Wednesday 28 November 2012

Review - The Postcard Killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund

The Postcard KillersThe Postcard Killers by James Patterson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time Taken To Read - 2 days

Blurb From Goodreads

Paris is stunning in the summer

NYPD detective Jacob Kanon is on a tour of Europe's most gorgeous cities. But the sights aren't what draw him--he sees each museum, each cathedral, and each cafe through the eyes of his daughter's killer.

The killing is simply marvelous

Kanon's daughter, Kimmy, and her boyfriend were murdered while on vacation in Rome. Since then, young couples in Paris, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, and Stockholm have been found dead. Little connects the murders, other than a postcard to the local newspaper that precedes each new victim.

Wish you were here

Now Kanon teams up with the Swedish reporter, Dessie Larsson, who has just received a postcard in Stockholm--and they think they know where the next victims will be. With relentless logic and unstoppable action, The Postcard Killers may be James Patterson's most vivid and compelling thriller yet.

My Review

A young couple are targeting married couples in love and brutally murdering them. They announce their intent by sending postcards to reporters in they city they are in at the time. This isn't their first kill and detective Jacob Kanon is on their tail. He has a professional and personal interest in them as one of their victims was one of his family and he can't rest as long as they are free. He teams up with an unlikely partner, Dessie, a reporter who has been contacted by the killers. There is more to the murders than first suspected and both the police and detective have to use their wits to catch and outsmart the killers.

This book has a great fast pace to it,the killers are introduced from the start yet it is written so well you are hooked into how it is going to play out. as always with James Patterson the chapters are short so you can dip in and out, or fool yourself with only going to read a chapter or two and still be reading 100+ pages in.

I didn't like Jacob's character if I am honest. I felt for him and everything he has gone through and the dedication he shows but too often he is rash and impulsive which I found very annoying. there was one of two sexual elements in the book that I felt could easily have been left out as, for me, it didn't really add anything. I don't mind a book having sex scenes but it should fall in naturally with the story, I didn't feel it did this time. Maybe because I am used to Patterson's books being mostly thriller and murder and this is why it didn't flow for me (in regards to the sex). However the killers passion for each other is an important element in the story so others may feel it works well.

The book ended rather abrupt for me too, it had a great pace all along and a huge build up toward the end but it seemed rather rushed and I would have liked more answers. Still a really good read though so 3/5 for me this time.

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Tuesday 27 November 2012

Review - The End Specialist by Drew Magary

The End SpecialistThe End Specialist by Drew Magary
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time Taken To Read - 6 days

Blurb From Goodreads

A gripping, compulsive thriller set in a future where the cure for ageing has been discovered… to devastating consequences

“You got me. I don’t want to die. I’m terrified of death. I fear there’s nothing beyond it and that this existence is the only one I’ll ever possess. That’s why I’m here.”�(An excerpt from the digital journal of John Farrell, cure age 29)

2019. Humanity has witnessed its greatest scientific breakthrough yet: the cure for ageing. Three injections and you’re immortal – not bulletproof or disease-proof but you’ll never have to fear death by old age.

For John Farrell, documenting the cataclysmic shifts to life after the cure becomes an obsession. Cure parties, cycle marriages, immortal livestock: the world is revelling in the miracles of eternal youth. But immortality has a sinister side, and when a pro-death terrorist explosion kills his newly-cured best friend, John soon realizes that even in a world without natural death, there is always something to fear.

Now, John must make a new choice: run and hide forever, or stay and fight those who try to make immortal life a living hell.

My Review

What a fantastic idea for a story. Imagine a cure that stops you aging, a cure that stops death and the possibilities from there on in. This is what happens in the year 2019 and John Farrell has acquired some on the black market. A few years later the cure is available to all, bringing out all the crazies and vigilantes who think it unnatural and bomb the doctors and buildings they feel responsible. The world starts to go a bit crazy, marriages are put on as cycles, babies are tattooed and that is just the start of the chaos that ensues.

I really liked parts of this book, the premise of this and the very idea of never growing old, future cures coming that attack illness and preserve humans. What of a world where no one dies? Supplies become limited, religious people are out in force, end specialists are on hand to take the numbers down a bit. I disliked other parts as I felt they dragged a little or didn't offer much to those parts of the story.

