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BookAddictShaun (England, UK)
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Cherish (Covet, #1.5)
Cherish (Covet, #1.5)
by Ms Tracey Garvis Graves
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.35

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect, 29 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Cherish (Covet, #1.5) (Paperback)
In 2012 I picked up a book on a whim, On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves. That book is now one of my all-time favourites. 2013 saw the release of Covet, and once again I finished it speechless and with the knowledge that it would be a book I would never forget. I contacted Tracey via Goodreads to share my review with her, something I have never felt compelled to do and the fact she read my review was fantastic, but she actually shared with me some secrets about the book that not many people at the time knew, it was an alternate ending to Covet and I felt very privileged and found it a little bit exciting to be told something like that. That experience was one of the reasons I set up this blog in the first place, connecting with an author like that is just incredible, and something only other book lovers will 'get'!

You really have to have read Covet before Cherish, as it continues the story of Daniel. A policeman who was shot in the line of duty at the end of Covet and when I finished that book, I wasn't the only reader left desperate to know what happened to Daniel in the aftermath. Cherish is a novella, so I can't speak about the story too much, apart from to say that most people will have an idea of where it goes, but let me tell you that it is done in the most beautiful way, and this short story really is one of the most perfect, poignant and incredible love stories that I have ever read. I completely fell in love with both characters myself, and reached the book's conclusion long before I wanted to. There aren't any spectacular scenes but rather this is a story about two people, not falling back in love as they never fell out of it, but it is almost like that. As Jess nurses Daniel back to full health, and his memories start to come back, and our two characters finally start to tell each other how they feel, well, it's just wonderful. The book did almost make me cry, but in a good way.

The characters of Daniel and Jess felt so real, the book itself didn't feel fictional and this is something I have said about each of Tracey's books that I have read. I've read over 400 books since On the Island and a couple of hundred since Covet (and Uncharted) but I could tell you everything about those books despite having only read them once, and that's because of Tracey's ability to tell a story that remains with the reader for a long, long time and I am so glad that Cherish was everything that I wanted it to be and more. This is very much a book for the fans, but also one that new readers of Covet will have ready to pick up once they finish it. I could praise Tracey and her books all night, but really, I've said it all before. I feel like I've found something special with Tracey's books, and really mean it when I say that she's one of my favourite authors and that when I recommend one of her books, it's in a 'read them now!' kind of way and not add them to a TBR that you'll never get through. With that said, if you do have Tracey's books on your TBR then I would advise you to move them to the very top. In fact, start one today! You definitely will not regret it.


The Ice Twins
The Ice Twins
Price: £6.99

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chilling, 29 Jan. 2015
This review is from: The Ice Twins (Kindle Edition)
As I write this review, it's not yet 2015 but this is my third 2015 book and already I am off to a good start. The Ice Twins is definitely going to be one of HarperCollins' stand out titles in 2015, a book that they are championing to make into the thriller that everyone is talking about and I think people definitely will. Going into this as one of the first people to read it was exciting, and I was able to form my own opinion without seeing other reviews first. From the cover to the blurb, I was incredibly excited and once I started, was absolutely hooked. There is also the mystery of who the author, S.K. Tremayne is - 'a journalist and bestselling writer who lives in London'. I have no idea who it is...

The book opens and introduces us to Sarah and Angus. Angus has been left a remote Scottish island by his grandmother, and after the death of one of their twin daughters, Lydia, the couple want to move to the island with their other daughter, Kirstie. They see it as a completely fresh start, a way to attempt to move on with their lives. In the opening chapter I found myself wondering whether it'd be a bit of a slow starter, I'm a reader that wants to get into the story from the off, so I was very pleased when the first chapter ended with Kirstie asking Sarah why she was calling her Kirstie, telling Sarah that Kirstie died and that she is Lydia... We are told that the twins are basically as identical as it is possible to be, there isn't one single thing about them that was different and so Sarah is torn over whether Kirstie actually is Lydia, and in the beginning keeps it from Angus which really annoyed me.

