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Carmen (England)

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In Her Wake
In Her Wake
by Amanda Jennings
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I must stop reading the plaudits from other authors....., 2 July 2016
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This review is from: In Her Wake (Paperback)
I am truly flabbergasted by the dripping superlatives written about this book by many writers who I love, admire and respect. There's obviously a secret society of writers, each trying to find the most outlandish adjective in order to win the prize of reciprocation when they write their next volume. Quite simply, this really wasn't very good in my opinion.

It started well enough. Following the death of her parents Bella discovers that she isn't their true daughter and sets off to seek the truth. She is married to David, who is one of the most unconvincing characters I have ever come across. She leaves him and sets off on her own to seek out her birth mother and elder sister in Cornwall. I didn't really like any of the characters if truth be told and as the book went on there were far too many hallucinations about mermaids and recounts of vivid dreams for my liking. Add to that some totally unconvincing sex and the fact that, despite Bella never having entered even a domestic kitchen in her life, she somehow manages to work in a pub kitchen. The ridiculousness keeps building to such an extent that by the end I could actually visualise the authors flow chart with all her threads ending tied in a neat little knot.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 13, 2016 10:22 AM BST


Slow Horses: Jackson Lamb Thriller 1
Slow Horses: Jackson Lamb Thriller 1
by Mick Herron
Edition: Paperback

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointingly dull, 28 May 2016
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I really wanted to like this. Everything about it appealed to me from the London setting to the jokey name of Slough House, where they send spies in disgrace. But I just couldn't get into it. The first 100 pages were all about what each Slough House member had done to discredit themselves and, whilst these anecdotes were amusing, they did nothing to move the narrative onwards - perhaps they should have been interspersed with the story as it moved along. There were far too many characters and I gave up trying to remember who had committed which sin.

Once the actual story mentioned in the blurb did get going on page 103, it carried on beating around the bush and I just couldn't force myself to pick it up any more. One other piece of advice - if you are toying between paperback and kindle the font size on the paperback is, whilst not the smallest I've ever seen, somewhat uncomfortable to read, especially at night when you're tired.


The Good Girl
The Good Girl
by Mary Kubica
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Great debut., 22 May 2016
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This review is from: The Good Girl (Paperback)
Really liked the format - short chapters, narrated mainly by the mother of the kidnapped girl, the kidnapper and the detective leading the hunt over 2 separate time frames, a few months apart.

The first half of the book could have moved a bit faster for me - as each character began their new mini-chapter, much of what they narrated was introspective - which I know is necessary in order to understand what makes them tick - but sometimes the story only moved on at the very end of their bit. This meant racing through several pages to pick up where they left off, which could be deemed clever writing - or annoying - depending on your mood!

A guessable twist but an enjoyable read. I'll definitely look out more by this author.


Eeny Meeny: DI Helen Grace 1
Eeny Meeny: DI Helen Grace 1
by M. J. Arlidge
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing and hard to read, 11 May 2016
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I had put off reading this as I thought I'd find the theme a bit too much. But the series has been so successful I thought I'd give it a go. Sadly, I should have stuck to my original plan as I've had to give up about a third of the way through.

The descriptions of the victims trapped and having to choose which one to kill in order for the other to escape obviously do not make for bedtime reading. However, there is absolutely no let-up whatsoever with the murder investigation team trying to crack the case. Reading about Helen Grace's background/hobbies/friends in high rises with special needs teenagers is actually extremely harrowing. Her DS has a rubbish life as well and is borderline alcoholic. There is no murder-room banter and after 148 pages with only one half-hearted attempt by the author to lighten the mood in the pub I was getting so depressed I finally shut the book for good.


Our Life on Ice: The Autobiography
Our Life on Ice: The Autobiography
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 and a half stars, 8 May 2016
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I really liked this to start with - it began just how I like a biog/autobiography to begin - where they were born, how they got into skating, etc. etc. I did find it fascinating that, but for one primary school teacher deciding to take her class on a skating outing, Torvill and Dean may well have been Insertnamehere and Dean! I loved the early part of the book. It was set out in mini-chapters within chapters. Each mini chapter was written by Jayne, Chris or Jayne and Chris together. There was a long chapter on how they got together, how Bolero came about, who their coaches/mentors were, etc. etc. Because of this it did tend to jump about chronologically, but it was well done I think.

