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» Listings for March 2013

  1. Harriet Evans Not Without YouMy Rating: 5/5

    I was very lucky to receive an early copy of Harriet Evans new book Not Without You and having enjoyed her others was looking forward to it. What I didn't realise was that the book would be the best in this genre I have read this year so far! Sophie Leigh is a movie star; except her real name is Sophie Sykes and she originally grew up in England even though she now leads the glamorous life of an A-Lister. The early chapters are interesting as we get to meet Sophie and her slightly mad life with the crazy `Hollywood' types such as her agent. You also get to see the real Sophie too which I liked. She's a pretty ordinary girl who made it as an actress but she has a real passion for the old time movie star Eve Noel. Eve Noel was a star herself in the 50s and 60s but then disappeared from public life never to be seen again.

    At first glance Harriet's book looks like any other number of books in this genre but what the cover doesn't convey is that there is a somewhat dark side to this story. We get to see Sophie's life start to spiral as she refuses to do another `Rom-Com' movie, and the fans that once loved her seem to now despise her. There are numerous characters appearing in this book and what I really loved is the fact that the synopsis gives just enough away without telling too much. I will aim to do the same so will refrain from going over certain details of the book.

    We get to see Sophie change locations so the book is part set in USA and part in the English countryside. I felt myself getting pulled further and further into the book and certain elements had a dark side and I was questioning who was involved in it right until the end. The biggest factor which made this book so enjoyable was the fact that although we see Sophie, we also go back to Eve Noel's life and her rise and fall from fame. It was done so cleverly that you wonder how the two women's lives will eventually cross over, or if they will at all. I read this book in a matter of two days and absolutely loved everything about it. It just felt so original and fresh, it really did tale me into their worlds.

    I read a lot of books and sometimes every now and then one just makes it mark. Harriet Evans latest release is one such book. It is the best book I have read this year in this genre and I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you think female fiction is all about love romance and happy endings don't be fooled. Harriet Evans' new book packs in a little bit of everything, creating a story that everyone can enjoy. 

  2. Ali McNamara From Notting Hill to New YorkMy Rating: 5/5

    Having never read Ali McNamara's book entitled From Notting Hill with Love Actually, I immediately picked up this book which is the second one featuring Scarlett O'Brien. Scarlett O'Brien is a complete addict when it comes to movies, especially the romantic ones. She decides that what she needs is a holiday so decides to visit her father in New York and takes along her best friend Oscar. As soon as she hits US soil you just know that her trip to New York is going to be bedlam.

    The first book in the series features Scarlett and her family and friends and I absolutely loved it. However, not wanting to give away any spoilers all I will say is that after the last book it's clear that nothing is straightforward when it comes to Scarlett. While she is visiting all the big attractions in New York she runs into Jamie and Max, a TV reporter and his cameraman. Other than the fact the Jamie and her seem to both love films, she can't understand why she has a sudden connection with him. Especially since she is so in love with her boyfriend?

    Along with Oscar, Scarlett and her new friends Jamie and Max seem to get themselves into an awful lot of mischief. There are lots of story threads going on in this book which certainly keeps you interested but for me the winning factor was the characters. Although I really enjoyed the first book I enjoyed this one much more. Oscar is hilarious and I had a firm picture of him from the moment I picked this book up. Scarlett's father, Sean, Jamie, Max, they all added that little something to the story and by the halfway mark I actually felt like I knew these characters inside out.

    If you haven't read the first book featuring Scarlett then it's not a problem as Ali McNamara gives you enough background. However, I would highly recommend reading it because it gives you an idea of just how crazy Scarlett is. As with the first book it took me no time at all to finish this book and was pretty gutted when I finished it. I just love the fact that you are transported away from day to day life with Scarlett and her friends. This book won't be for everybody but for me it was an absolute winner. I can't wait to start reading all of McNamara's other books.

  3. Ali McNamara From Notting Hill With Love...ActuallyMy Rating: 4/5

    Having never read any of Ali McNamara's books I had no idea of what to expect. When I read the synopsis and saw some of the comments left I started to look forward to it immensely. Something I should clarify having now read this book though. The book is described as an endearing and romantic fun read. That's exactly what it is and it's frustrating when people leave negative reviews because of this. You should always know the sort of book you are about to pick up and that description is perfect for it.

    Scarlett our main character is almost obsessed with the movies. She loves all films but romantic comedies are her thing. Her fiancé David is sensible and caring but that's where it ends. As soon as I started reading I just fell in love with Scarlett. Yes she is slightly ditzy and has her head in the clouds more often than not, but she is very endearing. Her fiancé the most boring character I have read about in a while and my empathy was firmly with Scarlett when she compared him to some of her movie idols.

