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Laura W

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Heart-Shaped Box
Heart-Shaped Box
Price: 4.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting, action-packed and enjoyable., 9 July 2014
This review is from: Heart-Shaped Box (Kindle Edition)
I’ve been aware of Heart-Shaped Box for years, and it’s always been on my ‘to read’ list. I’m not sure why I put off reading it, because the idea of a ghost story involving a fifty-something rocker really appealed to me. I think perhaps it was because I discovered that Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son, and I was worried that I would compare his writing to King’s and perhaps not find it up to the same standard.
I needn’t have worried. I did, inevitably, compare it to a Stephen King novel. Once you have the association in your head it’s difficult not to. I found it to be enjoyable, fresh and exciting.

The plot is simple, and the Amazon synopsis above will tell you everything you need to know without me repeating it. The characters are likeable, and I quickly became very fond of Judas Coyne as he tried to escape and outwit the vengeful ghost on his tail. It was equally enjoyable to despise the characters we’re supposed to dislike, and even the minor, incidental characters were well crafted.

The book keeps a fast pace and the action comes thick and fast. Even the few dream sequences (which I usually dislike and find myself skimming over in novels) were gripping and interesting. The plot worked well, and although as it went on it lost some of the creepiness from the start of the story, that was made up for with action and emotion. The ending, always tricky and sometimes a downfall for Hill’s father, was handled well and did not disappoint. I can’t wait to read more Joe Hill novels!

Elizabeth is Missing
Elizabeth is Missing
Price: 5.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Touching and well written., 9 July 2014
My overwhelming emotion whilst reading Elizabeth is Missing was sadness. Several times I felt that all I wanted to do was ring my nan for a chat, or give her a hug.

The book tells the story of eighty-two-year-old Maud. Her memory isn't what it used to be and she writes everything down on scraps of paper. ‘No more peach slices.’ ‘Coffee helps memory.’ When Maud finds a note saying 'Elizabeth is missing', she decides she must find out more. Elizabeth's disappearance reminds Maud of her own childhood, when her sister Sukey disappeared just after the war, and these flashbacks are as intriguing to read as Maud's present-day investigation.

Emma Healey's use of the first person present tense, which I usually find difficult to relate to and grating to read, works so well to show Maud's advancing dementia. Healey really puts the reader inside Maud's mind, which is a confusing place filled with memory gaps and sudden leaps from one moment and one thought to another.
Her daughter's frustrated sighs and eye-rolling are on the one hand understandable, but on the other heartbreaking. Equally heartbreaking is the way Maud's granddaughter Katy seems to be the only person who jokes with Maud and speaks to her normally, without being patronising or getting annoyed.

It's not all sadness and gloom. There are moments of levity and happy memories woven throughout the book. The two missing person storylines, one in the present and one in the past, are well constructed and the way the author links them felt very satisfactory to me. It's a wonderfully written story - I'm amazed that this is Emma Healey's debut novel. I can’t wait to read her next one!

I received a copy of Elizabeth is Missing from the publisher in order to write an honest review.

Village of the Mermaids
Village of the Mermaids
by Carlton III Mellick
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.66

4.0 out of 5 stars What a strange book. But strange in a good way., 9 July 2014
It was lent to me by a friend and the cover was just so cool and creepy that I dropped what I was doing and started it straight away.

The author's note begins with a (slightly modified) quote from the film Orgazmo. ‘I don't wanna sound like a queer or nothing, but I think mermaids are kick-ass.’ That was the first sign that I was going to enjoy his writing.

It's only a short book, but there's plenty packed into it. You see, mermaids aren't lovely creatures at all - they eat people. In fact, a whole new variety of 'food people' have been bred to stop the mermaids eating everyone else. But now there's a new species of mermaid, and they don't care for the 'food people'. They want fresh, human meat. And they'll stop at nothing to get their fill.

Village of the Mermaids has a great Lovecraftian feel to it, thanks to the remote island setting and the dark, eerie, otherworldly tone. (Also, isn't it great that 'Lovecraftian' is such a widely accepted and understood word?)
There isn't a lot I can say without giving away the plot, but if you're a fan of Lovecraft, strange creatures, isolated settings or stomach-churning ideas, give this a read.

