Sunday 28 April 2013

ARC - The Holiday Home by Fern Britton

The Holiday HomeThe Holiday Home by Fern Britton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time Taken to Read - 2 days

Publisher - HarperFiction

Blurb from Goodreads

Two sisters, one house, a lifetime of secrets.

Set on a Cornish cliff, Atlantic House has been the jewel in the Carew family crown for centuries. Each year, the Carew sisters embark on the yearly trip down to Cornwall for the summer holidays, but they are as different and vinegar and honey.

Prudence, hard-nosed businesswoman and married to the meek and mild Francis, is about to get a shock reminder that you should never take anything for granted.

Constance, homemaker and loving wife to philandering husband Greg, has always been out-manoeuvred by her manipulative sibling. But now that Pru wants to get her hands on Atlantic House, Connie is not about to take things lying down.

When an old face reappears on the scene, years of simmering resentments reach boiling point. But little do the women know that a long-buried secret is about to bite them all on the bottom. Can Constance and Pru put their feuding aside for the sake of everyone else, or will this family holiday push them all over the edge?

My review

Atlantic House has been a huge part of Prudence and her sister Constance's family and yet another source of competition for the girls. Fought over since they claimed bedrooms as children to present day when they are grown and have kids of their own. Every summer the girls and their family go back to the holiday house along with their parents. Old resentment quickly builds up as does the competition and soon more than old feelings surface and some secrets are revealed that could rip the family apart.

This is a great wee read, chick lit, set on a Cornish cliff. The story bounces about from past to present in a fairly easy to follow sequence. The sisters are very childish and at some points very petty which I found a bit grating however it did make the characters come alive and seem very realistic as their personalities had fairly large flaws.

The girls are confronted with an old face from their past which stirs up some unresolved issues and resentment. The story is really easy to follow and you settle into it quickly. There are a few little twists and a whopper as you draw to a close. This is my first time reading this author and whilst chick lit isn't my first choice of read it is great when you just need to switch off and enjoy a good wee tale. I would likely read this author again and give it a good 3/5. Simple, easy to follow, chapters not too lengthy and a pinch of excitement throughout family issues on a summer holiday. Thanks so much to HarperFiction for introducing me to a new author and sending me an ARC copy of this book. You can get yourself a copy from 9th of May, 2013, in print and ebook format.

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Monday 15 April 2013

ARC - Stop Dead by Leigh Russell

Stop DeadStop Dead by Leigh Russell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time Taken to Read - 4 days

Publisher - No Exit Press

Blurb from back cover

When a successful businessman is brutally murdered, the police suspect his glamorous wife and her young lover. But when the victim's business partner suffers the same gruesome fate, and yet another body is discovered, seemingly unrelated to the first two, the police are baffled. The only clue is DNA that leads them to two women: one dead, the other in prison. With a steady stream of bodies arriving at the morgue, can DI Geraldine Steel find the killer before the killer stages another deadly attack?

My Review

I never comment on covers as they are not a big part in my choosing process however I must pass comment on this one. The actual cover itself is made from high quality, almost feels like, laminate of some kind. Smooth, shiny and made up of dark greens with bold red writing, the books title. The back cover is of lighter colour with black and red text and 4 small pictures of the previous books.

This is book number five in the series, this is my first time reading this author and you can easily pick this up as a one off. Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel is our main character investigating the brutal murder of a local businessman in London. Suspicion falls upon his widow and her young lover, before another another body is found with the same gruesome mutilations. The clock is ticking for D.I. Steel to solve the case and stop the murderer before they kill anyone else.

I quite enjoyed this story, the action starts from the opening chapter and the body count goes from there. I felt the pace slowed down at some parts and some of the storyline was a bit of padding. For example something from Geraldine's family is revealed in this book and she ponders on it briefly in different sections of the book however nothing really comes of it.

The investigation casts out a few suspects and I thought early on I had it worked out, I was wrong. Your kept guessing up to the end and the story goes from slow and plodding along to full swing all is revealed. This is a great book to read when you find your struggling or have a lot on as everything is explained, what they say, why they say it and of course the how and why of the crime at the end. Thanks so much to RealReaders for introducing me to a new author and supplying me with this ARC. I think I may go back and read the earlier books to connect better with the characters. This book will be available from 30th of May, 2013 from all good retailers.