I honestly had no idea where this book would go from that opening chapter or what would happen, it was totally unpredictable and at times, almost frightening. To say it was haunting would be an understatement. It really played with my emotions throughout, Sarah and Angus are intriguing characters, at times I didn't even like them, and couldn't understand some of the decisions they were making, yet I feel they were both believable characters thrown into a situation I can't even begin to comprehend. Totally blameless though? I did find myself judging them, and found it hard at times to feel sympathy for them. As the story progressed and secrets that Sarah and Angus had kept started to be revealed, I found the book going off on tangents I didn't expect. It all leads towards the book's conclusion, a conclusion which I'm unsure about but oddly was quite satisfied with. Also, we mostly get Sarah's point of view which to me made the book feel very one sided sometimes.

The atmospheric setting of the island was brilliant, and some vivid descriptions completely brought it to life in my head with the help of some eerie photographs dotted throughout the book. I felt at times I was inside the book such was the brilliance of Tremayne's descriptive writing. Even with the heating on I could feel chills, reading this book in the dead of the night just adds to the suspense and intensity. The nature of books like this means it is almost impossible to discuss the plot in any detail and I'm not going to. I can't quite say what it is though, but I just felt there was something missing, and as the story progressed I found it developing in a way that I didn't expect it to. That said, where it did go was incredibly well written, it just wasn't for me. I also think this book would make a fantastic TV drama that would have the nation hooked if a couple of things were changed/improved upon. I will say though that this is a book with characters and a story that you won't forget in a hurry, it will remain with you for a long time and it's a book that a lot of people will be talking about in 2015 and I think it will certainly divide opinion.


The Forgotten Holocaust (Ben Hope, Book 10)
The Forgotten Holocaust (Ben Hope, Book 10)
by Scott Mariani
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ben Hope is back!, 29 Jan. 2015
I only read my first Scott Mariani novel in 2014, The Nemesis Program and I absolutely loved it. I was therefore very excited to receive an early copy of The Forgotten Holocaust and couldn't wait to read it. The blurb on Amazon gives away a lot of plot details, so the blurb above is from the back of the actual book and doesn't give away as much of the plot. With books like this it is always best to go into them knowing as little as possible, else the 'mystery' isn't much of a mystery at all. Also it was some 100 plus pages before we got past what the blurb reveals and the real action started, this book is a bit of a slow starter and I was waiting longer than expected for that adrenaline rush to kick in and remain with me for the rest of the book, as it did in The Nemesis Program. The Forgotten Holocaust is my second 5* rating of 2015, which is a sign of how much I enjoyed it.

Ben Hope has returned to Ireland with no real idea of what his future holds, he is drifting. His fiancee has left him, his son wants nothing to do with him and his sister is still furious with him after the events of the previous novel. Rather than confuse me as I fear books like this will sometimes do, the mystery in this book was absolutely gripping, thought-provoking and believable and once again highlights Mariani's ability to take historical events and completely change everything previously believed about them, and to do it in a completely plausible way. This time around it is the Great Famine of 1845-52 in Ireland, an event that has been greatly speculated about over the years and this book has left me wanting to read more about that period of time.

Ben Hope could find trouble in an empty room, or perhaps that should be trouble would find him. This time around it comes in the form of a young journalist, who is writing a biography of the wife of a Lord who was a prominent figure during the time of the famine. No sooner has he met her than she winds up dead, and Ben soon discovers links between her research and some high up people in the USA, namely Tulsa, Oklahoma. What the connection is between those people and the secrets from the time of the famine is unknown to Ben at this point, but he is determined to avenge the young journalist's death to find out what the connection is and this was the turning point in this book for me. It was 1.30am, my eyes were closing and I was this close to abandoning the book for the night, before something happened that completely woke me up, and I nearly managed to read the rest of the book before sleep won out.

