Wednesday 25 February 2015

The Exit by Helen Fitzgerald

The ExitThe Exit by Helen Fitzgerald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Publisher - Faber & Faber

Pages - 297

Blurb from Goodreads

Some people love goodbyes...
23-year-old Catherine is mainly interested in Facebook and flirting, but she reluctantly takes a job at a local care home after her mother puts her foot down - and soon discovers that her new workplace contains many secrets. One of the residents at the home, 82-year-old Rose, is convinced that something sinister is going on in Room 7 and that her own life is under threat. But Rose has dementia - so what does she actually know, and who would believe her anyway? As Catherine starts investigating Rose's allegations, terrible revelations surface about everyone involved. Can Catherine find out what's really going on?

My Review

We have two main characters, Catherine who is 23, self obsessed and all about her Facebook status and what she can get out of life. Rose is 82, successful author of children's books, lives at Dear Green Care Home and has dementia. She flits between present day and being cognitively aware to reverting to her 10 year old self and reliving an event over and over. Catherine gets a job in the care home, at the push of her mother and undertakes a journey of self discovery and personal growth. She forms a relationship with Rose and becomes endeared to the elderly lady, however as Rose becomes more adamant, in her lucid moments, that something is going on Catherine's interest is piqued. As she starts to nose around she finds some clues that maybe Rose is onto something with room 7 and her curiosity may lead her to more trouble and danger than she could have imagined.

I do like Fitzgerald, you never truly know what your going to get when you pick up one of her books as, I feel, they are very different. This one, we know from early on Catherine is ageist, not a particularly nice individual and does some questionable things. However, Rose is quirky and fabulous and I think she gets under Catherine's skin which starts the journey Catherine goes on. There is a lot more to this story and it is hard to go into without spoilers which I never do and generally hate. Needless to say, there are twists and turns that I didn't see coming, whilst some of the book gets really dark and some readers may find uncomfortable, there is some humour within it and I can't state enough how much I liked Rose.

The book also has some sexual content, abuse is also a factor although it is not throughout and when it does appear I found it was relevant to the story rather than just put in for effect. The book I could have read in one sitting however, life did not permit it so I had to steal moments when I could. 4/5 for me this time, I have read Fitzgerald before and absolutely will again, if you like a book that has some tough content, humour and grips you then this book is for you. the Exit is newly released and as good a place as any to start with this author if you haven't read her before.

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Tuesday 24 February 2015

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Sharp ObjectsSharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Publisher - Phoenix

Pages - 321

Blurb from Goodreads

When two girls are abducted and killed in Missouri, journalist Camille Preaker is sent back to her home town to report on the crimes. Long-haunted by a childhood tragedy and estranged from her mother for years, Camille suddenly finds herself installed once again in her family's mansion, reacquainting herself with her distant mother and the half-sister she barely knows - a precocious 13-year-old who holds a disquieting grip on the town. As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims - a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming.

My Review

Camille Preaker is our main character and a journalist. When a child goes missing from her home town and one had gone missing previously she is sent home to get the scoop. Camille has many issues that stem from a strained childhood and troubled relationship with her mother. She has a 13 year old sister who has some major issues and controls and dominates some of the town. Trying to break down the barriers to get the story in town, deal with her sister and cope with her mother and their relationship proves to be quite a task for Camille.

This story is really quite disturbing I found to be honest. Camille has scars all over her body, her way of coping with her issues growing up. As the story progresses we discover just how dark Camilles past is and why she behaves as she does. The previous murder of the little girl was uncomfortable to read about, any ill to a child is however this killer makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

Whilst this is a book about a troubled reporter investigating in her own home town it is largely more about her dysfunctional family. Her coping mechanisms of trying to deal with it, her personal demons being quieted or confronted. There is some uncomfortable references to sexual encounters that some people may be fine with but worth giving a heads up. There is also a reference to some animal cruelty, in my opinion, that makes for uncomfortable reading too.

It is a dark tale that, for me, was like a car crash, horrific but you find it hard to look away. I felt I needed a shower after reading it, dark, gritty, brutal but very enthralling, 3/5 for me. I have read Gone Girl and have Dark Places still to read by this author, she has a specific tone to her writing, if you liked Gone Girl I think you may well "enjoy" this one.

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Saturday 21 February 2015

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 384

Publisher - Transworld

Blurb from Goodreads

To everyone else in this carriage I must look normal; I’m doing exactly what they do: commuting to work, making appointments, ticking things off lists.

