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NV "Neerav Vadera" (London, U.K.)

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The Istanbul Puzzle
The Istanbul Puzzle
Price: £1.49

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect fusion of fact and fiction..., 18 Feb. 2012
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A thoroughly enjoyable first piece from Mr O'Bryan and at an absolute bargain price (99p). I just finished another debut novel last week, "Before I Go To Sleep" which I thought was a little flat, the plot lacking any real depth. Ergo I was somewhat hesitant about risking reading another debut attempt but I'm glad to say Istanbul Puzzle blew any reservations I had out of the water! This book has everything, history, archaeology, artefacts, romance, crime, good guys, bad guys and a much more credible story line than other bestselling books that fit into this genre.

I've never been to Istanbul, but the passion with which the author describes every beautiful minute detail of the city during the chase, leaves you in awe. I cannot wait to visit Istanbul myself, the city is clearly seeped in some amazing history, religious battles spread over many centuries and ancient buildings that remain in existence today. It's no surprise that Mr O'Brian was inspired to write this book after a visit to the city himself. Often when you read a fictional book, it turns into somewhat of a cinematic experience, i.e. a bit of fun that seldom leaves you challenging your existing general knowledge of things either past or present. Istanbul Puzzle is much more well rounded than that and that's what makes it stand out from the crowd.

You don't need me to repeat in detail what is already in the synopsis but in a nutshell the protagonist (somewhat by accident, which makes it even more exciting) Sean Ryan, co-founder of the Institute of Applied Research in Oxford travels from his base in London to Istanbul, initially to find out the cause of his best friend and colleague Alek Zegliwski's gruesome murder by decapitation. However, almost immediately he finds himself mixed up with the British Consulate in his quest to avenge his death which simultaneously embroils him in a much wider sinister plot by fundamentalists to create a new order. The story thus cleverly flicks back between Armageddon type events in London and the goings on in Istanbul which culminates in an explosive coming together towards the end. How many Oxford professor's do you know that end up saving the world (well sort of - you need to read the book to find out for yourself how it all transpires, but it's worth it!)

A more than impressive debut, beautifully descriptive edge of the seat stuff that invoked some serious interest in me to research Turkey and its rich history further. What more could you ask for? I can't wait for the next instalment the Jerusalem puzzle where it's already been confirmed on the author's blog that Sean and Isabel will be teaming up again. No doubt more of the same, I can't wait.

Thank you for reading my review, I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did.


Before I Go To Sleep
Before I Go To Sleep
by S J Watson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent..., 10 Feb. 2012
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This review is from: Before I Go To Sleep (Paperback)
There is no doubt this was an enjoyable read, so much so that I managed to finish it in a period of a couple of days. However, judging by the rave reviews given you would think it was one of the best books ever written, which couldn't be further from the truth. "Decent with a great twist at the end...." is as far as I would go. Credit must be given to the author, firstly as it is his first published work, and secondly because he somehow manages to keep you gripped despite a fairly average plot with his clever use of suspense and trickery regarding who the villain of the piece is. Obviously I don't want to give much away but it was a shock when everything unravelled at the end.

I'm no literary critic, but there is definite room for improvement as the language used is fairly basic judging by the fact I didn't have to use my kindle dictionary more than a handful of times, and also the detail of some of the more action filled scenes was also fairly standard compared to other novels out there at the moment.

Overall a good effort, and as a bonus I learned a great deal about those who suffer from amnesia, but like those reviewers who haven't allowed themselves to get carried away with the hype I won't be reading another book by SJ Watson in a hurry. Give it a try anyway I'm sure you will enjoy it just ignore the marketing blurb and allow yourself to judge it for what it is - a good first effort by a new writer.

Thanks for reading my review.


The Basement
The Basement
Price: £1.98

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very graphic, but overly so?, 21 Jan. 2012
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This review is from: The Basement (Kindle Edition)
There is no simpler way to describe this book other than graphic, very graphic indeed. At times it felt like a violent porn story out of the back of a "top shelf" magazine but at other times it felt like a traditional crime novel, with the bad guy being chased by the good guys. I must admit it kept me gripped the way it constantly switched between the actual hunt by the NYPD and the very detailed sexual exploits of the serial killer.

I can see why it has caused such divided opinion but my personal view is that isn't it the detailed description of the crime, which happen to be sexually driven in this instance, that contributes so much to keeping us so enthralled by what will happen next? It scares me to say it but the truth is the way Mr. Leather wrote the sexually motivated attacks, made me feel like I was very much inside the mind of the killer. When one pays for a book surely they want some emotion provoking sensations as well as entertainment, from that perspective this book had both.