As always those relentless, barely giving you time to breathe scenes are back with a vengeance, and once again Ben finds himself facing and escaping death on more than one occasion. Where this story really stood out for me was in its mystery element, and what connected the famine to some very powerful people in Oklahoma. Certain things are made clear to the reader early on, but the connection isn't and it was a slap in the face moment when all was revealed as the book's conclusion drew near and I did not see it coming. It was brilliant, unexpected and a totally believable plot twist. Mariani is a master storyteller and the Ben Hope series has plenty of life left in it yet, in fact book eleven isn't all that far off and the preview at the end of this book has left me more than ready for its release. I think returning readers will love this book too, but new readers, like me, will be ecstatic at having discovered a fantastic main character and a whole back catalogue of books just waiting to be devoured.


The Windmill Girls
The Windmill Girls
by Kay Brellend
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love Kay's books, 15 Jan. 2015
This review is from: The Windmill Girls (Paperback)
I am a huge fan of Kay Brellend's books and was extremely excited to receive a review copy of <i>The Windmill Girls</i> just before Christmas. Some of Kay's previous books have taken place on Campbell Road, a notorious London slum, with larger than life characters making the best of what they had (or rather <i>didn't</i> have). This time around much of the action takes place at the Windmill Theatre, focusing on a number of characters but namely five very different but headstrong women, Dawn, Rosie, Marlene, Gertie and Olive, some more likeable than others, and some with secrets that could wreak havoc should they get out. Kay creates strong characters, and female characters I think readers can really get behind, root for and perhaps see a little something of themselves in.

I read a lot of family sagas, which are typically romantic, fluffy reads whereas with Kay's books she really touches on the darker side of the war, not covering anything up or romanticising what was a very scary and dangerous time for a lot of people. Dawn witnesses a crime very early on in the book, and this sets the scene for the drama that unfolds over the course of the novel. Kay's descriptions of the area, the feelings of her characters and the action taking place on the page really transport you back in time to the point where I felt as if I was a part of the story, watching the action unfold from afar. In the beginning I had no idea where this story would go, but knew that if Kay's previous books were anything to go by it would be a story that had me gripped and <i>The Windmill Girls</i> certainly was gripping.

War changes people, both in good ways and bad and that is certainly the case with <i>The Windmill Girls </i>which features characters from both ends of the spectrum, some that I absolutely rooted for whilst others I found truly despicable. Kay creates characters that feel real, this is fiction but there's a little bit of fact and truth in there which gives this book an eerie sense of realism. It's hard, as always, to talk about the story too much but it is <i>really</i> good and at times exciting, though it does touch on some emotional subjects in places. Often with books like these you expect the typical happy ever after, but as with the war itself, that's not always the case and Kay doesn't shy away from that. All that said though the book is very much a celebration of times gone by, of people pulling together and good overcoming evil. The characters felt so real that I felt real hope for them, and the ending of the book felt a little open-ended which I hope means Kay will continue the story of these characters in a future book.


The Final Minute
The Final Minute
by Simon Kernick
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £6.49

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kernick is back!, 15 Jan. 2015
This review is from: The Final Minute (Hardcover)
As a blogger I feel incredibly lucky to read books weeks before they are released but never more so than when the book is written by one of my favourite authors. I remember the first time I borrowed a Simon Kernick book from the library, I was blown away and had to get my hands on his other books as soon as I'd finished it, bear in mind this was before I had a Kindle and was able to get books instantly, so I was travelling around Liverpool's libraries hunting his books down. He fast became one of my favourite authors, and his yearly release is always one of my most anticipated, so to be reading his 2015 book in 2014 is really exciting.

