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the ReviewNotes "Reviewing a book is driven by two motives: one, that you read it, and the other, that you have the power to trash it or applaud it. – Khamneithang Vaiphei"

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Glass Sword (Red Queen)
Glass Sword (Red Queen)
by Victoria Aveyard
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GLASS SWORD TAKES RED QUEEN TO A NEW LEVEL!, 10 Feb. 2016
Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard is the second book in the Red Queen series, following the first book titled Red Queen. This young adult dystopian fiction with elements of magic, paranormal, sci-fi, fantasy, adventure and romance is lavishly mounted on a gigantic scale, with thrilling action sequences, some nerve-wracking scenes and quite a few memorable acts. I’m in awe of Victoria Aveyard’s ability to stitch together a plot that not only reinforces the scope and ambition of Red Queen but takes the story forward to a new and higher level.

In this well-written and wonderfully conceived follow-up, Mare Barrow is still unable to come to terms with the treachery that infiltrated her ranks, and she almost paid for it with her life. However, she realized that she must quickly come to grip with the unexpected situation and carry out an almost impossible mission – to save her friends before they are found and destroyed by the King. Mare is also bent on taking revenge for the harsh betrayal she suffered. But it is easier said than done. As the Silver king unleashed his wrath on the Reds, Mare knows that she must act quickly, and act decisively. Only if the Scarlet Guard were on her side, she would stand a chance of winning…

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard is a riveting read, and in more ways than one an exhilarating sequel to Red Queen. With a strong female character who is prepared for deathly duels with dangerous enemies as the main protagonist, the story is as electrifying as it can get. Glass Sword is every reader’s fantasy coming true with strong and unforgettable characters, flowing narrative, breath-taking landscape with an array of characters planted to inhabit it and a story that is free-flowing and difficult to forget. While opinions may differ if weighed against the scale with the first book, I can safely conclude that Glass Sword is one thrilling read that you won’t want to miss.

A Voice from the Field: A Newberg Novel
A Voice from the Field: A Newberg Novel
by Neal Griffin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.69

A Voice from the Field by cop-turned-author Neal Griffin is a masterfully crafted novel and the second book in the former marine turned police detective Tia Suarez series following her introduction in Benefit of the Doubt. Gritty and entertaining, the story is set in a small-town, away from the hustle-bustle of big cities, where the theme it explored might be much more rampant than one would care to imagine. The book follows Tia who is desperate to rescue a young girl from the clutches of a group who are bent on wreaking havoc, and enforcing their agenda. But Tia is at a great disadvantage as she is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. This proved to be a big setback in the discharge of her duty.

In A Voice from the Field, Author Neal Griffin served a tight and taut suspense thriller revolving around the kidnapping of young women by a group to finance their nefarious designs. When Gunther Kane is put behind bar, Tia finds herself at the receiving end. Kane and his White supremacist group are a much bigger foe than Tia thought. The District Attorney struck a deal to charge Kane with a mere disorderly conduct and release him. Police chief Ben Sawyer is reluctant to pursue the case. Tia’s boyfriend who has been through hell tried to dissuade her. And the FBI also comes into the picture, with the same purpose but in their own way.

In more ways than one, Griffin has succeeded in crafting a story that lovers of thrillers will feast in delight. Tia is someone who battles not only demons who are on the prowl outside to snatch, use and throw away young girls at will but she is also a person who is fighting her own demons. There are the plot twists. The never-ending suspense. And the pacing is neatly done. And the characters are well-defined, and planted smartly into the story. Griffin’s fine writing also added a touch of class to the story. And how the story reached it conclusion will leave you thinking if it couldn’t have ended in a different way.

