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» Listings for July 2015

  1. Synopsis: We all think we know who we are. What we’re capable of.

    Roz is a single mother, a physiotherapist, a sister, a friend. She’s also desperate. Her business has gone under, she’s crippled by debt and she’s just had to explain to her son why someone’s taken all their furniture away. But now a stranger has made her an offer. For one night with her, he’ll pay enough to bring her back from the edge.  Roz has a choice to make.

    Kat’s rating: 4/5

    Kat’s Review: This latest release by Paula Daly although not a crime or thriller, is certainly one that delves into the dark and seedy world some people find themselves involved in. Roz is a single Mum and by all accounts the first few chapters introduce her and she is a very likeable character. What I liked about this was that she was ordinary, by that I don’t mean boring, just that lots of people know a woman just like Roz. She works hard to make ends meet, but in the end there is always something that crops up meaning she is left to make decisions that people wouldn’t like ot make such as feeding her son or paying her rent.

    As a physiotherapist, she meets all sorts of characters and it was easy to fall into the routine of her life where she does the mundane and boring day to day thing, all the while her situation getting that little bit more precarious. As the chapters progress we also learn a little more about the last few years for Roz and why she finds herself in this current dilemma. What she didn’t bank on was her sister being the catalyst for her meeting a man that wants to make her an offer. Cue the Indecent Proposal moment where he offers her an easy way out.

    It’s all well and good reading a book and passing judgement, but do you ever really know what you are capable of until you are faced with that exact situation. This is how the book is written and it’s portrayed incredibly well. Not only did I find myself sympathising with Roz, I was questioning what I would do if I was in the same situation.

    As Roz makes a seemingly simple choice, she starts to see the knock on effect this has to her life. It also sets off a number of other events which make the book becoming even darker. Although this book may not be the most fast paced thriller I have read, it kept me gripped with the sheer ordinariness of Roz’s situation. I finished the book quickly and thoroughly enjoyed it. This book is certainly one to watch out for. 

  2. Synopsis: When new mum and events planner Julia Crawford is given the opportunity to plan three weddings, she jumps at the chance. What could possibly go wrong? …

    Forget bridezilla, Aimee’s future mother-in-law is the stuff of nightmares – hell bent on taking over the wedding entirely. Worse still, her fiancé, Jon, seems oblivious. Aimee’s starting to wonder if she and her groom-to-be are right for each other after all…

    Body shy Debbie is on a mission. She’s determined to shed a lot of pounds before the big day. As the wedding inches closer, will the new Debbie lose sight of what’s really important? Gill loves Mike and their blended family of five kids to bits, but with a house full of teenage hormones and her eldest, Kelly, struggling with so much change, Gill is feeling the pressure...

    As the women bond over cake and a cuppa, can they each resolve their wedding woes before the big day?

    Kat’s Rating: 4/5

  3. One of my guest reviewers Johnny is the type of bloke that sums up a book in a few very short but eloquent sentences. He tends to read a lot of books I wouldn't and although his reviews are short and sweet I like to feature them as a list rather than individually. He is also quite critical and he rarely scores a book 5/5, but that is actually something I love! Half the time I have to Google words he uses but that's what makes me happy. I love the fact that everybody has differing opinions and I am now eagerly waiting to see what he rates as 5 stars and then will pounce on a copy! For synopsis on the below books hit the image and the Amazon page will load will all the info you need. Here are his books reviews from May.

    The Jackdaw by Luke Delaney


    Johnny's Rating: 4/5

    Johnny's Review: Fourth in the Sean Corrigan police procedural series. Much to like in a pacey, gripping storyline complete with regulation gratuitous violence.

    Maverick detective with "personal issues present and correct, complete with criminal mastermind who can only be brought down by our hero.

    Despite  the somewhat clichéd story the book is very well written and Luke Delaney has a  good ear for realistic dialogue.

    So a very readable and gripping story that is recommended. My only criticism; I guessed the culprit well before Sean Corrigan did in the book.

    For a top notch copper to miss some fairly obvious clues was a bit puzzling!

    The Morgenstern Project by David Khara

    Johnny's Rating: 3/5

    Johnny's Review: Part of "The Consortium" thriller series featuring Mossad super agent Eytan Morgenstern. As  before the agent and his friends despatch battalions of villains with effortless ease whilst solving the riddle of why The Consortium is helping in the production of advanced prosthetics for use by the military.

