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the GreatReads! "A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies... The man who never reads lives only one | George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons"

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Bryant & May - The Bleeding Heart: (Bryant & May Book 11)
Bryant & May - The Bleeding Heart: (Bryant & May Book 11)
by Christopher Fowler
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 11.89

4.0 out of 5 stars ANOTHER GREAT ADDITION TO THE SERIES!, 14 Sep 2014
Bryant & May and The Bleeding Heart by Christopher Fowler is the eleventh book in the Bryant & May series and is as entertaining as ever. The Peculiar Crimes Unit is now headed by Orion Banks and comes under the jurisdiction of the City of London Police. As a woman who plays by the book in order to further her career, she is determined not to let her stint in the unit ruin her careers and opted to play safe by asking the unit members to obtain prior sanction. But can a unit that is entrusted to tackle extraordinary cases as its name suggests follow the diktat of its new chief?

Two teenagers looking for a quiet place away from prying eyes witnessed a dead man rising from his grave in London’s St. George’s Gardens. One of them, Romain Curtis, is found dead a few days later on a pavement. As the PCU investigates the case, Arthur Bryant is tasked with investigating another puzzling mystery involving seven raven which disappeared from the Tower of London. Soon Bryant and his partner John May are surrounded by dead bodies as the two seemingly different cases intertwine.

Bryant & May and The Bleeding Heart by Christopher Fowler is a crime mystery that is a real joy to read. Cleverly plotted with its twists and surprises all the way to the end, it is a real surprise that author Christopher Fowler has managed to write a series that is both thrilling and refreshingly enjoyable even after eleven books. Arthur Bryant and John May are truly fascinating characters, and with each book there seems to be a new dimension to their characters. Fans who have enjoyed the previous books will definitely find this latest installment another great read.


J: A Novel
J: A Novel
Price: 6.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars IS ANOTHER BOOKER PRIZE IN THE OFFING?, 10 Sep 2014
This review is from: J: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
Author Howard Jacobson won the Booker Prize in 2010 for The Finkler Question. His latest work which is simply titled J is on the longlist for this year's prize. I was doubtful of his chances of scoring a double but after reading J, I'm not too sure anymore.

J by Howard Jacobson is a speculative fiction novel with a subtle post-apocalyptic setting with the romance between the two main protagonists Ailinn Solomons and Kevern Cohen both gentle and terrifying. It is a strange society where the letter `J' is rarely used, though not prohibited by law. The situation is such that Kevern is unable to utter a word containing the letter without making a gesture - covering his lips with his fingers.

Howard Jacobson's characters are well-conceived, though at times they border on the unthinkable. The plot has surprises, and this makes for an effortless reading which is one major plus-point of the book. The wordplay of the author is quite brilliant, occasionally superb. The culture and norms of the society inhabited by the characters are a bit weird. Perceptive and engaging, J by Howard Jacobson is an impressive novel with its delightful lightheartedness in the midst of a grim setting.


The Secret Place
The Secret Place
Price: 5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MASTERFULLY CRAFTED CRIME MYSTERY THRILLER!, 9 Sep 2014
This review is from: The Secret Place (Kindle Edition)
St. Kilda's School, an Irish boarding school, which is brimming with teenage girls serves as the setting for the latest mystery thriller of New York Times bestselling novelist, Tana French. Located in the suburbs of Dublin, it was here over a year ago that a 16-year-old boy, Chris Harper, from a neighboring boys' school was murdered. His killer remained untraced, and the case remained unsolved. When Detective Frank Mackey's daughter, sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey, shows up one morning at the police station with a postcard that reads, "I know who killed him," the cold case takes a dramatic turn.

The Secret Place by Tana French is the fifth book in the Dublin Murder Squad series and follows Detective Stephen Moran and Detective Antoinette Conway as they delve deep into a crime which has refused to die down, and yet couldn't make much headway. After Holly's unexpected appearance Detective Stephen quickly questioned her and heads to St. Kilda's School where the boy was murdered and the postcard found. It was found on a pin-board called The Secret Place where girls can privately share their secrets without anyone else knowing.

Detectives Stephen and Conway wade their way through the secrets, lies, relationships, rivalries and gossips of teenage girls, and must meticulously sift fact from rumor to get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding the postcard and find the killer of Chris Harper. As the detectives whittled down their list of suspects to four - Selena, Becca, Julia and Holly - who usually hang out together, Detective Stephen begins to suspect that the truth might be something he doesn't want to hear.

Author Tana French masterfully crafted a superb story that is stunning both in details and prose. Her keen sense of observation and attention to details turn this simple unsolved murder case into a fine mystery suspense thriller. Her knowledge of human behavior and the psychology that comes into play in the situations described in the novel are displayed in abundance through her characters and how she planted them into the story. What is particularly striking is the atmospheric nature of the author's storytelling which leaves one with a feeling of being transported right where the action is taking place.