My Granny Writes Erotica: Threesome
My Granny Writes Erotica: Threesome
by Rosen Trevithick
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.57

4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly funny!, 5 July 2014
The title was what drew me to this book. How could I not want to read something called 'My Granny Writes Erotica'? You can read the synopsis above, so I won’t go into detail here.

Betty’s exploits as a 65-year-old erotica writer are, to be honest, hilarious. At times I was reminded of Keeping Up Appearances. Betty is very proper and uptight about sex, so the situations she finds herself in whilst writing the novel are just brilliant. At times I guessed what was going to go wrong next, but others (the bunting, for example) were a complete surprise.

The cast of characters is great. Betty’s mother-in-law was probably my favourite character, but they’re all well-crafted and by the end of the book I felt like I knew them all. I was certainly rooting for Betty to make it through all the scrapes with her dignity as intact as possible.
Rosen Trevithick’s writing style suits the story perfectly and it was a pleasure to read. I’ll definitely be checking out more of her books in future, especially if they contain the same great writing and humour.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 5, 2014 3:46 PM BST

Anthem Fawr y Nos
Anthem Fawr y Nos
Price: 1.58

5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning!, 30 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Anthem Fawr y Nos (MP3 Download)
I have been a fan of John Owen-Jones for several years, and have had the pleasure of seeing him perform live on two occasions.

He has a rich, wonderful voice which is a pleasure to listen to.

Anthem Fawr y Nos (Music of the Night) and Adre'n Ol (Bring Him Home) are two songs I've heard him sing many times, both live and recordings, but only in English. Until now. I have to say, nothing is more stirring than hearing him sing in the beautiful Welsh language. I don't speak Welsh well enough to understand every word, but really you don't need to. John's voice and its wonderful tone tell you everything you need to know.

This will play on repeat (along with Myfanwy, the hidden track from his first album) for a long time on my iPod.

Night of the Living Trekkies (Quirk Fiction)
Night of the Living Trekkies (Quirk Fiction)
Price: 1.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Great combination of humour, action and geekiness, 30 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book was recommended to me by my boyfriend, who knows I'm a big ol' geek. I love Star Trek and I love horror, so he knew I would really enjoy a book where a Star Trek convention gets taken over by zombies. He probably regretted the recommendation when insisted on reading late into the night and my snorts of laughter kept him awake.

This is a very well written book, which is humourous and contains just enough Star Trek references to keep Trekkies happy but not enough to thoroughly bore non-fans. The same goes for the zombie aspect - it's exciting but not overly geeky. There's plenty of excitement and a great little twist that means these aren't your traditional zombies.

I want to rave on and on about the book but I'm afraid if I do that I'll fill this review with spoilers. I'll just finish by saying that fans of either genre should give this book a go - I don't think you'll regret it.

Under Your Skin
Under Your Skin
by Sabine Durrant
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.85

4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic thriller, 30 Jun 2014
This review is from: Under Your Skin (Paperback)
It's been a long time since I read a good psychological thriller. I have no idea how to review this book without spoiling it for potential readers. I'm going to try.

The book starts with TV presenter Gaby Mortimer discovering a dead body whilst out for a morning run. She touches the corpse, smoothing the dead girl's hair back and adjusting a broken bra strap. All of a sudden Gaby's comfortable life is thrown into disarray when the police start finding that all the evidence for the girl's murder points at Gaby. Or, more specifically, Gaby's home.

The book is written in the first person, from Gaby's point of view. The style is easy and enjoyable. Gaby herself is uncomfortably middle class and self-conscious about her status as a TV celebrity. She tries too hard to make friends with the other mothers from her daughter's school and worries that the live-in Polish nanny doesn't like her. Her husband is never there when she needs him and she believes that he is falling out of love with her.

At times, I had to stop myself shouting at Gaby. She seems to do everything wrong and can't understand why the police are after her. I wanted to yell at her. "You touched the body, stupid! Of course they suspect you!"

