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A. Linton (Manchester, Manchester United Kingdom)

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I Found You
I Found You
Price: £7.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 3 and a half stars really for a disappointing book from one of my favourite authors, 25 July 2016
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This review is from: I Found You (Kindle Edition)
Lisa Jewell is still on the (dwindling) list I have of 'must buy' authors, but if she keeps writing like this she might slip off it just like Sophie Hannah, Nicci French, Jane Green and others too numerous to mention. The first thing I found it hard to get my head round is the premise of the novel - Alice, a single mother living in a Northern seaside town, takes in a homeless man she meets on the beach - without knowing a thing about his true identity or what kind of mental problems he might have. Living in Manchester I see homeless/confused people all the time and I haven't yet been tempted to take a single one into my home to live, as I know that people in this situation are likely to have problems with substance abuse and or other mental issues. I found it literally unconceivable that she would take this risk especially as she has two young daughters who might be at risk, no matter how handsome and personable the guy is. However I managed to suspend disbelief and quite enjoyed the story - especially the parts set in the past but sadly the ending left me with as many questions as answers. I quite agree with the reviewer who said that the way Kitty behaves is quite unbelievable and I thought that Jewell would have found her a stronger motive for her actions (like maybe Mark is really her son?) and I found the ending to be somewhat rushed and frankly a mess. Jewell is a good writer but overall I felt the book was overpriced for what it was, and not up to the standard of her previous novels.


The Woman in Cabin 10
The Woman in Cabin 10
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overhyped and overpriced., 24 July 2016
I rather enjoyed the opening chapters and looked forward to reading the rest of the book. Laura is a rather believable character and her reactions after she surprises a burglar in her flat, and her subsequent paranoia/inability to sleep felt very real. I also enjoyed reading about the luxury cruise she takes as part of her job (I would want to go on that trip if it existed) but sadly as the mystery progresses the book becoms more and more farfetched. It didn't help that I more or less guessed what was going on pretty much from the start of the cruise part - if you have read a lot of thrillers like I have the motive and the method for the crime is rather obvious. As the plot gets more over the top, the writing gets worse, until we end up with page after page of explanations and by the end I had completely lost interest in the whole thing. Based on this Ware is not a great new discovery, just an writer with average ability hyped to the skies.


The Last Days of Summer
The Last Days of Summer
by Vanessa Ronan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

2.0 out of 5 stars In the end style triumphs over substance, 22 July 2016
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I loved the atmospheric and poetic writing of the kindle sample, and the brooding sense of menace the author created, so I initially had high hopes for this debut novel. She succeeds in making Jasper the newly released convict, a truely menacing and disturbing character and there are intriguing hints as to what happened in the past and mysteries yet to be revealed. However about half way through the book I began to get bored with all the fine writing and intriguing hints and start to wish that something would actually happen! Worst of all I started to see through the author's tricks and the artificiality of the whole concept. She dripsfeeds information about the crime which shocked the town and Jasper's true nature until I had virtually guessed the whole thing and there were no secrets left to uncover. I also had problems with the chracter of Joanne - how likely is it that an inquisitive 11 year old living in a one horse town is in ignorance of the horrible crime her uncle committed? She also seems far too naive and childlike for her age - seeming more like a 5 year old sometimes with her childish questions and games - rather than a girl on the verge of puberty. The character of Jasper is probably the best thing about the novel - he seems genuinely creepy, so much so that I found his interactions with Joanne unnerving rather than a touching sign that he is capable of redemption. I found Lizzie's behaviour in taking in her sexually disturbed brother in to share a house in close promimity with his blooming nieces almost criminally stupid, as was her refusal to move away and go where no-one knows anything about them - she can always plant flowers and look at sunsets elsewhere! Which brings me to - the endless endless overly descriptive writing - I got sick of descriptions of sunrises, evening primroses opening at dusk, descriptions and potted biographies of every minor character we meet - while we learn virtually nothing about Lizzie's estranged husband Bobby. I thought this was leading up to some big revelation - but no - in the end it goes absolutely nowhere.