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Friday 12 April 2013

ARC - The Outsiders by Gerald Seymour

The OutsidersThe Outsiders by Gerald Seymour
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Time Taken to Read - 3 days

Publisher - Hodder & Stoughton

Blurb From Goodreads

Winnie Monks has never forgotten - or forgiven - the death of a young agent on her team at the hands of a former Russian Army Major turned gangster. Now, years later, she hears the Major is travelling to a villa on the Costa del Sol and she asks permission to send in a surveillance unit.

They find an empty property near the Major's. The Villa Paraiso. It's perfect to spy from - and as a base for Winnie's darker, less official, plans.

But it turns out that the property isn't deserted. The owners have invited a young British couple to 'house sit' while they are away.

For Jonno and Posie, just embarking on a relationship, this is supposed to be a carefree break in the sun. But when the Secret Service team arrives in paradise, everything changes.

My Review

I think I can safely say I have never read a book quite like this one before! I have no idea who the main character was as there where so many of them. A young agent is murdered by an ex Russian Army Major and his team leader won't let it go, the Major will pay. She sends a team to monitor his colleagues and movements, to a house they think is empty. However the house is occupied by a young couple and the two need to deal with each others presence to get the job done.

This is a fairly brutal book that delves into the past of both the Major and the members of the surveillance team, back into the war and things that happened. There is some derogatory names used in some parts of the book and some of the killing and scenes described are horrific.

The main story, when I could follow it was good, revenge for an innocent life brutally ended. However far too much of it went off on spiels that I couldn't follow. Page breaks would be the only indication a scene had changed and even then it could start with she did.... so you had no idea who she or he was and if the scene had changed. For me a lot of things didn't make sense and it really was a headache trying to keep up with all the characters, plots, story lines and timescale.

Maybe this is the norm for this author, he is very successful and I am sure plenty will love this book however for me I just couldn't get on with it. I felt there wasn't much depth to any of the characters, I cared about none and couldn't wait for the story to be done with. At the end there is a recap of what happened so that was good for me as I was practically clueless although I was still left with many questions. 2/5 for me and to be honest I doubt I will read this author again, the style is not for me I'm afraid. Thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for giving me a chance to try a new author. For fans of Seymour this book is out from April 25th, 2013 in paperback and ebook priced £6.99.

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Monday 8 April 2013

ARC - Breakdown by Sara Paretsky

Breakdown  (V.I. Warshawski #15)Breakdown by Sara Paretsky
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time Taken To Read - 3 days

Publisher - Hodder & Stoughton

Blurb from Goodreads

Carmilla, Queen of the Night, is a shape-shifting raven whose fictional exploits thrill girls all over the world. When tweens in Chicago's Carmilla Club hold and initiation ritual in an abandoned cemetary, they stumble on an actual corpse, a man stabbed through the heart in a vampire-style slaying.

The girls include daughters of some of Chicago's most powerful families: the grandfather of one, Chaim Salanter, is among the world's weathiest men; the mother of another, Sophy Durango, is running for the United States Senate.

For V.I. Warshawski, the questions multiply faster than the answers. Is the killing linked to a hostile media campaign against Sophy Durango? Or to Chaim Salanter's childhood in Nazi-occupied Lithuania? As V.I. struggles to answer these questions, she finds herself fighting enemies who are no less terifying for being all too human.

My Review

Despite this being the 15th book in the series it is my first time reading this author. V.I Warshawski is our main character and to be honest at the start of the book I was very confused what her role was. She is a private detective, often referred to as a detective who is also listed as a lawyer although she isn't practicing. She is called on by her cousin to check on teenage girls, out after curfew, who are practicing a ritual brought on by the teenage vampire books fad. In the cemetery, unbeknown to the girls, a man is being killed nearby. A long and twisted tale follows, politics, murder, deception and secrets which will put the lives of those involved in perilous danger.

There are no vampires in this story so don't be put off or fooled by the blurb. It is a murder mystery that is heavily wrapped up with politics. I don't follow politics much and have to be honest there is a lot throughout the story that it did put me off quite a bit. There are also, for me, far to many characters and I got confused about who some people where and had to go back and re read and see what part of the story they played.