Just goes to show.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and every evening. Every day she passes the same Victorian terraces, stops at the same signal, and sees the same couple, breakfasting on their roof terrace. Jason and Jess seem so happy together.

Then one day Rachel sees something she shouldn't have seen, and soon after, Jess disappears. Suddenly Rachel is chasing the truth and unable to trust anyone. Not even herself.

Tense, taut, twisty and surprising . . . The Girl on the Train creeps right under your skin and stays there.

My Review

I have heard so much about this book lately that I just had to get my hands on it! Rachel is our main character, she takes the train every morning and observes various things, mostly a couple she identify s as Jess & Jason. Every morning she observes them, on her usual route until one morning, something changes and Jess goes missing! Rachel finds herself obsessed with Jesse's disappearance and will stop at nothing, regardless of the cost, to get to the truth!

Well, I had hopes when I started this book. Lots of hype and fairly positive reviews and chat from book groups I am part of. Rachel is not just an observant lady on the train. As the story develops we find that Rachel has quite a lot of ongoing personal issues which is why she has become so observant of "Jess & Jason" - her own personal tale is revealed as she tries to piece together what happened to "Jess."

She has lost her marriage, she has alcohol issues, her friend is losing tolerance with her, her "job" has became an issue and as a result her train observations have became all she has. However, the more involved she becomes, the more the story reveals it may not just be a coincidence she has become involved!

The start of this story did grab me, anyone on a long or routine journey will look at aspects to keep themselves occupied and Rachel certainly does that. However, as the story progresses you need to suspend belief to keep up and digest the events that follow. It is a fairly decent "thriller-suspense" novel however, for me, it could have been a lot better. I know this is an "easy" statement to make as a non novelist however, I have read A LOT of books and feel that for me, this one fell a bit short of the hype and expectations I had, based on the reviews on it. That said, it is a good wee story and worth a look, I just felt it could have been better! 3/5 for me this time, I would read this author again and a lot of people loved this one so check it out and I would love to hear your thoughts on it!

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Sunday 15 February 2015

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin

The Last Days of Rabbit HayesThe Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 4 days

Publisher - Black Swan

Pages - 436

Blurb from Goodreads

Here is a truth that can’t be escaped: for Mia ‘Rabbit’ Hayes, life is coming to an end . . .
Rabbit Hayes loves her life, ordinary as it is, and the extraordinary people in it.
She loves her spirited daughter, Juliet; her colourful, unruly family; the only man in
her big heart, Johnny Faye.
But it turns out the world has other plans for Rabbit, and she’s OK with that. Because she has plans for the world too, and only a handful of days left to make them happen. Here is a truth that won’t be forgotten: this is a story about laughing through life’s surprises and finding the joy in every moment.

My Review

The first line of this book is "Today I was diagnosed with breast cancer." The book is about Mia "Rabbit" Hayes, she is dying and these are her last few days. Sounds depressing as, it isn't. Don't get me wrong, there are parts of this book that will make you outright cry, but there is so much happiness, joy, family strength, love and happiness - the saddness is a small part. The book starts off with a blog entry talking about Rabbit being diagnosed and her inital attitude to it. Then chapter one has jumped ahead to Rabbit being taken to a hospice for her final journey. We are introduced to Molly, Rabbits mother, who has a mouth like a sailor, often puts her foot in it and unintentionally brings humour to the table. We flip back and forth between present day and how the family are coming to terms with and coping with Rabbits final days. We are also transported back to episodes in Rabbits life that will endear you to the family and that really brings the characters to life.

I had never heard of this author, or indeed this book, until one of my friends reviewed it, she kindly sent me her copy. I could have devoured this in one sitting, had life permitted, as it was I had to squeeze in the moments I could, on the bus to and from home, in the bath, a wee half hour after I should have gone to sleep! Rabbit is quite a character, from a strong Irish catholic background, Rabbit does not believe in God, much to her mothers annoyance. She is very set in her ways, a larger than life character but not in an over the top way. She is a character I feel many people could either relate to or warm to. We are introduced to her family and how they are dealing with the situation but also stories to show us the kind of people they are and how they behave and react the way their do. Her daughter Juliet, is only twelve years old so reading her part of the tale is quite something and seeing all of the family trying to decide what should happen to Juliet as well as trying to honour Rabbits wishes.