Whe we finally got the action bit I realised why the author had focused on descriptive writing - she simply can't write decent action sequences - such as the ridiculously unconvincing part where an injured unaarmed man overpowers 3 armed men and the part where a man who is shot in the stomach goes on to perform heroic feats instead of lying on the ground writhing in agony.

In the end I decided to give it 2 stars, despite the fact that some of it is very nicely written, I found the whole experience of reading it unsatisfactory, plodding through chapters of buildup to get to a melodramatic conclusion that left me cold. Truth is that I had more sympathy with the angry villagers with their torches, I found Jasper quite a repellent character who should never have been released from prison in the first place, and Lizze a stubborn idiot who makes decisons that as a mother she should never make. Not recommended at the price.


All the Rage
All the Rage
Price: £4.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Has been done better before., 13 July 2016
This review is from: All the Rage (Kindle Edition)
This book starts out well and initially I had high hopes for it - we see all events through the distorted first person narrative of Romy who has undergone a traumatic experience and now is being persecuted by all her classmates, even her ex-best friend Penny. But sadly as the book progressed I started to lose sympathy with the heroine and also with the author. What on earth is the point of the convoluted narrative structure? The opening part (in bold) under the heading ‘Now’ actually covers events which occurred a year previously – this confused me for quite some time until I figured it out. I actually came to the conclusion that the book would have been better told in chronological order. I also found Romy quite irritating – the author seems to think that the trauma she endured excuses everything – I think that young women should take responsibility for their actions, not expect others to watch out for them, and the decision she makes to abandon her job and go to drunken rave where all her enemies will be, make zero sense. This is NEVER explained by the author and seems in the end to exist only to drive the plot to the place it is meant to be. Romy is also totally self-centred and her behaviour towards those who are trying to help her is often ungracious and sums up the expression ‘her own worst enemy’. Her relationship with Leon is particularly ridiculous – I don’t believe for one moment that he would have put up with the way she treats him, and the sections featuring his sister and her pregnancy are just a boring distraction from the main plot.
I wouldn’t recommend it at the price – this plot has been done better by other authors.


The Accident Season
The Accident Season
Price: £3.99

3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting YA novel that didn't quite work for me, 11 July 2016
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I was drawn to this book by the quirky title and the enigmatic nature of the writing - on the plus side it certainly kept me engaged the whole way through – but when I finished it, I realised that at some point I had stopped enjoying it and the ending hadn’t given me the closure I hoped for. Magic realism + poetical writing is hard to pull off successfully and at while at times the book has a quirky charm, it at others it feels like an overwrought creative writing exercise. Sometimes it feels like a dream within a dream and I wasn’t sure if the lead character was awake or just dreaming events. There is way way too much going on – symbolism piled on symbolism, a girl who thinks she’s a witch, an extremely accident prone family, a girl who disappears (or did she ever exist), a mysterious magic shop, a sinister ruined house, a masked party, a teenage girl in an abusive relationship, an ambivalent relationship between two female characters, an attraction between two step siblings, a secrets booth which turns up in strange places, an abusive step father, a mysterious death, a frozen river in a warm autumn, dreamcatcher, dolls. flypaper hanging on trees, numerous accidents, bumps bruises, near misses etc etc – and in the end it doesn’t really add up to more than a confused mess. What on earth is the point of the disappearing shop which leads to the masked party? It doesn’t lead to any particular development in the plot. There is some clever writing and lots of clues embedded in the narrative – at one point Cara the narrator is looking at a photograph of herself and her family – and the way one child is dressed should be a massive clue for the reader as to what is going on. The book switches from a magical perspective to looking at how all the accidents are grounded in reality – but somehow this isn’t satisfactory either. I would really like more flashbacks to what actually happened rather than just vague hints, even though I did manage to figure it all out by the end.
It probably didn’t help that I wasn’t rooting for Cara and Sam to get together – their relationship made me feel deeply uneasy, especially given some of the revelations which occur later in the story, it felt less like an all consuming love than a total disregard for boundaries.I really couldn't care less if they got together I was far more intrigued by the storyline of the mysterious disappearing Elsie. This kind of writing needs a light touch but the author here never gives her characters a chance to breath, so eager is she to get down every single idea that occurs to her. She definitely has talent but this book needed some serious editing.