Finally, it could have been longer hence only 3 stars, at only circa 130 pages it was more like a short story and felt a bit rushed at times, especially the ending. However for someone like me who took a break from reading it was a perfect book to get me back into things, but for a more seasoned reader I can see why they may have been left wanting more, a lot more.


The Shack
The Shack
by Wm Paul Young
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars an alternative view of a higher power with definite spiritual overtones..., 25 July 2011
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This review is from: The Shack (Paperback)
This is one of the toughest reviews I have had to write yet, especially as it covers a topic that is so fundamental yet broad, where does one start? I wouldn't term myself religious in any sense and actually gave up on religion a few years ago totally, veering more towards the scientific explanation of why we are here and essentially that the only person we can rely on is ourselves - it's every human for themselves!

However my parents do believe in a higher power, not necessarily a tangible God but some sort of energy and recommended this book to me to stoke my interest in the topic. We all ask ourselves if there really was a God why would he allow so much devastation to occur? Rapes, murders, famine, natural disasters the list is endless. It was exactly these questions that made my belief in God completely waver some time ago. However, the ideas presented in this book by William Young are very interesting, perfectly plausible and move away from depicting God as a tangible person and more as a way for us to lead our life. There is so much overlap between the ideas presented here and spirituality, I am surprised at the criticism of this book especially as any positive ideas that would bring fulfilment and peace to our lives is surely worth exploring further.

It is profound in parts, to the point where I had to read it over a few times to understand the message. I agree it is not the most entertaining story, which is what I expected when I initiated my reading of this book, but it was a pleasant surprise to be presented with some very believable ideas on how we can bring positive changes to our lives by changing our perception and ways of interaction with other human beings. It does present some interesting ideas regarding who God really is and questions the very existence of the authoritative ideas presented in modern day religion. My guess is this is what has made this book a small phenomenon.

Well worth a read as part of a larger spiritual journey/education. Enjoy!


The Confession
The Confession
Price: £3.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I must confess...., 22 Jun. 2011
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This review is from: The Confession (Kindle Edition)
This is not an easy review to write. On the one hand you have an original topic you seldom see explored in any sort of depth in commercial novels, on the other hand you have a drawn out storyline which in my opinion could have been a lot more concise and to the point. I like John Grisham, he is clearly a very talented writer and the research that has gone into this book is painstakingly thorough and very apparent. However, one can't help but feel this isn't his best work from a fictional perspective.

I know John Grisham is a very popular author and has his legion of fans, but even they cannot deny there were parts in this book where you were left wondering if it was ever going to reach a conclusion. I did enjoy the fact that I was left further educated about a topic, capital punishment, that I didn't really have a great understanding for, especially coming from a country that rightly abolished it a long time ago. A quick synopsis if I may: The crux of the story is focussed on the last few days before Donte Drum's execution for a murder he did not commit. Travis Boyette confesses to the murder (hence the title "The Confession") to a Lutheran pastor who participates in a mad dash to correct the failures of a clearly inadequate justice system in Texas. Will they get there in time to save Donte?

The book has significant postives for sure, namely some wonderfully original characters like Robbie Flak the extravagant lawyer and tackles in depth John Grisham's somewhat biased, although in my opinion correct, anti views on the death penalty. However, a significant amount of time was spent, say 50 pages or so, simply describing a very short period of time where a short distance was covered by car by the pastor and Travis Boyette which could have so easily been represented just as well in 10. It's a shame as this would have made for a great short story, perhaps one of those like in Ford County but instead John Grisham stretches it out over 450 pages. This is just my opinion I hope I don't get chastised for it because there are many good things about this book, but getting to the point is certainly not one of its strengths hence why I just cannot give it more than 3 stars. Worth a read, just don't expect to be kept gripped for hours on end!

Enjoy.


Sugar & Spice
Sugar & Spice

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Explosive material...pushed the boundaries of traditional published writing, 12 Jun. 2011
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This review is from: Sugar & Spice (Kindle Edition)
Everything about this book was raw, from the lack of editing in places to the unperturbed way in which the author focussed on paedophilia. Don't let any of this put you off, if anything it added to the fascination of reading about this taboo subject intertwined into the background of a notorious killer. The author has clearly spent an immense amount of time doing her research into all aspects of this field. It is abundantly clear in the depth of characters portrayed in the novel and the length of the book, circa 600 pages (again hard to tell as the lack of editing means you don't have page numbers) that she has spent a painstaking amount of time bringing to life the detailed complexities of preferred sexual orientation through the eyes of a killer not to mention the plethora of psychiatrists, psychotherapists, police officers and victims along the way. Great job I say Saffina Desforges.

