Shop now Shop now Shop now See more Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now DIYED Shop now Shop Fire Shop now Shop now
Profile for voluntarystress > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by voluntarystress
Top Reviewer Ranking: 39,128
Helpful Votes: 77

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
voluntarystress

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
pixel
Truly Madly Guilty
Truly Madly Guilty
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Another Liane Moriarty Triumph, 28 July 2016
I was fortunate to be sent this book by Net Galley in return for a review. As the book opened I wasn’t too sure what it was going to do, where it was going. But having read both “The Husband’s Secret” and “Big Little Lies”, by this Australian author, I knew that I was in good hands and relaxed into the narrative. I wasn’t wrong.

Not that there is a great story developed in terms of evolving lengthy happenings, a large cast of characters and multiple locations. It’s not that sort of book. It explores the feelings and psychology of the characters and the consequences of their actions, both to themselves and others. Set in Sydney and written in the third person, it centres around three youngish to middle aged couples. Erica and Oliver, ordered and almost geeky, Erica’s childhood friend Clementine and Sam and their two very young daughters and Erica and Oliver’s wealthy next door neighbours, Vid and Tiffany with a ten year old daughter. The central event of the book is a barbecue at Tiffany and Vid’s house and what one thing that happened there affected all those present.. This happening is very slowly revealed through the course of the book .Much of the story is taken up with what happened afterwards, as a consequence and the effect that it had on the various people involved and their relationships with one another. The narrative is constantly time swapping between some weeks after the barbecue and the actual events of the day.. Time shift books, which seem to have become increasingly popular, usually annoy me, but this was handled superbly. We also meet some of the main characters’ parents and get a glimpse into their childhood’s which fashioned the people they were to become. Children, the possession of them or lack of them is a main theme running through the book.

At the end I was sorry to part company with these characters. I wanted to know what happened next in their lives. A sure sign of an excellent tale well told.. I wish that I could have given it more than five stars.


Blackwater (DI Nick Lowry)
Blackwater (DI Nick Lowry)
by James Henry
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.08

3.0 out of 5 stars Police Crime Supposedly 1983, 17 July 2016
On receiving this book from Real Reader in return for an honest review, my first feeling was one of pleasure. I like police detective mysteries. Then I saw that it was set in 1983. I was now not so sure. Born as the Second World War ended, I was bringing up three young children in 1983 and remember it well.. Not an era I care to revisit. I soon found that was reminded of small details of 1983 life as if it were some form of historical entertainment, For example, “Kenton was meticulously fitting the cap on what Lowry knew to be an expensive fountain pen, a graduation present”. We are being told how it was in 1983.It’s laborious. It’s clunky. If it were really written in that year, the character would have been said to have put his pen down. At another point we are treated to an explanation of a pea souper fog. Anyone of any age will know what that was. And that is just page sixteen. It just went on and on. .And there was so much drinking and smoking. Practically on every page.

Why was this book set in 1983? The cover blurb tells us that James Henry has written three prequels for R, D. Wingfield’s Frost books. The huge amount of research necessary to do this means that he knows a lot about policing in that era as well as general social background. Is he just using the knowledge gained for his own original characters ? But Wingfield was writing about his present time, his books being first published in this country in the late 80s and early 90s. They were authentic. But perhaps it could well not be the case with this novel. I wanted to be proved wrong so I ploughed on with the reading which for the first half at least was quite a personal struggle.

The main characters are a police superintendent called Sparks, an Inspector Lowry and a detective constable Kenton who has a degree and is probably one of a brand new breed of fast track officers. He owns an open top orange Triumph Spitfire car. There is also a WPC Gabriel who has been a model as well as various other police characters, all a bit cardboard cut out. The action is set in Colchester, a big army garrison town, so the other set of characters are from the army barracks. Drugs, are still a newish phenomenon there on a very large scale. And there are assorted local low life. I found it very difficult to empathise with any of these character who all seemed to conform to some pre conceived stereotype of the time. But I plodded on. So that by the time that I felt that the story had begun to pick up pace about half way through, I wasn’t too sure who was who of the subsidiary characters. My fault for not engaging from the start. Some murders were committed but I found it difficult to sort it all out by this time. The story is described as a thriller on the book cover, which I feel is very misleading, “ The First Nick Lowry Thriller”. Police detection purporting to be from the 80s might be more accurate ,but I guess that wouldn’t fit on the front cover or sell books either. Thriller it ain’t !

I hate criticising any author’s hard work, so I have to say that I loved the atmospheric feel of the novel. I enjoyed the cold dreariness of the Essex estuary setting with its depressing mud flats, unaffected by time or period fashion. Life felt timeless here. To get the full effect of the bleakness, the story had to be set in winter with cold sea mist and short days. If there are to be any further books I wonder if a tale in this setting in summer will be as effective. I hope so. Even the young CID constable has an open top sports car in which he and his inspector, Lowry, drive around freezing, all adding to the greyness of the situation.

For me to have actively disliked so many of the characters, the author must have engaged with me to some extent. I have to ask myself, would I read another of these books. The answer is probably not.


Headhunters
Headhunters
Price: £3.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Not up to the Standard expected of Jo Nesbo, 30 May 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Headhunters (Kindle Edition)
A huge disappointment. Never chose a book on the author's name alone. I loved the Harry Hole books, but even the best of writers can produce a duff book. This was rubbish.