It is not all complaints though, V.I. is a great character, she is very loyal to her close friends, spunky and like a dog with a bone once she gets her teeth stuck into something. She is also very tolerable, she does a lot for many of the characters in the book yet gets quite a lot of aggravation for her troubles. For some parts I could have put the book down and left it as it got a tad boring for me, however at the last quarter of the book it focused back on the actual story and picked up pace. As I said a far few turns and twists and had the politics been a lesser part I am sure I would have enjoyed this more so 3/5 for me. I am sure I will look this author up again but alas not for a while. Thanks so much to Hodder and Stoughton for sending me an ARC copy of this and introducing me to a new author. This version of the book will be available from the 25th of April, 2013 in ebook and paperback for £7.99.

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Friday 5 April 2013

PRR - Cold Killing by Luke Delaney

Cold KillingCold Killing by Luke Delaney
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time Taken to Read - 2 days

Publisher - HarperCollins

Blurb From Goodreads

Terrifyingly authentic, London-set debut crime novel with a psychological edge, by an ex-Met detective. Perfect for fans of Mark Billingham, Peter James and Stuart MacBride.

DI Sean Corrigan is not like other detectives. The terrible abuse he suffered in childhood hasn't stopped him enjoying family life with his wife and two daughters, or pursuing an impressive career with South London's Murder Investigation Unit. But it has left him with an uncanny ability to identify the darkness in others - a darkness he recognises still exists deep within his own psyche and battles to keep buried there. Now Sean's on the trail of the most dangerous killer he's ever encountered. The perpetrator has no recognisable MO, leaves no forensic evidence and his victims have nothing in common. But Sean knows they were all murdered by the same man. Now all he has to do is find the evidence, convince his bosses and stop the killing ...before his adversary gets too close to home..

My Review

This book had a fabulous marketing around it. Before I received the book from the publishers a wee envelope arrived with 3 crime scene photos and a small sheet of paper with the crime scene web address. Of course who could resist that so off I went to the website and had a snoop around. About a wee later the book arrived and I had to read it straight away.

This debut novel introduces us to DI Sean Corrigan, a police officer unlike any other. He can look at a crime scene and get into the killers head, viewing what he did and even at some points thinking how he thinks. The murder is brutal and Sean is sure he knows how the killer is, confirmed when they question him and Sean identifies the darkness under the smooth surface. A game of cat and mouse begins and another body turns up, the killer is goading and mocking the police and Sean needs to be 2 steps ahead if he is going to catch him.

I couldn't put this book down to start with, we begin the first chapter with the killer talking us through how he views the world in front of him. No one is safe, not even his family and he takes us through his latest murderous activity. The next chapter introduces us to DI Sean Corrigan and his response to the murder scene and the story kicks off from there. The chapters flick from our detective to our killer and flips between the two. The chapter lengths going from being a few pages long to fairly lengthy, not a big deal but for me worthy of note.

I must say I loved how Sean got into the crime scene, it reminded me of enter the dragon with Edward Norton although with an actual explanation for how he does it and I do love all areas covered. There are quite a few twists and turns throughout the book, which until the end, confused me as I wasn't sure who was the killer and had a few of my own suspects. I must admit this frustrated me however I know this is a good thing for a lot of readers, I am just impatient and like to know everything which is why I struggled to put this book down. It keeps you engaged throughout and it took me a while to catch on although I did before the big finale. Overall a really good read with just a few snags that brought it down a wee bit for me but this will be a bit hit with most readers. I will definitely keep an eye out for this author again and thank you so much to HarperCollins for giving me a copy and introducing me to a new author, 3/5 for me. Cold Killing is available to buy now from any good retailer for £6.99 Hardback or £5.00 on the kindle.

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Wednesday 3 April 2013

April's Pre-loved Giveaway

April's giveaway is The Night Season by Chelsea Cain.

This book is undamaged, the spine is perfect and in the condition it was when I bought it. Please fill in the form below via the contact form as always. There is an additonal Rafflecopter form to use for additional entries. This is the first time I am trying it so any feedback would be appreciated. Thank you for taking part and as always the competition runs until the end of the month. As Easter has just passed, I will slip a wee chocolate in with the book as well.