    No don't ask, as before the plot and characters are just this side of completely barmy. The problem with a man so tough he makes Jack Reacher look  limp wristed is the certitude that he will prevail, no matter how unlikely the situation.

    Nevertheless, as in previous books it rattles along at a cracking pace and is actually well written with some smart dialogue. So yes, it's worth giving it a go, but just park your credulity before you start and it will while away a couple of hours quite entertainingly.

    Shadow Ritual by Eric Giacometti and Jacques Ravenne

    Johnny's Rating: 3/5

    Serviceable, proficient thriller in the same ethos as The Da Vinci Code, but slightly better written. The plot revolves around Freemasonry, magic elixirs and the like with a dash of the Knights Templar thrown in for good measure.

    Although there is plenty of action and gratuitous violence the authors have given themselves a problem regarding subject matter. The fact is, that by trying to explain arcane Freemason ritual and symbols they have , by necessity, been forced into a good deal of exposition as the general public are ill informed on the matter.

    Nevertheless, not a bad book with a hero and heroine who tick all the boxes in terms of brains and brawn and dastardly modern day Nazis (yes the usual Aryan brotherhood  story). If that's what you like you can do a lot worse than give this a try.

    Blood Relatives by Stevan Alcock

    Johnny's Rating: 3/5

    Johnny's Review: Unlike anything I've read before. The book deals with the growing up, and coming out, of a young, gay man in Yorkshire in the 1970s. Using the attacks of the Yorkshire Ripper as a background and counterpoint to the misadventures of young Ricky, its a book that cannot be conventionally categorised. Written entirely in what I presume to be a realistic Yorkshire dialect it covers a period I well remember, although the lives of the Yorkshire people bear no relation to anything I , as a soft southerner,  remember from that time.

     I can recommend this book as a well written story with good, appropriately foul mouthed, dialogue. Did I enjoy it? Up to a point , but the people, places and lifestyle described are so alien  that. In terms of commenting on veracity and verisimilitude, I'm about as qualified as I would be on whether an   Iain M .Banks  novel. is scientifically accurate.

    Mayhem in Margaux by Jean-Pierre Alaux

    Johnny's Rating: 3/5

    Johnny's Review: Another in the winemaker series. Continuing on with the successful format this episode sees our intrepid heroes dealing with a murder and a case of wine fraud i.e. relabeling as Bordeaux swelters in a heatwave.

    As usual the crimes are dealt with using minimal effort and Benjamin and Virgile close the case with minimal fuss. There is the usual avalanche of wine facts and interestingly the Margaux wines are given a good kicking,, especially Chateau Margaux.

    As before reading a book in this series is like putting on an old jumper, reassuring, comforting and not too challenging.

    The Last Moriarty by Charles Veley

    Johnny's Rating: 3/5

    Johnny's Review: Perfectly serviceable offering in the style of Conan Doyle with multiple clues, red herrings and a clever conclusion. Definitely keeps to the style of the original works and lots of good period detail and  a fluent prose style.

    My main problem is not with the book at all but with  the current TV series Sherlock. The fact that Messrs Gatiss and Moffat have dragged the franchise into the 21st.century made it difficult for me to accept what seemed an anachronistic step into the past.

    This is probably a defect on my part and I would certainly not want to denigrate the book which is a respectable and more than adequate addition to the genre.

    Paris Ransom by Charles Rosenberg

    Johnny's Rating: 4/5

    Johnny's Review: Enjoyable, pacey thriller set in the Parisian corridors of power. All the usual boxes are ticked, with the gendarmerie, intelligence services, shady Russian gangsters and venal French art dealers double crossing each other at every opportunity. Thoroughly entertaining if you ignore a couple of plot contrivances and an interesting stylistic device in having the plot driven forward from the point of view from several different characters,

    The author is thoroughly versed in the French police and legal systems and has written a very good thriller.

    Recommended as a very good thriller with authentic French settings and written with appropriate joie de vivre.

    The Harder They Come by TC Boyle

    Johnny's Rating: 4/5

    Johnny's Review: Very well written crime thriller by an obviously talented author.

    Yes, you can anticipate the "but" that is coming next. But the downside is that the characters are universally abhorrent with seemingly no redeeming characteristics between them. In fact I found them so unattractive I was hoping most of them a rapid end. Unfortunately that was not the case.