This is such an emotive subject, however I think the author has done an amazing job of conjuring up what it is like to say goodbye to and be with someone throughout their last days. You are drawn into the story, the feelings, the emotions the family are dealing with and laugh and cry along with them. 5/5 for me for this one and I will be tracking the authors other work down, I can't recommend this one enough.

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Virals by Kathy Reichs

ViralsVirals by Kathy Reichs
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Publisher - Arrow

Pages - 454

Blurb from Goodreads

Fourteen-year-old Tory Brennan is as fascinated by bones and dead bodies as her famous aunt, acclaimed forensic anthropologist, Tempe Brennan. However living on a secluded island off Charleston in South Carolina there is not much opportunity to put her knowledge to the test. Until her and her ragbag group of technophile friends stumble across a shallow grave containing the remains of a girl who has been missing for over thirty years. The question is, did whoever was responsible for the girl's death have anything to do with the sick puppy they rescued from a secret laboratory on the same island?

With the cold-case murder suddenly hot, Tory realises that they are involved in something fatally dangerous. But events take a turn for the bizarre when they escape some would-be attackers by using physical powers more akin to a dog than a human... Could the puppy hold the key not only to the murder, but also the strange changes that are taking place in their bodies?

My Review

I have read Kathy Reichs before and quite enjoyed her writing, on the tales of Temperance (Tempe) Brennan although this is the first book in a new series. Told through fourteen year old Tory Brennan, the niece of Tempe, Tempe is refered to in this book although she does not appear. Tory lives on a secluded island with her father, their relationship is strained and new to both of them. Tory is an outcast with most of the other kids, she has a close group of technophile friends, kids into their technology and generally smarter than most of the kids on the island. When they discover a body buried in a shallow grave and a break in to a near by secured facility they find themselves the target of someone who will kill to keep the past in the past.

The book, for me, started off ok. We have some cute wolve-dog family living on the island, a father and daughter trying to adjust to their fairly new and thrown upon them relationship and some mean old professor who dislikes the kids. The kids are really smart, curious and end up breaking into a restricted facility and coming upon secret testing in a lab. The fall out of this is the children find themselves changing and having new "powers", they also discover a few secrets that people have killed to keep quiet. The kids then go on exploring and digging into the past as well as trying to keep their "find" a secret as well as dealing with teen angst stuff.

There was a bit too much of everything flung into this story for me and some of the things that happened and the kids pulled off, you would need to suspend reality in order to get through it. A character does a complete 1-80 with no real reason given as to why, which always annoys me. I loved the parts about the wolve-dog animals, I thought that was a nice touch, however most of the other stuff was just too far fetched for me. Considering horror is my favourite genre, I don't mind suspending belief for stories but the way this one is done, it just didn't work, for me personally. This is the start of a new series I believe and if I came across it I would read the second book but I wouldn't go out of my way to get it and I definitely wouldn't be buying it. 2/5 for me this time, I think I will stick to the Tempe books as I remember enjoying them a lot more than this one.

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Wednesday 4 February 2015

February's pre-loved giveaway is Girl Missing by Tess Gerritsen

You can find my thoughts on it on the previous entry.

This is the first book where Gerritsen was branching into crime from romance so has elements of both in it. The book is in great condition, the spine in intact and apart from one crease to the front cover it is practically perfect. As always, the competition will run to the end of the month, the more options you do on the rafflecopter the more entries into the draw you will have.

This is open to the United Kingdom only. Thanks for stopping by and good luck if your entering the comp.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Betrayer by Kimberley Chambers

The BetrayerThe Betrayer by Kimberley Chambers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - snippets on and off for 4 days

Publisher - Arrow Books

Pages - 434

Blurb from Goodreads

Based in Stepney, this book is set on a rough and ready Council Estate, in the heart of London's East End. A story that starts in 1975 ends in 2005, it tells the trials and tribulations of the Hutton family. Maureen - the gutsy mum, separated from her alcoholic husband, she scrimps and saves for years to bring up her children and instil life's good values in them. She tries her utmost, but with only moderate success. Tommy, the eldest son, does ten years for murder. On his release he promises to go straight. The trouble is that the underworld beckons and he struggles to keep his promise. Susan, the daughter, unpopular and spiteful as a child, she finally makes her family proud when she gets pregnant and moves in with her boyfriend. But what has she forgotten to tell him? James, the youngest son. Does mummy's blue-eyed boy stay on the straight and narrow? Or does he get stuck into a life of crime, just like his elder brother? Ethel - gran and mother-in-law. A wise old owl, granny could sense disaster looming all along. What a tragedy that no one would listen to her. And finally, Maria, the girl next door and the love of James's life. Will they? Won't they? Who knows - because Maria holds the biggest secret of them all. Or does she?