Winter Men
Winter Men
Price: £0.99

68 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WHAT WOULD YOU'VE DONE IF YOU WERE IN THEIR SHOES?, 1 Feb. 2016
This review is from: Winter Men (Kindle Edition)
Winter Men by Jesper Bugge Kold was originally published in Danish in 2014 as Vintermænd, and is rendered into English by by K.E. Semmel, who has done a tremendously fine work of it. This is an extremely well-written novel, albeit a searing one, which will tug at the conscience of readers as it takes a hard look at the moral quandaries facing the people of Germany as the winds of change swept across the country during the World War II. The novel is forthright and honest in its exploration of the subject while at the same time draws the reader into the story through its magnificent and stunning portrayal of the era and the people, alternating between scenes of life in Hamburg and those in the war fronts and the concentration camps.

Author Jesper Bugge Kold’s thoughtful, grim and brooding novel explores the lives of two brothers who were caught up in the vortex of violence that swept the country as the Nazi propaganda was unleashed. The brothers are Karl and Gerhard, who lives in Hamburg. Both of them are well-educated, and quite affluent and respectable members of the society. Karl is the director of a textile factory while Gerhard teaches mathematics at the university. The brothers are not Nazi sympathizers yet the quirk turn of fate so destined them that they were ultimately absorbed as members of the SS. While others were not so lucky, Gerhard was handed the choice to either join the Gestapo or be one among the teeming nameless people working for survival in one of the concentration camps. As fate would have it, instead of being an inmate Gerhard rose to become the commandant of a concentration camp.

Some may consider this well-researched work as an attempt to exonerate many people who worked for the Nazi in the run-up to and during the course of the Second World War. While this assumption may be a little far-fetched, author Jesper Bugge Kold’s Winter Men is an examination of the ethical and moral predicaments in which many Germans would have found themselves during this period. Karl and Gerhard enrolled their services in the SS not because they were ideologically drawn to it, but it was a pragmatic decision based on the idea of surviving and thriving than not at all. But their decision, whether good or bad, had its irreparable effect. They become tools, with bloods on their hands. The end of the war was the beginning of their travails, leading to a sad end for both. And what begs an answer is the reasonable question: What would you have done if you were in their shoes?

North of Here
North of Here
Price: £3.98

37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: North of Here (Kindle Edition)
North of Here by Laurel Saville is an entrancing but unpredictable mystery and suspense thriller set in the enigmatic and perplexing mountains of the Adirondack Park and its environs in upstate New York, which is roughly more than six million acres. Indeed, this stunning beauty of 10,000 lakes, 30,000 miles of rivers, huge tracts of dark forests, countless wetlands, mysterious wildlife, struggling farms, dramatic weather and 46 mountains over 4000 feet is an ideal setting for a story that explores the intertwined lives of four different people from diverse backgrounds who are examining their lives in their quest for meaning, family and love.

Miranda is an immature, self-indulgent young woman from a wealthy Connecticut family with a summer home in the mountains. When her brother and father met with an untimely death, her world turned upside down. Her cup of grief runneth over when her mother died of stroke, leaving her forlorn and broken. She sought refuge in the arms of Dix, who is a dependable local handy-man. Dix encountered problems he was unprepared for. Then there is the self-styled guru, Darius, who runs The Source and who seemingly have finally found his true calling when everything else failed. Miranda is irresistibly drawn to him. The social worker Sally also plays a pivotal role as others are entangled in a web of lies and deceit.

North of Here by Laurel Saville is a captivating story of people searching for healing and redemption in their own different ways. The main characters are well-conceived, and readers will easily empathize these characters who are full of flaws. The central character Miranda’s woes never seemed to end. In her desperation to fill the void in her life Miranda has placed herself in an unenviable situation. I love Dix! Kind and understanding, he was willing to be there for Miranda when she needed him most although he knew her needs were much deeper. In the end, he falls for her, hard and truly. Author Laurel Saville’s story of the fragility and emptiness of life without purpose and meaning, and how people are not quite what they seem, will stay with readers long after the book is shelved.

