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Mrs. S. Payne (UK)

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Naked In Death: 1
Naked In Death: 1
by J. D. Robb
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Just not for me, 6 July 2015
This review is from: Naked In Death: 1 (Paperback)

I finally decided to read this book after hearing my Nan rave about JD Robb for at least the last year but probably longer. I do like a crime book and I often read sci-fi / futuristic novels, so, along with my Nan’s recommendation, I decided to give the first one in the series a try.

The main character is Lieutenant Eve Dallas who works with the New York Police and Security Department. The storyline is actually very simple - Eve is in the middle of an investigation involving a series of sexual murders of prostitutes and she finds herself strongly attracted to the prime suspect on the case. That prime suspect is Roarke, a very rich and handsome man who is used to getting what he wants. We follow Eve as she tries to solve the case and we learn more about her and her past as the story progresses.

I actually liked the storyline and didn’t guess the murderer, which is always good, but my like for the book really stopped there.

The characters – I really didn’t relate to any of the characters. I found Eve very arrogant and patronising and I hated that almost every male character we came across wanted to sleep with her (including her father!). I really struggle with a book if I do not connect with the characters and Eve was too patronising and rude for me. I think we were supposed to think that she is brave and complicated but actually I felt that she was weak and rather boring. I guess we find out more about her childhood as the series progresses but actually I’ve realised that I don’t really care what happened to her.

I also disliked Roarke, he reminded me of a softer version of Christian Grey from the Fifty Shades series, and he seemed like a bully with power, money and influence. I get that we are supposed to think that he cares deeply for Eve and that this is unusual for him, but I really felt that wasn’t presented strongly enough for me to believe it. I hate it when you are presented with a supposedly strong female lead character but they always ‘need’ a rich, bossy, male character to support them. In fact, Eve would not have solved the case without Roarke, which I found really annoying!

The writing style – This may have just been my Kindle copy but almost every sentence in the book was a new paragraph. This was really annoying, I have no idea why it was presented this way but I found that it detracted from my reading. But, as I said, this may have just been my Kindle copy.
The actual pace of the book was quite fast and the murders happened over a really a short period of time. I know that Eve mentions some other cases and workloads that she has briefly but this is not really told to us enough for me to feel like she (or the work) has any real substance. It’s hard to explain, but everything felt like we were just touching the surface and not really delving into anything in real detail but maybe this detail is saved for the future books.

The future – This book is set in 2058 and I have absolutely no idea why. This is not made obvious enough, often enough, for it to make any difference at all to the characters or storyline. I really have no idea why it’s set in the future and this really confused me. Maybe the author did it just because she can.

So, obviously this book didn’t grab me and I am really disappointed by this. I had high hopes following the excellent recommendation but I lost interest in the characters and storyline more and more as I read on. I’m glad I tried the book but will not bother reading any more in the series, it just wasn’t for me.

Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as told by Christian
Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as told by Christian
Price: £4.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If you liked the series so far, you’ll like this one too, 29 Jun. 2015
I have read all the previous books in the Grey series and I had mixed reactions to them all. I enjoyed the first one, not as a literacy wonder, but really just because this was a new subject for me to read and I was intrigued by the whole situation. I liked the characters but felt that the books got progressively less interesting as I read on. I am the sort of person that likes to read the whole series of something (whether I am completely hooked by the books or not), so I knew that I would read the latest instalment.

I sure that everyone knows the general storyline by now and this book is in the same period as the first book. The first book was from Ana’s viewpoint and this book is from Christian’s. I’m not sure that this book told me anything about either character that I hadn’t already concluded from the previous books. I know that a lot of people are complaining about the repetition in this book and the seemingly obvious use of ‘cut and paste’ with a lot of the text but I’m not sure why anyone would have expectations otherwise. We were already told that this is the same time as the first book, so of course all the email correspondence and red room situations will be exactly the same. This type of storytelling lends itself to repetition, so I wasn’t bothered by that.

The book did not draw me in initially, I was bored by the first chapter, but, as I said, I like to read the whole series and hate giving up on a book, so I persevered. I would have been quite happy to never read another Grey book; I enjoyed the previous books a bit but really was not hoping for any more. Saying that, I still ended up liking this book and I thought it was better than the 2nd and 3rd one. I think it would be interesting to read this book and the first one at the same time, scene by scene as it would be a good way to learn more about the characters and how they felt in the situations, it was such a long time ago that I read the first one, I forgot how Ana was feeling.