The most difficult thing about reviewing a thriller is how much of the plot to give away. Some of it? None of it? I'll try and keep it brief. Our main character is Matt Barron and our introduction to him is of a man recuperating after a car crash and suffering from amnesia, with the help of his sister and doctor he is attempting to piece his whole life back together, including trying to understand a recurring dream, and get his head around why something about his sister just doesn't feel right... The first chapter ends putting us straight into the mystery, and straightaway my brain was ticking trying to make sense of what was going on. I imagine Kernick has a lot of fun writing his books, knowing exactly what is going on but writing in a way that confuses the reader, yet in the absolute best way possible. It isn't long before Matt is running for his life, with some nasty individuals breathing down his neck. He is soon forced into turning to the only person that can help him. That person is none other than Tina Boyd, one of Kernick's best and most popular creations and I for one was thrilled to have her back. Can't say any more!

As always the book moves at a relentless pace, barely giving you time to breathe I could almost hear my heart thumping in my chest. For some reason I like to read Kernick's books in the dead of night, there's something about reading them in the day that feels strange. As the book is written in the first person I feel this really puts you into Matt's shoes, looking at the story through his eyes rather than feeling like an outsider. I only ever trust the main character and nobody else, there's characters in the book that know more than you as the reader, and more than Matt knows as he attempts to put his life back together. As snippets come back, and bigger pictures start to form the book becomes really exciting, and really hard to put down. You know when you're reading a book and you have to stop, either to eat, wash or work and you hate whatever it is that made you stop reading? That's this book! I really wish I could have read it in one sitting.

I could sit here and praise this book all night but rather than sounding like a broken record, the best thing I can say is buy it and read it. I can almost guarantee you won't be disappointed. Kernick is well into double figures with his books now, and it's very exciting that the standard does not seem to be decreasing, if anything his books are getting better. I only wish he could write quicker. 2014 saw the release of Stay Alive but also a three-part serialisation which I very much enjoyed, I'd love to see something like that again as a yearly wait in between books is nothing short of torture. Anyway I'm off to nurse my book hangover, I am currently looking at my staggering TBR with no idea what to start next after finishing this.


Inside Alcatraz: My Time on the Rock
Inside Alcatraz: My Time on the Rock
by Jim Quillen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.39

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read book!, 15 Jan. 2015
Inside Alcatraz is the first book I have awarded five stars to in 2015, and I am doing so because it is one of the best books I have ever read. I feel as if I have lived every minute of Jim Quillen's life with him after reading this book. He is a truly remarkable man, and one I am full of respect for after reading this book. I have read a lot of True Crime books over the years, and anybody else who reads this genre will tell you, there's far more bad books than good. This one is incredible and I encourage everybody to pick it up and read it.

Jim comes across as a very grounded, humble man in the opening telling us all about his somewhat troubled upbringing. With an alcoholic mother and a father who at times struggled to cope, Jim found himself sent to various homes, before as a teenager running away from home more than once and getting into a bit of trouble. In the beginning it was normal teenage stuff, but some poor decisions led to Jim breaking the law one too many times and he was soon sent to a reformatory school, many escape attempts later - resulting in a small sentence becoming much longer - and Jim was a free man. Recognising that next time he would be sent to San Quentin, he made the decision to join the US Marines, in the hope that would put him on the straight and narrow, and allow him to better himself. Unfortunately those in charge found out about his criminal record, and he then, in his own words, 'fell into the depths of depression'. This in turn led to him committing armed robbery, finding himself in San Quentin before he escaped yet again, as a fugitive he felt he had nothing to lose, and a cross country chase soon found him captured by the FBI and sent to Alcatraz.

