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Nathalie White

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Down Among the Dead Men
Down Among the Dead Men
by Kerry Wilkinson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £3.52

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great standalone novel!, 22 Oct. 2015
I have read all books by Kerry Wilkinson and have consistently rated them four or five stars for the most, my favourite series being the Jessica Daniel one.

Therefore, it was with high expectations that I sat down with a cup of tea and a couple of biccies to read my review copy of Down Among the Dead Men, Wilkinson's latest stand-alone novel.

First, I need to commend the author for his ability to play around with different styles of writing and settings. While the Jessica Daniel series is largely based around good old banter and sarcasm in its tone, this latest effort is a darker thriller that reminded me of Donnie Brasco in parts: I was dragged into that underworld atmosphere where everyone is threading carefully and constantly watching their own back.

I also particularly liked the use of flashbacks, which broke the rhythm of the narrative in an interesting manner and provided more context as to the events that shaped Jason Green's personality and now motivate his current actions.

This might be controversial, but I found that Jason was somehow a likeable chap: Yes, he could be viewed as a violent thug but, at the same time, he seems to have principles and morals which he is not willing to compromise. And, in fairness, he hasn't been dealt with the best cards in life either.

Now, I was left wanting for more when I reached the end of the story. Even though I was quite surprised at the final twist which I admit I never saw coming, I was still slightly disappointed as to the many questions that are left open. One of those being a small thing in particular that keeps happening to Jason and gets a lot of focus throughout the narrative, but which is still left unexplained at the end. I guess I am one of those people that need everything spelled out for them at the end of a book.

Little Sister Death: A Novel
Little Sister Death: A Novel

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 2.5 stars, 5 Oct. 2015
[2.5 stars]

I will be honest with you all: this book has defeated me. By this, I mean that I just do not know what to make of it. Do I like it? Do I not like it? I actually have no idea...

Little Sister Death is one of the "lost" novels by American writer William Gay, which have been found recently and will be published in the coming days. It is described as an eerie Southern Gothic novel inspired by the famous 19th century Bell Witch haunting of Tennessee and follows the unravelling life of David Binder, a writer who moves his young family to a haunted farmstead to try and find inspiration for his next book.

The story is told from different perspectives in time and therefore the reader is frequently catapulted between 1785, 1933, 1956-1965, 1980 and 1982 in order to follow the lives of the families who have successively inhabited the haunted farm. Now, I would usually agree that time jumps add rhythm to a narrative and can make it more entertaining; however, I found this device quite confusing here, especially due to the sheer number of characters thus portrayed in the book.

This book had started so well, especially the first few chapters set in 1785 which were very gripping (despite the fact that I needed my dictionary at hand every two minutes) and the subsequent stories set in 1933 and 1956-1965 were equally entertaining. However, I was left cold (not ghost cold unfortunately) and disappointed with the narrative set in the 80s. To be honest, I was expecting the story to turn all Shining-like at some point, which it sadly did not.
Now, it has to be said that Gay possessed undeniable narrative powers and his descriptive skills were incredible as evidenced in this book. Unfortunately, his writing style was just not my cup of tea as I found it too elaborate most of the time.

Since I am between two minds here and do not really know what to make of Little Sister Death, it seems fair to give it an average 2.5 stars, especially since I have actually enjoyed the time jumps set in the 18th century and early 20th. If you happen to read this book, please let me know what you think of it. I would be glad to hear a dissenting opinion.

Blood in the Streets (The Reluctant Hero Book 3)
Blood in the Streets (The Reluctant Hero Book 3)
Price: £3.87

4.0 out of 5 stars I was not aware of this when I started reading the book and did not feel like I was missing out on something as the author ..., 22 Sept. 2015
I am always on the lookout for new authors and this is my very first book by William Esmont. First off, you need to be aware that Blood in the Streets is actually the third and latest book in The Reluctant Hero series. Having said that, I was not aware of this when I started reading the book and did not feel like I was missing out on something as the author has done a good job at providing background information for the reader. Therefore, this book can still be read as a standalone if you do not have access to the two previous works.

Again, even though this is not the final book in the series, it does not end on a "to-be-continued" style cliffhanger, and all your questions have actually been resolved by the time you reach the words "The End", leaving you with a feeling of satisfaction and completeness. However, this will not prevent me from reading the first two books in the series (The Patriot Paradox and Pressed) nor the upcoming one.

I am not usually into spy books (psychological thrillers and police procedurals being my first choice), but I have to admit that Blood in the Streets captivated me from the very first pages and continued to grip my attention until the end. The fast pace of the narrative, which is packed with action and tense moments, suited me perfectly and there was no real idle moment in the story.

The characters are well researched and developed in my opinion, at least from what I gleaned in this book. I particularly appreciated the fact that Kurt Vetter is flawed, scared and more of an anti-hero (or rather a reluctant one as per the title of the series) than your usual spy and that Victoria was more intrepid and fearless despite being his subordinate.

The narrative alternates between different settings and characters, the main ones being Beijing with spies Kurt/Amanda and the White House with Dominic/the president of the United States. I found the White House setting to be brilliant as it gave me a decent glimpse into the interactions between the president of the USA and his aides ("Give me options!") as well as an interesting foray into geopolitics.

