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Carmen (England)

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The Edge of Normal
The Edge of Normal
by Carla Norton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.09

5.0 out of 5 stars A great read., 20 Sep 2014
This review is from: The Edge of Normal (Hardcover)
If you can get past the name of Reeve LeClaire feeling like it should belong in a Jackie Collins novel, this book is fantastic. It deals with long term kidnap victims and, unlike the Chelsea Cain Kick Lannigan book with the same theme, gives the characters some speck of humanity and decency to grasp at while they try to begin the never-ending ordeal of re-intergrating back into society. This makes us like them and root for them big time.

You might have to suspend belief occasionally, but this is real edge-of-the-seat stuff. I hope it's the start of a series as I would like to read more about Reeve LeClaire, despite her stupid name!


The Immortalists
The Immortalists
by Kyle Mills
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.64

2.0 out of 5 stars Just daft., 16 Sep 2014
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This review is from: The Immortalists (Paperback)
Managed almost 200 pages before I threw it across the room in annoyance after the scientist and his wife out-smarted 4 evil baddies with guns for the umpteenth time! It's just too silly and far-fetched. The characters aren't given enough depth for me to care all that much. Also, a map should be provided for the non-American readers as it's impossible to understand the distances between all the running around between states.

First and last book from this author.


Before We Met
Before We Met
by Lucie Whitehouse
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.50

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Never really gets going., 12 Sep 2014
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This review is from: Before We Met (Paperback)
This was an extremely frustrating book to read. It took over a hundred pages to get to what we knew from the blurb. All the time it felt like going one step forwards and, just as it looked as though we were finally getting on with the story, we then went 3 steps back. As each character was introduced we had to have loads of re-caps of previous anecdotes - sometimes necessary, I grant, but this was ad nauseam. It even went further than the characters. At one point Hannah, the bland 'heroine,' pulled out the sofa to hoover behind it. Not only did we get her reminiscing about where they'd purchased said sofa, but also the whole of hers and her husband's first conversation they had when they sat on it! Oh for goodness sake! Get on with it!

Hannah herself was as faceless and pathetic as the second Mrs DeWinter but without being surrounded by characters such as the multi-faceted Mrs Danvers or the beautiful setting of Manderley. In fact, the male characters were all, apart from David, given one syllable names - Dan, Mark, Nick, Tom, Ant - and it was difficult to remember who was who. There was also mentioned in passing a Leo and, in the final pages, a Leon. Took me a while to realise they were different people. I didn't really care what happened to Hannah - she just kept going round in circles refusing to see what was in front of her.

I won't bother with this author again. I hate books that seem promising, but never seem to get going. I only finished it because it was relatively short.


Someone Else's Skin (DI Marnie Rome 1)
Someone Else's Skin (DI Marnie Rome 1)
by Sarah Hilary
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant!, 8 Sep 2014
Oh WOW! It's ages since I read a book that I literally couldn't put down, one that didn't start promisingly and peter out half way through. This was just the opposite - the first 50 or so pages were ok/good and then it just got better and better and better!

I won't give a synopsis of the story - there are plenty of reviews of that - just to warn that it could be harrowing to certain readers as it deals with abuse, self harm and sado-masochism as its central themes. However, the characters are great - I'm half in love with DS Noah Jake, want Ed for my best friend and want to slap DS Carling, hard, with a wet fish! As usual with new detective pairings the protagonist, DI Marnie Rome, has a deep, tragic past and is still tentatively building her relationship with her team. She's flawed, with deeply buried unspeakable thoughts. She is driven and we root for her, big time.

If I have any gripe at all it's the very sudden tying up of a loose thread at the end - but the rest of the book was so good it's not worth knocking a star off for.

I loved it - read it in two days - and can't wait for the next in the series which we're promised in 'early 2015. Hurrah!