Even without Alcatraz this book is eventful, it taking some 100+ pages before we reach the notorious jail but it was once I reached the chapters surrounding Alcatraz that the book gripped me even more, to say the tales detailed within are shocking would be an understatement. Jim says that 'Alcatraz was designed and built to be a maximum-security and minimum-privilege facility. In reality it went far beyond this and became a prison where the sole purpose was to degrade, deprive, humiliate, and break the inmates physically, mentally, and spiritually, if possible. In many cases, it was remarkably successful'. He goes on to discuss the prison's inception, how prisoners are introduced to life at Alcatraz and its many rules and regulations and also what the prison officers were like. Jim then says that 'whilst it is true this prison houses violent men, many of whom had killed during the commission of their crimes, they were still human beings - a fact that seemed to be forgotten once incarcerated at Alcatraz'. He then goes into a lot more detail about his time in the prison, from the early years through to the world famous Battle of Alcatraz, there was an almost cinematic quality to these chapters and it felt almost like a film. There are many tales I enjoyed reading in this book, some shocked me, some made me laugh but really it's best for readers to discover them for themselves rather than me reel them off here. It's important to note that Jim does highlight the positives, for example the guards that did help, and the guards that carried out their job to the best of their abilities, rather than simply being critical of the whole system.

Often there's the question of how much is true when a criminal writes a book about a prison, yet the history of Alcatraz is well documented and so there's not much to question here. Some people are obviously born criminals, but some are victims of circumstance. Jim is one such person. We are all responsible for our own decisions, and Jim holds his hands up and admits to all of his mistakes, never glossing over anything or passing the blame onto somebody else (unless that blame was deserved, which it is a couple of times in the book). He's very honest all the way through, and very evaluative about what led him to make those choices, and how they changed him as a person. In fact when talking about his thought processes at the time of his crimes, he was actually thinking that if he was caught he would hold his hands up and blame nobody but himself. I did wonder then why he would prefer to escape from prison and be on the run living as a criminal rather than serve 12 more months in San Quentin, to think all of what he experienced wouldn't have happened had his desire for freedom not been so strong. You could also say though that the life he went on to live after Alcatraz, would also not have happened.

It really is so much more than a book about Alcatraz, and I have a million and one thoughts running around in my head that I'm struggling to put into words. It's also a story of times gone by, the kind of policing described in this book is now surely a thing of the past. It's an absolutely compelling read, and one that has consumed me over these past two days. The fact he managed to turn his life around, and find happiness with a wife and children, even becoming a tour guide when Alcatraz became a tourist destination, is quite remarkable and it is the final chapter, about him leaving prison and his life after that which was one of my favourites. Some might say a criminal is a criminal, let them rot but in his latter years at the jail the hard work is evident and it's a shame that a man who appeared in this book as quite clever, led the life he did but if this book shows anything it's that no prisoner is beyond rehabilitation. Sadly Jim passed away some time ago, but his legacy lives on and his story is definitely worth reading for True Crime fans, or readers of nonfiction in general. It's certainly one of the best I have ever read in the genre, and I very much enjoyed it.


The Missing
The Missing
by Chris Mooney
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Promising start, 14 Jan. 2015
This review is from: The Missing (Paperback)
Chris Mooney is an author I have wanted to read for a long time but for some reason I've just never got round to picking up one of his books. I then became a blogger, and a few weeks ago I realised that I was neglecting so many books that I wanted to read, and I want to try and get a balance of new reviews and reviews of older books on the blog. It's rather refreshing to read solely for enjoyment, rather than over thinking what I'm going to write and making notes while I read plus readers of my blog may discover a book that they missed when it was first released.

The premise to The Missing doesn't stand out as the most original, though I was pleased to see that our main character, Darby McCormick, is a Crime Scene Investigator and not a police detective which did make this book a little different from other crime reads. As a huge fan of the CSI franchise I am aware that the role of CSIs in fiction is greatly exaggerated, and it did feel at times that Darby's actions and the work that she carried out was not representative of a real-life CSI but obviously for the purpose of the story this was needed (and this is the case with most crime fiction books, not just The Missing). I do find forensic science very interesting however, so I very much enjoyed reading a book where much of the focus was on obtaining evidence, processing it and ultimately trying to use it to capture a villain but on the other side of the coin it was fascinating watching how easily the killer was able to manipulate the police by falsifying and planting evidence.

