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J.F.Penn "Author of thrillers on the edge" (London, England)

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Before The Fall: A Novel (An Irish Trilogy Book 2)
Before The Fall: A Novel (An Irish Trilogy Book 2)
Price: £4.02

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A mystery and a deeper look at love, grief and reinvention, 1 Mar 2012
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It was fantastic to complete the story of Jo Devereux and find out the secrets of her family history after previously reading After The Rising. This book reads as a historical novel interspersed with a contemporary story which gave the book added resonance. I loved reading about Jo's life in San Francisco and how she escaped the Irish dramas for adventures of her own. The book also makes you think about the issues of family ties, which plague many of us, and how we have to ultimately return to the things we once ran from. It is both a mystery and a deeper look at love, grief and reinvention. Recommended.


After The Rising: A Novel (An Irish Trilogy Book 1)
After The Rising: A Novel (An Irish Trilogy Book 1)
Price: £1.95

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written contemporary fiction for lovers of the Irish, 22 Dec 2011
The book opens as Jo Devereux arrives in a little village in Ireland for her mother's funeral. She hasn't been back for 20 years and the internal conflict Jo faces mark the start of this saga than spans generations. This is a beautifully written story that will draw you in and make you desperate for the sequel.

Why read this book?

* You want to know Jo's story as the setting flicks from her years growing up in Mucknamore, her doomed love for Rory and her escape from the claustrophobic Irish village. Jo's need for independence resonated with me and her anguish in the present timeframe makes for compelling reading.

* There are mysteries in the book, open loops in the lives of the players that fascinate and make you read on.

* I'm not Irish and my knowledge of Ireland's civil war is practically non-existent. This is, in part, a historical novel about a time in Ireland that few speak of so it was fascinating to read more about it from the perspectives of the characters involved. I also appreciated the effective use of language which is accessible to non-Irish readers but still gives a lovely cadence to the read. The dialogue is expertly done.

Recommended if you enjoy contemporary fiction with a historical thread.


Entangled
Entangled
Price: £3.59

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating thriller, but abrupt ending with no explanation, 9 Dec 2011
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This review is from: Entangled (Kindle Edition)
I find Graham's non-fiction to be fascinating and the DMT drug really is this strange, so it's great to find it in fiction even though much of the research has actually occurred. However, suspension of disbelief is critical in this supernatural thriller where Leoni and Ria meet across time in a strange intermediary world and are recruited by the Blue Angel to save humankind against the embodiment of evil, Sulpa/Jack. It's a cosmic battle and so there are some heavy passages that can be confusing about time and physics but Hancock manages to keep the pace moving with the parallel stories of characters thousands of years apart in time. There are some parts of the book that are on the horror side of thriller, graphic descriptions of the way in which Sulpa/Jack and his followers massacre people and slaughter children. It's not meant to be nice, this is the embodiment of evil, but I had to skip over some of the more stomach-churning parts. I like the way the Neanderthals are portrayed, Uglies who are still gentle, in touch with the spirit world and are the light which evil is trying to extinguish. The dialogue is done well considering most of it is 'pulsed' telepathically and there are some evocative scenes of early hominids which is hard to write credibly about. The book is essentially a fast-paced race to save mankind with some huge themes, high body count and the two protagonists under increasing danger.

Hancock has done a great job of distilling a difficult subject into a fast-paced book. My main criticism is that there was no indication of this being a series and the end comes abruptly with no resolution in the story. I was annoyed to get to the last page when the story wasn't wrapped up properly in this book and there's no indication of another book.


The Flinch
The Flinch
Price: £0.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast read, a kick in the pants to get your life sorted!, 7 Dec 2011
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This review is from: The Flinch (Kindle Edition)
Seriously Julien, do I have to get in the cold shower??!
This book is a good, fast read and similar to the idea of Resistance from Steven Pressfield in War of Art. We instinctively avoid painful, difficult situations when generally they won't really hurt us. In order to get on with the important creation in our lives, we need to face the flinch more often, step out of the comfort zone and achieve something more than corridored lives. We need more scars to show that we're trying.


The Summoner
The Summoner

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark thriller - almost horror but a great read, 7 Dec 2011
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This review is from: The Summoner (Kindle Edition)
I found this book compelling to read despite the chilling and almost horrific scenes of black magic torture that made me "look away" from the page in parts. I love to be educated at the same time as entertained and this book delivered with its interesting background on 'juju' and Zimbabwe culture. There is a fast-paced plot and a new hero in Dominic Grey with his expertise in Japanese fighting martial arts. I like that he's not reliant on guns and doesn't seem to be a gorgeous chiseled-jaw hero. Nya is a strong woman and although I don't generally like to see women rescued all the time, she has enough strength to be a worthwhile character and a match for Grey in many aspects. I read this after The Egyptian and enjoyed this more. Green has managed to make an excellent series character and I'll be watching out for his books.