I know what to expect with this book, I am familiar with the writing style, language used and character traits, so I cannot review based on the literacy level. I think that if you liked the series, you will also like this book. I can’t really blame E.L. James for trying to cash in on another book, good for her.

The Invasion of the Tearling: (The Tearling Trilogy 2) (Queen of the Tearling)
The Invasion of the Tearling: (The Tearling Trilogy 2) (Queen of the Tearling)
Price: £4.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you liked the first book in the series, then you will like this one for sure., 26 Jun. 2015
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I really enjoyed the first book in this series and couldn’t wait to get my mitts on the second one so I bought this on the day of release and started it straight away. I had high hopes following the first book and was worried that I would be left disappointed but I needn’t have been so concerned.

The story picks up pretty much where the first book left off. Kelsea Glynn is still Queen of the Tearling and is getting closer and closer to the inevitable battle that will happen between herself and the Red Queen. The same characters are here including Mace, Penn, the Fetch and we see a softer side of a couple of those characters. We are also introduced to a new character in the form of Lily Mayhew. Kelsea is having visions of the time before the Crossing (around 2050), through the eyes of Lily. Lily is the wife of an important man in the Department of Defence and she is physically and mentally abused by him every day. Lily feels trapped and lonely and secretly takes pills to not get pregnant because she doesn't want to bring a child into that world. We learn that in pre-Crossing times, women were property of men and only good for having children, so the taking of contraception is forbidden. Although Lily is rich and polished, she is clearly a prisoner in her miserable life. As Kelsea and Lily’s scenes together develop, we learn more and more about their situations and what links them.

Just like the first book, the world and environment is made very solid by Johansen, it makes it easy to read and you get thrown straight into the story. Again, as before, the story is filled with many gruesome and unpleasant situations, much blood is shed. Just a warning here that there are some scenes of spousal abuse and spousal rape, which are very graphic; this is most definitely an adult book.

I enjoyed the story every bit as much as I hoped and I’m really excited to see how Johansen finishes it all off in the final book. I am intrigued as to whom Kelsea’s father is and, as we have learnt more about how Kelsea and the Red Queen fit together, I am looking forward to seeing how this is all resolved.

The Girl With All The Gifts
The Girl With All The Gifts
by M. R. Carey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good intro into Scifi, 15 Jun. 2015
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I enjoy sci-fi and apocalyptic, end of day / survival horror stories, so once I spotted this one in an airport book shop, I fully expected to enjoy it. It’s hard to talk about this book in too much detail without spoiling it, so I will be quite vague with my review.

The story is set in an imagined dystopia, where huge population loss due to a zombie-creating virus has left Britain with only a few remaining human survivors. The survivors live in military bases, with heavy security and on one of these bases we meet our main character, ten-year-old Melanie. Melanie spends most of her time in a cell and the rest in a classroom where she soaks up information, from a variety of teachers. Melanie especially enjoys Miss Justineau's classes and stories of Greek mythology.

We learn very quickly that Melanie and her fellow pupils are treated like dangerous animals, shackled to their seats, moved by heavily-armed army officers and hosed down with disinfectant every Sunday. To Melanie, this appears normal and is all that she can remember. We (as readers) are given an insight into the officers and teachers days and we quickly learn more about the situation than Melanie knows. We learn that Melanie and her classmates are not like other children – but neither are they like the infected, cannibalistic zombies, or ‘hungries’ who have overrun the rest of the country. Somehow, Melanie has retained her human brain function. Despite being ‘infected’, Melanie has a startling intellect and this makes her immensely valuable to what little remains of the human race.

A huge amount of the story is told to us by Melanie and we jump between characters as the story progresses. At the heart of the book, is a very touching story of two people that share a bond, although they are very different and cannot spend time together naturally. Although, we have this soft storyline filled with emotion, this is still very much a horror fiction post-apocalyptic dystopia story, the primary plot is one of survival and there is plenty of zombie action and many quite grisly scenes. I would agree with another reviewer on here that said “it’s more accurate to say that it isn’t only a horror novel, and the tenderness within it is beautifully well-executed and appealing.”

If this type of genre is not normally your thing, I think that you would still enjoy it. The different characters are interesting and engaging and the writing is very easy to follow. It’s a quick read that would be a great introduction to sci-fi for any beginner. I look forward to more work from M. R. Carey.

