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Jay (London)

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The Fire Sermon
The Fire Sermon
Price: £6.49

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written debut, 6 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: The Fire Sermon (Kindle Edition)
In a profoundly divided society, Alphas and Omegas share nothing but the moment of their death: when one twin dies, so does the other.
Four hundred years after the nuclear apocalypse, with the world entirely populated by twins, the physically perfect Alphas despise their Omega counterparts, each mutated in some way. When Cass’s Alpha twin, Zach, rises to power, he has her locked away to secure his own safety. But Cass dreams of a world where Alpha and Omega can live together peacefully, and has visions of an island where there is a brewing Omega resistance...

The Fire Sermon contains nods to lots of fantasy/SF tropes - post-apocalyptic world, technology as a taboo, apartheid-like society - but blends them together in such a way that this feels wholly fresh and exciting. Cass is a character you really love: she's not without her flaws, but underneath it all it's her love for her brother and a desire for a peaceful society which drives her. I thought she was a refreshing heroine, with a strong moral compass. The supporting cast is fantastic too, and you can tell that the author is a published poet as her descriptions of the landscape are very evocative. It has shades of The Road, but is also an incredibly fast-paced adventure story at its heart, as you follow Cass on her quest to find the island and her hope for a fairer future. I cannot wait for the next instalment.


Her
Her
by Harriet Lane
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Let down by the ending, 26 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Her (Paperback)
HER is a novel about toxic female friendship. When successful artist Nina spots harried mother Emma, she immediately remembers her from an incident in their past, and sets out to befriend her. Emma has no memory of meeting Nina before, but is drawn to her glamour and sophistication, never realising that Nina has ulterior motives all along.

It's a real page-turner, and very unsettling - I found it utterly chilling to read about Nina's subtle cruelties towards Emma, and her insidious destruction of her life. Emma is cleverly portrayed too, and it's a good insight into the lives of many middle-class women who give up their jobs to have babies. But, like so many psychological thrillers, so much rested upon the big reveal of their shared history. When this came, it was a complete let down and really undermined Nina's characterisation. For me, it ruined what had been a very intriguing read.


Miss Carter's War
Miss Carter's War
by Sheila Hancock
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lacked depth, 15 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Miss Carter's War (Paperback)
I liked the comparison to the Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and enjoy books about the after-war period, so picked this up. However, I was very disappointed. The book started out well enough, but soon proceeds as a gallop through time. The book covers 40+ years which meant that I never fully engaged with the characters as so many were introduced only to disappear for vast swathes of time, then reappear later. The ending felt very hackneyed, and unconvincing. So much happened, and so much time passed, in a relatively short book, that everything felt very surface level.


Mad About You
Mad About You
by Sinead Moriarty
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time/money, 28 July 2014
This review is from: Mad About You (Paperback)
This is one of the most shallow books I have ever read. The idea is that a woman is tormented by anonymous texts from someone claiming to be sleeping with her husband. Her husband denies all knowledge and whilst she wants to believe him, she is being driven mad by suspicion.

This reads like a lesson in how NOT to write a novel. The characters are all cardboard cut-outs, with no depth. It is very difficult to believe in any of them, and therefore I didn't really care what happened to any of them. There was the hard-as-nails beautiful sister, the earth mother, the WAG, the ball-breaker, the overbearing mother... It was like she picked out a list of stereotypes and just ticked them off as she went. The dialogue is cringe-inducing too!

It was really obvious who the stalker was, but I couldn't really sympathise with the characters for their fate considering they never called the police or actually did anything to look into it. They just whinged a lot. The worst book I have read in a long time.


Eeny Meeny: DI Helen Grace 1
Eeny Meeny: DI Helen Grace 1
by M. J. Arlidge
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good concept, but writing lacks depth, 28 July 2014
I liked the concept of this: the idea is that a killer kidnaps two people and gives them the choice to either die of starvation or use a gun to kill the other. Once they've killed the other they are set free, but have to live with the guilt of what they have done.

It's a smart concept, and it's well-paced, but what it really lacks is character depth. I didn't find Helen Grace particularly convincing or nuanced, and I found several of her decisions extremely baffling. It is also unnecessarily gratuitous when it comes to sex, violence and gore. I love crime novels but I think you create much more horror with the unsaid, rather than way too much information about some really disgusting things.

The twist at the end was disappointing, and I felt that there were too many logical holes that needed to be filled in. It passed a train journey, but it's not one I'd read again.


