Tuesday 30 July 2013

ARC - The gravity of birds by Tracy Guzeman

The Gravity of BirdsThe Gravity of Birds by Tracy Guzeman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 5 days (dipping in and out as I was working a lot)

Publisher - HarperFiction

Blurb From Goodreads

Sisters Natalie and Alice Kessler were close, until adolescence wrenched them apart. Natalie is headstrong, manipulative—and beautiful; Alice is a dreamer who loves books and birds. During their family’s summer holiday at the lake, Alice falls under the thrall of a struggling young painter, Thomas Bayber, in whom she finds a kindred spirit. Natalie, however, remains strangely unmoved, sitting for a family portrait with surprising indifference. But by the end of the summer, three lives are shattered.

Decades later, Bayber, now a reclusive, world-renowned artist, unveils a never-before-seen work, Kessler Sisters—a provocative painting depicting the young Thomas, Natalie, and Alice. Bayber asks Dennis Finch, an art history professor, and Stephen Jameson, an eccentric young art authenticator, to sell the painting for him. That task becomes more complicated when the artist requires that they first locate Natalie and Alice, who seem to have vanished. And Finch finds himself wondering why Thomas is suddenly so intent on resurrecting the past.

My Review

The story opens in 1963 with Alice, her sister Natalie and their parents on holiday and the introduction of Thomas Bayer. A young painter, twice Alice's age with a talent, he offers to sketch the family and Alice finds herself drawn to his company. The story then goes into the next chapter and opens at 2007 and Dennis Finch has been summoned by Thomas Bayer. A brief explanation of how their relationship came to be is covered and what Thomas expects of Finch now. Thomas is a hugely successful artist that stopped painting at the top of his game and became a recluse. Finch has known and cataloged all of his work and now Thomas tells him of a piece no one has saw or known about. If it is true it will be worth a fortune but Finch needs to track it down along with Stephen whom Thomas has asked for to personally verify it is indeed his work. The story then flicks back and forth between Alice, the past, Alice now and the journey between Finch and Stephen as they try to recover the art that will change all of their lives if they are successful.

This book was fairly slow to start I felt although there is enough to keep you interested until it builds up. Alice loves birds and even goes on to study them which leads to lots of bird discussion or reference in the book, I found myself going off and looking up a few of them. Stephen verifys and authenticates works of art and the process of this is also discussed in quite a bit of detail which again I found quite interesting as it isn't something I have ever considered. The time scale at some of the chapters is quite specific but a lot is lost in between so you have to figure yourself how much time has lapsed since one event to another. I felt some scenes where missed which I personally would have liked to have read, for example Alice goes off to meet someone. She introduces herself and the chapter ends, then when we are back with them they are already chatting and established communication whereas I would have loved to have picked up right after the introduction. They say an author is doing their job right when they leave you wanting more and I definitely would have liked more insight into scenes like that. Sorry to be a tad vague but I hate spoilers.

There is a lot of secrets, or information purposefully withheld throughout the story however as the tale unravels the mysteries are revealed but just a little slow and jumbled for me. When something is highlighted that happened but only mentioned then the story moves on, I find this frustrating however it is a smart move by the author. By doing this it guarantees I will not put the book down as I have to find out what happened to the character.

Overall, for a first book I think the author has done very well. The characters were brought to life quite well and the character Natalie evoked quite a strong reaction from me, I really disliked her. There are many layers to this story and it covers quite a lot of ground, secrets, betrayal, family, and love to name but a few. There is no bad language, that I can recall and for people who like a slow burner with depth I think they will really enjoy this. I would read this author again, this time it is a 3/5 for me. Thanks so much to HarperFiction for giving me an ARC and introducing me to a new author. This book is available from the 15th of August 2013, in paperback £7.99 or Ebook for £5.99.

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Thursday 25 July 2013

Review - Torn by Casey Hill

Torn (Reilly Steel, #2)Torn by Casey Hill
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Publisher - Simon & Schuster

Blurb From Goodreads

Read the clues. Decode the science. Reveal the murderer.

That's Reilly Steel's mantra. Find the answers, solve the crime. But the Quantico-trained forensic investigator is finding her skills aren't enough when a ferociously intelligent killer strikes Dublin.

The modus operandi is as perplexing as it is macabre. What connects the two seemingly disparate, high-profile victims?
Their corpses refuse to give up their secrets and the crime scenes prove a forensic investigator's worst nightmare. Reilly soon suspects that she may be dealing with a killer - or killers - who know all about crime scene investigation.

The police are just as frustrated by the crimes' impenetrable nature and it's only when a third murder occurs - equally graphic and elaborate in its execution - that they discover that this particular killer is using a very specific blueprint for his crimes.

Who is the killer's next victim, the real target? And what's his endgame?

My Review

Forensic investigator Reilly Steel loves a challenge, examine the evidence, look for the clues and solve the crime. This case will challenge her to the max, the victims are killed in a different way and the crimes scenes are trying and unusual to say the least. The killer changes their MO and their seems to be no link to the victims, initially. It will take all of her skills, her team and a profiler to come together to try and catch a very intelligent and driven killer as the bodies are piling up and time is running out.