Lonely Hearts: (Resnick 1)
Lonely Hearts: (Resnick 1)
by John Harvey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

3.0 out of 5 stars Dull story, good banter., 5 Sep 2014
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This series was brought to my attention as there was talk amongst crime enthusiasts that Harvey has recently put Resnick to bed. Having never tried him I thought I'd go back to the beginning - often not the best book in a series, but usually important as to the background and relationships of the investigating team. I was aware that this was written before the technological big bang of recent years and quite liked nostalgic reminders of Tippex and the fact that Top Shop was at one time considered crass!

I loved the characterisation of Resnick's team. Maybe a little stereotypical, but the banter and humour were what drew me past the first few pages. Resnick himself is as dull as ditchwater - cats, bellies and grubby ties do not do it for me I'm afraid!

But the rest of the book was so pedestrian it was like reading an episode of Midsomer Murders. Other reviewers have mentioned how they knew the setting. After several chapters I had to google to discover where Harvey set his books. There was honestly no mention from beginning to end and it could have been anywhere. The only clue was the 'lace making section of the city,' mentioned in passing. Even the football team was described as 'the reds.' I have an intense dislike of books with fictional settings and this honestly felt like it was one of those - despite reviewers who were local to Nottingham recognising areas of the city - it was completely unrecognisable to those who have never been.

Also, the story was just dull. Nothing happened after the initial couple of bodies were found. There were few real suspects to choose from and whilst I also didn't understand the ending (like others have mentioned) I presumed it was because I scanned the last 80 pages as I was bored.

I may, at some stage, pick up a book further into the series as I did enjoy the writing and the humour. Three and a half stars.


The Secrets We Left Behind
The Secrets We Left Behind
by Susan Elliot-Wright
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unoriginal Plot, 30 Aug 2014
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I am going to have to start this review by saying *POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT* as this book is so similar to another book I have read which, once mentioned, would instantly give away the plot if you happen to have read it too.

So. This was an easy, untaxing read for the beach. It was going ok until the character of Eve was introduced and she reminded me of Biba in The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly. Eve took Jo, 16 and lost in London after the death of her mother, to her chaotic squat in Hastings where her boyfriend, Scott, also lived and we had an almost identical set up to The Poison Tree. Lost, quiet young girl gets taken under the wing of bohemian but slightly barking, more confident, slightly older woman and her boyfriend (this book) or brother (Poison Tree.) Young girl becomes besotted with these glamorous, mysterious characters leading her to do unspeakable, totally out of character action in spur of moment of madness. To say I foresaw the plot (yes, ALL of it) would be an understatement and I cannot believe Miss Kelly hasn't sued for plot-nicking.

I read right to the end as I wanted to see the fallout - obviously that had to be different to The Poison Tree. But the ending was totally predictable. I have read books with characters who have had elements reminding me of other writers' offerings. But I have never seen such a complete re-hash of a plot before.

I did enjoy the whole Hastings in the summer of 1976 theme but, apart from that, it was pretty bland to be honest. I won't be reading this author again.


One Kick
One Kick
by Chelsea Cain
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.75

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Violent and harrowing., 25 Aug 2014
This review is from: One Kick (Paperback)
I am getting thoroughly fed up with various authors gushing superlatives on their contemporaries' work, printed on the covers of so many books. I visualise so much back scratching I'm starting to suspect a bad dose of fleas.

I honestly don't know how I finished this book. It is so harrowing. Kick has had the worst childhood imaginable, having been kidnapped and used to make indecent films for 5 years. I do understand that she's going to be a flawed and difficult adult. I really do. I'm sure I wouldn't be very nice if I'd been through what she had. But the trick for the writer, surely, is to give her SOME little element to her personality to make us sympathise with her? I tried. I really did. And although Kick is trying to help rescue missing children and she also shows compassion to her 'brother' James, she's still really not very nice.

And the unfortunately named John Bishop (who you could say kind of kidnaps her all over again in an effort to rescue the latest kidnapped boy) isn't very nice either. And her mum is awful - cashing in on her celebrity status as the mother of a rescued kidnapped child. And the FBI agent who rescues her isn't very nice either as he does something totally unethical (I don't want to spoil it, so won't say more than that.)