A horror movie style opening introduces Darby as a teenager narrowly escaping from a man attempting to kill her, but not before he kills one of her friends and kidnaps the other. The man is then apprehended and we travel to the present day where Darby as a CSI is called to a home where a teenage boy has been shot, and his girlfriend kidnapped. Meanwhile an emaciated woman is found hiding under the house and it soon becomes clear the kidnapper left her behind and Darby is soon hunting for the kidnapper's 'dungeon' and not only that but he could be the man that tried to kill her all those years ago, despite the fact he should be dead. The chase as they say is on. From the blurb and the cover I went into this hoping for something along the lines of Chris Carter (gruesome, bloody etc) as this is how I like my crime fiction and in places The Missing was exactly that we also follow the killer which is something I always enjoy, allowing us to get inside their head and see them (almost always) keep one step ahead of the police for much of the book. There are some brilliant twists in the book involving the killer, but obviously I can't say any more than that!

At times the book moved a little slow for my liking, I wasn't bored but I did wish things would just move on a bit quicker than they were. This is the first book in a series, and so it's our first time meeting Darby and her history had to be relayed to us, and the various characters that make up her working life also had to be established. As the series progresses hopefully the author will fill in these introductory parts with the action that was at times missing in The Missing (no pun intended). Despite me mostly reading series when it comes to crime fiction, there's one thing about them I dislike and that is when the main character finds him or herself in the killer's sights, we all know that the main character is never going to be killed off, therefore almost all tension is lost and with the killer in this book having a close link to Darby herself, I didn't want the focus to be solely on the killer hunting Darby, as that would have soon become boring. I did work a couple of things out quite easily but Mooney did manage to keep one thing from me, and it was a twist that very much slapped me in the face, and it was brilliant! Overall this was an enjoyable read, and I'm definitely going to be continuing with this series (and I'll be starting the second book, The Secret Friend, very soon).


You're the One That I Want
You're the One That I Want
by Giovanna Fletcher
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

4.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!, 14 Jan. 2015
You're the One That I Want is another book that has been sitting on my Kindle since I bought it upon release after seeing my fellow bloggers writing about how good it was. I saw it staring at me on my Kindle a few hours ago, started reading and didn't look back until the end. I went into this book thinking I would like it, I loved it. Stories where there's a love triangle aren't the most original, and are in actual fact quite commonplace in this genre, but the way in which the love triangle is told in this book was original and I could totally relate to it and was reminded of my own life many times when I started reading.

The book opens with Maddy about to get married to her best friend Robert. Robert's best man is Ben who just so happens to also be best friends with Maddy and Robert. Maddy experiences doubts, and finds herself wishing that Ben would speak up and stop the wedding. When he doesn't however the vows are about to begin.... and we go back in time to when Robert and Ben first met Maddy which was almost like reading about my own life as Maddy's introduction to the pair was like when me and my best friend at the time first met a certain new girl at school. Robert is the more confident of the two, and the type of boy that girls almost always choose with Ben being the boy girls usually choose to cry on the shoulder of, which is so believable as these two types of boys are often friends! I loved following their friendship in the beginning, which was playful and innocent and just, 'nice'. Well, then puberty hits and the story really gets going. Following the best friends throughout their teenage years was scarily like my own relationship with my best friend that I became totally consumed by the book, and had no intention of putting it down until I reached its conclusion.

It has been a long time since a book played with my emotions as much as this one. In the beginning I was totally on Ben's side, and hoping he would get the happy ever after he wanted (despite wishing he would at times man up, and speak up). Just when he is about to however, Robert - not knowing about Ben's love for Maddy - swoops in and kisses her in Paris, and so their friendship becomes a lot more, much to the dismay of Ben. I think it was easier for me to be on Ben's side as we don't actually hear from Robert, just Ben and Maddy so despite Robert at times being painted as the bad guy, and me not liking him at times, it would have been interesting to read his side of things. Maddy was also a strange one, and a character that did annoy me at times with the way she almost began playing the two of them off against each other. I wanted Ben to find a partner of his own, making Maddy extremely jealous in the process (it's the evil in me). The one thing that always shined through though was the friendship of the three characters, it was believable, heartwarming and realistic, causing further debate about whether men and women can ever just be friends. Giovanna is a fantastic storyteller in the way that one minute she had me convinced something was going to happen, only for the opposite to then go and happen!

