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A. Linton (Manchester, Manchester United Kingdom)
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The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train
Price: £5.70

3.0 out of 5 stars Another mediocre thriller hyped to the skies, 29 Jun. 2015
Well I succumbed to the hype, despite my reservations and purchased the book which is supposed to be the latest 'Gone Girl', to see what the fuss was about. Well having now read it, I am still wondering! Like the equally mediocre 'Before I go to sleep', this book must represent a triumph of hype over actual quality. Though 'Gone Girl' was by no means the best thriller I've read in the last few years, but I could totally see what the fuss was about - Flynn is a very talented writer and her characters come to life on the page, drawing you into their lives and their dilemmas.

Sadly TGOTT has no such qualities to recommend it. The plot - woman witnesses something from a train which draws her into a murder investigation - is by no means original - and in this case it's not even very well done. The story is told from the perspective of three woman - Rachel, Anna and Megan - the author isn't very successful in creating a distinctive voice for each character - often I had to look back a few pages to remind myself who the current narrator was. And sorry Stephen King I don't agree with you that Rachel is convincing as an alcoholic. She just doesn't ring true to me - given that alcoholics tend to prioritise their addition - why would Rachel ,who has no source of income, waste her remaining cash on a pointless journey back and forth to London? And where is the maudlin self pity, the denial and endless self-justifications?

I also found it hard to believe that the media/police would take such an overwhelming and immediate interest in the disappearance of an adult woman with no obvious signs of foul play, or that Rachel would use her pointless train journeys to spy on a couple she doesn't know, rather than her ex and his current wife. The scenes between Rachel/the police and the husband of the missing woman don't feel authentic, to the extent I felt so embarrassed for the characters that I just skipped through them.

None of the female characters are particularly sympathetic - none of them have jobs and their lives totally revolve around male attention - there is an assumption that any woman on her own must be sad and lonely - like Rachel who seems to never have any real friends or interests outside her marriage whose life has totally fallen to pieces once Tom deserts her for Anna. In terms of female empowerment this novel could easily be set in the 50s when it was assumed that the sole purpose of a woman's life was to find a husband.

The plot is ok and there are some nice touches but don't be fooled into thinking this book has some final shocking twist that will rock you back on your heels - it's a rather run of the mile whodunnit with an ending that I guessed about a third of the way through.

Towards the end the book improves dramatically, building up to a relatively interesting climax, but sadly I had to plod quite a few tedious sections to get there. I would be happy to pay about £1.99 for this but no way is it worth the amount currently being charged on Kindle.


Scream quietly: A Psychological Crime Thriller
Scream quietly: A Psychological Crime Thriller
Price: £1.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth it, even for free!, 25 Jun. 2015
Sometimes you get real gems on Kindle Unlimited. Other times the book is so truly awful you can understand why it's being given away free. This is one of the latter sort.

The spelling and grammar is truly dreadful - the author seems to have no understanding of the genitive case - and the story itself is confusing and disjointed. She has no ability to write action sequences - at one point the heroine's lover is snatched out of bed (by the police?) and dragged away, this is covered in one sentence (!) and a car accident a little later on gets similar treatment. The whole thing is a dreary internal monologue from the first person perspective of the heroine, interspersing chapters from 2002 and 2015. I gave up after a few chapters and deleted this from my kindle. Never mind given away free, you would have to pay me to read this!


The War of the Wives
The War of the Wives
by Tamar Cohen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A great read, spoiled a little by the ending, 23 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: The War of the Wives (Paperback)
For some reason I didn't feel as drawn to this as to Cohen's other books - perhaps because the subject matter of two women discovering they are married to a bigamist is such a hackneyed one both in real life and in fiction. What generally happens, in fiction at least, is that after a bit of token wrangling both women form a friendship and proceed to slag off the dear departed as the rat he was. No so here. Far from blaming Simon the women reserve the greatest vitriol for each other. Cool self-sufficient blonde Serena is devasted by the public humiliation inflicted on her by the appearance of her husband's second family at his funeral, while unconventional, emotionally needy brunette Lotty is devasted by the loss of the man she believed was her true soul mate.

The story is told in short chapters from the viewpoint of each woman - a narrative device which mostly worked but which sometimes left me feeling a little frustrated.

It's certainly a page turner but it fell just short of 5 stars for me because of the ending - as another reviewer says, it's pretty far fetched and it doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the book. I also felt a bit sorry for Serena who seems to be left bearing the brunt of the guilt for her husband's behaviour - it doesn't seem unreasonable to me that a wife with two young children would want to fight for her marriage, and in reality I suspect that if he had left Serena in the normal way and married Lottie this would have simply created a vacancy for woman number three - philanderers don't change.

All in all a good read and I would recommend it. Can't wait till her next book, the sample was fantastic!


The Doorkeepers (Bloomsbury Reader)
The Doorkeepers (Bloomsbury Reader)
Price: £1.19

2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment - he can do better than this, 22 Jun. 2015
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Definitely not one of GM's better efforts, feels like he lost his way somewhat from a rather good beginning. The first chapter set in a world we can't quite define - featuring a heroine we know from the start to be doomed - sets a high standard that sadly the rest of the tale fails to deliver.