Many of the reviews have criticised the book for being gruesome in detail and lacking cutting edge, I could not disagree more. As the focus is on a notorious serial killer in the mould of say Jack the Ripper and the like, numerous attacks/murders were bound to take place. However I did not find any of them even mildly inedible, if anything I felt she held back significantly in detail where the author could have gone much further in terms of gory detail, describing the actual attack in question. A fine balance was found which made it readable, yet kept you enchanted by the sick workings of such a murderous calculated mind. The book also had a great twist at the end although (for once!) I was successfully able to decipher the likely ending about 75% of the way through, a satisfying feeling when my theory regarding the killer(s) proved to be indeed correct. That I solved it before the end is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, isn't that what great murder mystery books are about, allowing the reader to play detective before all is revealed in a fitting conclusion!

A quick synopsis: the story is essentially focussed on a paedophilic killer on the loose in the U.K. who strikes periodically going by the pseudonym Uncle Tom. He has his own peculiar avatar that he leaves on a card. One of the victims' parents get involved in tandem with the police to track the killer down, the book taking you through all the twists and turns and much more...will they catch him in time before he strikes again? Well worth the read you will not regret it, just don't read it alone at night, I was genuinely scared to go downstairs and get a cup of water until daylight!

Finally a gratuitous word for the author Saffina Desforges, kudos to her for publishing this in e-reader format despite the difficulties she had publishing it down the mainstream route due to the taboo subject at the centre of this gripping novel. Some of the criticism for me is unfounded especially as going down this unedited e-reader format route has allowed the book to test the boundaries of traditional murder mystery and as mentioned at the infancy of my review this raw format has allowed an unusual yet complex topic to take centre stage, making it compelling reading indeed. Many of this genre of books I have read in the top 20 to 50 list on Amazon lack that killer edge that actually leave you feeling you have learned something new about current society, Saffina manages to do that well disguised behind this tale.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, for 71 pence I can't help but feel it's daylight robbery!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 15, 2011 5:27 PM BST


The Unremarkable Heart
The Unremarkable Heart

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars an unremarkable heart...but not an unremarkable story, 7 Jun. 2011
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First and foremost bear in mind this is a short story, one can read this easily within a couple of hours, give or take. I have never read anything by Karin Slaughter previously but the positive reviews of her prior and current works do her justice if this short snappy piece is anything to judge by.

The story is told through a dying lady, June Connor. The author puts you inside her mind on her last day on her death bed being cared for by her husband Richard. There is a grisly tension between the two of them, the reason being revealed towards the end but the build up is well written and structured to the point where June's thoughts and feelings are vividly akin to that of a person on their final day of life, very realistic and cleverly done by the author.

I didn't read the first chapters of her new novels which are included as freebies to induce the reader to purchase them, the short story showcases her abilities adequately to make one realise her material is worth reading further. Looking forward to reading more by her!

4 stars instead of 5 as in my opinion it should have been available to download for free despite the low price as full novels are available in the top 50 for a similar price.

Enjoy.


Bone and Cane
Bone and Cane

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brief nostalgic thriller...., 2 Jun. 2011
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This review is from: Bone and Cane (Kindle Edition)
I must admit this book was a little stodgy at the start and I was left wondering what all the positive reviews were about. However, once the meat of the story kicked in there was no stopping the excitement which threw itself as every page turned. It's hard to describe exactly what genre this book should fall into, a great all rounder although certainly not for kids given some of the graphical detail about the sexual encounters involved with the main characters.

Without giving much away I thoroughly enjoyed the ending which came as a complete surprise as David Belbin had built it up one way then decided to end it in a completely different manner. Again you will have to read it for yourself to decipher what I mean here as I don't want to give much away. The plot centres around two former lefties from Nottingham University Sarah Bone and Nick Cane and how they invariably bump into each other several years later as Sarah is running to win her second term as a local Labour MP in Nottingham during Labour's landslide election year in 1997. Yes there is murder involved and with that comes intrigue and the discovery process around who was guilty of it but personally I enjoyed learning about what it must be like to be on the campaign trail during elections.

