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» Listings for September 2013

  1. Jenny Colgan Rosie Hopkins Sweetshop of DreamsMy Rating: 4/5

    Synopsis: Rosie Hopkins is about to face major upheaval. Her elderly aunt Lilian - feisty, independent Aunt Lily who never talked about her past - needs her help, so Rosie is moving to the depths of the countryside for a few months to look after her. Plus Rosie will be away from Gerard, the man she hopes to settle down with soon, and they'll miss each other dreadfully... won't they? Lilian Hopkins has spent her life running Lipton's village sweetshop, through wartime and family feuds. As she struggles with the idea that it might finally be time to sell up, she also wrestles with the secret history hidden behind the jars of beautifully coloured sweets.  And the longer Rosie and Lilian spend together, the more they realise they can learn from each other...

  2. James Patterson 12th of Never
    My Rating: 3/5

    Synopsis: A baby on the way and two killers on the loose. Will Detective Lindsay Boxer be pushed to breaking point? An eccentric professor walks into Lindsay's homicide department to report a murder that hasn't yet happened. A convicted serial killer wakes from a two-year coma. He says he's ready to tell where the bodies are buried, but does he have a much more sinister plan in mind? Lindsay doesn't have much time to stop a terrifying future from unfolding. But all the crimes in the world seem like nothing when she is suddenly faced with the possibility of the most devastating loss of her life.

    My Review: I have read each and every one of the Women’s Murder Club books and just lately they seem to be losing their flair. It seems that for each book, one of the characters has a major change of personality. Having said that, book 11 was a vast improvement on book 10! With this latest instalment, I was hoping to see things settle down once again but sadly this wasn’t the case.

    With Lindsay Boxer as a new mother, her baby’s birth was the intro to this latest book. That alone is something that just feels secondary to the series and no real thought had gone into it. Yuki is now running a case which seemed to take over for the majority of the book and I have to be honest and say that this particular part of the story didn’t grab me. It is a case involving Keith Herman, a disgraced attorney, who is being prosecuted for the murder of his wife. Whilst Lindsay and Yuki are busy, we see Claire get demoted following the disappearance of a body from her Morgue, and finally we see fleeting glimpses of Cindy whose relationship with Lindsay’s partner Rich Conklin appears to be running into trouble.

    I read this book pretty quickly, which wasn’t difficult as JP books are never meaty anyway. But by the end of the book, although I couldn’t say it was terrible, I also couldn’t say it was brilliant. It felt like storylines were created for all 4 characters and there was far too much going on for them individually. This made me feel like I was jumping from pillar to post, without any real sense of connection. Like many others I have probably read at least 60-70% of James Patterson’s books, but am finding that my patience is wearing a bit thin. I would prefer to wait all year for one book from the man himself, than to constantly try and catch up with all the various series and co-written books he produces. Overall, another James Patterson disappointment! 

  3. Niamh Greene Cocos SecretMy Rating: 4/5

    Synopsis: Coco Swan has always been embarrassed by her name. With a name like Coco, she thinks people expect her to be as exotic and glamorous as the famous designer, not an ordinary-looking small-town antiques dealer who could win an award for living cautiously. But when a vintage Chanel handbag turns up in a box of worthless bric-a-brac, Coco's quiet world is turned upside down. Where did it come from? And is it just coincidence that it's the same bag Coco's late mother always wanted for her? When Coco discovers a mysterious, decades-old letter hidden in the bag's lining, she sets off on a quest to piece together the story behind it, stumbling across secrets that span three generations as she goes. Is the beautiful Chanel bag be about to teach Coco more than she wants to learn? Or will it show her just where her heart can take her if she lets it lead the way?

    My Review: Niamh Greene starts the book with a little intro featuring Coco’s Mum and her time in Paris. It’s a brief introduction but enough to get a feel for this free spirited woman. Fast forward and the story begins with the adult Coco, working in her hometown at her family’s Antique store. Within the matter of a few chapters Coco’s grandmother Ruth had stolen my heart. As a widow herself she has become an outspoken and up to date grandmother who insists Coco call her by her Christian name as it’s “less ageing”!

    As the two of them attend an auction Coco manages to snag a lot whereby she uncovers a box containing a very valuable bag by her namesake Coco Chanel. This leads to Coco wondering about the owner, and the contents that were hidden inside the bag. The synopsis I know sounds kind of ‘wishy-washy’ but in all honesty that couldn’t be further from the truth.