Being on Team Ben for the majority of the book meant I wasn't prepared to actually become confused partway through the book when I couldn't decide between the two. I almost wished Maddy could become two people, thus allowing them all to have their happy ever after. Robert does something totally unexpected which really endeared me to him, and again left me torn over who I wanted Maddy to end up with. Despite at times finding certain parts of the story a little contrived and predictable, for the most part I couldn't read quick enough as I was desperate to find out how the story would end. Towards the end of the book I knew exactly where I wanted it to go, and how I wanted the story to end, and I can't really say whether I got that ending without ruining it for people reading this review but, oh I'm going to have to don't keep reading unless you've read the book: I loved the ending, even though it wasn't the one that I wanted or expected, I completely understood the message that it was sending and loved that the three characters did find happiness, and remained friends in the end. I did feel though that after a wonderful build-up, it was all a little bit rushed towards the end. As for the final line, I do love a book that leaves us guessing about the future. I truly, truly loved this book and can't recommend it enough. Giovanna is definitely an author I'll be reading more of in the future.


Broadmoor: My Journey into Hell
Broadmoor: My Journey into Hell
by Charlie Bronson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.39

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 10 Jan. 2015
I first developed a love of True Crime when I discovered a section devoted to it at my local library, I remember there always being a John Blake book amongst the pile I borrowed, and so to now have a relationship with them as a blogger is something I really value and 2015 is already looking good as they have some very exciting releases this year. Broadmoor: My Journey into Hell is the first book I have received from them this year, and what a book it was. A quick browse through John Blake's back catalogue shows that they have published a few books about Charles Bronson, but some people are just endlessly fascinating that books will always be written about them and Bronson is one such person. Some might say there's nothing more that can be said, but I feel this book offers a completely fresh insight, with tales never before told and it, in my opinion at least, puts forward a very strong case as to why Charles Bronson (now Salvador) should finally be released from prison, and thousands of people have signed a petition who would agree.

Lorraine Etherington explains in her introduction the reasoning behind wanting to write the book, how she contacted and then visited Charlie and also the journey she went through researching and writing the book. That in itself was rather fascinating to me. Lorraine describes the book as the journey of one man, and how he survived in impossible conditions. Nearly everybody knows what Broadmoor is, and nearly everybody knows of its inmates past and present, but when I was reading this book I found that Charlie perhaps came across as more 'normal' (for want of a better word) than the people he was telling us about. If everything he writes is true, then it's shocking that certain people were allowed to get away with what they did. As with any hospital though, the severity of different patients' illnesses will vary, meaning those with a lesser one would appear 'better' than others.

Charlie definitely doesn't hold back with what he's talking about here, it is very much a warts and all tale, discussing all aspects of prison life including what he thought of some of his fellow inmates, those who committed the most heinous of crimes, namely abuse/murder of children and/or women he is particularly venomous about. For the most part Charlie is quite negative about the whole experience (as you would expect), and very critical of the guards (who he dismisses as being nurses). Having now heard from somebody who has experience and knowledge of Broadmoor that has opened my eyes more, and made me perhaps see the book in a different light then I did originally. Because of how long ago Charlie was in Broadmoor, it's important to highlight that the book is probably quite dated, shining a light on a time that has now passed which whilst still important is perhaps not representative of Broadmoor today. Still though, a fascinating read for the most part.