A very good read. If the other books in the series are anything like Blood in the Streets, we are onto a good one.

The Errant Flock (The Flock Trilogy Book 1)
The Errant Flock (The Flock Trilogy Book 1)
Price: £2.10

5.0 out of 5 stars am I glad I did, 20 Sept. 2015
I stumbled upon this book by chance after seeing it advertised on Twitter and, boy, am I glad I did!

To start with, I was immediately drawn to the amazing cover and the fact that the story is set during the Spanish Inquisition under Catholic monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile.

Furthermore, I had never read any book by this author before, which was a definite bonus for me as I am always on the lookout for new writers to discover.

What to say? If you are an aficionado of historical fiction and especially this time period, then you are in for a real treat.

Petken's writing is impeccable and it is apparent that the story has been well researched, with extreme attention to detail. The quality of the language used and the descriptions really bring authenticity to these historical events. As a result, I was entirely captivated by the narrative and felt like I had travelled back in time to 1491 Spain.

The main characters themselves (David Sanz, the militiaman; Luis Peráto, the Duke of Sagrat; Sergio Garcia, the Lord Treasurer; and Gaspar de Amo, the Inquisitor) are equally well researched and developed by the author. They are consumed by their own demons, racked with guilt or facing moral dilemmas. Petken has managed to portray them with all their flaws, thereby adding another layer of authenticity to the story. For instance, the main character of David Sanz is not your typical squeaky clean hero: he is rather walking a fine line between good and evil.

Politics, religion and greed take centre stage here and make this a fantastic tale, which has left me wanting for more. I hope that a sequel is in the works, especially since there are open questions about the fate of some of the secondary characters.

Highly recommended.

The Postmistress
The Postmistress
by Sarah Blake
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed..., 24 Mar. 2011
This review is from: The Postmistress (Paperback)
With such a great front cover and all the hype around it, I too wanted to love this book. I even found myself quite excited when I started reading the first pages. I was looking forward to a great read...

Alas, I nearly gave up halfway through the book.

I was indeed expecting a story where the postmistress is the main character, which she is not. I consider that Frankie Bard, the American reporter, is that central character. So, why call the book the postmistress when she does not actually play such an important role in the story?

I was also looking forward to that bit mentioned on the back cover "But one night in London the fates of all three women entwine when Frankei finds a letter - a letter she vows to deliver".

First, I would not say that the fates of the three women really entwined, if anything, they all met within the very last chapters and were either ignoring/avoid each other or bickering (Frankie and Iris).

Second, that letter... the one that seems to be so important according to the back cover. Well, it never gets deliver, we are never told what it contained. For chapters and chapters, we were reminded of that letter travelling through the continents in Frankie's pockets, the suspense nearly became intolerable... Until you realise that Frankie will not give it to Emma and that you can forget all about it! What a let down.

Harry Vale: when I was reading the last moments of hid life, I was thinking to myself "Ah come on! This is so far fetched it gets ridiculous". Yes, he was right all along, the U-boats were coming and he has a stroke at that very moment... No, way too much for me I'm afraid...

Time of Death
Time of Death
by Alex Barclay
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not quite convinced..., 16 Sept. 2010
This review is from: Time of Death (Paperback)
I have literally just finished this book and I do not know what to think of it. The start was extremely slow, it took a good few chapters (way too many in my opinion) before the story started to unfold as something potentially interesting. I kept on reading it because the underlying storyline was interesting but I did not like the humour thrown in in the book, it just was not my cup of tea. I did not like the sarcastic off-comments that the narrator (FBI Agent Ren Bryce) seems to make every minute, I found them quite useless in fairness. Even know that I have finished the book, many questions remain answered and I found that the end was quite rushed through, as if the author had just realised that she only had 2 chapters left to explain it all to the reader. All in all, not impressed.

Theodore Boone: Theodore Boone 1
Theodore Boone: Theodore Boone 1
by John Grisham
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Extreme disappointment, 19 July 2010
I have literally finished reading this book 10 seconds ago and all I am left with is a huge sense of emptiness. I cannot believe I paid 13.99 EUR for a couple of badly written pages, totally devoid of plot or anything for that matter. Just like the rest of us here, I never realised that this book was geared towards the younger readers. Surely this should have been advertised somewhere, no? I feel like I have just finished reading the first two chapters of a "normal" book and I'm trying the turn the next page, but there is NO next page! I literally looked closely at the back cover of the book to try and see if the next chapters were hidden somewhere. Maybe one needs a magic password to make the rest of the book and the plot appear in front of us... I am just STUNNED (in a very bad way).

Rock Chicks
Rock Chicks
by Ronni Cooper
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the money, 15 July 2010
This review is from: Rock Chicks (Paperback)
As people have already said, this book is sexy and steamy but it is also extremely well written, with a great subject matter and story line. Fab book!

The Scarpetta Factor: Scarpetta 17
The Scarpetta Factor: Scarpetta 17
by Patricia Cornwell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars First and Last, 15 July 2010
This is my very first Scarpetta book... and the last one unfortunately. This is one of the few books that have found their place back on my shelves unfinished. I just could not take it any longer. The story is slow and the characters quite confusing (story plot with Dodie Hodge/Hap Judd). I must try the early Scarpetta books but I have to say that I am quite unimpressed at the moment.

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