At The Water's Edge
At The Water's Edge
Price: £1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A good read but just not her best, 8 Jun. 2015
I am a big Sara Gruen fan, although I have only read 2 of her previous works, Ape House and Water for Elephants. I loved both of those books, as I am also a keen animal lover, and couldn’t wait to get my hands on At the Waters Edge. I must admit that I was a tad apprehensive when starting this book. It didn’t sound anything like her previous work, and I wouldn’t class the Loch Ness Monster as an animal…

The story is set in the middle of WW2 in 1945 and the main characters are Maddie, Ellis, Hank and Angus. Maddie and Ellis are unhappily married Americans and Hank is Ellis’ best friend. The Americans embark on a journey to Scotland to seek out the Loch Ness Monster to restore Ellis’ Father’s name after a shameful ‘faking’ of the monster years earlier.

The story is mainly told from Maddie’s viewpoint and we first see her in her ‘natural’ surroundings at a party in America. Her and Ellis are wealthy and enjoy all the extravagances that life can give them. They appear shallow, vain and seem to just move from party to party. After a family argument, the couple head to Scotland with Hank. Once in Scotland, the trio meet a whole host of lively Scottish characters and the story really begins.

I struggled with the beginning of the book, I disliked the 3 American characters and really found the storyline lacking and slow but once they arrived in Scotland, it felt like the story really began. I loved all the Scottish characters and began to enjoy the storyline. I felt that Maddie was a weak character, she is prone to fainting and doesn’t really seem to have any substance but, saying that, I did develop a soft spot for her. Ellis is a character that is really easy to dislike and I assume that we are supposed to. Hank didn’t really play a big part of the story for me but I do understand why he is there and I think it flows better with him.

Essentially, we seem to boil down to a good old war-time love story as our main characters find each other over every obstacle and hurdle thrown in their path. This book is not about the Loch Ness Monster (which was my original thought) and the Monster is really not a huge part of the storyline.

I enjoyed this book, once I got into it. It didn’t grab me as immediately as Gruen’s other books but I found myself wanting to read it more and more as I got through it. I was one of those books that I wanted to find out what happens without actually wanting the book to end. If you like Gruen, I think you will like this book but, in my opinion, it’s not her best work.

A God in Ruins: Costa Shortlisted 2015
A God in Ruins: Costa Shortlisted 2015
by Kate Atkinson
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Touching and memorable, 3 Jun. 2015
Like many others, I really enjoyed ‘Life After Life’ and was looking forward to Kate Atkinson’s latest book ‘A God in Ruins’. I didn’t know what to expect from this latest book, only that Atkinson had described it as a ‘companion piece’ to her previous book but you do not need to have read the first book before you read this one.

A God in Ruins features the same characters as Life After Life although this time we follow Teddy, the brother of Ursula the main character in the first book. Teddy is an instantly likable character; he is genuine, gentle, kind and touching. We hear the story from his viewpoint and we follow him through the war and right into old age. There are some really emotional scenes in the book and the situations are described in such detail, that you can really feel the atmosphere and tension.

Although it took me a while to get into this book, as I read it my feelings towards the various characters changed. I found myself caring more, enjoying their company and even disliking one or two of them. One of the reasons that I liked this book is because it made me think deeply about how little we might really know about those we love and how rewarded we would be if we dug a little. It also was a reminder to appreciate people whilst you still have them.

There are a lot of big themes in this book, including that life can be short and it’s important to live fully and well. This was an enjoyable read and I felt the impact and messages of the book for a long time after I finished reading it.

The Runaway Jury
The Runaway Jury
by John Grisham
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars It was good but not his best., 15 May 2015
This review is from: The Runaway Jury (Paperback)
This is only my second John Grisham novel after The Rainmaker (which I loved). I am now keeping my eye out at the second-hand bookstores for any Grisham books and this was such a purchase.

The story is a typical Grisham court-room drama, only this time, the topic is tobacco companies. We have a case from a now-dead 3 packs a day smoker against the top 4 tobacco companies. The result of this case promises to be a landmark decision and there is a lot of pressure on the jurors from both parties.
We see from outside the jury through the eyes of the law teams and the judge and we have an insider view of the jury from our main character, Nicholas Easter. Nicholas manufactured his choosing on the jury and, along with an outside partner, has an ulterior motive that becomes clearer and the book moves on.

I loved the storyline and, unlike other more recent reviewers, I wasn’t bothered by the dated feel of the situation (smoking indoors, advertisements for smoking etc…). I found the storyline easy to follow, although some of the more detailed court-room procedures could have been left out. I didn’t particularly like Nicholas, I felt that he was rude and obnoxious although I did enjoy reading about his manipulation of the other characters.

I did enjoy this book, just not as much as the first Grisham I read. If you want to check out a great Grisham book, there are probably better examples out there.