Five Days Left
Five Days Left
by Julie Lawson Timmer
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU'VE FIVE DAYS LEFT TO LIVE?, 9 Sep 2014
This review is from: Five Days Left (Hardcover)
Five Days Left by debutant author Julie Lawson Timmer is a heartbreaking tale of life, love, sacrifice and death, and paints a picture that is utterly gut-wrenching, an unforgettable story that will tug at the strings of your heart. The story follows the lives of two individuals, Scott and Mara, and their decisions and follow-up actions over a period of five days. As much as it is their stories, this stunning debut is also about their families and how it affected every one of them.

Mara is a successful lawyer and an adoptive mother to a five-year-old Lakshmi. Her husband Tom is a dermatologist. She was diagnosed four years earlier with Huntington's Disease. Her condition has taken a turn for the worse. Fully aware that there will be no improvement, she is feeling guilty of imposing herself on her family and friends though her husband is a kind and loving person. She has come to the decision to end it all and spare her family and friends the burden of taking care of her.

Scott is a dedicated middle school teacher who is passionate about his work. Working with children from broken families is no easy task but for Scott it is much more than a work. True to his work, Scott and his wife Laurie are foster parents to eight-year-old boy Curtis during the incarceration of his mother. They are also expecting a baby girl soon. As the end draws near and as the boy is set to return to his mother once she is out of jail, he loses his composure and breaks down at the prospect of letting him go.

The two threads in the book intersect when Mara joins an online community - Not Your Father's Family Forum. She spends time meeting people who are not aware of her deteriorating condition and that she has a terminal illness or her decision to end it all. And it was through this online community that she met Scott. The basic premise of the story is the five days left before Mara's planned suicide and the return of Scott's foster child to his jailed mother. Both Mara and Scott have five days left - the five longest and shortest days in their lives. It is five days to a planned suicide for Mara and five days with a boy with whom he bonded so well for Scott.

Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer is a powerful and poignant story that shows only how much of life we are really in control of. Whatever your opinion is about the book, one lingering question will haunt you long after the book sits safely on your bookshelf: What would you do if you were in Scott’s or Mara’s shoes?


Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love
Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love
by Anna Whiston-Donaldson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 12.97

5.0 out of 5 stars MUST THE YOUNG AND INNOCENT DIE TOO?, 9 Sep 2014
Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love by Anna Whiston-Donaldson is a touching, deeply-affecting but amazingly heartwarming memoir of a mother's struggle with the heartbreaking loss of her son, and how she eventually find comfort and hope in the ruins of her tragedy. What makes this book remarkable beyond doubt is not the manner in which Anna writes - sincere, raw and honest - but the intensity of her emotion and the unflinching depth of her faith.

Author Anna Whiston-Donaldson's story of an ordinary family is nothing out of the extraordinary. Her son Jack was the regular boy next door. Anna painted a beautiful portrait of her son Jack, describing his personal traits with his smile and big brown eyes, along with his role in the family, with such passion and clarity leaving one with the impression of knowing this boy all along. The sharpness with which she recounted the story and her sense of loss and love can't be missed. But at the heart of the book is not a tragedy that unraveled a family. It is a story of hope, faith and love that cannot be chain by the tragedies of life. It is a story that extends beyond the grave, the perils and heartaches of this life.

Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love is a book for anyone who has been through life's debilitating challenges before as one will be able to relate with the raw pain and agony that Anna felt. The loss of a young son, or for that matter anyone else, is not easy. What is more difficult is the lonely moment one spent once the stream of visitors in the wake of the loss trickled down to nothing as the days rolled by. But grief hangs on like a close friend. The loneliness is painfully acute and the tears come like the summer rain. Anna's lessons are for everyone with the heart willing to learn. It is searingly honest, and at times delightfully fun. It will warm your heart and leave you full of hope once the last page is turned.


The Monogram Murders: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries)
The Monogram Murders: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries)
by Sophie Hannah
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'PRINCESS' SOPHIE HANNAH IS A WORTHY SUCCESSOR TO THE 'QUEEN' AGATHA CHRISTIE!, 9 Sep 2014
Almost a century ago in January 1920, the famous fictional Belgian detective Hercule Poirot was introduced by Agatha Christie in the novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles. After forty-two adventure-filled novels set between World War I and World War II, with some of the later novels set in the 1960s, The New York Times splashed an obituary on its front page when he died of heart complications in the final novel Curtain which was published in September 1975.

