investigates her imminent death properly.

    The nicest thing about this book is we see the slight change in DD's character and she comes across as a much softer woman following the birth of her son. DD and her team are also working on the killing of people involved in sex crimes. This storyline interlinks with the main one regarding Charlie nicely. From the very beginning the plot is very fast paced and there is a sense of frenzy as we read about Charlie trying to out-run the person coming to kill her.

    The story picks up considerable pace around the halfway mark and the two stories run alongside each other nicely. The best part about this book for me was seeing much more of DD's personal life and the ways in which she has changed. The story kept me turning the pages quickly and the story kept me guessing until the very end. We do see glimpses of characters from previous books such as retired FBI profiler Pierce Quincy, as well as fleeting glances of J.T Dillon and Sergeant Roan. Although I have grown to love DD Warren, I would still love to see another book released featuring Quincy!

    Overall, this was one of the best in the DD Warren series and although part of a series could certainly be read as a stand alone book. I think Lisa Gardner fans will be thrilled with the new, softer DD Warren and new readers will be pleased to read such an engaging book. A definite page turner and I would definitely recommend it.