Nobody's very nice at all really, apart from the poor, extremely flawed James who is on the wrong side of mad/obsessive - but who can blame him really after all he's been through? He is extremely similar to Linwood Barclay's character, Thomas, in Trust Your Eyes.

The violence is heavy and graphic - Kick carries many, many weapons about her person and in her bag - several of which I had to look up as I'd never heard of them. I kept on reading as I really wanted to cheer Kick on, as promised in the gushing authors' endorsements inside the front cover. I didn't. I just found her desperately sad and in need of several years on a desert island to try and heal.

This author is on my 'no' list. I really didn't like this book at all.


The Quiet Game (Penn Cage 1)
The Quiet Game (Penn Cage 1)
by Greg Iles
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.80

4.0 out of 5 stars Good but long, 22 Aug 2014
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A new author for me and one I will read again, though I'm not in a rush. This book introduced Penn Cage, lawyer turned author turned lawyer again due to, initially, someone blackmailing his father. I liked the fact that his tragic back-story was told to us on page one, rather than hundreds of pages into the book or, in the case of Roy Grace, several books into the series. I liked the characters and, sometimes, the story moved on at a great pace. And there lies my problem. This was at least 250 pages too long. Whilst the politics of the American Deep South had to be explained, at times the narrative became bogged down with so much political stuff I started scanning. It was almost as if the book had two authors - one who wrote cracking suspense and likeable characters and another who wrote text books for a living.

The actual whys and wherefores to it all were more in tune with a murder-mystery weekend where you have to tie up every single line of enquiry with people and motives and, to be honest, I stopped caring as it all got a bit convoluted. But I did want to see if justice was done and, more importantly, how Penn (stupid name) and his various associates managed it.

A good book if you like stories set in the southern American states - lots of knowledge and great descriptions.


Backlash
Backlash
by Lynda La Plante
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.50

2.0 out of 5 stars Good series gone boring, 30 July 2014
This review is from: Backlash (Paperback)
I stopped reading the Anna Travis series a couple of books back and this one reminds me of why! I absolutely loved Bella Mafia and also the early Travis books as she rises through the ranks. Now she just gets on my nerves and has become quite unlikeable. The team is exactly the same too - La Plante needs to bring in new blood like other crime writers do - that way we're never sure if they're dodgy or going to get themselves killed or whatever and it adds to the frisson alongside the plot. I say 'plot' loosely with Backlash in mind. I was so bored that I have actually given up after 200 pages. Thought I'd give this series another go but never again.


A Single Breath
A Single Breath
by Lucy Clarke
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 and 3 Quarter Stars, 22 July 2014
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This review is from: A Single Breath (Paperback)
I enjoyed this, though it really isn't a thriller, despite many reviews to the contrary. A couple of times it seemed like it was going there, but a couple of things being moved/going missing in a beach shack and the feeling of a shadow outside do not, for me, constitute a thriller! This is not my usual genre and I've not read The Sea Sisters, so didn't know what to expect. It was an easy read - definitely a beach book - and I guessed the two main 'twists' about the bush fire and the thing that happens nearer the end quite early on - for me they were screamingly obvious, but I am a crime fiction reader, so maybe not as obvious to some!

Quite often I'd read 50 or more pages and realise that nothing had really happened - lots and lots of long conversations and soul searching, which was quite nicely done if you like that sort of thing. Some characters were a little stereotypical - in particular, the best friend Callie and the drunken father in law, Dirk. However, they were still likeable enough. Just.

The descriptions of places were nicely done. The character descriptions were more mixed for me. The main character, Eva, has short hair and not much else! The two brothers were well depicted - similar enough for Eva to see the family resemblance in movement and nuances (which was nicely done) but with different, soul-searching eyes. Nice.

So a good enough summer read and definitely enjoyable enough for me to search out The Sea Sisters next time I want a break from crime.


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