We often view MPs and politicians as somewhat "upper-class" and unlikely to get involved in things such as smoking dope, sleeping around and getting involved with murderers but this book has opened up a can of worms for me. The characters are significantly milder than what I am used to from crime novels, not at all your typical brutes. Having said that I actually enjoyed that because you get to see so many other facets of their character that you can actually relate to. As aforementioned I learned a lot about politics from this book and am going to research a little more into my own constituency and what it is my local MP stands for and what things are involved in actually winning a seat. Not bad for a book based around a nasty double murder!

A good read, easy to swallow in a few days, if that, as it is less than 300 pages in length and reads very well. Good job David Belbin.


Daddy's Home (A Holly Jennings Thriller Book 1)
Daddy's Home (A Holly Jennings Thriller Book 1)

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally engrossing...., 29 May 2011
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This is my first foray into anything by this author and quite frankly I can't wait to read some of her other material. I was completely enveloped in this book over the weekend. What made it even more enjoyable was reading it through the middle of the night, my heart skipped a beat more than once as a passing thought occurred to me about the possibility of the killer being in my own house, before I had to remind myself it was just a book!

I have always teetered on the outside of the crime genre instead sticking mainly to espionage/war when it came to bloody stories but this book has sparked my enthusiasm greatly to read more murder mystery, especially if they are as well told as this. I don't want to give much away so all I will say is that A.K. Alexander did a fine job of coaxing me into thinking the killer was one person then another only to twist the conclusion into something completely different from the solved solution I was feeling so smug about as I thought I should have been the detective in place of the main protagonist Holly Jennings. How wrong I was with my theory but it sure was fun trying to solve the case myself whilst simultaneously turning the pages.

Without stating the obvious as you can see the summary above from Amazon, the main crux of the book is that a gruesome sick individual, albeit highly skilled in the way he goes about this murdering business is out looking for what is coined his "perfect family", hence his pseudonym the "family man". Detective Holly Jennings is an endearing character given great depth by A.K Alexander with her troubled past, being an only mother and also being one of the best cops in her crew despite being a female. All these things draw you to the character and like another reviewer says I would love to read more about her and some things are left open to further possible exploration towards the end. Who knows?

A final thought that stuck with me throughout the book was the sad fact that there are very real killers out there that subject families to the things "the family man" did in this book, such was some of the detail the author used to describe the attacks it did make me gasp on occasion but I suppose that is what makes this story so good. I had better stop now so you can enjoy this great read for yourselves!

Enjoy!


The Unquiet Heart (Danny McRae Series Book 2)
The Unquiet Heart (Danny McRae Series Book 2)
Price: £3.79

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gordon Ferris strikes again, 26 May 2011
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Whilst not a prerequisite, I would highly recommend reading "Truth Dare Kill" prior to this sequel . Although the two books are not as intertwined as some multi part series, part one does lay some useful foundations about the main character Danny McRae. In particular how he turned from nation's finest to private detective and how he sustained, and the implications of, the oft mentioned "scar" that runs down his temple. Every hero has a weakness that endears him to us and what makes this tale so realistic is his weakness is simply his love for Eva, a journalist turned client who wants to follow Danny out on some of his "private detective work". This book should come with a health warning, you will suffer from lack of sleep as this is where it starts to get very interesting and it is difficult to adjourn. Why is she so interested in his line of work? After all he has detached himself from any public involvement, nowadays his line of work is following a few people around and roughing a few up here and there at most. I would highly recommend reading the short 300 odd pages to find out, it is certainly worth it as Gordon Ferris takes you through European borders and nationalities post war.

Danny McRae, the protagonist, is no typical superhero as you will no doubt be aware from part one. He is just a normal guy like you and I, savagely damaged by the effects of the war but with a steely determination like no other. Gordon Ferris repeats the trick again in this fantastic sequel, succinctly taking you on a tale spanning three separate war savaged areas but also covering factions between at least four or five groups. I gave Truth Dare Kill 5 stars and to be frank this betters it. A lot of the focus was on London in the first book, the focus cleverly shifts towards Germany this time to create a fine balance between the two parts and actually brought home the reality of what it must have been like in Iraq after the most recent war, namely a picture of looting and more crudely, chaos.

Whilst part two is not as bloody and gruesome as the first the plot is certainly more drawn out and has more twists and turns to it. You feel as if you know Danny by now and I must admit it is pleasing that Gordon has finally given him a real woman to contend for, as oppose to a figment of his imagination, although this brings its own problems with it!

Finally, without giving anything away, I am glad the author has left it open for another sequel Danny McRae's days are certainly not numbered yet - a fitting end.

Enjoy!


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