Click here fill out the contact form

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Night Season by Chelsea Cain

The Night Season (Gretchen Lowell, #4)The Night Season by Chelsea Cain
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time Taken To Read - 1 day

Publisher - Pan Books

Blurb From Goodreads

With the Beauty Killer Gretchen Lowell locked away behind bars once again, Archie Sheridan—a Portland police detective and nearly one of her victims—can finally rest a little easier. Meanwhile, the rest of the city of Portland is in crisis. Heavy rains have flooded the Willamette River, and several people have drowned in the quickly rising waters. Or at least that’s what they thought until the medical examiner discovers that the latest victim didn’t drown: She was poisoned before she went into the water. Soon after, three of those drownings are also proven to be murders. Portland has a new serial killer on its hands, and Archie and his task force have a new case.

Reporter Susan Ward is chasing this story of a new serial killer with gusto, but she’s also got another lead to follow for an entirely separate mystery: The flooding has unearthed a skeleton, a man who might have died more than sixty years ago, the last time Portland flooded this badly, when the water washed away an entire neighborhood and killed at least fifteen people.

With Archie following the bizarre trail of evidence and evil deeds to catch a killer and possibly regain his life, and Susan Ward close behind, Chelsea Cain—one of today’s most talented suspense writers—launches the next installment of her bestselling series with an electric thriller.

My Review

Firstly I have to say although this is written as #4 Gretchen Lowell she features in it very little. The story is based around heavy rains flooding the Willamette River, as a result several people have drowned. All is not as it first seems and the drowned victims are actually murder victims and Archie is on the case. Reporter Susan Ward is on the story although the flooding unearths an old skeleton which may be from the first flooding. The evidence is puzzling and the victims don't seem to have anything in common, when the next victim is selected Archie finds himself personally involved.

As much as I like this authors writing I was a little disappointed by the lack or Gretchen in it, I know some people found this refreshing though. The story is fairly quick to start and the killer is very cunning, the method they use in killing the victims is one I have never heard of before. I must admit though to feeling left rather high and dry as there was a few wee twists and turns but the overall explanation of everything, for me, was lacking. I like to have answers to everything in my books so this definitely impacted my reading enjoyment, along with the lack of Gretchen.

The chapters are very short, which if your a regular reader of my reviews, you know I love these. Perfect for dipping in and out of or, the negative side, just one more chapter leads to 3 in the morning! Still an enjoyable read but not as good as I was expecting so 3/5 for me.

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Monday 1 April 2013

The Bay At Midnight by Diane Chamberlain

The Bay at MidnightThe Bay at Midnight by Diane Chamberlain
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time Taken To Read - 4 days

Publisher - Mira

Blurb From Goodreads

Her family's cottage on the New Jersey shore was a place of freedom and innocence for Julie Bauer--until her seventeen-year-old sister, Isabel, was murdered. It's been more than forty years since that August night, but Julie's memories of her sister's death still shape her world. Now someone from her past is raising questions about what really happened that night. About Julie's own complicity. About a devastating secret her mother kept from them all. About the person who went to prison for Izzy's murder--and the person who didn't.

Faced with questions and armed with few answers, Julie must gather the courage to revisit her past and untangle the complex emotions that led to one unspeakable act of violence on the bay at midnight.

My Review

The story starts in present day with Julie, a very successful author, getting a blast from the past. It stirs up a lot of buried emotions about her sisters death in 1962 and starts a new police investigation into her sisters murder. The story goes between Julie, her mum Maria and her sister Lucy, it jumps between present day and back into the past, mostly the summer of 1962.

Julie states very early on it was partly her fault what happened to her sister but apart from knowing she was killed, we don't know the particulars of what happened. The story slowly unravels and the mysteries unveiled as more details come out. Julie has a few issues to deal with in the present day, her daughter is being distant and difficult, she has mixed feelings about someone from her past and she is suffering from writers block. The story covers all of this but the main focus is the sisters death and will it all come out who was responsible for her death.

The story is a bit slow paced for me as there is so many issues to be dealt with and I was purely focused on the how and why of Julies sisters death. The up to date issues where interesting however I did find Julies daughter to be rather tedious. She went from seemingly fairly grownup and knowing what she wanted to acting very childlike which, I felt, was inconsistent with her character throughout. However some people have stated they felt this added to the realistic nature of a 17 year old.