    Sorry to be so critical of an obviously gifted writer, but when  , as a reader, you can find no empathy with any of the participants in a story, then the reading experience is not likely to be  a happy one. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

  4. Synopsis: A killer with a macabre passion for human teeth stalks the residents of Harrowfield.

    Three linked murders means Assistant Chief Constable Wendy Smythe is brought in to take ultimate charge of the serial murder investigation, and she is adamant on managing the task akin to a drama. Dylan has to dig deep to remain professional.

    Chilling, ultimate and full of menace. There is dark suspicion that nobody is safe until the perpetrator is apprehended. Will the ring of steel wrapped around Harrowfield bring the psychopath to justice?

    Coupled with the fact Dylan and Jen’s daughter Maisy is hospitalised with an undiagnosed serious illness; Jack is under pressure on all fronts.

    On a happier note Jen’s dad Ralph, introduces the pair to his new lady friend but all is not as rosy as it seems three hundred miles away on the Isle of Wight, when her son brings the police to their door.

    Dylan shares intelligence with The National Crime Agency which brings back a deep seated anguish of fallen colleague DS Larry Banks. Can he help them capture the boss of an international drugs cartel, and if so will it bring Dylan closure?

    Kat's Rating: 3.5/5

    Kat's Review: Well if you ever fancied being a copper and never got the chance, read this book. I loved it, as it was like your very own 2 weeks work experience with a Murder Squad. I was a little disappointed to realise this was the 6th book in the series. My followers know I love to read a series but like to start at the beginning and play catch up. I recently realised it isn't humanly possible for me to always do this so took the plunge with this RC Bridgestock book. Luckily it didn't seem to make too much difference that I hadn't read the previous 5 in the series, although certain parts of me wish I had.

    There is a real authenticity to this and it’s very clear that the two writers (husband and wife) both have the knowledge and experience of working within this sort of world. There are no revelations, visions, or lucky breaks…just pure police work. I liked the fact you got a decent balance between Dylan’s personal and work life, it was just enough to be 100% believable.

    Dylan and his team are chasing a murdered who has an obsession with teeth. The descriptive police work and blow by blow accounts of the Post-mortem’s are refreshingly different (if that makes sense). The only criticism for me is that sometimes I felt it was lacking that extra oomph; however there was something original and refreshing about the real life approach (hence the 'not quite' 4 stars).

    By the end, as much as I enjoyed reading this I (as usual) felt a bit disappointed I hadn’t read the previous 5. Don’t get me wrong you can certainly come in at this stage of the game and not miss anything, but I feel like following a series gives you time to connect with your characters. This is certainly a series I will be looking out for in the future. I actually think this would be a fantastic book for True Crime fans who maybe want to read something not too far fetched!

  5. Synopsis: Tindledale is in a tizzy . . .

    The Village Show competition is coming around again and after last year’s spectacular failure, the villagers are determined to win. Meg, teacher at the local school, is keen to help and to impose some much-needed order.

    After a terse encounter with a newcomer to the village, Meg discovers that it is celebrity chef and culinary bad boy, Dan Wright. Meg thinks he is arrogant and rude but rumour has it that Dan is opening a new restaurant in the village which could really put Tindledale on the map.

    As things come together, villagers old and new all start to come out of the woodwork, including new arrival Jessie who seems to have it all. But first impressions can be deceptive and Meg discovers that when it comes to Tindledale – and Dan – nothing is ever quite as it seems . . .

    Kat’s Rating: 5/5

  6. Synopsis: Two sisters. Bound by blood. Torn apart by love. My sister - the glue that held our family together and the gatekeeper to the memories of our shared childhood. The girl I made a pact with - to protect each other for life. The woman who destroyed my family, my future. And the only one who can save my daughter. Set against the dramatic backdrop of India, A Sister's Promise is a powerful, emotional tale of family secrets, love and the ties that bind sisters together.

    Kat’s Rating: 5/5

    Kat’s Review: Wow! I wasn’t sure what I expected when I knew I had the new Renita D’Silver book to read. I certainly enjoyed the first one I read, but the synopsis for this latest book didn’t seem very enticing. Now I have finished the book, I can understand why it is written in the way it is. I picked up this book and to be honest for the first few chapters was wondering if this was the same author. It seemed disjointed, who were all these people and what on earth was going on? It turns out that Renita was doing what she was clearly born to do. She was weaving her web in your subconscious, waiting for the moment maybe 5 or 6 chapters in when you just knew anything you had planned for the next few hours was NOT getting done.