From the moment Josh - a kind of modern day Dr Dolittle - enters the narrative for some reason it seems to take on a farcical tone which is highly inappropriate given the subject matter (he is investigating the murder of his sister). At one point Josh himself says he feels he is living in an extended Monty Python sketch - that summed up my own feelings exactly!

Though the idea isn't all that original, I was rather intrigued by the alternative London scenario in the first chapter - it seems a pleasantly innocent place - reminiscent of Britain in the 50s rather than the present day - and I was looking forward to exploring it in more detail. The original business of the gates/seance is rather interesting (thought it later turns out to have been pointless) but once Josh and his wife have gained access to this reality it quickly reveals itself to be such a dangerous place that most of their time is spent being chased, trying to evade capture. From then on action just piles on action, bodies pile up and the plot gets more and more ridiculous. A serial killer and ONE alternate London is probably enough material for one novel, without introducing a lot of other elements - sinister men in masks, multiple alternate realities, a number of resistence fighters spread across both realities (who really play no useful role when all is said and done), ancient rituals going back to Druidic times - all of which simply serve to drown out the original appeal of the novel.

By the time we find out why Josh's sister was murdered and mutilatated the novel has sunk into such utter silliness that I for one no longer cared about anything other than getting to the end of it. I really started to feel he was just making it all up as he went along rather than having started with a coherent plotline to follow. Feels like a potboiler dashed off in a hurry - if I had paid full price for this it would have been returned for a refund.


White is the coldest colour: A dark psychological suspense thriller
White is the coldest colour: A dark psychological suspense thriller
Price: £1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A gripping read but it shows the need for a good editor, 16 Jun. 2015
This book has a real eye catching title and the central idea is compelling - a troubled child from a loving family is referred to a leading child psychiatrist - however the reader already knows that this man is the leader of a gang of evil paedophiles - this creates the kind of suspense which kept me gripped all the way through.

The author clearly knows his stuff and the police/social worker interactions felt very authentic. However despite his passion for his subject and his robust writing style, I felt this was a book which could have benefited greatly from the services of a professional editor. I didn't spot any obvious spelling/grammar mistakes in my copy, but the book still needs a lot of polish to raise it from the level of a book I'm happy to get free on Kindle unlimited and a professional thriller I'd happily pay good money for.

The portrayal of Dr Galbraith was too over the top for me - he was far too one-dimensionally evil and as another reviewer said at times he seemed almost like a pantomine villain. Also there was far too much descriptive detail much of which was unnecessary - what characters ate for breakfast, what they were wearing from the underpants up etc. and there were way too many characters involved in the investigation - I got confused at times, unable to remember who was who. That might well happen in real life, but in fiction I feel the cast of characters needs to be pared down a bit.

Finally I was a little disappointed by the ending - I could see what the author was doing, he is clearly setting up for a sequel featuring a character who only played a minor role in this book. What I really cared about was what happened to Molly and her family - would have appreciated an epilogue set a short time in the future, letting us know how it all turned out.

Still, not bad at all for a first effort, he definitely has the ability to keep the reader gripped from the first page to the last, which is rare with modern kindle bestsellers.


The Judas Scar
The Judas Scar
Price: £1.99

1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Best thing by far is the title, 10 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: The Judas Scar (Kindle Edition)
Have to agree with the reviewer who said that the author didn't write the book she meant to write. She has started with an intriguing title and premise - two boys who were best friends, and underwent some traumatic experiences at a horrible school, meet again in adult life - well that sounds like a pretty good idea for a novel. Unfortunately, having set the reader up to expect one story, the author proceeds to write another one - one heavily overloaded with domestic trivia and other irrelevancies.

When the story focuses on Will, and especially on his abusive past, it comes alive, unfortunately this only happens rarely- and there is no one single scene where he gets to meet privately with Luke, his estranged friend and actually have a proper talk about their past! Instead the author chooses to focus on a ridiculous heavily contrived 'attraction' between Will's wife, Harmony, and Luke. In these scenes Luke comes across as a cross between Christian Grey and a Victorian seducer twirling his moustache - any sane woman would run a mile. Sadly there is no trace of the sensitive suffering boy in the adult man, which it hard for the reader to sympathise with him.

Felt quite sorry for Will who not only is made to feel guilty about 'betraying' Luke when he was only a child, but is also castigated by Harmony for not feeling sorry enough about her miscarriage - despite the fact he made it plain from the start he didn't want kids. Even worse where the scenes with his mother where she makes him feel guilty, instead of apologising to him for the way she enabled his vile father to treat him when he was a child.

On the plus side, it's certainly a page turner, but as the ending approached I began to feel increasingly frustrated especially when the novel suddenly switches direction abruptly leaving all the issues between Will and Luke unresolved. I rather liked the ending though.

The writing isn't particularly good sometimes veering into wild melodrama - where characters 'snarl' at each other and such like - I can certainly see why it was reduced to 99p. OK to pass the time but I certainly wouldn't advise anyone to pay the full paperback price.

