Sunday 30 March 2014

PRR - Cut Dead by Mark Sennen

Cut DeadCut Dead by Mark Sennen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - sadly due to a busy schedule I dipped in and out over 6 days

Publisher - Avon

Pages - 406

Blurb From Goodreads

DI Charlotte Savage is back, chasing a killer who was last at large ten years ago, a killer they presumed dead …
Now he’s back and more dangerous than ever.

When three headless bodies are found mutilated in a pit, it’s a particularly challenging case for DI Savage and her team. The victims bear the hallmarks of a killer who butchered girls to their death; a killer who was never caught.

Could this be a copycat or has the original murderer resurfaced? With a steady stream of bodies arriving at the morgue and gruesome secrets from the past emerging DI Savage is up against it to find the killer before he strikes again?

Part thriller, part police procedural, a must-read for fans of Mark Billingham and Tim Weaver.

My Review

The story opens up with a prologue, in the past and giving us the starting point for our killer. We then flip to present day and DI Charlotte Savage is soon called to a gruesome burial site. Headless corpses and suggestion of a serial killer who operates on a specific timescale, can the police work out the significance of that and the message he leaves behind? The killer has struck before and it seems like he has resurfaced, Savage must work with her team to unravel the clues before the killer strikes again.

I read the book before this one but not the first in the series, I have to say I felt with this book the writer has came on leaps and bounds. The story flips between the investigation, police findings and the professional relationship between Savage and Riley. As well as this case Riley is looking into a potential lead from an old case that has special significance for Savage. Add into the mix a prison officer has gone missing and foul play is suspected.

It is a busy story with lots of twists and sidelines going on, the killer also has a voice every so often, written in italics so there is not confusion it is him. This gives small glimpses of what is going on with him and potentially driving him although in small parts which some readers may find irritating although I personally thought it was well done.

The murders are brutal, sadistic and there is details within the story that gore lovers will find riveting and put off others who like their crime to be totally procedural and less graphic. All in all I felt it kept you interested, went at a really good pace and by the end most of your questions were answered. A few were left unanswered and for some I think there will be closure within the next book but not all of them. For me it is a 4/5 and I will definitely follow the next installment to see if Savage will finally get some closure. Thanks to the publicist for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review. This book is available to purchase now from all good retailers and you can find the author on Twitter @MarkSennen.

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ARC - Fatal Act by Leigh Russell

Fatal Act (A Geraldine Steel Mystery)Fatal Act by Leigh Russell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - dipped in and out over 5 days

Publisher - No Exit Press

Pages - 319

Source - RealReaders

Blurb from Back cover

A glamorous young TV soap star dies in a car crash. Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel is baffled as the driver of the second vehicle miraculously survives - and vanishes. Another young actress is murdered and, once again, the killer mysteriously disappears. Geraldine unwittingly risks her sergeant's life in their struggle to track down a serial killer who leaves no clues.

My Review

Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel is on the case, a young actress has died in a car crash yet there is no sign of the other driver. Soon another up and coming star dies and the police realize they have a very crafty murderer to find and one who leaves no traces. In the search for a killer and trying to prevent any further deaths, Steel puts her sergeant at risk and maybe even herself before the case is through.

The opening chapter is brilliantly done, it pulls you into heart stopping scene of cat and mouse and the story goes from there. The killer leaves nothing at the scenes and the police are scrambling around trying to work out who is guilty and grill their suspect. The story then has a bit of a lull, then picks up, then lulls again until the last leg when it kicks up the pace. This was a bit of a let down considering how attention grabbing the opening chapter was however it kept me interested enough to read on.

The story focuses on the relationships within the unit, particularly between Steel and her sergeant Sam Haley. Haley is junior and in parts of the story this is abundantly clear, however she has a good relationship with Steel which drives some of her behavior. Also there were a few situations when I felt their actions and behavior didn't quite fit with the titles of sergeants.

There are lots of questions raised throughout the story but thankfully the author ties doesn't leave you hanging. Overall I liked it but felt some parts dragged and would have enjoyed it more if the pace kept up with how it started and ended. Overall a good 3/5, I have read this author before and would read her again. I think I may snap up the previous books I haven't read, get more of a picture of Steel and the relationship dynamics within the team. Thanks to RealReaders for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review, available to buy from May 2014 from all good retailers.