Lie With Me
Lie With Me
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Another stunning thriller from a very talented writer!, 8 July 2016
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This review is from: Lie With Me (Kindle Edition)
While 'Lie with Me' doesn't perhaps reach the sublime heights of 'Remember me this way' and 'Under the skin' it's still one of the best books I've read this year, and an absolute bargain at £2.99. The protaganist Paul has much in common with Zach from 'Remember me this way' - a deeply dishonest and vain man, a philander who lusts after much younger woman, a petty thief and a liar - yet also strangely vulnerable in his insecurity and his occasional kindnesses - usually towards animals. A refreshing change from the black and white certainties we find in so many poorly written thrillers which leaves the ending wide open - we know almost from the start that he ends up in trouble - but is it a case of the chickens coming home to roost, or he innocent? - It takes a highly skilled writer to create a character we both despise and feel is capable of redemption.

When Paul bumps into a old friend and is introduced to the afluent Alice he strikes up a relationship without initially being much attracted other than by her money - will her much sought after invitation to join her in her holiday home on a Greek island lead to a new start for him? Well - no, as the book makes fairly clear early on, drawing the reader into the story, which has many further twists and turns to enjoy. Unlike 'Under the skin' I guessed much of what was going on fairly early on but this didn't spoil my enjoyment of the ending - as this a writer who is worth reading for her sheer skill with words without the need for a final twist to make it all worthwhile. Highly recommended!


Twilight
Twilight
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars In a different class from his recent Roy Grace novels, 6 July 2016
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This review is from: Twilight (Kindle Edition)
This enthralling medical thriller is quite simply in a different class from the latest books in his tired Roy Grace series and reminded me what a good writer James is at his best.
Not for the faint hearted, this tale has an admirable heroine in Kate, a persistent journalist who is prepared to go to the most shocking lengths to get to the bottom of a story that her editor seems to want to hush up - the story of a young bride who was apparently buried alive. It's clear that James knows what he is writing about - Kate is a very convincing journalist, who has to keep covering local items as well as chasing up her big story and the medical details feel authentic as well. His villainous doctor, Swire is truly horrific, taking into account the way we trust medical personnel with our lives and the ending really made my hair stand on end. Definitely worth reading.


Little Sister
Little Sister
Price: £5.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Not her best, 27 Jun. 2016
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This review is from: Little Sister (Kindle Edition)
I've read most of Dawson's books and I think it's fair to say this isn't her best. It's too dark for chicklit and too tame to be a thriller and while I found the cave diving aspect fascinating, I'd rather read a true life account by some who actually knows something about it. I don't know why it's in the book, surely Anya's disappearance would have been suspenseful enough without it? As it is we are suffering plot overload - has she been abducted/drowned? which leads to a muddled and confusing narrative. Dawson seems to be outside her comfort zone, when writing about anything outside of domestic relationships and the parts involving the police (especially in Mexico) don't feel authentic. The book is narrated by three characters - Kate - the sensible sister - Anya - the foolhardy one and Mark who is in love with Anya.

First of, I have to say, that even given Anya's reckless nature, I found it a bit hard to credit some of the decisions she made - going off on a risky adventure in a country like Mexico with a man she doesn't know makes her seem like an naÔve idiot rather than a woman who has travelled a lot on her own - I'm surprised she even survived into her 30s! The structure of the book is all over the place - Mark gets so little space that it's hardly worth having his viewpoint at all, and by the time he gets to Mexico, all the action is virtually over. Kate is an interesting, well written character but Anya's narrative is the most compelling. Couldn't help thinking it would be better if the whole story was told from her viewpoint. A lot of the narrative simply serves to provide flashbacks to the tragedy in the sisters' lives that split up a once happy family. I had already guessed more or less what must have happened.