A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy Book 1)
A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy Book 1)
Price: £5.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book even if you don't like vampires!, 1 Dec 2011
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I can't stand vampires, they make me squirm, but I was urged repeatedly to read this book! I'm so glad I did because once I got over the squeamishness, I was hooked (and skipped over the gory bits). I went to Oxford so I devour anything related to the University so the opening scenes in the Bodleian were fantastic as well the as Woodstock scenes. Diana is a good protagonist with varying shades of strength & vulnerability, resisting her magic while it relentlessly grows inside her. Her love interest, Matthew Clairmont is handsome and learned, charming and rich as all vampires must be. But he is also complex with a violent history that Diana must accept for their partnership to work. I liked the escalation of the action between the witches and the coming together of a group who will fight for the protection of their species. I loved Matthew's mother and old servant in their French ancestral home, marvellous! What I didn't like was getting to the end and finding it was a trilogy! I like self-contained books, I hate waiting, but I will be buying the next one of these. Definitely.


There Are Other Rivers
There Are Other Rivers
Price: £2.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes you want to chuck it all in and get on the open road!, 22 Nov 2011
I'm one of those people who devour adventure books because vicariously I can be out there experiencing it too. In this book Alastair takes us on an internal journey as much as describing parts of his walk across India. It resonated with me deeply in parts, the need to be someone extraordinary, the desire to shed all physical possessions and just exist simply. I identify with the need to keep moving - I move every few years but I'm not as brave as Alastair. I also fell in love with India when I travelled there. It's one of those places I felt at home in so it was great to revisit some of those impressions through the eyes of such a seasoned traveller.

I find myself strangely jealous of the freedom to sleep under the stars, to walk towards the setting sun, to take each day anew. If you sometimes feel this way, you'll love this book. Highly recommended.


Lycopolis
Lycopolis
Price: £1.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Suspense filled supernatural fantasy grounded in gaming, 19 Nov 2011
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This review is from: Lycopolis (Kindle Edition)
I'm not a gamer but I was fascinated by the dual worlds of this novel. I enjoyed the fast paced suspense of the 'real world' segments of the book but was also interested in how the online gaming part of it worked. I like a supernatural side to my novels and the way the nightmares were enmeshed in the game and the character's real lives was skillfully done.
*What keeps you reading?*
The book opens with the summoning of the demon but it doesn't seem to have any impact. Certainly there's nothing in the real world that changes. But then, page by page, it manifests in different ways even to the physical attack of wolves. You keep reading to find out what happens to the characters, particularly Kay and Edwin, the most sympathetic players. I read this in two sittings so it certainly held my interest!


The Fear Index
The Fear Index
Price: £2.49

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected technothriller definitely keeps you reading, 1 Nov 2011
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This review is from: The Fear Index (Kindle Edition)
The Fear Index is an unexpected book from Robert Harris who is associated in my mind with historical thrillers like Pompeii and Fatherland, but it definitely doesn't disappoint. I couldn't put this book down which is surprising given the financial focus which usually sends me to sleep.

What keeps you reading:

* The mystery of who is doing this to Alexander Hoffman, or is he in fact in the grip of a mental illness and doing it to himself. If you're a fan of books like Daemon, you will work it out, but then the question becomes, who will win in this race to the death?

* I love to learn about new things in the novels I read and amazingly enough, the stock market becomes the subject of interest in this book. The Fear Index is real and the complicated market changes are also real in the book. Harris takes this and weaves a technological thriller around the possibilities. There is an immense amount of research that went into the book but he also manages to keep the reader's interest in a subject that many find dry and boring in the non-fiction world. In a climate of financial anxiety, this is a timely book but won't ease your fears.

* The conflict with the personalities in the book. I didn't really like any of the characters but the interplay of conflict kept the tension high. Hoffman clashes with everyone as he fights for his sanity and yet is undermined all the way. One strong scene is at the launch of Gabrielle's artistic career in a gallery when every single one of her pieces is bought by a mystery person, who she takes to be Hoffman. She is humiliated in front of her guests and leaves him alone to face the onslaught.

* The way the book is written, with glimpses about the dramatic end highlighted with time stamps and phrases like "according to the records viewed later". This keeps reminding you of a final event to come that as yet you don't know about, a technique I don't think I have consciously noticed in other books before but it certainly keeps you reading.


My Memories of a Future Life - the complete novel
My Memories of a Future Life - the complete novel
Price: £4.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual, stays with you after reading, 20 Sep 2011
This book is disturbing in a way that keeps you thinking long after reading it. I found it an uncomfortable read, in that I thought about some of the challenges it raised as I read. The book centres around the idea of past life regression and we see that Carol, the main character, could potentially be the past life that a future self is regressing to. Or is she the product of a hoax escalated by the mysterious Gene Winter, a man I was fascinated with. With that much psychological power, I'd like to see a book that focuses on him as a protagonist. The writing is beautiful, evocative. The book is definitely literary fiction - in that there is more internal progression than action or traditional plot. It is original and I particularly enjoyed the aspects of music, as a non-musician, that seems so magical.


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