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Saturday 22 March 2014

ARC - Beautiful Day by Kate Anthony

Beautiful DayBeautiful Day by Kate Anthony
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2.5 days

Publisher - Penguin

Pages - 384

Source - Realreaders

Blurb from Goodreads

Rachel is looking for her beautiful day. She's worried about everything: being a good mother, money and starting a new job.

Philip is a lost soul in the world and he could do with a friend.

They are just about to meet and when they do everything will change. Rachel and Philip don't know it yet, but they each have what the other needs. They can save one another, and not in the way you might expect.

This is a story about finding happiness and love in all their forms. And how sometimes you can find them in the most unlikely of places.

My Review

Rachel is finding life challenging to say the least. She is starting a new job as a resident care assistant working with vulnerable adults. Her children and her are trying to adjust to the new routine of her being out the house, her husband has left them and he has a new lady. The live in au pair is a nightmare and thats just the start of it. When Rachel is flung in at the deep end with a new resident, Philip, Rachel finds herself out of her depth but determined to help and stick at it.

The story covers a lot of ground, a failed marriage, trying to cope with the aftermath, learning to do the mum thing without an active partner. Her job is challenging, fulfilling and she loves the residents but people in the job aren't quite as helpful as one might have hoped.

The book presents many challenges, achievements, tears, upsets and a beautiful relationship with Philip and Rachel. It also demonstrates how actions can impact on another persons life. I really enjoyed this book, for a debut novel it is very well executed. Anthony draws on her experience as a residential social worker which I think adds to the realism of the story. The characters are very well portrayed as you switch emotions, especially with Rachel, as you learn more about her as see her behaviors and actions.

I could have read this in one go I think, had life permitted as it's an engaging tale where you want to see how the characters and plot develops. This is my first time reading this author and I would definitely read her again. I hope she gives us more care based stories and maybe follows up with Rachel. 4/5 for me this time, thanks so much to RealReaders for providing me with an ARC of this book. You will be able to get your own copy from 10th April 2014 from all good retailers.

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Saturday 15 March 2014

RRR - Robert B Parker's Wonderland by Ace Atkins

Robert B. Parker's Wonderland: The New Spenser NovelRobert B. Parker's Wonderland: The New Spenser Novel by Ace Atkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 4 days

Publisher - No Exit Press

Pages - 192

Blurb from Goodreads

Henry Cimoli and Spenser have been friends for years, yet the old boxing trainer has never asked the private eye for a favor. Until now. A heavy-handed developer is trying to buy up Henry's condo on Revere Beach and sends thugs to move the process along. Soon Spenser and his apprentice, Zebulon Sixkill, find a trail leading to a mysterious and beautiful woman, a megalomaniacal Las Vegas kingpin, and plans to turn to a chunk of land north of Boston into a sprawling casino. Bitter rivals emerge, alliances turn, and the uglier pieces of the Boston political machine look to put an end to Spenser's investigation.
Aspiration, greed, and twisted dreams all focus on the old Wonderland dog track where the famous amusement park once fronted the ocean. For Spenser and Z, this simple favor to Henry will become the fight of their lives.

My review

Spenser is out main character and a private eye. His friend Henry is an old man who trains boxers and is getting pressure to sell up his condo. He enlists the help of his old friend to find out who is behind it and why. Before long things get violent and out of hand, Vegas big wigs are involved and murder is a foot. Will Spenser get to the bottom of it before he and his friends end up in peril danger?

So this is the first I have ever read this author. The series has over 40 books however this author has only been in place for two (the third is now available), taking over the series after the last author died. This is my first introduction to the series and I did enjoy the banter between the characters however I felt there were a lot of people introduced. Not all had massive parts however it was a lot to take in and try to keep up with what was happening. The story starts up about Henry being forced into giving up his condo however things take a deadly turn and the story becomes much more complex with lots of twists and turns.