It did keep me gripped the whole way through but I was a little disappointed in the ending - I was hoping for a little more closure. Wouldn't really recommend it at the price.


His Other Lover: A fast paced, gripping, psychological thriller
His Other Lover: A fast paced, gripping, psychological thriller
Price: £3.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting study of a disintegrating relationship ..., 27 Jun. 2016
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I like Lucy Dawson's books. Stylistically she might not be the greatest writer around but she knows how to spin a compelling yarn - and here she plays to her strengths - her ability to delve into the insecurity and doubt that exists in relationships, that seem ideal to outsiders. I read this book already in paperback a few years back but I found I enjoyed it more this time around when I already knew the ending - I could enjoy the twists and turns of the plot and the increasingly unhinged behaviour of Mia, a deeply insecure young woman who is plunged into a nightmare when she reads a text on her boyfriend's phone.

Chicklit heroines are often portrayed as strong and principled - heading off to find a new life (and inevitably a new man) when their lover lets them down. Mia is much more like the average woman - she is very happy with Pete and believes she's found 'the one', so she in deep denial at first, and determined to do anything to preserve the relationship. At first I could relate to her, but as the book progresses her behaviour becomes more and more manic. First time I read it I was waiting for the moment she realises he isn't the man she thinks he is and she is better off rid of him, but the ending is more complex than that. Anyone who has fought to preserve a relationship (or even friendship) must come face to face with the realisation - even if you win, what sort of victory is it the other person simply isn't that in to you?

Amazon aren't doing Dawson any favours by describing the book as a 'fast-paced gripping etc etc', as I tend to assume when I read it that it is a rubbish book they are hyping to the skies, but in this case it is actually true. A fast paced read that kept me gripped the whole way through.


Luckiest Girl Alive
Luckiest Girl Alive
by Jessica Knoll
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 stars for a novel which started well but ended badly, 22 Jun. 2016
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This review is from: Luckiest Girl Alive (Paperback)
This reminded me very much of Louisa O’Neill’s ‘Asking for it’ , which I’ve just read, so I can see why I was recommended it. I can also see the comparisons to ‘Gone Girl’ in terms of the writing style (though Knoll’s writing is by no means as sharp as Flynn’s). I did find it an entertaining enough read at first but as the book progressed I became more disconnected from the heroine. Yes I know that she is meant to be flawed and I still sympathised with the dreadful things that I happened to her but by the end of this book I had run out of empathy. Ani is a deeply shallow character, obsessed with looks and wealth all through the book – (worst thing for me is that she calls the only nice girl who befriends her by a derogatory nickname all the way through based on her facial appearance). No matter what happened to her, I got the feeling she would have grown up to be the same shallow self-obsessed vain woman. (The expression ‘first world problems’ comes to mind many times in this book, especially with regard to her struggles to fit her wedding dress) This would be fine if she was an anti-heroine like Amy in ‘Gone Girl’, but the author seems to expect us to root for her to find happiness and true love – instead of marrying her rich fiancé - whereas I thought that Luke was exactly what she deserved, if anything he was slightly too good for her. It’s not his fault that she pretends to be someone she isn’t in order to persuade him into marrying her. And the fact that she throws herself at a married man in the ‘adult’ part of the novel is pretty distasteful and quite often a boring distraction from what I was really interested in – the stuff the happened while she was still a teenager
The ending is a complete car crash and anyone expecting a ‘Gone Girl’ type twist is in for a disappointment. Her darkest ‘secret’ is something virtually anyone would have already guessed in the context of the novel, and her need for ‘closure’ at any costs, seems rather inappropriate given what has happened to her original tormentors. Fact is, as one character pointed out, she got her chance to get back at them and she didn’t take it, mainly because she thought she could still be in with the popular kids if she kept quiet (leading to a likeable teacher losing his job in the process). An ambivalent ‘Gone Girl’ type ending would have worked better here in my opinion.


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