The format of the book is taken from John Farrell's digital journal (blog format), cataloging his experience from the run up to getting the cure to everything he sees and experiences afterwards. It is well thought out and runs shivers down your spine at the thought of how much of this could actually happen if we ever did create such a "cure" and raises the inner question(s) of would you and how far would you go to survive? The end was a wee big lacking for me although maybe it is so there can be another book? Or just how the author wanted to end this one, I would have preferred more. This was my first time reading this author and I would give them a bash again, 3/5 for me this time.

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Monday 26 November 2012

Review - Hoodie by Brendon Lancaster

HoodieHoodie by Brendon Lancaster
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time Taken To Read - Dipped in and out for 9 days

Blurb From Amazon

From the moment Ben Chapman ( 'Hoodie' to the other Shady Boys) crashes out of school, determined never to return and, incidentally, seeking his revenge on the school's drug dealer by stealing and concealing his stash in his trousers on the way out, you know that this is a boy to whom caution and reticence are alien concepts. Outwardly, he maintains that all he wants is a job, his own money and to follow his heart towards the girl of his dreams, Isabelle. But, underneath that concealing hoodie, Ben has a rich inner life, fed by dope, wine and the belief that he is someone special. During his 'summer of love', we follow his attempts to engage with the real world with frustration and compassion. His adventures cause him to question today's competitive, consumer-based values, eventually challenging his perception of reality and prompting him to reflect upon who and what his purpose in life is before finding himself faced with the definitive test of resolve and bravery. Hoodie's blend of up-to-date realism, dream-like escapism, fast-paced, hard-hitting action, wistful musings, humour and tragedy, all while the story navigates its way on a magical mystery tour of Ben's mind, ensures an enjoyable read. It provides the perfect antidote to alarmist Daily Mail reporting of youth issues, exploring the problems facing modern day Britain from the perspective of a disempowered, disaffected teenager. On a deeper level, there is a moral/spiritual sub-text, fed by Ben's belief that he has a secret weapon; the simian lines (fused head and heart lines) on the palms of his hands. These are extremely rare and noted as being a genetic abnormality shared by drug addicts, mass murderers, scientific researchers and religious fanatics (and, by sheer coincidence, Tony Blair). Could these lines hold the key to his future?

My Review

Ben aka Hoodie is the main character, he has just finished his exams and stolen a load of drugs from the school thug. Ben wants a job, to be respected, get the girl of his dreams and get out of his head on alcohol and substances until he reaches his goals. This is the tale of a sixteen year old boy on a journey, facing the dilemmas of a teenage boy and some issues from his past. The book deals with a whole host of topics, drugs, sex, violence, auras, relationships and a whole lot more.

To be honest I have debated whether I should rate this a two or 3 star. The things I liked I really liked but the things I disliked really irked me. I found it hard to relate to the main character who seemed to morph between two people, the really deep thinking one and the teenage thug. I liked the Simian Lines part and read a little more on it when I got past that part as I hadn't heard of that before.

There was a lot of mish mash and I sometimes got a bit caught up and wanted there to be more focus. For example the drug dealer was dealt with at the start, a little in the middle and picked
up again at the end. Old Joe was a great part in the story but then his round up wasn't told in length just in passing through someone else. Initially I had thought this was going to be like an Irvine Welsh and it does have some of the undertones but I think I can honestly say I have never read anyone like this before.

The reason I decided to go with a three star instead of a two is purely because of the ending which I neither expected or guessed was coming. After Ben got out of hospital with his "attitude" I got really annoyed and was going to go with a two star rating, however as I said the ending was so unexpected it brought it back to a three.

If your looking for something chaotic, different, rough around the edges that has a deep undercurrent with a splash of everything in it then I would definitely recommend this book, 3 out of 5 for me this time.

I won this book as part of a giveaway over at you can read the full interview over there.

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Wednesday 21 November 2012

Review - The Birds And The Bees by Milly Johnson

The Birds And The BeesThe Birds And The Bees by Milly Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Time Taken To Read - 1 day

Blurb From Goodreads

Romance writer and single mum Stevie Honeywell has only weeks to go until her wedding when her fiance Matthew runs off with her glamorous new friend Jo MacLean.

It feels like history repeating itself for Stevie, but this time she is determined to win back her man. She isn't going to act as he might expect. She isn't going to wail and dig her heels in, she is simply going to pretend to let him go whilst she pursues a mad course of dieting, exercising and self-improvement.