PS - I don' t like getting negs 5 mins or so after I've posted a review it suggests an author/family/friends hanging around trying to discourage people from publishing honest reviews - so as usual review reduced by one star.

PPS - I REALLY don't like the new review page, it doesn't seem to give a preview option and seems designed to encourage one or two word reviews.


Someone Else's Wedding
Someone Else's Wedding
Price: £4.74

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another disturbing and edgy tale from Cohen, 8 Jun. 2015
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As in all TC's books - well those which I've read anyway - this focuses on the ever increasing downwards spirals of a female character whose life is spinning out of control. Cohen seems to excel at creating the kind of character whom I simultaneously feel deeply sorry for and also want to slap, Fran here is case in point. While sympathising with her grief over a stillborn child a few years back, it's hard not to judge her for the way she shuts out her long suffering husband and her obsession with the much younger Jamie, the groom in the wedding mentioned in the title.

Yet again the cover/title make this look like a piece of glossy bitchy chicklit whereas in fact it's a very dark tale indeed. At first we don't really know the relationship between Fran's family and the family hosting the wedding and once we do her obssession with their son is both understandable and unsettling.

The description of the wedding and the assorted characters is wonderfully well drawn and witty (Cohen is adapt at capturing the social mores of the social media generation) but by the end of this sophisticated affair many dark secrets have been drawn out into the open, perhaps changing the lives of Fran and her family for ever. Definitely would recommend to readers who like adult novels handling complex themes and are prepared for an ending which - while cathartic - contains no manufactured last minutes 'twists' or facile solutions.


The Mistress's Revenge
The Mistress's Revenge
Price: £5.22

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A journey in the dark night of the soul, 7 Jun. 2015
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Don't be fooled by the cover and title into thinking that this is some sort of sophisticated dark comedy where a rejected woman takes an amusing revenge on the man who spurned her. This is an obsessive account of one woman's journey into madness - and Cohen gets the voice of the rejected mistress exactly right - it's right up there with Edna O'Brien's 'Over' as a memoir of lost love and obsession.

Cohen is brutally honest in her portrayal of her 'heroine' Sally who frankly isn't that sympathetic - she neglects her children, her partner and her financial situation believing that she will be 'rescued' when her selfish lover finally leaves his wife to sweep her away to a new glamorous life. Yet it's difficult not to sympathise with her as I think most of can either identify with her or think of wrong decisions we could have made and watched our lives fall to pieces as a result.

Wasn't sure about the final 'twist' - I don't think it was needed - and I found it dragged a bit at the end, but other than that I would recommend it to anyone who is tired of sugary sweet romances/chicklit and fancies something a bit dark and edgy for a change.


Mine
Mine
Price: £6.64

5.0 out of 5 stars A superb thriller - McCammon at his best, 29 May 2015
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This review is from: Mine (Kindle Edition)
Mary Terrell (also know as Terror) is a former 60s terrorist, leading a dreary existence under an alias as a fast food worker, dreaming of the glory days when she was the willing disciple (and lover) of radical leader, 'Lord' Jack Radcliffe. Laura is living the Amerian dream, successful and married with a baby on the way - yet her marriage is very far from perfect. What happens when Mary snatches Laura's baby son makes for a heart-stopping drama. Knowing what Mary is capable of, the reader is on tenterhooks the whole way through, rooting for Laura to fight back and rescue her infant son.

I have to agree with the reviewer who said there are no bits you want to skip - this novel gets a grip on the reader and doesn't let up until the final page. Quite different from Swan Song but every bit as good. A must for fans of fast paced thrillers.


The Broken
The Broken
by Tamar Cohen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Once again Tamar Cohen does not disappoint, 27 May 2015
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This review is from: The Broken (Paperback)
Delighted to have discovered Tamar Cohen, one of the sharpiest edgiest new writers I've come across in recent years, and this dark tale of the fallout from a divorce does not disappoint.

When Dan decides to leave his wife Sasha for model Sienna, the couple's best friends Josh and Hannah are reluctant to be drawn into the crossfire but even in their wildest dreams they couldn't foresee the impact this breakup will have on their own lives. The already brittle Sasha goes completely to pieces and Hannah in particular is torn between her need to be a supportive friend and the increasingly unreasonable demands of high maintenance, needy Sasha.

The novel is related from the viewpoints of Josh and Hannah and there is another voice - the recollections of a damaged child, who clearly is one of the female characters in the novel. Both Hannah and Sasha have troubled pasts and both had a dysfunctional relationship with their mother - this manifests itself in the present as a deep sense of insecurity in Sasha and in Hannah as the need to be liked by everyone.

I love the honesty of Cohen's writing - even though Josh deplores his friend's behaviour he can't help but be envious of his new childfree relationship with a sexy younger woman, and Hannah both deplores and envies Sasha's slutty coupling with a stranger in a nightclub. It's also nice to have a mother admit that much as she loves her daughter, that day to day life with a small child is often very boring. There is no cosiness about her writing - we feel that anything could happen to anyone and there is no sense that everything will be nicely resolved for the main characters in the final chapter.

I would recommend this to anyone who likes dark edgy novels about modern relationships.


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