Ghost Gifts
Ghost Gifts
Price: £0.99

27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GHOST GIFTS IS A RIVETING ROMANTIC THRILLER!, 1 Feb. 2016
This review is from: Ghost Gifts (Kindle Edition)
Ghost Gifts by Laura Spinella is a romantic suspense thriller that will fascinate and entertain lovers of suspense, thriller and romance. No ordinary romance, and no ordinary suspense or thriller either, author Laura cast her magical spell as the reader is taken on an exciting superbly paced novel that is un-put-down-able. Entrancing, intense and riveting, Ghost Gifts by Laura Spinella is a gratifyingly satiating read that will leave many readers clamoring for more.

Masterfully crafted and skilfully-woven, with plot twists that will keep readers on the edge, this romantic suspense which furiously combines with the supernatural and the mysterious, took shape twenty years ago in Holyoke, Massachusetts when Aubrey Ellis was a thirteen-year-old girl. The story continues twenty years later in present-day Surrey, Massachusetts, with Aubrey working as the writer and editor of Surrey City Press home portrait feature. The uneventful and monotonous daily grind was broken one Friday when ghoulish skeletal remains had spilled out from behind Dustin Byrd’s basement wall. It was the skeletal remains of Missy Flannigan who vanished without a trace, and for which army veteran Frank Delacort was ultimately convicted of the crime sans body though he pleaded innocence.

With the case hogging media limelight, Surrey City Press entrusted the task of unravelling the whole mystery to Levi St John, a tough reporter with imposing skills but disturbingly dense in the area of personal communication. Aubrey Ellis, whose worked was confined to real estate, and with no experience of serious investigative journalism, was assigned to work alongside Levi, who was as much reluctant to work with her as she was with him. As the case considered solved with a conviction turned red hot almost twenty years later, Aubrey unknowingly was assigned her worst nightmare – a fast-pass, all-inclusive ticket to a murdered girl’s past – and her own ghost. Author Laura Spinella spins a thrilling yarn that will take you effortlessly through to the end.

The Last Girl (The Dominion Trilogy Book 1)
The Last Girl (The Dominion Trilogy Book 1)
Price: £3.98

55 of 65 people found the following review helpful
How much is a life worth?

This question is the first that enters Zoey’s mind each morning, and it is the last she thinks before falling off to sleep every night. Can a price be put on such a thing? And if it could be, would one ever be able to pay for it?

Opening with the oft repeated quote attributed to Henry David Thoreau, “The savage in man is never quite eradicated,” this hard-boiled dystopian thriller set in the near future with a dynamic cast of characters headed by a female is quite fittingly dedicated by the author to his wife, mother, daughter and sister, whom he labelled “the strongest women I know.” Though I’m not that familiar with author Joe Hart, all I know is that he has an impeccable record as an author with seven novels to his credit, most of them bestsellers. He has also written a novella – Leave the Living, four short stories and a collection of short stories entitled Midnight Paths: A Collection of Dark Horror.

The first book in the planned Dominion Trilogy, The Last Girl by Joe Hart, reads like a doomsday prophecy with the world facing the scourge of drought of women. In less than a quarter of a century, the world’s women population has dwindled down to a thousand, and with no baby girls and women, there seems to be no hope, and the world is ravaged by uncertainty. The National Obstetric Alliance (NOA) was set up to determine the cause but it has failed to come up with a satisfying answer. Known as “The Dearth,” the world witnessed a noticeable drop in female births in 2016. It grew to an alarming rate in 2017. By 2018, despite an unprecedented scientific undertaking by NOA, it recorded less than one in one hundred million. It resulted in chaos, uprisings and rebellions leading to a full-scale civil war which lasted for five years.