My Review

We open in 2006, Maureen Hutton has just had a terminal diagnosis from her consultant and is contemplating her life, this is her story! We then head to 1975 and meet her family, her sons from their youth and then spanning over a few decades to present day. She has a colourful family with crazy antics and learning to make their money on the streets of Stepney through illegal means. Her eldest sons finds himself in trouble with the law and a path is laid out for him from there on in. Her young son is her pride and joy, the first of the family to get recognized grades and she doesn't want him being involved in crime. As the brothers reunite, life on Stepney grabs hold and the brothers find themselves not as close as they once were and a secret threatens to tear them apart.

I love Kimberley Chambers books, they are gritty, harsh, laced with crime, violence and murder. The Betrayer looks at family life, loyalty, betrayal, secrets and how relationships can be formed and torn apart by love and deceit. She brings to life some of the best and ugliest characters, Tommy Junior made my skin crawl in some parts of the book & Maureen's elder mother in law, Ethel and Maureen herself are characters you won't forget.

There are some scenes in the book that some readers may find hard to read, some graphic sexual content, abuse and racism within the story. I think it adds to the believability of the story as life in poverty and surrounded by drugs, danger and crime is often filled with a darker side of humanity. She spins a fabulous tale with larger than life characters, The Betrayer will leave you wanting more and I have contacted the author and expressed the hopes a sequel will written. 4/5 for me this time, if you like a good gritty crime story this is a great place to start.

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Girl Missing by Tess Gerritsen

Girl MissingGirl Missing by Tess Gerritsen
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2.5 days

Publisher - Transworld Books

Pages - 334

Blurb from Goodreads

The first body is a mystery. She's young. She's beautiful. And her corpse, laid out in the office of Boston medical examiner Kat Novak, betrays no secrets - except for a notebook clutched in one stiff hand, seven numbers scrawled inside.
The next body is a warning. When a second victim is discovered, Kat begins to fear that a serial killer is stalking the city streets: a shadowy madman without mercy or apparent motive. The police are sceptical. The mayor won't listen. And Kat's chief suspect is one of the city's most prominent citizens.
The final body . . . might be hers. With the death toll rising, Kat races to expose a deadly conspiracy and the brutal killer at its heart - a killer who will stalk her from the dangerous streets of the inner city to the corridors of power. Because he's closer than she ever dreamt. And every move she makes could be her very last.

My Review

The book starts out well, our main character is Kat Novak, medical examiner who takes it upon herself to investigate when the local authorities don't seem too bothered about some drugs users who turn up dead. All have the unusual mix of drugs that are new on the street and after two bodies, Kat knows something needs to be done. Adam Quantrell comes to the morgue to identify a body, which it turns out isn't who he thought however Adam is tangled up in this somehow. He owns a pharmaceutical company and seems to be linked to one of the victims. Kat doesn't trust him however he may be the only person who can help her. Together they try to uncover the truth and end up fighting not only for the truth but for their lives.

Kat starts out as a strong character, from the streets when the addicts seem to be linked she is no shrinking violet. However, as the tale goes on she becomes, I felt, a different character and very girly, caught up in her emotions and feelings. Adam is quite a character, missing stepdaughter and reluctant to give information oh and he is wealthy, he seems a bit contradictory at times. They are trying to get to the bottom of the deaths, find Adams stepdaughter and deal with the growing attraction they feel toward each other.

Ugh this simply didn't work for me. Maybe because I am a fan of Gerritsen's newer work like the surgeon where she really has honed her writing skills. This was quite a let down, the story itself isn't too bad it is just parts of it are a bit ridiculous and you need to suspend belief which I don't mind, I love some books like that. However I think you can't have so much going in within one book and so far fetched. If you are just starting with Gerritsen then this may be a good starting point, if you are used to the Rizzoli & Isles series I am afraid this will be a let down for you. Wasn't impressed so it is a 2/5 for me this time. I do enjoy this author though and will read her again although I think I will stick to her later offerings rather than the first cross over ones where she went from romance to romance/crime together. A lot of people did enjoy this though so I definitely wouldn't discount it.

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