I think I am in the minority with this book as I didn't love it and I really struggled with it. There is quite a few characters in the book and I kept forgetting when another showed up what they had been doing in the previous chapter. The relationship between the police seemed strained and in some exchanges juvenile and childish, Lucy is a classic example of this. She is one of the younger members of the team but working for the lab in such a big profile case leads you to believe she is a capable individual however she is chastised for some actions and her response, I felt, was of a very young girl.

The profiler was very arrogant and cocky, I really disliked him and other than that I didn't have a huge reaction to any of the other characters. Chris, another officer, keeps flashing back to his past relationship with his ex which I couldn't understand the significance of it. It does become clear later but I found it quite annoying whilst in the dark about the reason for it.

The actual killer is always a step ahead and his killers are as shocking as they are unique however not a great deal of time is spent with him which is a shame. I think more insight as he went a long would have been good however it may have ruined the suspense of who the killer is. By the end you have your answers for just about everything however it takes a bit to get there with a few red herrings along the way. I have read this author before and would again but I don't think this is the best of their work. I struggled between giving this a 2 or a 3 but I feel a 2 would be to harsh as there is some good parts and the story itself is interesting, I just felt the focus was spread on too many characters. 3/5 for me this time.

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Wednesday 24 July 2013

Review - Snatched by Mandasue Heller

SnatchedSnatched by Mandasue Heller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 5 days

Publisher - Hodder & Stoughton

Blurb from Goodreads

It begins on a winter afternoon, when schoolgirl Nicky Day runs from a gang of bullies. Then her little brother starts the fire. But the nightmare that is engulfing Sue and Terry Day is only beginning ...A single mother who left a six-year-old on his own while she went clubbing on a Friday night. An absent father with a hot teenaged girlfriend who didn't seem to care who was minding his former family. The police, the neighbours, the friends, the lovers turn accusing eyes on them both. Suspicious voices ask whether Nicky has run away; whether the fire is really an accident. And meanwhile, time is running out for Nicky.

My review

I love when I your having a readers block and you need something to get you over it, Mandasue Heller does that for me (so far every time). The book kick starts with 15 year old Nicky running from bullies and then the first hit. We flip to her mum and friend wanting to get out for the night and her 6 year old younger brother being left alone. Her mum Sue knows Nicky is reliable and will be home soon and gives in to her friend for a night on the town. A fire starts, Nicky is missing, her brother in a hospital bed, her mother is MIA and her father is at the hospital looking for answers and his estranged wife.

There is drama in this story from the get go, you quickly get the insight of poor Nicky's life. Looking after her brother whilst mum copes with dads desertion for a younger girl, gossip around the scheme, everyone fighting, bullies, there is always something on the go. After the fire, Sue has a lot of explaining to do, Connor (the little brother) is petrified the truth with come out about the fire and is worried about his sister. Sue has her hands full with no home, Connor's after effects from the fire and a known face taking interest in her and the possible repercussions from that.

Nicky is at the start of the story and then always in the background as in where is she, what happened but you don't find out til later what the score is with that which I found a tad annoying as I like to know what is happening. There is a lot happening throughout, family arguments, lies, secrets and betrayal. The chapters are fairly short which results in just one more before bed, next thing you know it is 1am as you can't put it down. Council estate crime and drama, you really can't beat it, 4/5 for me.

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Monday 22 July 2013

PRR - The Killing Game by J.A. Kerley

The Killing GameThe Killing Game by J.A. Kerley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 7 days

Publisher - Harper

Blurb from the back cover

He's coming to get you...

After a humiliating encounter with a cop, Gregory Nieves lauches a vendetta against the Mobile Police Department, Alabama. Nieves can't fight a department, so he selects one man who symbolizes all men in blue: Carson Ryder, the MPD's specialist in bizarre an twisted crimes.

Carson has never seen a killing spree like it: nothing connects the victims, the murder weapon is always different and the horrific crime scenes are devoid of evidence. It almost seems like he's being taunted. Even laughed at.

Carson doesn't know it yet, but he is caught up in a sadistic game of life and death. And there can only be one victor...

My review

The story starts with our killer, a small introduction to him and how he tries to blend in to society and keep him reactions normal. Then we flick to Carson, under cover and about to get into a situation that will hail him hero or reckless. The story flips throughout from the killers view and then back to the police and Carson. We slowly learn more about why Gregory is the way he is and what sets him off on this killing spree.

The story is well done although you are drawn in slowly. Carson soon realizes he has a dangerous killer on the loose and has to work out what has set him off and where he will strike next. An almost impossible task as his kills seem to have to actual motive, weapons and victims are different from one to the next and there is no killer more dangerous than one who strikes at random and with no pattern.

Carson eventually needs to turn to a source for help he would rather steer clear from, his brother who is incarcerated for murder. His brother can give insight that Carson will get nowhere else so he needs to in order to get clarity on the crimes and the killer. I was disappointed at how little Jeremy, Carson's brother, actually featured in this book.