Overall it was a good read, I didn't love it but I did enjoy it. The chapters are fairly short so you can dip in and out as much as you like, which I always love, and the writing flows making it easy to follow. I do enjoy this authors style and will be tracking down her other books although this is a 3/5 for me this time.

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Keeper Of The Light by Diane Chamberlain

Keeper of the Light. Diane ChamberlainKeeper of the Light. Diane Chamberlain by Diane Chamberlain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Time Taken To Read - 1 day

Blurb From Amazon

As your husband grieves his mistress, You find yourself falling for the family she left behind. But she hid secrets that will destroy him...or you. Do you tell? I m going to die as punishment for all the bad things I ve done... You are on duty in the emergency room when, despite your desperate effort, the victim of a gunshot wound loses her life. She is Annie O Neill. The same woman your husband is in love with... Olivia can't watch any longer as her husband - the father of her unborn child - grieves his adulteress. She can t bear the faces who judge her professionalism and brand her guilty. She can let it drive her mad, or compete with the wake of perfection Annie has left behind. Stepping into Annie s shoes, Olivia finds another life. One with an adoring husband and troubled young daughter. But the fa├žade is cracking with every step she takes. Because Annie s life was built on secrets...ones that will destroy everyone she left behind.

My Review

From reading the blurb on the back I knew I had to get this book. Imagine being an a&e doctor in a small town when a gunshot victim comes in. You have to make some risky and quick decisions and then you realize this is the lady who has come between you and your husband, her life is in your hands. When Olivias husband hears of his other womans death he can't take it and leaves his wife, utterly distraught and heartbroken. Olivia wants him back and sets about finding out what is so special about the woman who ruined her marriage. Her journey finds secrets that could tear lives apart, she learns new insights about herself and makes new friends and enemies along the way.

I went through the motions with this book, I went from liking Olivia to thinking she was pathetic and acting like a door mat. The more you get into the story the more you uncover about the characters and why they have behaved as they did. There is a lot of concealed back story that doesn't come out immediately but is tantalizingly revealed as the story unfolds.

The characters are very well done and one or two tends to stay with you. The story flips from present day to the past to clarify some of the story but it is done in a way that is very easy to follow. There is some sex scenes in the book but nothing too over the top and it is relevant to the part of the story and to emphasize the relationship and feelings. I thought this was a fantastic read and have already gotten some more from the same author, 5/5 for me.

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Angels by Marian Keyes

 Angels (Walsh Family, #3)Angels by Marian Keyes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time Taken to Read - 6 days

Blurb From Goodreadss

After catching her husband having an affair and being fired from her job, Maggie Walsh suddenly finds her perfectly organized existence has become a perfect mess. She decides, for the first time in her life, to do something daring -- and flees to her best friend, Emily, in the faraway wonderland of Los Angeles. In this mecca of tanned, beautiful bodies, unsvelte, uncool Maggie is decidedly a fish out of water. Yet, overnight, she's mixing with film folk, pitching scripts, even experimenting with sex -- and discovering that the end of a marriage is not the end of the world.

My Review

Maggie discover her husband is having an affair and as is always the way, things go from bad to worse when she is fired. Rejected, alone and upset she turns to her friend for support who happens to live in Los Angeles. Maggie leaves behind her troubles and decides to do something different and daring and embarks upon an adventure that makes her question everything she knows about herself.

I have read one of the Walsh tales before and from what I remember I really enjoyed it, this one was a mixed bag for me. Maggie was very annoying, she was a doormat in her response to her husbands betrayal, her encounters that followed after and even in some scenes with family members. You wanted to scream at her, well I did, get a back bone woman! Her character was fairly annoying and you just wanted her to do something, one of her relatives called her plain or vanilla yogurt and they had her bang to rights.

That said the book is enjoyable and very much chick lit. You follow Maggie to a strange place where everyone is thin, bleached, manicured and tanned to within an inch of their lives. We follow her journey of how she copes after finding her husband has betrayed her and now after years being safe and married she is free and single.

Some of the book is really funny, I love her family especially her mum and the fake tan part, reminded me of my mum and some of her antics. In between Maggie's outings and finding herself she slips back to the past and we slowly learn how her and Garv, her husband, got to be in the rut they ended up in.

I found some of the story slow going and a touch padded and other parts where very well done, an in between 3/5 for me. I have read this author before and I am sure I will pick her up again.

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