House of Shadows
House of Shadows
by Nicola Cornick
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible Nonsense, 8 May 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: House of Shadows (Paperback)
Awful. Unadulterated chick lit with a thin veil of dubious history thrown over it. I purchased it on the strength of the description..I rarely abandon books so I bashed on to the end. If I'd bought this as a holiday read when my brain was in neutral, I'd still have been fed up. A good job it was a kindle version so I couldn't write all over it with a red pen..


The White Cottage Mystery
The White Cottage Mystery
Price: £0.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but very dated, 20 April 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is Margery Alingham's first detective novel. It's very naive and dated and provides an interesting window into a world that is now past. It's good to see that even the very best had to start somewhere. Interesting but I'm glad that I only paid Kindle 99p


Set of 6 buffet forks
Set of 6 buffet forks

4.0 out of 5 stars These look good, arrived on time, 17 April 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These look good, arrived on time, well packed and do the job they are supposed to do. However we have been previously spoilt by owning 3 Viners sporks which don't now seem to be available These six buffet forks don't have such a wide bowl and the serrated cutting edge can feel a little sharp and uncomfortable in the mouth. But they are great for the money and do what they are supposed to do.


A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding
A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding
by Jackie Copleton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.08

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Compeling Read, 17 April 2016
My thanks to Netgalley for this novel based around the atomic bomb explosion in Nagasaki and set mainly in Japan.. This book, featuring an event beyond our comprehension, should have been depressing, but instead was un-put-downable. The construction is extremely clever, using the devise of a” Dictionary of Mutual Understanding”, each chapter having a heading of a Japanese concept that then features in that chapter. After many twists and emotions, many bitter and long held, the book finally resolves with a mutual understanding between the narrator and mother, Amaterasu, and her long lost grandson, the badly burned and scarred Hideo, of the catastrophic events of 9th August 1945.

This is not a story about the atomic bomb, but rather the effects that it had on one particular family and about events in their lives that were already happening. The daughter Yuko and her son were lost when the bomb dropped, presumably dead.. The parents searched over a long time, but eventually accepted that they were gone, and began a new life in America.. The mother had been particularly close to her daughter and taking the daughter’s diary to America, begins to read it. By this device the daughter’s story before the bombing is told. A further device of a bundle of letters, written by the daughter’s lover to her after the bombing, as if she is still alive and would one day read them, fill in the later story. These letters are brought to America by the supposedly lost grandson, who was adopted after the war by his mother’s lover. He delivers them to his grandmother. Once or twice as the narrative, written in the first person, moves back and fore through time, I began to get a little confused.

I did wonder occasionally whether this was just an engaging family story bound up with Japanese customs and hung on the horrific events of the explosion in Nagasaki. But by the end I knew it to be a fine tale with great depth which can be read on different levels. It was no surprise to learn that this highly competent author is a journalist who spent three years working in Japan. If you want an excellent, probably feminine story, don’t be put off by the backdrop of the nuclear tragedy. This is a compelling read.


The Litigators
The Litigators
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Another highly recommended story, 12 April 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Litigators (Kindle Edition)
Another great tale from John Grisham sending up the American legal system. Humorous and thoroughly entertaining.


Black Plumes
Black Plumes
Price: £2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Long overdue to old favourite, 25 Mar. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Black Plumes (Kindle Edition)
It's many years since I first read this book and I'd forgotten how good it is. After all this time it was still a book that I was reluctant to put down when reading time ran out. OK so it's dated, but for me that's it's charm. It gives a window into a way of life long since changed. A real old fashioned who done it to be puzzled out. I must reread Margery Allingham's other books that I so enjoyed in my youth.


The Shadow Hour
The Shadow Hour
by Kate Riordan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Descriptive Writing - - Poor Story, 27 Feb. 2016
This review is from: The Shadow Hour (Paperback)
I was delighted to be sent this book by NetGalley. I had read Kate Riordan’s previous book, her debut, “ The Girl in the Photograph “ and I absolutely loved it. Here I felt was a fantastic new novelist. What a disappointment her second novel has turned out to be. Again we have the same wonderful descriptive passages. This author has a huge talent for painting with words, e g, “A lowering sky that was leaking rain like a dirty sponge. “ But such a silly story. Not worthy of her literary talents and the large amount of research that has obviously gone into it.

It’s the story of two governesses, grandmother and grandaughter, who end up working for the same family in a large house just outside Cheltenham, one in the 1870s and the other in 1920.. As in the author’s first book a crumbling old house is a central character. There are a lot of scenes, beautifully described, set in Bristol, such as Brunel’s Suspension Bridge and Temple Meads Station, both of which I know well.. I also know the houses described overlooking the Avon Gorge which are hugely expensive where the grandmother and grandaughter live, but the grandaughter has apparently to go out to be a governess because they are so poor. The inconsistencies go on and on. For instance it is unbelievable that someone would be employed without a face to face interview or that the potential employee would accept a post without first seeing the house and meeting her charges. The reader is asked to swallow one improbable coincidence after another. The grandmother is completely dotty but I’m not sure if this is intentional or not. The story is just chick lit and I don’t read that. If I hadn’t been given this to review I would never have forced myself to finish it.

I’ve given this book three stars on the writing style and descriptive powers of the author. I shall definitely be looking for Kate Riordan’s next book in hopes that she has redeemed herself with a superior story. If not, then sadly she will be crossed off my list of authors to watch. She is worthy of so much more than this offering.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4