Almost forty years later, detective Hercule Poirot is resurrected and makes a triumphant return in The Monogram Murders: The New Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot Mystery by poet and crime novelist Sophie Hannah. Best known for relying on his `little grey cells' for solving crimes, the story is set in the early years of Poirot's career and is told from the perspective of a new character, Inspector Edward Catchpool of the Scotland Yard, from whom Poirot takes over a case concerning a troubling series of murders as it's "a diabolically clever puzzle that can only be solved by the talented Belgian detective."

The Monogram Murders is a classic Christie novel and begins on an ominous note when one February evening in 1929 a distraught woman named Jennie enters a London coffee shop where Hercule Poirot is having a quiet supper. With a disheveled appearance and strange look, it's not difficult to guess she's terrified. When Poirot offers to help her, Jennie made cryptic and puzzling remarks and was adamant that no one can help her because she's as good as dead and that the crime must never be solved. When two women and a man are found murdered in three separate rooms about the same time in a hotel with monogrammed gold cuff links inserted into their mouths that same night, it becomes all too apparent that no ordinary sleuthing work will help solve the case.

Detective Poirot is unable to make sense of the murders and wonders if it has any connection with the woman he encountered at the coffee shop. While he tries to piece together the jigsaw puzzle, the murderer is preparing to snuff the life out of a fourth victim. The story follows Poirot as he wades through layer after layer of baffling clues and mysteries in his quest to solve the strange murders and it will require all his wit, wisdom, brilliance, subtlety, creativity and deductive prowess if he is to find the murderer before it's too late.

Bestselling author Sophie Hannah's fine writing and the compelling plot line are the strong points of this new Hercule Poirot mystery. Recreating and resurrecting an iconic detective who has been laid to rest by the queen of crime is a daunting task, yet Sophie has done a commendable job by going back to the early years of Poirot's career which has allowed her the freedom to toy around with her characters and at the same time avoid the pitfalls of having to deal with his death. What we have in the end is an absorbing story true to the legacy of its original writer, and in the process created a major event for crime fiction lovers the world over.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 13, 2014 11:28 AM BST


The Monogram Murders (Hercule Poirot Mystery 1)
The Monogram Murders (Hercule Poirot Mystery 1)
by Sophie Hannah
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.49

14 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'PRINCESS' SOPHIE HANNAH IS A WORTHY SUCCESSOR TO THE 'QUEEN' AGATHA CHRISTIE!, 9 Sep 2014
Almost a century ago in January 1920, the famous fictional Belgian detective Hercule Poirot was introduced by Agatha Christie in the novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles. After forty-two adventure-filled novels set between World War I and World War II, with some of the later novels set in the 1960s, The New York Times splashed an obituary on its front page when he died of heart complications in the final novel Curtain which was published in September 1975.

Almost forty years later, detective Hercule Poirot is resurrected and makes a triumphant return in The Monogram Murders: The New Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot Mystery by poet and crime novelist Sophie Hannah. Best known for relying on his `little grey cells' for solving crimes, the story is set in the early years of Poirot's career and is told from the perspective of a new character, Inspector Edward Catchpool of the Scotland Yard, from whom Poirot takes over a case concerning a troubling series of murders as it's "a diabolically clever puzzle that can only be solved by the talented Belgian detective."

The Monogram Murders is a classic Christie novel and begins on an ominous note when one February evening in 1929 a distraught woman named Jennie enters a London coffee shop where Hercule Poirot is having a quiet supper. With a disheveled appearance and strange look, it's not difficult to guess she's terrified. When Poirot offers to help her, Jennie made cryptic and puzzling remarks and was adamant that no one can help her because she's as good as dead and that the crime must never be solved. When two women and a man are found murdered in three separate rooms about the same time in a hotel with monogrammed gold cuff links inserted into their mouths that same night, it becomes all too apparent that no ordinary sleuthing work will help solve the case.

Detective Poirot is unable to make sense of the murders and wonders if it has any connection with the woman he encountered at the coffee shop. While he tries to piece together the jigsaw puzzle, the murderer is preparing to snuff the life out of a fourth victim. The story follows Poirot as he wades through layer after layer of baffling clues and mysteries in his quest to solve the strange murders and it will require all his wit, wisdom, brilliance, subtlety, creativity and deductive prowess if he is to find the murderer before it's too late.

Bestselling author Sophie Hannah's fine writing and the compelling plot line are the strong points of this new Hercule Poirot mystery. Recreating and resurrecting an iconic detective who has been laid to rest by the queen of crime is a daunting task, yet Sophie has done a commendable job by going back to the early years of Poirot's career which has allowed her the freedom to toy around with her characters and at the same time avoid the pitfalls of having to deal with his death. What we have in the end is an absorbing story true to the legacy of its original writer, and in the process created a major event for crime fiction lovers the world over.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 10, 2014 11:09 PM BST


A History of Loneliness
A History of Loneliness
by John Boyne
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.49

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ANOTHER COMPELLING STORY FROM JOHN BOYNE!, 8 Sep 2014
John Boyne, bestselling author of The Boy in Striped Pajamas , comes up with a delectable read after several years of wandering with mediocre books. Though A History of Loneliness is not in the same vein as The Boy in Striped Pajamas, it is an adventure that many fans will enjoy as it is his first book set in his native Ireland.