However, as the book went on there were a couple of long chapters dedicated to a) Why They Didn't Win The 1994 Olympic Gold and b) What Led To THAT Spat In THAT Documentary. Up until then I had enjoyed it. But it did seem a bit "The lady doth protest too much methinks" for me and, while both occurrences deserved mentioning, they certainly didn't deserve the amount of time spent on them. The olympics 1994 chapter, in particular, felt as though they were trying to find someone, anyone, to blame for not winning, despite constantly saying that that wasn't what they were trying to do.

All that aside, it's a nice book with some lovely tributes to a lot of people who have helped them along the way. Personally, I would have thought they could have given us a bit of juicy gossip on 10 years of Dancing on Ice, but Jayne and Chris are obviously too nice for that!


Die of Shame: Includes short story exclusive to hardback
Die of Shame: Includes short story exclusive to hardback
by Mark Billingham
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.00

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A masterclass in plotting and one-liners!, 7 May 2016
Massive Billingham fan here. I love Tom Thorne, Phil Hendricks and all the team. But I like standalones too, nearly as much! This was a cracker. Great characters, unusual, extremely well-researched theme and typically fantastic Billingham plotting. I loved trying to guess which member of the group had been murdered while the book moved backwards and forwards from events leading up to the murder to events shortly afterwards. (A warning if you like to read reviews before buying - I have read several already that actually name the murder victim - this is part of the whodunnit and these reviewers have spoilt a large part of the story in my opinion.)

As usual with a Billingham you have cause to suspect everyone and as usual, in my case, I am kicking myself that I didn't stay with my initial suspicions in guessing the killer correctly!

A star is knocked off for Detective Nicola Tanner. 3 books' ago Mark created the fantastic, hilarious, pocket-rocket that is Christine Treasure. (Apparently based on a Real Life Copper!) What a creation! I LOVED her. So how can the same author create Nicola Tanner? Sorry, but I personally found her dull and she didn't really do any detecting - she seemed to spend her whole time compiling .....um.....files, I think... and we didn't really get to empathise with her much. Her hilarious encounter with Phil Hendricks, who makes a cameo appearance near the beginning of the book, seemed to sum up Phil's and my own opinion of her! Phil rocks!

Tanner apart (and I know some people prefer to read a crime novel without the lead detective's life muddying the waters) the first half of the book was littered with vintage Billingham one-liners. Absolutely fantastic stuff. Waiting a year between each of Mark's books makes me sometimes forget just what a technically brilliant story-teller he is........oh, and that he is STILL my favourite writer.


Remember Me This Way
Remember Me This Way
Price: £4.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Too slow and far-fetched, 24 April 2016
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I'd heard good things about this author's latest book (not out yet) from other authors, so thought I'd give an earlier one a go. All I can say is that I presume she gets better. This was dull and sloppily researched and just plain irritating.

The book was narrated in alternate chapters by Lizzie, whose possessive husband, Zach, was killed in a car crash a year ago and Zach, himself, in the form of a diary written in the months leading up to his death. Lizzie keeps feeling that Zach is still alive and following her, breaking into her house, re-arranging things and slowly poisoning her beloved dog. There are so many scenes straight out of Sleeping With The Enemy .....right down to (and this may be a minor spoiler alert) the inclusion of the mother with dementia in a nursing home.

I really struggled to pick the book up and continue, but, presuming it would get better, managed about two thirds until I finally gave up. Lizzie's story was slow, much of it introspective, and I just didn't feel any sympathy for her. She gave her house keys (with beloved dog inside) to a complete stranger, who then seemed to know her way around the house and where everything was kept. (And we were supposed to believe that Zach was possibly still alive and moving stuff around......hmmm.) Zach's narration was better - repeating scenes we'd already heard about from Lizzie, but with his OCD/ultra-possessive spin on things. He obviously had more secrets than than a Who Shot JR script but had managed to keep all of them from his wife.

The fact that Zach kept buying designer clothes, Farrow and Ball paint, etc. on Lizzie's school librarian salary was a bit far-fetched. Also, no head teacher on the planet would know that OFSTED 'are coming in the next couple of weeks.' A school would generally know if they are coming to the top of the list for a visit, but NO ONE knows until lunch time the day before. And no school would be allowed a dog within 3 locked doors of children. Nit picky? Maybe, but the whole thing was unrealistic and I just couldn't be bothered any more.


Letters to the Lost
Letters to the Lost
by Iona Grey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, beautiful story., 13 April 2016
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This review is from: Letters to the Lost (Paperback)
I normally read crime fiction. However, now and then I need a break from blood and gore and buy more gentle stuff. Most of it I don't even review as it goes in the bin with a "never again" vow!