Spenser has a sidekick who is referred to a lot but is not in this story and Z aka Zebulon Sixkill is seemingly new to the team or at least still training. He is a troubled character, nothing outrightly obvious but a few things hinted at. I think I need to go back and find out more about these characters in order to fully appreciate these books and the characters relationships with each other.

That said I did get into the story quickly, it has lots of twists and turns and your not too sure what is coming next. It goes a long at a good pace and by the end your questions are answered which I always like in a crime story. 3/5 for me this time, thanks to Realreaders for introducing me to a new author and sending me a copy to review in exchange for an honest review. I will definitely seek out the earlier books in this series and see the difference between the authors and learn more about the characters.

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Review - So Much For That by Lionel Shriver

So Much for ThatSo Much for That by Lionel Shriver
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 7 days

Publisher - Harper

Pages - 534

Blurb from Goodreads

Shep Knacker has long saved for "the Afterlife," an idyllic retreat in the Third World where his nest egg can last forever. Exasperated that his wife, Glynis, has concocted endless excuses why it's never the right time to go, Shep finally announces he's leaving for a Tanzanian island, with or without her. Yet Glynis has some news of her own: she's deathly ill. Shep numbly puts his dream aside, while his nest egg is steadily devastated by staggering bills that their health insurance only partially covers. Astonishingly, illness not only strains their marriage but saves it.

From acclaimed "New York Times" bestselling author Lionel Shriver comes a searing, ruthlessly honest novel. Brimming with unexpected tenderness and dry humor, it presses the question: How much is one life worth?

My review

Shep Knacker is our main character along with his wife Glynis and his best friend Jackson. Shep has sold up his family business in the hopes of going to "the Afterlife" traveling to and living in his one chosen place on earth with his loved ones. Years on and he has decided this is the day he is leaving whether his family join him or not, he is going. Sadly his wife has some life changing news and Shep will be staying to help her face her diagnosis and pay for the health care she requires.

The book gives a bleak look at how much health care in the US can cost both between Glynis and his friends little girls care, she has FD, Familial dysautonomia. The book has a lot of medical information both on Glynis's condition and Jackson's daughter. I found this really interesting but have to say the book isn't purely about cost or the medical system however it is a large theme throughout the story.

Shep is a fairly simple chap, has done well financially and wants to move to a more civilized country. His nature and duties keep him home to look after his wife. He is a doormat, used by just about everyone in his life and it isn't long in the story before we find out and see how little he is respected. The characters are not very nice people at all, I actually hated his sister who is one of the most vilest creatures I have ever read about.

I am never sure how I feel about this writer, I read we need to talk about Kevin, started off not impressed then couldn't put it down. This one captured my interest, however had the medical side not been in it I am not sure I would have found it as engaging as I did. It is a book that certainly makes you think and I wanted to see it out to the end. 3/5 for me this time, I would read this author again but won't be rushing out to buy all her work.

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Wednesday 12 March 2014

ARC - Betrayed by Jacqui Rose

BetrayedBetrayed by Jacqui Rose
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Puslisher - AVON

Pages - 339 (this is an ARC copy and may change to the published version)

Blurb from Goodreads

A gripping story of gangs, drugs, girls and unbreakable bonds. Perfect for fans of Martina Cole and Mandasue Heller.

She trusted the man she loved. It was the most dangerous things she had ever done …

No one can touch Del Williams – the hardest gangster in Soho. He’s got the monopoly on the drugs, the clubs and the girls – it’d be a mistake to underestimate him. The one person he’d take a bullet for is tough, beautiful Bunny Barker, mother of their daughter Star.

Bunny is determined to shield Star from ‘life’ but Del has a lot of enemies. When a familiar face appears from their past, their family is put into terrible danger. Can Bunny protect Star from the demons of her own past, and her very worst nightmare?

My Review

The book opens in 1990 London, a young girl is looking for her sister in the woods. A horrific event takes place and we see a glimpse of the events that follow. We skip forward to present day, still London and the story picks up from there, seemingly unrelated to the previous chapter however it is all related and linked which becomes clear as the story unfolds. Bunny Barker is our main character, she is a prostitute with her own rules. Her daughter is her number one concern and nothing, not even the man she loves, Del Williams will tell her what she can do. Del is a big face in London, involved in drugs and is a dangerous man. When a young girl goes missing and a body turns up Bunny is forced to look to her past and remember things she would rather have forgotten forever.