Until You're Mine
Until You're Mine
by Samantha Hayes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ridiculous twist, 18 July 2014
This review is from: Until You're Mine (Paperback)
I think it's very hard to advertise suspense novels in a way that doesn't raise expectations. When you know there is a twist coming, I find that it can heighten the suspense, but you also need to make sure that the suspense pays off. In this case, I really don't think that it did.

The story centres around a serial killer who murders pregnant women. One of the characters is a pregnant woman and the other main character is a (very, very suspicious) nanny. As the narrative moves along, I found myself interested at first, but I clocked fairly early what the twist would be. I also knew that the author would need to work hard to pull it off as it was fairly unbelievable. The author didn't pull it off, as it required a remarkable suspension of disbelief. I was not a fan and wouldn't recommend it.


The Lie of You
The Lie of You
by Jane Lythell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £1.99

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A page-turner, but the ending felt rushed, 18 July 2014
This review is from: The Lie of You (Paperback)
THE LIE OF YOU is a psychological thriller about two woman - Kathy, who is married to Markus and has a baby boy, and Heja, a very cold and collected Finnish woman who works for Kathy.

The novel is told from both women's perspectives. Kathy finds Markus mysterious and cold. Heja hates Kathy and wants to ruin her life. What we don't know is why.

I found this very easy to read. I read it in a matter of hours, and I think the author does a good job of creating two very different voices for the characters. My main issues with it were that Markus was a very shallow, unbelievable character. I found him very cold and unsympathetic. I didn't believe in his choices or motivations. I also felt that the ending was wrapped up too quickly, and left me unsatisfied. I do think this is a good easy read - probably one for a holiday - but not something I plan to revisit.


The Flavours of Love
The Flavours of Love
by Dorothy Koomson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unsatisfying read, 8 July 2014
This review is from: The Flavours of Love (Paperback)
This novel is accessible women's fiction, with a darker edge. It's narrated by Saffron Mackleroy whose husband was murdered 18 months earlier. Saffron has a lot to cope with: her 14 year old daughter has just shared a big secret, Saffron has a difficult relationship with food, and her husband's killer has started writing to her and threatening her family. Can she hold her life together and recover from her husband's devastating death?

Dorothy Koomson has an easy, readable style and is a good storyteller. However the novel is incredibly farfetched - we are supposed to believe that Saffron knew who killed her husband from the start but didn't turn the murderer in because of a big secret involving her daughter. By halfway through I was losing patience and by the time the secret is revealed the book fell completely flat, as the 'secret' is really small and contrived. The ending is also wrapped up far, far too neatly for my liking.

It's an ok read, but this lack of plausibility makes it unsatisfying.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 29, 2014 6:28 PM BST


Very British Problems: Making Life Awkward for Ourselves, One Rainy Day at a Time
Very British Problems: Making Life Awkward for Ourselves, One Rainy Day at a Time
by Rob Temple
Edition: Hardcover

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very, very funny, 5 Nov. 2013
I follow 'Very British Problems' on twitter, and bought this book to give a friend for Christmas, but ended up keeping it myself! It has tons more content than the twitter feed, and is packed full of those excruciatingly awkward British things we all know we do, as well as quizzes, explanations of the weather etc. It hit home a lot, and made me laugh out loud regularly. The illustrations were fantastic and it's a really nicely designed book. Buy one for you, and one for a friend!


Sisterland
Sisterland
by Curtis Sittenfeld
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow-going, 27 Aug. 2013
This review is from: Sisterland (Hardcover)
I love Curtis Sittenfeld and was really excited to read this, but was left feeling very disappointed. It's the story of twin sisters who have psychic abilities. One of the sisters had turned her back on the powers (Kate), and the other (Violet) earns her living as a psychic. When Violet predicts an earthquake will devastate the city, Kate reminisces about their childhood and the nature of family, and their powers.

There are wonderful bits of description here, and Sittenfeld is excellent at portraying the nature of family relationships. However the big issue is one of pace. I feel like it could have lost 20,000 words at least as much of the middle section felt like filler, and I found myself skimming ahead wishing that something would happen. There is a 'twist' at the end which, in my opinion, would have worked much better coming in earlier as there were loads of interesting facets to this twist which end up feeling rushed.

Ultimately, I found it very disappointing, which is a shame as I've always been a big fan of hers.


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