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Requiem (Byland Crescent Book 1)
Requiem (Byland Crescent Book 1)
Price: £2.30

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you liked Downton Abbey, you should enjoy this series too, 16 July 2012
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Requiem is book 1 of an epic saga involving the residents of Byland Crescent. It begins in 1878, set around the wool industry in Yorkshire, and starts with 14-year-old Albert Cowgill, determined to rise out of poverty and become his own boss - not an easy thing to achieve when you've no skill.

Requiem takes us through Albert's struggles and successes as he matures during the last decade of the Victorian era, and through to the Great War and the difficult years after, as he watches his own family and business flourish - but not without problems.

There are a lot of characters in the book to get to know, but it's written in such a way that the narrative flows and carries you along as the generations grow. And they're all well developed so you soon find yourself becoming attached to the ones you love but, like any large family, the Cowgill's have their fair share of scandal and evil-minded villains too. I especially liked James for his gentleness and goodness, but I also loved reading about the scheming Clarence Barker.

Requiem is a very interesting historical novel and reminded me of the hugely successful Downton Abbey series - so if you loved that you are more than likely to enjoy this book and the series too.

The next book out is Renaissance and I'm looking forward to seeing how the story progresses.

Watering the Olives
Watering the Olives
Price: £2.30

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully written ideal light reading, 17 Jun. 2012
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Watering the Olives is a wonderfully written collection of short stories about traditional life on a small Greek island. The tales are humorously told by a fictional English writer called Vassili, who lives within the heart of a small village community on the island. The descriptions of the places and the way of life are so graphic that I was right there with Vassili as I read. Also, having lived on the Aegean coast myself, I was very impressed with the accuracy of the descriptions.

From stories that include love, jealously, scheming, matchmaking and, of course, tending olives, Watering the Olives consists of a complete tale in each chapter. So it makes for light, easy reading.

Warning: reading these stories will probably make you want to book your next holiday very soon after.

The Crime Writer's Guide to Police Practice and Procedure
The Crime Writer's Guide to Police Practice and Procedure
by Michael O'Byrne
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just what I've been looking for!, 11 Jun. 2012
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The Crime Writer's Guide to Police Practice and Procedure by Michael O'Byrne is a great addition to any crime writer's toolkit - whether they are writing about true crime or fiction.

Michael O'Byrne was a career police officer, joining the force when he was 19 as a Constable and rising through to the rank of Chief Constable of Bedfordshire by the time he retired. He is now a crime writer himself and, as the title states, this book was written especially with crime writers in mind to provide a wealth of inside information on how things really work in the police force - specifically in the UK.

And that's exactly what it does.

Written in plain non-technical English, the guide is set out in a very logical way. Starting with how an investigation begins, going through the tools of the trade, discussing forensics, profiling and serial killers, as well as going through the structure and culture in the police force, amongst other topics.

The objective of the book is to help the crime writer become better informed with enough accurate information so they can adapt it into the fictional world and maintain credibility, or just to be used as a reference book.

I found it a very interesting read, particulary because of the way it was organised and written. It is now part of my writing toolkit and, hopefully, will give me a good base on which to build my very own detective novel ... one day.

Not Dead Yet (Roy Grace series Book 8)
Not Dead Yet (Roy Grace series Book 8)
Price: £3.59

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peter James is on top form with Not Dead Yet, 10 Jun. 2012
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Not Dead Yet is, I feel, one of the better books in the latest of the Roy Grace series. The plot is well thought out with lots of twists and turns to keep the excitement going and it had me guessing right up until the surprising reveal; the pace is maintained throughout the book with the introduction of several dodgy characters, which Peter James is good at; and it's nice to see some of the backstage people in DS Roy Grace's team get some further development, including Cleo. Not Dead Yet is a lot more police procedural than I seem to remember the other books being, but that adds to the interest of the cases and gives more dimension to the investigations.

The only criticism for me is that I feel the Sandy saga has gone on for too long now and I really couldn't care anymore what happens there. This book would have worked for me even without any mention of Sandy, plus one other character who I felt was superfluous to the plot.

Overall it is a typical cliff-hanging, gripping Peter James novel with extra depth, more akin to the earlier books in the series.

Books in the Detective Superintendent Roy Grace Series:

Dead Simple (2005)

Looking Good Dead (2006)

Not Dead Enough (2007)

Dead Man's Footsteps (2008)

Dead Tomorrow (2009)

Dead Like You (2010)

Dead Man's Grip (2011)

Not Dead Yet (2012)

The Dying Minutes: (Jacquot 7)
The Dying Minutes: (Jacquot 7)
by Martin O'Brien
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem of a book, infused with atmosphere and mystery - you won't want to put it down., 19 April 2012
The Dying Minutes by Martin O'Brien, set around the azure coastline of Marseilles, is the seventh in the detective novel series featuring the very likable, Chief Inspector Daniel Jacquot. It begins with a gold bullion convoy being hijacked in 1972, of which part of the heist mysteriously disappears and becomes an unsolved case. Twenty seven years on, Chief Inspector Jacquot is recovering from gunshot wounds from a previous case (Blood Counts, book six in the series) and is on sick leave when he inherits a boat from an old fisherman who once knew his father. Jacquot is seduced by the elegant boat and life on the water, and it's not long before his inquisitive mind begins to wonder about its history and that of its ex-owner.