That said there are some brilliant anecdotes dotted throughout the book, and it is actually quite humorous at times, Charlie certainly has a way with words. It is also a rather short read, I did feel it could have went on for longer but what is there is a very good read indeed. I enjoyed reading about some of the more famous inmates, namely Ronnie Kray, I grew up fascinated by the twins and read/watched everything I could about them, and unfortunately there aren't all that many stories about him here, but Charlie does talk about some of the more famous patients, and some of Broadmoor's very first. Throughout the book there are also various documents such as letters, police documents and photographs which I found really fascinating.

When reading the book I found it easy to understand the injustice Charlie and his family feel, and why so many people are fighting for his release. I read the book and saw Charlie as a genuine, honest person and perhaps didn't understand that this is often how people in prison want to be seen, and they become very good at putting on different faces (as a crime fiction reader you'd think I would know this...). But I can only discuss the book as I saw it, and what I took from it. There were also times when you could see the old Charlie there, I don't think violence ever leaves a person and a throwaway comment such as saying he will still dish out a slap to those taking liberties might mean more than it would from anybody else.


Private Vegas: (Private 9)
Private Vegas: (Private 9)
by James Patterson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.00

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jack Morgan is back!, 9 Jan. 2015
The Private series of books by James Patterson and Co are one of my favourites but it's the ones featuring Jack Morgan that are my most favourite and I'm pleased to say that Jack is back in Private Vegas. I was very excited for Vegas as even though I've never been to the city, we all feel like we have through movies and books and so Private hitting Vegas was something I couldn't wait to read. I'd say this is probably one of my favourite Private books yet, as Jack's character is explored further, and some rather dramatic events throughout the book, and a fantastic (and frustrating!) cliffhanger have left me desperate to see what happens next.

As with most of the Private novels, there's a number of different stories taking place which in the beginning takes me a little time to get my head around as there's a lot going on. Jack wakes up to find that his car has been firebombed, his sadistic twin brother is back for revenge (and a determination to destroy Jack and take over Private) and his on/off lover and colleague Justine might have found herself a boyfriend. It's not looking good then for Jack but when two violent, nasty individuals start kidnapping and torturing women, and their diplomatic immunity prevents the police from doing anything, Jack takes it upon himself to do anything to take them down. Not one to do things by halves Patterson and co-writer Maxine Paetro also add into the mix some quite shady characters in the background plotting murders, and Jack's best friend Del Rio is up in court accused of something that could see him put away for a very long time.

You can see then why it takes a little time to get fully invested in all of the arcs, as short, sharp chapters flit between them all quite frequently but it wasn't long before I was completely hooked. Some of the stories are more interesting than others, as a huge fan of Jack I had a particular interest in who had this vendetta against him, and who wanted to destroy him. Jack has a lot of friends, but he has also developed a number of enemies over the years and so he is just as much at a loss as the reader. The focus is on Jack for much of the book, and there are some massive developments in his personal life (which you will of course have to read the book to find out more about...) but you will be left wanting more once you reach the book's conclusion. One thing Patterson and his co-writers never fail to do is come up with despicable villains, and the ones in this book are at times quite scary and there was seemingly nothing they wouldn't do as they were fearful of nobody and nothing, which at times made them very dangerous and unpredictable.

I guess the only thing I could say is that with these books, and I guess with most crime books in general, is that a lot of things are just tied up too nicely. I obviously won't say any more than that but sometimes I wish authors would push the boundaries more, this book was incredibly exciting and had all those relentless scenes and heart-stopping moments Patterson does so well, but as I said, a lot of things just tied up too nicely for me. All that said, I did mention earlier that towards the end of the book a number of things happen that are going to have a profound effect on Jack's life, I doubt he will ever find peace living the life that he does and all I can say is that I hope the next Private book isn't too far off, as I can't wait to pick up where this one ended and see how things work out for Jack. If you are new to the Private books this one could easily be read as a standalone, but I have read them all (apart from Berlin which is on my TBR) and it's a great series.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.


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