And it feels like history is repeating itself for Adam MacLean too, who is also determined to win his lady, Jo, back with the same basic psychological tactics. Then he is going to initiate his master plan: Getting together with Stevie to drive Jo wild with jealousy.

So, like the Scottish country jig 'The Birds and the Bees', the couples all change partners and learn some revealing truths about each other along the way. But what happens when Adam's master plan actually starts to work? And just who will Stevie be dancing with when the music stops?

My Review

Stevie Honeywell is getting married in a few weeks, everything is going great until Jo's psycho husband shows up claiming Stevie's fiance has run off on holiday with his stunning wife. Sure enough it comes to light and Stevie and Adam, Jo's husband, team up to split them up and get them back for themselves.

Chick lit is not normally my first choice of book but sometimes you need something light and this was the perfect book for it. Stevie is a nice lady who seems to have no luck in love and comes off as a door mat. As the story progresses and the unlikely team put their plans into action we see a different side to Stevie emerge and Adam being more than a Scottish drunken thug.

The characters are well done although I must admit to disliking or hating at least 2 of the main ones, Jo and Matthew, and Stevie annoyed me with her placidity. However as her story unfolds you start to warm to her and by the end I was rooting for her.

I picked this up to read a chapter before bed and was still awake at 1am. It is very well written and easy to read. The chapters are short which is great as you can dip in and out or in my case just one more and your still reading 10 chapters later. This is my second Millie Johnson book and it won't be my last, 5/5 for me.

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Friday 16 November 2012

Review - Inconceivable by Ben Elton

InconceivableInconceivable by Ben Elton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time Taken To Read - 3 days

Blurb From Goodreads

Lucy desperately wants a baby. Sam is determined to write a hit movie. The problem is that both their efforts seem to be unfruitful. And given that the average IVF cycle has about a one in five chance of going into full production, Lucy's chances of getting what she wants are considerably better than Sam's.

What Sam and Lucy are about to go through is absolutely inconceivable. The question is, can their love survive?

Inconcievable confirms Ben Elton as one of Britain's most significant, entertaining and provocative writers.

My Review

This is a story about a happily married couple who want a baby. The book isn't in chapters but rather diary entries. Lucy writes hers as Dear Penny, a childhood friend whilst Sam goes with dear book or sometimes without title. The entries follow their journey from hitting 5 years of trying for a baby but now seriously looking at why they aren't pregnant and investigating it.

For me the book reminded me of Bridget Jones diary, not just in format but in that there is a lot of humour involved. You can empathize with both characters and you get to see the same story from two view points. Despite the serious nature of the main issue there is a lot of humour involved in the book, there is also a lot of crass and crude language throughout, so not for the easily offended.

The book covers some serious issues and despite it being a fairly humourous book I did learn a bit about the IVF process and what couples have to go through when facing difficulties in trying for a baby. Funny, sad, emotional and a bit of a rollercoaster I did enjoy this and wasn't too sure how it would end which is always a plus, 3/5 for me this time and I would read Ben Elton again (I have read one or two of his before).

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Tuesday 13 November 2012

Review - Freud by Ruth Snowden

Freud: The Key IdeasFreud: The Key Ideas by Ruth Snowden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - dipped in and out of it over 1 month

Blurb From Goodreads

Learn about the man called "The father of psychoanalysis"

From Freud's upbringing and early work through his ingenious and revolutionary creation of psychoanalysis, you will learn about dream interpretation, the unconscious, the psychology of society, and his controversial theories, including the Oedipus Complex and penis envy.

Ideal for students, teachers, or anyone curious about this remarkable man, "Teach Yourself Freud" makes his ideas easy to understand with overviews, summaries, and illustrations.

My review

I hate reading non fiction books, more so when I have to actually retain the information. It seems the more you have to take in the more your mind shuts down and blanks it out. This book was actually really well done and it is broken down so that someone like me who does struggle can dip in and out and process it more easily.

The chapters have lots of page breaks so you can read a paragraph or two then put it down or go through it by chapters as they aren't excessively long either. At the end of each chapter you have a small summary of things to remember that have been highlighted from what you have just read, some people might find it easier to retain the information this way.

It is written without big confusing words or jargon that you find a lot of these kind of books are which is why I have opted to put this on my wish list and pick up a keeper copy at a later date so I can refer back to it (this is a loan book from the library). Did I learn from it? Yes. Did I take it all in? No. But I did enjoy it and have a better understanding of psychoanalysis and some of the famous cases associated with Freud.