    What unfolds is a story of a young woman desperately trying to gain confidence in both the world and herself. I couldn’t help but get carried away with the mystery of it all, and whether or not the intended recipient would ever get what the bag held. As the story continues Coco becomes more brace and in turn meets more and more people that add to the layers of the story. The story was wonderful but the characters were what made it for me, especially Ruth and Coco. Two wonderful women ;who you just can’t help but hope for the best for them. The ending was a little predictable but not a disappointment in any way, shape or form. Overall it was a fantastic book that transported me just where I wanted to be on the recent cold, wet ands windy days. The perfect escapist book!

  4.  Zoe Sharp The Blood WhispererMy Rating: 5/5

    Synopsis: The uncanny abilities of London crime-scene specialist Kelly Jacks to coax evidence from the most unpromising of crime scenes once earned her the nickname of The Blood Whisperer. Then six years ago all that changed. Kelly woke next to the butchered body of a man, the knife in her hands and no memory of what happened. She trusted the evidence would prove her innocent.

     It didn’t.

     Now released after serving her sentence for involuntary manslaughter, Kelly must try to piece her life back together. Shunned by former colleagues and friends, the only work she can get is with the crime-scene cleaning firm run by her old mentor. But old habits die hard. And when her instincts tell her things are not as they appear at the scene of a routine suicide, she can’t help but ask questions that somebody does not want answered.

    Plunged into the nightmare of being branded a killer once again, Kelly is soon fleeing the police, Russian thugs and a local gangster. Betrayed at every turn, she is fast running out of options. But Kelly acquired a whole new set of skills on the inside. Now street-smart and wary, can she use everything she’s learned to evade capture and stay alive long enough to clear her name?

  5. Diane CHamberlain Necessary LiesMy Rating: 5/5

    Synopsis: North Carolina, 1960. Newlywed Jane Forrester, fresh out of university, is seeking what most other women have shunned: a career. But life as a social worker is far from what she expected. Out amongst the rural Tobacco fields of Grace County, Jane encounters a world of extreme poverty that is far removed from the middle-class life she has grown up with. But worse is still to come. Working with the Hart family and their fifteen-year-old daughter Ivy, it’s not long before Jane uncovers a shocking secret, and is thrust into a moral dilemma that puts her career on the line, threatens to dissolve her marriage, and ultimately, determines the fate of Ivy and her family forever. Soon Jane is forced to take drastic action, and before long, there is no turning back.

    My Review: I was unsure whether I would take to this book, especially since the setting is in rural North Carolina in the 1960’s. This was a time when race was divided and although we are now in the 20th century, racism is sadly still an issue for some in that part of the world. For that reason, I was undecided as to whether I really wanted to read this, but having read other DC books and loved them I started. I was pleased I made that choice as Diane Chamberlain has created a book that tells a story, and just that. She doesn’t sensationalise anything about it, but creates a story that will maybe make readers aware of the struggles that went on at that time.

  6. Mike Gayle Turning FourtyMy Rating 3/5

    Synopsis: How to turn forty:

    1. Set yourself a personal challenge.

    2. Clear wardrobe of all age-inappropriate clothing.

    3. Relax.

    How not to turn forty:

    1. Have a complete meltdown . . .

    High-flier Matt Beckford's sole ambition is to turn forty with his life sorted. And with a Porsche on the drive and a job that requires him to spend more time in BA's club lounge than his own lounge, it looks like things are going in the right direction. But when Matt's wife unexpectedly calls time on their marriage, a chain of events is set in motion that very quickly sees him facing forty broke, homeless and completely alone.

    But all is not lost because Matt has a plan . . .

    My Review- The last book I read by MG I absolutely loved (The Stag and Hen Weekend) so I as looking forward to another book by him. Having said that, the first book of his I read (his debut novel) I wasn’t keen on; so I wasn’t sure what to expect. This book is actually a sequel to the book MG released back in 200 entitles Turning Thirty. I haven’t read that book, but from reading this current one it made no odds as I still ‘got’ the book.

    Matt Beckford is an easy character to read, but I can’t honestly say I warmed to him all that much from start to finish. The early part of the book makes no bones in launching the reader straight into Matt’s current situation of he and his wife Lauren separating. It is from that point that we see Matt struggle and fail to get himself together. When he finally bites the bullet and moves back to his parent’s house, it seems the story picks up a little bit. I quite liked the writing style and it was an easy book to read, however if I’m being 100% honest it just didn’t interest me enough.

    Having read two of his books and with both of them being on opposite ends of enjoyment, I just felt this was passable. It was okay, but certainly not memorable enough, knowing what MG is capable of. I wonder whether there was pressure for Gayle to create a sequel, and maybe if I would have read the first book maybe I would have felt differently? Who knows, but overall, although I enjoyed it; it just wasn’t anything I would write home about. I will still continue to read MG books and hope the next one is just as good as his last book!