    The movie theme is what really made this book and the fact that the films and certain well known quotes are used from start to finish gave it that extra bit of magic. Scarlett also seems to have an extremely bad habit of causing havoc and mayhem wherever she goes. When Scarlett is given the opportunity to house-sit for a friend in Notting Hill she jumps at the chance. With her house-sitting duties comes a whole heap of new friends as well as an annoyingly handsome next-door neighbour.

    Now I know that some people may write this book off as being predictable and far too fluffy and romantic, but I say don't knock it until you tried it. After all Rom-Com films make millions because people sometimes want the predictable fairy tale. This book was a sheer joy to read and took me completely away from reality. It was like my favourite Rom-Com wrapped up in a book. I loved it so much I immediately picked up the second book featuring Scarlett (and boy was I glad I did!). If you want a book which transports you away from the dreary day to day chores, pick this one up. You will be transported to the madcap world of Scarlett and it's fun from start to finish.

  4. My Rating: 3/5

    Okay let me point out firstly that I am a big Simon Kernick fan and there aren't many of his books that I don't like. Sadly I felt a bit let down with this latest offering. His last book The Siege was a 5 star read that was absolutely brilliant and I literally couldn't put it down. When I realised this was a follow up of sorts I looked forward to it. What I found frustrating was the beginning seemed so difficult to get into. Kernick has a magic touch when it comes to writing in that fast paced `what's going to happen next' kind of way. His writing is still just as brilliant but I found myself irritated with this book for a number of reasons.

    Tina Boyd is currently a DC as she has been demoted because she tends to break every rule given to her. Mike Bolt is also back and running a special operation on Terrorism. These characters I have previously really liked, but for some reason they just grated on me this time around. How on earth Tina Boyd still has a job is beyond me! That aside, the story once again features Terrorism at the heart of it which I can understand especially in this day and age. We also see the return of William Garrett (AKA The Fox) who featured in The Siege. Boyd and Bolt are racing against the clock to stop an atrocity before it's too late.

    Like I said the writing quality is still there but this time around I just felt like the story was falling a little flat. I think aside from the characters irritating me, I would have liked to see Kernick make a departure from UK based terrorism and maybe do something a bit different. I know that a lot of people will enjoy this book, however I just felt like Kernick could do better. By no means do I mean that to sound condescending, I just wonder how I can be blown away by one book, and indifferent with another. The second half of the book was a lot easier to read and was much better than the first half as the pace picked up and there was a lot more going on. However, overall I was left feeling a little bit hard done by.

    This latest release from Kernick will probably satisfy most readers, but is certainly not what I would call a shining example of his best work. I can only hope that the next one is just as brilliant as his books normally are.


     My Rating: 4/5
    Jacqui Rose came to my attention last year in 2012 with the release of her debut novel Taken. It was a brilliant debut and I have been looking forward to and hoping that this new release is just as good. Maggie Donaldson is a young girl who has just come back to her hometown. Growing up with her father Max certainly wasn’t easy. Max is a face and he and the family the Taylor’s have a bit of rivalry going on that show no sign of letting up. When Maggie returns home, she realises that her time away has changed nothing. Her Dad Max seems even more violent than before, but Maggie is determined to get on with her life.

    Jacqui has that knack that certain writers such as Cole, Heller and Chambers have. She creates a character that is believable and Maggie is no exception. Brazen and with a filthy temper, you can almost imagine what her reputation is like. Having said that she is a really likeable character, if only I could say the same about Max! On the opposite side to the Donaldson’s is the Taylor’s. Frankie and Gypsy Taylor have been married for years and their grown up son Tommy is part of Frankie’s firm. The Taylor’s are a much more likeable family but with the sheer violence the Donaldson children see every day it was no surprise that the family members are all slightly deranged in their own way.

    With the feud between the two families getting worse, Maggie fears that her secret will be exposed and there will be no turning back from the repercussions that will take place if people found out. It’s clear to the reader what the big secret is from the early days (but I dislike spoilers so will refrain from mentioning what that is!). As the story continues there are quite a few plot twists that involve extended family members from both sides making the suspense raise another notch. By the halfway mark I found myself constantly getting twitch when you just know something is going to happen, but not quite sure when. BY the last quarter I was practically sitting on the edge of my seat and got that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
    I must say by the time I had finished (it took me just a day and a half!) I was so pleased that Jacqui Rose has proven she can write just as well as some of the others. The violence in this book was worse than in the previous one, or maybe she has just done a stellar job in creating a monster with Max Donaldson (what a vile man!). I truly loved this book and would recommend it to anybody who favours the likes of Mandasue Heller, Kim Chambers and Jessie Keane. A class book that kept me reading and I can’t wait for the next one!
  6. My Rating: 5/5

    Paul Grzegorzek self-published his first book The Follow which I recently read and absolutely loved. It was a brilliant debut and I was really looking forward to getting stuck into book 2. IN this book we meet Detective Sergeant Rob Steele who is the only bloke in Sussex who is a specialist in Firearms Positioning. He’s called into an investigation where a body is found and it looks like a professional job. The first few chapters waste no time in throwing you straight into the deep end of the crime scene and we meet his two colleagues on the case with him, Karl and Nat.