The author has also put a fantastic list of further reading (also listing anti-Freud books) as well as a list of online websites. All in all a great resource and the first time I can say I have enjoyed reading this type of book, 4/5 for me.

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Review - Love Anthony by Lisa Genova

Love AnthonyLove Anthony by Lisa Genova
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - less than 1 day

Blurb From Goodreads

Two women, each cast adrift by unforseen events in their lives, meet by accident on a Nantucket beach and are drawn into a friendship.
Olivia is a young mother whose eight-year-old severely autistic son has recently died. Her marriage badly frayed by years of stress, she comes to the island in a trial separation to try and make sense of the tragedy of her Anthony’s short life.
Beth, a stay-at-home mother of three, is also recently separated after discovering her husband’s long-term infidelity. In an attempt to recapture a sense of her pre-married life, she rekindles her passion for writing, determined to find her own voice again. But surprisingly, as she does so, Beth also find herself channeling the voice of an unknown boy, exuberant in his perceptions of the world around him if autistic in his expression—a voice she can share with Olivia—(is it Anthony?)—that brings comfort and meaning to them both.

My Review

The book starts off with a slow introduction to both Olivia, Anthony's mum and Beth and her family situation. After a small chance meeting at the beach that isn't revisited or the significance shown until later, the story begins at present day. Olivia has come to the island to pick her life up after losing her son and the breakdown of her marriage. Beth is just about to have her world and marriage turned upside down with the shock news of her husbands infidelity. Both women are struggling with their own demons and life changes, living close to each other but unaware of the other.

I was expecting this to be about friendship right from the start however the ladies don't actually properly cross paths until over half way through. Olivia visits the past through her journals and slowly we are introduced to her life with Anthony and her journey after his diagnosis and back to what she is doing now to get back to 'normal'. Beth's path is her journey trying to cope with everyday life after the revelations with her husband and picking up the pieces with her girls, rediscovering who she is. Both women are on journeys and eventually their paths cross and an unexpected link will bring them together.

I enjoyed this story so much that I stayed up until after 3am to finish it. I loved the glimpses of Anthony and think any story that will open peoples eyes and begin an understanding into autism is always a good thing. I liked and disliked Beth's story almost equally, it gives a fantastic insight into what it may be like for an autistic child through the childs's eyes. However the person in Beth's story is identical to someone she has never really met with no real explanation of why. This is just a small issue, the rest of the book I devoured and wanted to read faster than my eyes could manage. I do enjoyed Genova's writing style and her subjects always leave you thinking so 4/5 for me this time.

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Monday 12 November 2012

Review - Moon by James Herbert

MoonMoon by James Herbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time Taken To Read - 2 days

Blurb from the back cover

The nightmare begins before you go to sleep...

He fled from the terrors of his past. Finding refuge in the quietness of the island. And for a time he lived in peace. Until the 'sightings' began. Visions of horror seeping into his mind like poisonous tendrils. Violent acts that were hideously macabre, the thoughts became intense.

He witnessed the grotesque acts of another thing, a thing that glorified in murder and mutilation. A monster that soon became aware of the observer within its own mind. And relished contact. A creature that would eventually come to the island to seek him out.

My Review

I have always liked James Herbert and this is one of those books that reignites all the things you enjoyed and loved from previous books. FYI - I haven't read them in any kind of order. Jon Childes is a teacher with a past he would rather forget. It ruined his marriage, his every day life and almost cost him his sanity and freedom. After escaping to the island and starting a new it isn't long before history repeats itself and Jon finds himself in a horrible game of cat and mouse.

This book is filled with lots of spooky goings on, horrific murders and desecrations. The story reads almost like a sequel as it refers back a few times to Childes past and what happened the last time, however after checking this is a stand alone book.

The book goes along at a decent pace, keeping you hooked without giving away too much too quick. Sometimes a chapter starts with Childes and then one will visit 'the thing' and back to Childes however it flows fabulously and you will be caught up in the story in no time, especially if your a James Herbert fan. I really enjoyed it and wasn't left hanging as you are with a lot of these themed books so a 4/5 for me.

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Sunday 11 November 2012

November's Pre-Loved Giveaway

I have actually managed to get more than 5 minutes to sort this so hurrah (sorry if anyone was hoping for another amazon voucher, maybe December). This months giveaway is Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid, see my review through the link below. The book is is perfect condition, no breaks in the spine and could be given as a gift, it is actually in better condition than the last book I bought!