Under the guise of protecting and sheltering the surviving women, the NOA has been running a program, conducting experiments, at a facility known as Advance Research Compound. The surviving women are holed up - Terra, Zoey, Grace, Halie, Rita, Sherell, Penny, Lily, Meeka and many more expectantly waiting for their turn to be “inducted” as they believe that the program isn’t something to be afraid of but something to embrace as it is for the greater good. They believe that they live for the chance to rebuild the world, each waiting for their turn to be inducted into the program, after which fulfilling their long-cherished dream of living in the safe zone with parents. But Zoey knew better, and she decided to act before more of her friends are “inducted.” Author Joe Hart cooked up a chillingly terrifying scenario, leaving me breathless. Mesmerizing and unsettling, The Last Girl by Joe Hart is a thrill-a-page read which fans of science fiction, mystery, suspense and futuristic novels will enjoy.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 10, 2016 3:46 PM GMT

All the Birds in the Sky
All the Birds in the Sky
Price: £3.79

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Utterly different from the many other books that I have read during the past few years, All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders is a completely original young adult read that magically combines science fiction and fantasy. When I dived into the book, it was without much expectation. The odds were heavily stacked against the book - author Charlie Jane Anders was new to me, I’m not a big fan of science fiction, and on top of that, the magical realm of fantasy holds little promise to me.

Yet when I dig deeper into the stories of Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead, I was irresistibly drawn to them. It is difficult to imagine people like them coming together. As a matter of fact, they are poles apart, though they are both gifted. Patricia is a witch, can talk with a bird while Laurence is quite the opposite. He has an extraordinary skill which enables him to make a working time machine. Some paths are destined to intertwine, as Patricia and Laurence eventually find out.

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders is not an extraordinary story with an out-of-this-world plot. It is a story about relationship, love and life. In more ways than one would imagine, the characters are quite affable, and the author has conceived their stories in such a way that you will find it difficult to forget them. Their stories, and the pivotal thread of the novel, will pull you along as you are compellingly driven forward on a journey that not only will petrify and break your heart, but also brings much delight and happiness.

Thomas Murphy: A Novel
Thomas Murphy: A Novel
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A STORY THAT WILL LINGER FOR A LONG TIME!, 19 Jan. 2016
Thomas Murphy by Roger Rosenblatt is heart-warming, passionate, witty and nostalgic. The richness of its narrative, the tenderness of thought, the warmth of feeling, and the beauty of its story is like an oasis in the desert. With just a little over two hundred pages, you feel the end comes too quickly and too fast as you want the story to continue, and continue, and continue. Though this is the first time I read author Roger Rosenblatt, I was completely taken in by his craftsmanship as it was almost faultless.

Thomas Murphy is no ordinary character. He has not only seen but been through a lot of ups and downs in life. There’s no dearth of joy and happiness in his life. Yet, he is also a man accustomed to the downside of life. He’s a man in mourning – longing for the companionship of his deceased wife, Oona, calling out, "I don't mind being alone, Oona. I mind being alone without you." Into his seventies, Murphy spent much of his time with daughter Maire and grandson William. Pensive but still full of life, he volunteers and befriends people at the homeless shelter, or take his chances to make new acquaintances in the pub.

Author Roger Rosenblatt’s Thomas Murphy explores life’s deepest questions of love, loneliness, longing, death, aging, and memory through its characters and their stories. At times funny, this thoughtful story takes a dramatic shift with the arrival of Sarah who changed Murphy in more ways than we dared to foresee. The characters are wonderfully conceived, each playing a beautiful part in Roger Rosenblatt’s scheme of things. This is one story that will linger in the minds of readers long after the last page is turned.

Cometh the Hour (Clifton Chronicles)
Cometh the Hour (Clifton Chronicles)
by Jeffrey Archer
Edition: Hardcover

99 of 108 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WHAT MORE CAN A JEFFREY ARCHER FAN ASK FOR?, 18 Jan. 2016
I don’t remember the year but I still remember how much of an impact my first brush with Jeffrey Archer’s brand of great fiction and storytelling had on me. During those days I was safely ensconced in the novels of Nick Carter, James Hadley Chase, Robert Ludlum and that great western fiction author Louis L’Amour. When I came across Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less by Jeffrey Archer, I still remember, I was a bit averse to a new author as I felt I would be sidetracked from the novels of the authors with whom I was “acclimatized.” But there was no turning back after reading the first few pages of Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less as Jeffrey Archer literally sucked me into his world of thrills and chills.