  7. Synopsis: Newly-appointed DI Jack Striker, of GMP’s Major Incident Team, has a dark secret, one that would land him in prison.

    Striker’s first case seems a straight-forward gang-on-gang slaying, until a notorious youth is found hanged. Before any chance to investigate, bodies begin stacking-up.

    With the hot breath of the brass burning his neck, including hard-faced DCI Maria Cunningham who’s onto him, Striker knows this case will make or break him.  The media-dubbed ‘Hoodie Hunter’ mixes MO’s, leaving few leads, and Striker recognises the work of a highly-skilled vigilante killer. When Striker’s nephew is put into a coma, it becomes personal. Desperate, he runs an unofficial op’ with trusty colleagues, stunning DC Lauren Collinge and un-PC DC Eric Bardsley, placed in the line of fire.

    The killer’s trail leads Striker into his own shady past, but will he catch the Hoodie Hunter before he or a colleague becomes the next victim?

    Kat's Rating: 4/5

    Kat's Review: I love finding new authors and I must say I will certainly be looking out for book 2 in this series. Jack Striker (LOVE this name) is a copper who as it seems throughout this book does a real job of a copper.  He doesn’t have visions, or a problem with authority…he just does his job. He sometimes doesn’t listen but other than that you get a real sense of a coppers job, even with the boring stuff thrown in. I really liked his colleague Bardsley, although I’m a little more unsure about Lauren Collinge.

    It seems that in the North of England a vigilante of sorts is taking it upon himself to rid the city of the local hoodlums. However, before long it seems the killer is constantly one step ahead of Striker and he has to tread carefully as his past hasn’t always been so squeaky clean. Col Bury has been careful to make Striker not entirely without fault, but not a Superhero either. It makes for a great balance and makes him an incredibly easy character to read.

    The story had pace from pretty early on and there were a few plot twists thrown in when trying to figure out the who and the why. I was pretty engrossed from early on and found myself hoping it stayed that way. Thankfully it did and I found myself racing through this book in a day and a half. I wouldn’t say it’s ground-breaking new story as sadly with this genre the story has been done in some sort of way by somebody already. However, what it was is a solid read and one that made me want to read the next instalment. Another new author for me to add to my list that’s for sure and I’m really looking forward to reading the next one. 

  8. Synopsis: Twenty years ago seven rich, privileged students became friends at their exclusive private school, Potter’s Field. Now they have started dying in the most violent way imaginable.

    Detective Max Wolfe has recently arrived in the Homicide division of London’s West End Central, 27 Savile Row.

    Soon he is following the bloody trail from the backstreets and bright lights of the city, to the darkest corners of the internet and all the way to the corridors of power. As the bodies pile up, Max finds the killer’s reach getting closer to everything - and everyone - he loves. Soon he is fighting not only for justice, but for his own life ...

    Kat's Rating: 3/5

    Kat's Review: Okay, I have to admit I found this a little tough going. There was nothing wrong with the story, and I certainly liked the main character but there were things that just didn’t work for me in this debut crime novel by Tony Parsons’. It’s clear that Tony Parsons has a fabulous career as a writer, but for me there were parts of this book that felt disjointed. This book centres on a group of privileged school boys who are now grown men, and it seems being killed one at a time. This had all the ingredients to be a cracking read, but it seems there were parts that just weren’t right to make it the perfect dish.

    I didn’t dislike the main character Max Wolfe, but with the crime genre, I prefer to gain snippets of their private lives with the sole focus being on the murder or crime that has been committed. In this book it seems the balance is largely on Wolfe’s private life. There is also one particular point regarding Wolfe’s ex-wife which grated on me. I don’t want to add spoilers but you are led to believe one thing and then it becomes apparent it’s another, and this didn’t sit right with me. There also seems to be a large emphasis on Max Wolfe’s daughter. I have nothing against family being involved in the story, but this seemed like overkill.

    I also felt like there were elements to the writing where you were getting into the flow of one thing, and then it abruptly stops and moves on to something different. I think this is the reason it feels so dis-jointed. Aside from those negatives, I liked the story and they crime side of it was good, it was just overshadowed for me by too much of his personal life. Having said that, many authors like to give you a solid starting point for a character in book 1, hence the reason we get so much information on Wolfe’s personal life.

    I will certainly be looking to read book 2, and hope that the latter is the reason for the heavy sway on Wolfe’s life rather than his job. Overall this wasn’t a bad book, just too unmemorable. Fingers crossed book 2 is a better read.