    Pretty soon the standard murder investigation jumps up a notch when MI6 get involved. An MI6 agent Merrington becomes part of the team and the standard murder case starts to become a lot more serious when they try to hunt down terrorists. With Paul’s first book I really liked the lead main character Gareth Bell and was disappointed that I wouldn’t see him again in this book. Well, that was until I started reading about Rob Steele. He’s a brilliant character and although the book is really fast paced and the storyline brilliant, the lead character is what made it for me. Although the book has a serious theme and there are many tense moments where you start to edge towards the end of your seat (well I do anyway), Rob Steele has these genius flashes of dark humour which pop up throughout the book. There is a particular part in the book where Rob Steel has a bit of a wind up with his colleague Nat where he mentions the Peter James ‘Dead’ books. If you have read Peter James and this series in particular it will make you laugh, I thought it was legendary!

    The second half of the book I had to do in one sitting as I couldn’t bear to wait and see what happened. Plenty of action, last minute plot twists and enough danger to shake a stick at. How Paul Grzegorzek has not been snapped up by a Publisher is beyond me. This is his second book and it’s and absolute blinder. His books are like a cross between a Peter James and a Simon Kernick, if you get where I’m going with that description. The fact that this book is available on Amazon Kindle for less than £2/$3 means it would be a crime not to buy yourself a copy. Once again I was blown away by how good this book was. I can only hope that next time I read one of his books it’s because his publisher has sent me an early review copy. A highly recommended read!

  7. My Rating 3.5/5

    So this was my first book by Nick Quantrill and also the first featuring Joe Geraghty. Some of you that follow my reviews know I’m a sucker for a series however having finished this book I have to be honest and say it was a pretty refreshing male lead character! Joe Geraghty is a Private Investigator who works with his friend Don and her daughter Sarah. His case starts off as being a straightforward find my daughter scenario. However, from quite early on we see that Joe is tangled up in the case that involves Jennifer Murdoch who was found dead.

    In the early part of the book I found myself wondering if I had missed a bit as the whole Jennifer Murdoch case and how Joe is in the centre of it left me feeling a bit bewildered. Pretty soon there are many threads to the plot involving many people and it certainly made for interesting reading. I was trying desperately to work out who it was, and found myself surprised as it’s been a while since I read a real “whodunit”!

    The characters are surprisingly ordinary and to be honest when you read the amount of crime books that I do, it makes a refreshing change. I kind of found myself gaining another favourite male lead character but only because Joe was so normal. He likes a beer, has trouble with his past, and the most surprisingly does not posses any martial arts or firearms training (hurrah, at last a male lead that isn’t an expert!).  The actual story like I said before was a real mystery and although I felt was a little slow at the beginning it picked up pace and towards the end was brilliant.

    As usual with any series I read and enjoy I have already brought book 2. I always find it difficult to really gel with the characters in just one book (especially in a series) but this is a great platform for it and I’m really looking forward to book 2.

  8. Fiona Gibson Pedigree MumMy Rating: 5/5

    I was very pleased when the new Fiona Gibson book was uploaded to my Kindle and I earnestly got stuck in. The synopsis promises us a straying husband, broken hearts and a slightly deranged rescue dog. What's not to love with that and to be honest with dreary February upon us I was looking forward to getting stuck into a light hearted and humorous book. Kerry Tambini and her husband and two children have made the bold move to move out of town and to the coast in a place called Shorling. Sadly, when her husband Rob makes a huge mistake Kerry is left to settle the family on her own she doesn't know quite how she will cope. In the case of Pedigree Mum it involves a varied cast of characters in an `everybody knows everything' place with a crazy dog for company.

    The first few chapters already had me smiling as Fiona Gibson sets her storytelling to the highest standards. The descriptions of the snooty mothers whose children eat nothing but organic produce and that look like they stepped out of a catalogue had me laughing out loud. Kerry and her family are so easy to like as they are like the majority of normal families. Their life is normally organised chaos and when Kerry decides to cave into the kids demands for a dog she has no idea what she is letting herself in for. Along comes Buddy the rescue dog who quite frankly should have a book of his own. With a knack for being outrageously naughty, his appearance normally caused trouble in one form or another.

    We get to see quite a bit of Rob and his life as he battles to get things right and although this part of the storyline fitted in well I loved nothing more than seeing Kerry integrate herself in a new town. Some of the characters were very funny and all of them were entertaining in their own way. I read this book in just over a day and a half and didn't like it when I realised I had finished! I absolutely loved this book. It cheered me up no end on my miserable commute. Thankfully, I have a few of Fiona's other books I haven't yet read so I can look forward to getting stuck into them. This book was entertaining and addictive making me laugh in all the right places. The perfect accompaniment to a cuppa and a comfy sofa!