While Jacquot is discovering his sea legs and persuading his pregnant partner to keep the boat, his old flame Chief Inspector Isabelle Cassier, walks back into his life during the investigation of some brutal murders. The murders point to the missing gold and the involvement of two of the most feared gangland families on the coast. Isabelle seeks Jacquot's help with the investigation and he finds himself once again in close confinement with Isabelle as they work on the case together.

The Dying Minutes is beautifully written with a strong sense of place and atmosphere, transporting you right there to the South of France. It's a pure joy to read. The words create a realistic feel for life on the boat and in the harbour and villages around Marseilles, and you can almost taste the salt in the air, the exquisite wines and delicious food.

There are a lot of characters in this novel, which I found a little difficult to keep track of at first, but the chapters are short and introduce the well-defined players quickly so it wasn't long before they all slotted into place. The pace of the novel is steady and doesn't race along the pages but it's woven with mystery and an underlying sense of foreboding and is all together an exciting and unpredictable read.

I really liked the characters and how they interacted, especially Chief Inspector Jacquot. Above all, it's beautifully written, with a plot and characters that have been well thought out and delivered with a perfectly timed pace. I highly recommend this book, and now have an impatient need to check out the rest of the series.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 18, 2013 9:37 AM GMT

Price: £4.97

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gripping standalone thriller, makes for an addictive read, 17 Feb. 2012
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This review is from: Headhunters (Kindle Edition)
Headhunters by Jo Nesbø is a standalone thriller and very different to the Harry Hole detective series. Written from the main character's point of view, Headhunters is the story of Roger Brown, a highly successful head hunter specialising in the appointment of executive directors for top Norwegian companies. He is one of the best in his field and not at all modest about it. In order to maintain the affluent life style he and his art dealer wife, Diana, have become accustomed to, Roger has a side line set up in art theft - specialising in particular works that bring in large sums of money for a single heist. Think The Thomas Crown Affair.

The first part of the book is a steady, interesting character portrayal of Roger Brown, written in the first person with a dark humour and an insight into the mind of this professional and likeable criminal.

Then Roger meets Clas Greve, ex CEO of one of the biggest GPS technology companies in Europe, who would be a perfect placement for one of his clients. Not only that, Greve is also known to possess a rare piece of artwork that could make Roger rich beyond his wildest dreams and solve all of his problems. But what Roger is also about to discover is that he has met his match in Greve.

The second part of the novel takes an entirely different direction where we find Roger Brown's life turned completely upside down as he battles wills against Clas Greve.

The narrative captures your attention with the inner-most thoughts and psyche of the main character. The plot is intricate, if not slightly far-fetched in the second part, but totally credible and entertaining in the first part. Headhunters is perfectly translated from Norwegian to English by the excellent Don Bartlett - you'd never guess it was a translation.

In all, a highly entertaining and gripping thriller.

Writing a Novel with Scrivener
Writing a Novel with Scrivener
Price: £4.48

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Contains such valuable advice - it's worth every penny, 11 Feb. 2012
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I have been using Scrivener for Windows for nearly a year now. I first heard of the beta program through David Hewson's blog and joined straight away to discover the best ever tool for writing. Up until a few days ago, I thought I had a fairly good grasp of how the basics worked - well, enough to have completed the first draft of my novel anyway.

However, a few days ago I bought and read David Hewson's Writing a Novel with Scrivener and discovered that I didn't really know much at all. So I took some time out from the second draft to implement some of David's suggestions, and in a matter of days I fundamentally changed the way I work with Scrivener and, in effect, the way I plan, write and edit.

I restructured the Manuscript Binder, created some Collections and added various Keywords, and now I can't believe how logically easier my work flow has become. It has enabled me to look at the novel in a totally different light.

Writing a Novel with Scrivener contains all sorts of valuable advice to help not only the newbie or inexperienced Scrivener user, but also the aspiring novelist and even the self-publisher on Kindle - and it's all based on Hewson's vast and practical experience of trialling different technologies to simplify his writing life.

So if you're thinking of using Scrivener, have been using it, or are looking for a writing tool to optimise your writing techniques - then Writing a Novel with Scrivener by David Hewson is an absolute must-read and worth every penny for the tips alone.