The Buried Giant
The Buried Giant
Price: £5.69

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 11 May 2015
This review is from: The Buried Giant (Kindle Edition)
I have read other books by Kazuo Ishiguro and was eagerly awaiting the next one. I had heard much hype about The Buried Giant and, I have to admit, I started the book with high expectations.

The story follows Axl and Beatrice, two elderly peasants, as they quest through pre-Saxon England in search of their son. Their world contains such myths and legends as pixies, giants and dragons in this adult fairy tale. The book presents an ever shifting landscape, coupled with characters that are connected with each other in ways they can't quite remember. We never really fully learn about the characters as their identities are blurred because they don't really know who they are. The language used is formal and at times, stilted. We follow the elderly couple through various adventures and encounters on their journey but without a sense of what is real and what is imagination. I felt like the world was slipping between my fingers and I’m not sure I was left with anything solid to hold on to.

I found the writing of The Buried Giant quite pleasant and easy to follow, once I got used to it. I liked the way that Axl and Beatrice spoke to each other and even though there was a lot of uncertainty and vagueness in the story, I was never left with any doubt of their love for each other. Although I enjoyed the writing and characters in the book, I found the storyline really dull. I struggled through some parts and really wanted to skip some pages. Sometimes I felt that if I did skip some pages, I wouldn’t really have missed much.

I have enjoyed Ishiguro’s other books, and maybe it’s because I had such high expectations, but this one did not quite hit the mark with me. It hasn’t put me of Ishiguro but it has made me wary of any future work.

That Girl From Nowhere
That Girl From Nowhere
by Dorothy Koomson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.34

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Such a disappointment!, 22 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: That Girl From Nowhere (Hardcover)
I am a huge Dorothy Koomson fan and was so excited about her new book that I set myself a reminder in my diary and purchased it on the day of UK release. I had seen that the reviews already written were all positive and I got stuck into reading it straight away.

The book follows Clenency Smittson (Smitty), an adopted lady in her mid-thirty’s as she starts a break-up from her husband, Seth. A chance meeting leads Smitty to meet her birth family, whom she has never looked for, but the reunion with them is not all smooth. Smitty is put in an awful position and forced to make a decision that she doesn’t want to make.

Other characters in Smitty’s life with her ex-husband, include her recently widowed adoptive mum who has just moved in with her, her jealous cousin Nancy and young daughter Sienna and a possible new relationship in the form of Tyler the coffee shop owner. The book follows all the characters and their relationships with Smitty and we see those relationships change as more events unfold.

I think I must be the only person who didn’t like this book. I found it really boring, uninteresting and Smitty was an annoyance. I struggled to relate to Smitty or any of the characters and the storyline was predictable and dull. The style of writing was good and easy to follow but I felt that the email chapters from Smitty’s sister to their elusive Brother were unnecessary and didn’t really have a point. The ending is weak and the whole book seemed to pass my by without effecting me in any way emotionally which is nothing like my previous Koomson encounters.

I am so disappointed and I don’t want to stop reading books by Koomson, as she is one of my favourites, I just hope that I misunderstood this book and will relate better to the next one.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 24, 2015 9:56 AM BST

She's Come Undone
She's Come Undone
Price: £6.49

4.0 out of 5 stars I liked but didn't love, 13 April 2015
This review is from: She's Come Undone (Kindle Edition)
This is the first Wally Lamb book I have read and was recommended to me by a friend on Twitter, as I Tweet my review and booky thoughts. I had no expectations at all when starting this book and all I knew was the burb on the back.

The story follows Dolores Price from the age of 4 to middle age and the life she has had. I found Dolores immediately likeable even when she was doing some truly awful things to people. She starts as a very naïve young child and we follow her through divorce, rape, death, depression, obesity, infertility, infidelity, abortion, AIDS and probably more! We follow her as she is made a stronger person by each one of the awful things that happen to her in her life. Dolores manages to maintain her humour and you can really feel how she feels.

I love books that span over many years, so I really enjoyed this aspect. The writing is very easy to read and follow and the humour is a light relief from all the doom and fear that flows throughout the book. The book evokes a whole range of feelings from the reader, sadness, laughter, fear, closeness, sympathy, anger, frustration - just to name a few! I particularly enjoyed the ending as it was satisfying but not in a Disney kind of way...

I did enjoy this book but I didn't love it. I'm glad I read it and Dolores will stay with me for a while and, like many others, it's hard to believe that this was written by a man. I would recommend this book if you want a good read with lots of emotions that will stay with you for a while.

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