  7. Niamh O Connor BlinkMy Rating: 3/5

    Synopsis: A hitman: DI Gavin Sexton is looking into a spate of teenage suicides when he encounters a young girl, paralyzed with locked-in syndrome. Unable to communicate in any other way, she blinks the words: 'I hired a hitman'.

    Was it suicide? Recovering from loss of sight, Sexton's old partner DI Jo Birmingham is keeping her promise to investigate the apparent suicide of Sexton's own wife, Maura. But why does he no longer seem to care?

    Secrets thrive on stigma:  Sexton believes the girl who cannot move has suffered enough. But how far should he go to protect her? And what if Jo discovers an uncomfortable truth?

    Kat's Review: I have always enjoyed this series featuring DI Jo Birmingham, and the last book was left with a potentially great start for the next book. The synopsis also sounded intriguing so I was really keen to get started with the latest instalment in the series. What threw me overall was how little Jo actually featured in this book. I think you would be hard pressed to say 25%! Instead we get to see her colleague Gavin Sexton take more of a central lead along with DS Aishling McConigle.

    The story sounded intriguing, but what frustrated me was the feeling that the general story was very disjointed. There were huge sections on the ‘if’s, buts and maybe’s’ and not enough of everything else. I also managed (don’t know how) to get really confused keeping track of all the teenagers names. This alone, and then coupled with the fact that Jo Birmingham features so little made me feel like this book just didn’t fit.

    I also don’t recall Gavin Sexton being such an idiot! It seemed like he had morphed into a different character in this book and I felt like I was reading somebody’s first (and clumsy) attempt at a series. The book wasn’t a total write off and there are glimmers of O’Connor’s talent as an author. But I felt like the series had made a shift that wasn’t necessary. Overall, and towards the end of the book it seemed to be coming together a little more and my interest was higher than it had been. That said, this was way off the mark for NOC, and I ended up feeling really disappointed.

    I have been a fan of this series, but as I’ve said in previous reviews for her books; I feel like I’m waiting for the brilliance to shine through. Thankfully, the book ended with an insight and (hopefully) the return of Jo back as the lead character (which is as it should be!). I hope that people continue reading this series and don’t base all of her books on this single one as I feel the readers would be missing out. I never like giving books such low star ratings, but I really couldn’t justify any more that this based on this story alone. I can only hope that the next book sees the return of that great writing Niamh O’Connor has produced in the past.

  8. Ali Harris The Last KissMy Rating: 5/5

    Synopsis: How do you hold on to a love that is slowly slipping away from you?

     Can you let go of the past when you know what is in the future?

     And how do you cope when you know that every kiss is a countdown to goodbye?

     This is the story of a love affair, of Ryan and Molly and how they fell in love and were torn apart. The first time Molly kissed Ryan, she knew they'd be together forever. Six years and thousands of kisses later she's married to the man she loves. But today, when Ryan kisses her, Molly realises how many of them she wasted because the future holds something which neither of them could have ever predicted…<BLO_BREAK>

     

    My Review: If I am totally honest I was very unsure when I read the synopsis for this book. I love a good Chick Lit book, but am also averse to anything too emotional or overly ‘mushy’. However when I started reading I was pleasantly surprised. The book starts with Molly in the current day. We know that something major is happening as she packs away her home, but at this point have no idea what. I soon realised that you had to pay attention because at the start of each chapter, it will tell you to rewind or fast forward and gives the reader a dateline. At first I found it distracting, but towards the middle thought nothing of it.

    It’s hard to write a review of this sort of book as its quite original in the way it’s been written and it’s based on the basis of love and how you deal with things through from your teenage years up to adulthood. Initially this may sound boring and predictable, buy Ali Harris has managed to write an extremely clever, thought provoking and emotional book that draws you in as a reader. Now that may sound contradictory to what I said about not liking books being overly emotional, but you are drawn in by the characters first and then you just get swept away.

    We read about Molly and Ryan’s life from start to finish, and the reader is drip fed bits of how they met, the problems they had and most importantly the kisses they shared. Molly and Ryan are both characters I immensely liked, but they are also normal human beings who have their own flaws and problems. I soon became used to the change in timeline and felt that as the story went on I knew more and more about each of them, and why they finally get to the stage they do towards the end of the book. If I’m being 100% honest I will admit I certainly didn’t see the ending coming until very near to it happening. I also found that although this book was extremely emotional (so for you ‘cryer’s’ out there you will need tissues) it was absolutely absorbing.

    I finished the book and can honestly say I loved it. Although it’s a typical love story it felt original and fresh and I was sad to have finished it so quickly. I’ve now downloaded another of her books and look forward to seeing what else she has done.