This book is a hard read, not because it is badly written in actual fact it is the opposite, it is really well done and pulls you in even though the content is hard to read. Young girls being abused and murdered is always hard to read and when there are pedophiles chucked in to the mix it can make for a tough subject. There of course is the usual mix of violence, deception, sex, drugs, prostitution, secrets, adultery and lies to name just some of the themes within the book.

After the first few chapters, I couldn't put it down. I wanted to know what happened to the little girl at the beginning of the book. Then as more characters are introduced and brought in, you want to see where their storyline goes and the character development. It reminded me of, I believe it was, Martina Cole's the graft that covered pedophilia themes and this one does too although the whole story isn't about that although it is central to the plot.

The writer creates a very murky dark world, people doing what they have to do to survive and thrive within it. If you like a good crime story and can cope with some of the horrific issues, child murder, prostitution and pedophilia, then you will really like this author. She has her own style but I would certainly group her with the likes of Kimberley Chambers, Martina Cole and Mandasue Heller. I don't think I had read this author before, if I had it was a long time ago however I would read her again and may seek out her other works, 4/5 for me this time. Thanks to Avon publishers and Alexandra Crisp for sending me an ARC copy of this book. Betrayed will be available from all good retailers from the 27th of March, 2014.

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Sunday 2 March 2014

March's Pre-loved giveaway is now open

This month's pre-loved giveaway is The World's Greatest Hollywood Scandals. This is a thin book at 159 pages. It is an old book, printed in 1997 I think. If you like scandal, especially from years ago then this is a great wee book that you will enjoy.
As usual, please use the rafflecopter below to enter the giveaway, the more options you complete the more chances you have to win, good luck. If there are any problems just email or tweet me. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday 1 March 2014

Review - Harvesting the heart by Jodi Picoult

Harvesting the HeartHarvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1.5 days

Publisher - Hodder

Blurb from Goodreads

Written with astonishing clarity and evocative detail, convincing in its depiction of emotional pain, love, and vulnerability, Harvesting the Heart recalls the writing of Alice Hoffman and Sue Miller. Paige has only a few vivid memories of her mother, who left when she was five. Now, having left her father behind in Chicago for dreams of art school and marriage to an ambitious young doctor, she finds herself with a child of her own. But her mother's absence, and shameful memories of her past, make her doubt both her maternal ability and her sense of self worth. Out of Paige's struggle to find wholeness, Jodi Picoult crafts an absorbing novel peopled by richly drawn characters and explores issues and emotions readers can relate to.

My Review

I love Jodi Picoult novels, they always make you think about how you would feel and what would you do. This book finds us opening with Paige, outside her home watching her husband and little boy through the window. The husband is visibly angry and moves from her line of sight. The book goes back to when Paige and Nicholas first meet and how their relationship begins until we are back to present day. Paige's mother abandoned her as a child and Paige has prior for running too. This all links into what happened to make her husband so angry and why she is outside.

I really enjoy Picoult's writing and I first read this in 2010 and gave it 5 stars. I actually didn't remember any of it, at all, which makes me think I confused it with another book. There were some parts of the book I quite liked. The chapters are split between Paige and Nicholas and usually told from the same time period. Their relationship starts very quickly and they go from zero to committed very quickly.

I had issue with both of their characters and how they behave, Paige you can understand because of her abandonment as a child however she is very selfish. Nicholas has two sides, he is a very good professional but he also comes across very selfish too. The story itself kept me interested and I wanted to know the big mystery with her mother, the explanation was a bit of a let down, for me personally. The ending I didn't like either, it was just too abrupt and I like to know everything, not be left with questions.

That said, this book is loved by lots of people, if your a Picoult fan it is worth reading as her writing is still good. If you have never read Picoult I wouldn't start with this one, I liked it but it is by no means her strongest. I'm a half and half with this one, 3/5 for me this time, I do love Picoult so will be reading more by her.

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