It begins on an ominous note when Odran Yates showed up at his younger sister Hannah’s home for dinner and she had no recollection of issuing the invitation. She was in her mid-forties, living with her younger teenage son Jonas while the older one Aidan was away. Her husband Kristian had died and her life had taken a turn for the worst. Earlier that day, George W. Bush had been inaugurated as President of United States for the first time. The year was 2001.

A History of Loneliness by John Boyne follows a young Irishman Odran Yates who enters a seminary to be trained for priesthood in 1972 after his mother told him he had a vocation. As a young man with dreams, Odran was so full of life and hope, religiously studying and preparing for the life ahead of him. Author John Boyne weaves a powerful story that moves back and forth, from the past to the present, and back, taking the reader to the painful childhood years, his time at the Vatican and how Odran copes with the changes in the priesthood 21st century. It was a highly respected position in Ireland in the 1970s but now faith in the Catholic Church has been shattered. Odran is forced to confront his own demons and it is interesting to read how it pans out.

Author John Boyne intricately woven story is absorbing and intelligent. It is interesting to see the length John Boyne would go to develop his characters and the manner in which they are inserted into the story. This story of friendship, relationship, family and the scandals surrounding the Catholic Church in Ireland is one of the best books I have read in a long time.


The Winter Guest
The Winter Guest
by Pam Jenoff
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars AN ENJOYABLE HISTORICAL WAR ROMANCE!, 3 Sep 2014
This review is from: The Winter Guest (Paperback)
The Winter Guest by Pam Jenoff is a historical war romance set during the Nazi occupation of Poland during World War II. It is the story of eighteen-year-old Nowak twins, Helena and Ruth, and how they care for their mother and their three younger siblings during one of the most trying times in the history of their small village. Author Pam Jenoff crafted a story that will resonate well with readers who have to make life-changing decisions and choices in the midst of life’s constant struggles.

Living in a small Polish village under Nazi occupation is an option no one would choose. But for Helena and Ruth, that was a minor problem compared to the problems confronting them. Living with their widowed mother who is hospitalized with terminal illness, they are forced to look after their three younger siblings. When Helena discovers a wounded American soldier, she hides him in a chapel in the woods, nursing and feeding him with the scant supplies available. Ultimately, the two falls in love and Helena becomes a courier for the wounded American soldier to reach the resistance forces.

The Winter Guest by Pam Jenoff is well-researched and well-conceived novel. It shows the depth to which one would go to protect one’s family but also painted another picture of the story how that very thing which knits a family together can tear them apart if something is allowed to come in between. Author Pam Jenoff’s characters are quite true to life, with their shortcomings and human failings. The Winter Guest is an enjoyable read.


The Children Act
The Children Act
by Ian McEwan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 6.79

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars HEARTBREAKING BUT EXCESSIVE IN DETAILS!, 3 Sep 2014
This review is from: The Children Act (Hardcover)
The Children Act by Ian McEwan is a heartbreaking but dazzling new novel from the author of Atonement and Amsterdam. It is the story of a successful child and family court judge Fiona Maye who is confronted with debilitating situations, both on personal and professional levels. Ian McEwan crafted a brilliant story about relationships in the vein of his earlier books though the main protagonists are not the usual young and ambitious characters but a couple who have been married for thirty-five years.

Fiona, a judge, and her husband Jack, a history professor, are childless even after more than three decades of marriage. Ostensibly, this was a major factor which leads Jack to consider an affair with someone else who he was interested in. Professionally, they are a successful couple, both deeply involved in their respective chosen field. You can well imagine how life would be for a childless couple with both devoted to their career and not to each other. When Jack drops the bombshell, Fiona was stunned. But there was so little that she could do.

She also has to deal with one of the most important cases in her career. It is a case concerning a seventeen-year-old boy, Adam, who refused a life-saving blood transfusion. Suffering from leukemia, his only chance of surviving was blood transfusion. A strict Jehovah’s Witness, Adam is willing to take his chances which his parents supported wholeheartedly. Now it is up to Fiona to decide what to do next. Two urgent situations that calls for immediate attention, how Fiona maneuver the next step in her personal and professional life is what The Children Act by Ian McEwan is all about. If you are a fan of his earlier books you’ll enjoy this but if not, the details will be too excessive for you.


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