As always it will run until the end of the month when a winner will be picked at random. You can get an extra entry by leaving a comment on this post. To enter please click the link below and fill in the short form, thank you.

Click here to enter the competition

Review - Ash by James Herbert

Ash (David Ash, #3)Ash by James Herbert
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time Taken to Read - 3 days

Blurb From Goodreads

David Ash – detective of the paranormal – is sent to the mysterious Comraich Castle, secluded deep in the Scottish countryside, to investigate a strange, high-profile case: a man has been found crucified – in a room that was locked. The reports suggest that the cliff-top castle is being haunted . . .

Who – or what – is the reclusive hooded figure that Ash has seen from the window walking across the courtyard in the dead of night?
What are the strange, animal-like sounds that come from the surrounding woods?
And why are the castle’s inhabitants so reluctant to talk about what they have seen?

. . . what Ash eventually discovers is truly shocking

My Review

I was torn between giving this a 2 star or 3 rating; I decided on the latter. I have followed David Ash's adventures and love James Herbert's writing however this is totally different. Ash is still trying to recover from his last encounters with the supernatural when he is hired to investigate the strange happenings at a Scottish castle that harbours those who have money to evade the law.

The story takes a while to start however when it gets going it quickly becomes twisted with murder, incest, conspiracy theories, and ghosts to name but a few of the aspects of this story. Some of the scenes are very descriptive and gory however if you have read James Herbert before you will be used to this, if not just a heads up. It is a big book (the printed version is over 600 pages) and goes from Ash's point of view and what is happening and flits between the other characters and back to Ash. Most of the Herbert books I have read focus on a theme (usually supernatural and horror) but this one covers a whole host of topics including love, sex and lesbianism.

Ash's character goes through different phases as the story progresses. He starts off as investigator battling his addictions and old ghosts whilst trying to keep on top of the new case with limited information. Then as he uncovers the history and secrets of the castle and residents he becomes more assertive, latterly the "hero" in him comes forth as he attempts to do his job and stay alive.

To be honest the story is simply madness. There is so much going on in it and even for a horror fan who loves "out there" and "it is never going to happen" stuff even this was a bit unreal for me. I still enjoyed it though and think if you're happy to read it knowing it really is quite silly and bizarre you will be fine with it. 3/5 for me.

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Saturday 10 November 2012

Review - Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid

Black Heart BlueBlack Heart Blue by Louisa Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time Taken To Read 1.5 days

Blurb From Goodreads

Hephzibah: You've no idea what it's like having a freak for a sister.

Rebecca: Born first, prettier, Hephzi's always been the popular one.

The Father: When he was busy with his bottle we were usually safe. Usually.

The Mother: Her specialist subject was misery and lessons of painful silence ...

Hepzibah and Rebecca are twins. One beautiful, one disfigured. Trapped with their loveless parents, they dream of a normal life. But when one twin tragically dies, the other must find a way to escape. Because if she doesn't, she'll end up like her sister.

My Review

This story goes in fairly short chapters between Hephzibah and Rebecca (jumping between before the death of one twin and the aftermath). For the first few chapters you are not too sure what has happened as it jumps around a bit but not so much that you can't follow the actual storyline.

One twin is beautiful and popular, one is disfigured and shunned by her family and peers. Both the girls hide a dark secret whilst fighting for a place in society and a semblance of normality.

It is evident when you start reading that foul play has happened and the family situation isn't quite right but you don't know quite how or why. As the story unfolds you are drawn into a world of abuse and survival, cunning and bravery and a bond between two sisters that have to endure social and family pressures, each taking their toll on the twins as to how they both adapt and cope with it.

Whilst some of the content is horrific it isn't a story that dwells on all the sordid details, however there is enough for you to know exactly what has happened. The story is more focused on the girls and their relationship.

I read this book a few weeks ago and I am still thinking about it, despite having a lot of commitments I couldn't put it down and got through it in a day and a half. I would read this author again, despite the content this book was easily to get through so 4/5 for me this time.

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Octobers competition winner is............

Deb Robin - no website given. The winner has been notified and if the prize isn't claimed within 48 hours another winner will be picked. Thank you to everyone who entered and I apologize for taking so long to announce the winner. Novembers competition will be up hopefully within a few days, thank you for your patience.

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