The chapters are fairly short in length which I always like, I enjoy reading Carson's character as he is likable and this time he has a new relationship budding with Wendy, one of the girls from the class he has been helping out with. I felt we could have had more about those two and definitely more about Gregory, his childhood and the horrors he endured and survived that created the killer and psychopath he became. The ending is where the book dropped marks for me, I do enjoy a good twist but this one I didn't see coming at all and it annoyed me as there should have been more on this particular twist, even a few hints rather than shot out of the blue, I feel. I also think it was a tad short and left lacking in regards to Gregory when he is such a huge part of the story. However lots of people have loved it and it is a good story however for me it is a 3/5. Thanks so much to Harper for providing me with a copy and the fun crime competition that is going on to celebrate the book as well.

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Saturday 13 July 2013

ARC - The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

The Husband's SecretThe Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 4 days

Publisher - Penguin

Blurb from Goodreads

From the author of the critically acclaimed What Alice Forgot comes a breakout new novel about the secrets husbands and wives keep from each other.

My Darling Cecilia
If you're reading this, then I've died . . .

Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret - something so terrible it would destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others too. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive . . .

Cecilia Fitzpatrick achieved it all - she's an incredibly successful business woman, a pillar of her small community and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia - or each other - but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband's devastating secret.

My review

This story revolves around three separate characters, we start with Cecilia Fitzpatrick, suburban mum/wife and organizer. She finds a very old letter addressed to her from her husband, to be opened in the event of his death. He passes it off as nothing and Cecilia decides to discard it, however events lead her to change her ,mind and everything about her organized, happy life is about to be turned upside down.

Tess O'Leary has a business with her husband and her cousin who is also her best friend. A revelation is about to rock their world and send waves of hurt and anger through their lives.

Rachel Crowley is an older lady, who years after her teenage daughters murder, is still stuck in the past and wondering who done it and why?

These three ladies will be brought together by the events that have turned their lives upside down whilst working through their own issues. This is a story of betrayal, lies, secrets and repercussions.

The story doesn't really pick up, I felt, until over 100 pages in but it really is worth sticking with. The long lead up takes a while as you are introduced to the back story for all three characters. The chapters are fairly short which is always good, especially if your busy so you can drop in and out of it. The author has a nice way of introducing the authors and luring you into their lives and the drama. The end really picks up and at one point I actually gasped, I hate when this happens in public btw, I honestly didn't see it coming. A really enjoyable tale, if a tad slow to warm up but worth it in the end. I would definitely read this author again, 4 out of 5 for me this time. Thanks to RealReaders for sending me and ARC (available from 29th of August 2013) of this book, and introducing me to a new author.

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Sunday 7 July 2013

July's competition

It is another £5 Amazon voucher, sorry that is two months running but this is just the easier option at the moment. As always please use the new raffle copter form, you get more entries buy following the options and you can enter the old way, by the contact link at the very bottom. The competition runs until the end of the month. As always good luck. P.s last months winner was drawn and notified on Twitter. a Rafflecopter giveaway Click here fill out the contact form

Friday 5 July 2013

PRR - Revenge wears prada by Lauren Weisberger

Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns (The devil wears Prada #2)Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns by Lauren Weisberger
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Time Taken to Read - 7 days

Publisher - Harper Collins

Blurb From Goodreads

Everything's in place for the season's hottest launch: Tall latte (with two raw sugars)? Check. Gucci trench (draped over desk)? Check. Outrageous, unreasonable demands? Check. Andy has just turned thirty and is an incredibly successful magazine editor, working closely with her best friend Emily, another Runway survivor. She's about to get married - life's on track and she's been careful to stay clear of Miranda Priestly, her dreadful first boss. But Andy's luck is running out. Miranda Priestly isn't the kind of woman who hides in the background. She's back...and more devilish than ever.

My review

I haven't read the previous book, the devil wears prada however I don't think you need to have as there was a few cast backs and explanations with relationships and situations.

It starts up ten years after the last book left off, when Andy told the evil Miranda to **** off in the middle of the street and left her job. Her arch enemy from her time working with Miranda at the magazine, Emily, is now her best friend and together they made a hugely successful bridal magazine "The Plunge". Andy is getting married, her magazine is doing better than anyone could have hoped, what could go wrong? Of course, que Miranda coming back into Andy's life and things going on a downward spiral.

I wasn't too sure what way this book was going to go, Andy finds a note on the morning of her wedding that causes her to have second thoughts. You think this is going to be a huge focus of the book however it then takes a different turn, then Miranda comes into her life, as does an ex. For me it just seemed a bit all over the place and if I had to sum it up in one word, I would need to say vanilla. It was just meh, it wasn't badly written it was just fairly mundane. Near the end there was two twists and even they were not enough to save the book. It took me over a week to get through this, I just didn't find it engaging really. I think I will pick up the first book at some point which may evoke some more interest in these characters however reading some of the reviews that only added more annoyance to previous fans. Sadly this just didn't do anything for me 2/5 this time, the actual writers style I didn't mind so I would try one of her books again. Thanks to Harper Collins for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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