Highly recommended!

The Constant Lovers (Richard Nottingham Mystery)
The Constant Lovers (Richard Nottingham Mystery)
by Chris Nickson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars 18th century crime detection in the suburbs of Leeds, 26 Jan. 2012
The Constant Lovers is the third in a series of historical crime fiction novels set in 1730s, written by Chris Nickson and featuring Constable Richard Nottingham.

The criminals in Leeds seem to be taking things easy during the very hot and stifling summer of 1732, and the hearty Constable Richard Nottingham is enjoying a moment's peace. That is, until a young woman's body is found, just outside of his Leeds' patch. The victim has been stabbed to death, and responsibility for the investigation falls onto Nottingham and his small team. But nobody comes to claim the body or has reported the woman missing, until after she has been buried.

The mystery moves on as Nottingham and his loyal sidekick, Sedgwick, discover the young woman to be the newly wed wife of the much-older Samual Godlove, and daughter of fallen Baron, Lord Gibton. The maid who has been with her since childhood has also disappeared. The story takes us on a gentle stroll through the investigation as the Constable tries to uncover the truth surrounding the murder of Sarah Godlove and the disappearance of her maid, and the mysterious message found in Sarah's hidden pocket.

The Constant Lovers is written in much the same style as the first book in the series, The Broken Token. I didn't find The Constant Lovers as atmospheric as the first book (possibly because it was set in a small village outside of the then vibrant but poverty-stricken town of Leeds) or as gripping as the faster-paced second book Cold Cruel Winter.

That said, The Constant Lovers is still a very good read with great characterisation and a steady pace, which takes you back into another century and a completely different and very interesting world of crime and detection.

The Snowman: A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 5)
The Snowman: A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 5)
Price: £5.07

4.0 out of 5 stars Complex thriller but written in great style, 22 Jan. 2012
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The Snowman is the first of Jo Nesbo's book I've read and I will definitely be digging into the other books in this series of thrillers, featuring Nordic Detective, Inspector Harry Hole.

Harry works for the Oslo Police Crime Squad and when he begins to investigate the case of a missing wife and mother, it's not long before he's looking for similarities to unsolved cases of other missing women throughout Norway, and connecting them to gruesome murders.

The book is set in the beginning of winter, during the first fall of snow. When a woman disappears, a menacing-looking Snowman is left behind. Cleverly woven between the scenes of Harry dealing not only with the investigation, a new partner, the relationship with his ex-wife, but also alcoholism - are the graphic scenes around the circumstances that led to the disappearances, and the psychotic mind behind the serial killer, known as The Snowman.

The Snowman is quite a complex thriller, so you need to keep tabs of the many characters and their names, and it's written from various viewpoints with characters and locations all well-developed.

I love Jo Nesbo's style of writing. He skillfully builds up the tension and maintains it throughout the book, and the underlying sense of foreboding is always there. And you're never allowed to forget the icy cold atmosphere of wintry Oslo or the creepy characters and mysteries surrounding some of the characters lurking in the background. I mustn't forget to mention the excellent translation by Don Barlett, which is totally unnoticeable to the reader.

There were two problems I had with this book:

One was keeping tabs on the different timelines - but this is a problem I find with a lot of books that jump backwards and forwards with dates (maybe I should keep a notepad next to my Kindle in future, to jot down the dates..). It can be rather confusing and, with a thriller that is already complex in itself such as The Snowman, can make it even more difficult to keep track of.

The second was the cover - I thought the publisher could have done better by selecting a cover depicting more atmosphere.

I still enjoyed The Snowman regardless, and am currently reading one of Jo Nesbo's earlier books, The Redbreast.

Write a Great Synopsis - An Expert Guide
Write a Great Synopsis - An Expert Guide
Price: £3.83

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To anyone who struggles with writing a synopsis - this book REALLY works!!, 21 Jan. 2012
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Write A Great Synopsis couldn't have been published at a more timely moment for me, as I was bang in the middle of writing one. In fact, I'd been working on it for almost 2 weeks, ending up with about five different versions - none of which I was happy with.

So when I saw this book being discussed on Twitter, I knew I had to take a look at it - deciding that, for £1 I couldn't really go wrong. Now I'm so glad I did.

It's a very quick read and the book gets straight to the point. It's written in a very clear, easygoing style and structured in a logical way, and even includes some case studies.

But best of all, the method REALLY works!!

Write A Great Synopsis shows you how to do just that - with a crystal clear, black and white formula. I followed the instructions to the letter and ended up with a synopsis I was pleased with. Ok, so it took me longer than the 20 minutes it took the author to write her sample - a few hours longer to be precise. But it was definitely less daunting than my previous attempts and the result was much better.

So for anyone who struggles with writing synopses, I can recommend this book as a great method for producing one in a simpe way.

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