But, just occasionally, along comes a book that is so beautiful I envy all those who haven't read it yet and still have the joy of it to come. This is just such a book. It has two stories running parallel - one set in the war and the other in the present. Jess finds a letter in a derelict house from Dan, an old, dying American soldier who is looking for Stella, the girl he had a short, passionate affair with during the war. Jess finds more letters written 70 years ago from the American and takes it upon herself to try to unite the two war-time lovers before it is too late. Jess is discovered hiding in the house by Will, an heir hunter, and he wants to help with the search.

But, of course, things are never that simple. Jess and Will are, to me, reminiscent of Dex and Em (One Day) and Will and Louisa (Me Before You.) Stella and Dan throw me right back to Meggie and Father Ralph de Bricassart (Thornbirds.) Their stories are completely different, but something in the characterisation has echoes of these characters. The whole thing was simply beautiful and poignant and heart-wrenching and I found myself reading on into the night, without realising how late it was.

Probably my best read of the year so far - and it's not a crime novel! If they make a film I actually won't go to see it as it is simply one of those stories that would be ruined in a heartbeat if they chose the wrong actor.....and yes, I may be referring to one of the above!


Tastes Like Fear (D.I. Marnie Rome 3)
Tastes Like Fear (D.I. Marnie Rome 3)
by Sarah Hilary
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.27

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marnie and Noah on top form!, 7 April 2016
Thank you to Elizabeth Masters at Headline for a proof copy of Tastes Like Fear. I should also add that I do not know the author - I just begged, impatient for the next instalment after reading the first two books in the DI Rome series.

In Tastes Like Fear we are again treated to what is now a Sarah Hilary trademark hard-hitting theme, juxtaposed with all the personal bruhaha of DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake and their nearest and (sometimes not so) dearest.

This time, the theme of this book can be told in a review without fear of spoilers as it is introduced from the start. We know there are missing teenagers who are living in some sort of commune, under the indoctrination of a man known as 'Harm,' whose true identity is the key to the mystery.

There are plenty of twisty roads along the way, with some characters not entirely playing the stereotypical role we first expect them to. Sarah Hilary has tripped me up in all three of her books in this way! Clever stuff!

What I really love about the DI Rome series is how we get an excellently plotted yarn on a hard-hitting, topical, thought-provoking theme, interspersed with the personal lives of Marnie and Noah. Most crime writers give their detectives a back story and Marnie's killer foster brother, Stephen, is one of the more genius ones. Stephen, incarcerated, is now fast approaching manhood and Marnie still feels a pull towards him, so desperate is she to discover what caused his red mist just before leaving her gentle parents savagely butchered several years ago.

Noah's wrong-side-of-the-tracks upbringing has left his younger brother dandling dangerously with the wrong side of the law and I doubt it will be long before he is a reluctant protagonist in one of the forthcoming books in the series. It seems very apparent to me that Sarah Hilary loves writing Noah. He comes across as someone you would want as your best friend/brother/lover/neighbour all rolled into one and someone you would yearn for your favourite actor to play when the series hits the screen.

What sets Sarah Hilary's DI Rome series apart from other crime fiction is how she seems to get right under the skin of not only her victims, but also her perpetrators, almost apologising for their heinous crimes and giving us a feeling of empathy and, therefore, we almost feel some mitigation for their actions.

I also love the way there are many threads left tantalisingly dangling, ready to be picked up in the next book, which I'm happy to learn is well on its way in Miss Hilary's deliciously over-crowded head!


Trust No One (Detective Jane Bennett and Mike Lockyer Series)
Trust No One (Detective Jane Bennett and Mike Lockyer Series)
by Clare Donoghue
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read., 4 April 2016
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This is the third book in the Lockyer/Bennett series and I really enjoyed it. It slightly moved away from murders around every corner and centred on a Whodunnit/Whydunnit, which was a refreshing change as so many crime novels lately are reaching the limit of my capacity for goryness!

The surrounding murder team are now becoming more characterful and Lockyer and Bennett's complicated relationship is becoming excruciatingly awkward, but somehow believable.

The Whodunnit centred around a father found dead in bed by his children and all the sordid discoveries regarding his personal life that put many suspects in the frame. Add in an extremely unpleasant ex-wife's questionable relationship with the murder victim's equally nasty best friend and there is lots to get your teeth into.


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