There were times when I knew, just knew, who the killer was. I was wrong. Every time. I rushed through the final third of the book, desperate to know what was going to happen. Boy, was I wrong.

I don't think I can say much more without giving away things you'll want to discover for yourself. It's a great whodunit with well developed characters, some great scenes and an ending that you'll be desperate to reach.

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death
Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death
Price: 0.89

4.0 out of 5 stars Would make a good holiday read, 30 Jun 2014
Agatha Raisin is the middle aged owner of a London PR business. Her dream has always been to live in the Cotswalds. In this first book of the series, Agatha realises her dream, selling her PR business and retiring to a small, quiet village. Finding it difficult to fit in and socialise, Agatha decides to enter the village quiche baking competition. The only problem is that she has no cooking skills. Agatha buys her quiche from a posh deli in London and enters it into the competition. Shockingly, Agatha's quiche doesn't win and later that night the competition judge, having eaten a couple of extra slices, dies. The verdict: poisoning. Agatha, already a little unpopular in the village, is under suspicion. When the police clear her name, she decides to investigate for herself to find out how and why someone poisoned her quiche. Was it meant for the judge, or could it have been meant for Agatha herself?

This is only a short book. My ereader put it at 142 pages and the paperbacks are very slim. The writing style was somewhat old fashioned and very fitting for a cosy Cotswalds murder mystery. It suited the slightly abrasive character of Agatha Raisin well.
The characters are well crafted and I have a wonderful mental image of each of them, as well as the village of Carsely where Agatha lives. I've heard that the series has been adapted for Radio 4 with Penelope Keith and I think she's a wonderful fit for the character.

The book was enjoyable, a nice fluffy read that would be ideal for holidays or lunchtime reading.

Price: 1.49

4.0 out of 5 stars A fun read, 30 Jun 2014
This review is from: Swipe (Kindle Edition)
This short story is part of the ‘Virals’ series by Kathy and Brendan Reichs, which I haven’t read. I was hoping that it would work well as a standalone story, because the idea sounded great. At Comic-Con, the only full sized model of the T-800 from the opening scenes of The Terminator is stolen from an area thought to be secure. Tory Brennan and her friends are at Comic-Con to see her aunt, Temperance Brennan, a forensic investigator who’s giving talks about forensic science in pop culture. When the theft of the T-800 is discovered, Temperance offers to lend a hand. She finds almost nothing to work with, but while she is busy explaining her findings to the police and the T-800’s owner, Tory and her friends decide to investigate the theft.

Not having read the previous novels, I didn’t feel the characters were properly introduced – something there’s rarely time for in a short story, so it wasn’t unexpected. Once I got past the first few pages, the story hooked me in and I got to know at least a couple of the characters quite quickly.
About halfway through the story the ‘virals’ label for the series was explained. Months before this story takes place, Tory and her friends were infected with a canine supervirus, which has changed their DNA and given them some interesting abilities.

The story has a great, quick pace with plenty going on. The forensic science elements make it interesting and realistic. Well, as realistic as a group of teenagers with a strange secret tracking down a stolen Terminator can be. It was a fun read and it’s definitely made me want to read the novels in the series.

Irregular Creatures
Irregular Creatures
Price: 0.77

4.0 out of 5 stars Imaginative and fun. Mostly., 29 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a great collection of short stories connected by the common theme of, you guessed it, irregular creatures. When browsing for a new Chuck Wendig read, I was struck by the cover and couldn’t pass up the book.

The stories are all well written and, for the most part, intriguing and enjoyable. The tone of the stories and the way Chuck tells them reminded me of Stephen King, and I’m sure I spotted a subtle nod to Hellraiser in one of the stories. Most are bizarre, some are amusing, and I’ll read all but one of them again.

Beware of Owner was the only one I wish I hadn’t read. It’s a very short one but the animal cruelty in it is something I see too much of in the real world and don’t want to see in fiction, too.

The Kindle edition I read suffered from some typos and spelling errors, as well as a spot of dodgy formatting. A shame, because the standard of storytelling and the overall presentation of the book is fantastic, so I’m not letting it affect my star rating.

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