Cometh the Hour by Jeffrey Archer is a continuation of the Clifton Chronicles - the sixth and second last book in the series - a saga that crisscrosses continents, and one in which the lives of Harry, Emma, Giles, Sebastian, Lady Virginia and others are tried and tested through friendship, betrayal, secrecy and maneuverings, and continues with all the trademark twists and turns that have made the compelling and spellbinding story of the Clifton and the Barrington families Jeffrey Archer's most ambitious work to date. This extraordinary tale begins in the backstreets of Bristol in 1919 when Harry Clifton was raised by his mother and uncle who worked for Barrington Shipping. The earlier titles in the series are: Only Time Will Tell (1919-1940), The Sins of the Father (1939-1945), Best Kept Secret (1945-1957), Be Careful What You Wish For (1957-1964) and Mightier than the Sword (1964-1970). The series is imaginatively crafted and magnificently mounted on a sweeping scale the grandeur and intensity of which few would parallel.

In Cometh the Hour, Archer takes the story forward to the 1970s and the stakes are high. Emma Clifton is facing the possibility of defeat in a libel trial and humiliation of having to stand down as chairman of Barrington’s. With her life hanging by a thread Emma opted not to take advantage of a letter which surfaced that could win over the jury of seven men and five women. Harry Clifton is busy with the draft of Russian author Anatoly Babakov’s Uncle Joe, who is imprisoned in a gulag in Siberia. Lady Virginia Fenwick continues to symbolize a character that you love to hate but nonetheless an interesting character, without whom the book would be a much poorer read. Jeffrey Archer surprised me by planting Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher into the story, and of whom Emma was deeply in awe. She plays a crucial part in one pivotal thread of the story. Sebastian Clifton falls in love with Priya, a very well-educated Indian woman who is working in London. Theirs is a sweet love story, but a heartbreaking one. There are intriguing threads and suspenseful plots but all merged beautifully in the end. Jeffrey Archer’s The Clifton Chronicles is a delight to read for its array of characters who epitomize what it takes to face the storms that come along the way, as also those who personify evil. Cometh the Hour is one of the best in the series. My gut feeling tells me that the seventh and final volume slated for a November 2016 release will be a hefty one, and a blockbuster of an ending to a series that has really excited me.

#This is from an advanced reader’s copy which I received in exchange for an honest review.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 18, 2016 2:01 PM GMT

NYPD Red 4
NYPD Red 4
Price: £4.99

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ONE OF THE BETTER NOVELS IN THE SERIES!, 16 Jan. 2016
This review is from: NYPD Red 4 (Kindle Edition)
I have a confession to make. I’m an addict - a James Patterson-addict. How much hard I tried to shake off and get rid of this addiction nothing seems to be going right. The harder I tried, the more curious I grow. And there’s no stopping. I fumed, I swore and I trashed but I still read James Patterson. I’m sure there’s a thousand better books waiting to be read, beckoning me, calling out my name – almost beseeching and pleading, yet here I am again, trying out another James Patterson whodunit, with the same outcome - cursing myself and vowing never to touch another book of his.

But to be fair to James Patterson, his books are just meant to be that. Imagine an author churning out a book almost every month – at an unbelievable rate, you got to give him credit. He is an incredible super-writer, albeit with a co-author. If you and I write a book every month, no one would even bother to check the title. Hundreds of negative reviews book after book instead of deterring him seemed to have a positive influence, James Patterson is almost unstoppable.

And NYPD Red 4 by James Patterson, which is the fourth instalment in the series, co-written with Marshall Karp, continues the exploits of the elite force charged with the special task of protecting the wealthiest and most powerful citizens of Manhattan. Detective Zach Jordan and his partner, Kylie MacDonald, head the cast in this action-packed suspense thriller full of celebrities, drugs, glitz and glamor. And when a showcase event resulted in death and a high-stake jewellery heist, you can be sure James Patterson is taking you along for a ride – and you got to read it to decide if it turns out to be a thrill-ride!

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