Thursday 30 April 2015

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

A Long Way DownA Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Pages - 257

Publisher - Penguin

Blurb from Goodreads

"New Year's Eve at Toppers' House, North London's most popular suicide spot. And four strangers are about to discover that doing away with yourself isn't quite the private act they'd each expected." "Perma-tanned Martin Sharp's a disgraced breakfast TV presenter who had it all - the kids, the wife, the pad, the great career - and wasted it away. Killing himself is Martin's logical and appropriate response to an unliveable life." "Maureen has to do it tonight, because of Matty being in the home. He was never able to do any of the normal things kids do - like walk or talk - and loving-mum Maureen can't cope any more. Dutiful Catholic that she is, she's ready to commit the 'biggest sin of all'." "Half-crazed with heartbreak, loneliness, adolescent angst, seven Bacardi Breezers and two Special Brews, Jess's ready to jump, to fly off the roof." "Finally, there's JJ - tall, cool, American, looks like a rock-star, sometimes thinks he plays his guitar like one - who's weighted down with a heap of problems, and pizza." "Four strangers, who moments before were convinced that they were alone and going to end it all that way, share out the pizza and begin to talk ... Only to find that they have even less in common than first suspected." Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down is a novel that asks some of the big questions: about life and death, strangers and friendship, love and pain, and whether a group of losers, and pizza, can really see you through a long, dark night of the soul.

My Review

Four individuals looking to end in all on New Years eve happen upon each other. Toppers house in London, aptly named so as many people choose it to jump from and end their lives. That is the plan for Jess, young, loud and had enough after her boyfriend abruptly broke it off. Maureen, mum to Matty her son who is severely disabled and totally dependent on her. Martin, disgraced tv personality, reputation ruined after jail time and lost his family and career and lastly JJ, failed "rock star", each finds themselves on the rooftop and ready to call it a day when they meet each other and their plans change.

The chapters are short, written in first person point of view and named with the person who is talking for that chapter. The only character I felt any kind of likening for was Maureen, her life is completely around her son, she has noone bar him and the picture of their live together is very sad and lonely. Jess is a self absorbed, very young, loud mouthed individual who doesn't think before she engages her mouth. JJ is a bit of a pathetic figure, he feels the need to embellish his reasons for being on the roof that night because his life is so lacking. Martin, yet another self involved fool who can't see past himself, a legend in his own living room comes to mind.

The four form an unlikely friendship and get to know each other and form a "survivors" pact. The story gets a bit ridiculous in quite a few areas and to be honest, I was glad when it was over. It wasn't all bad, there are a few redeeming qualities within the story, Maureen was the saving grace of the group however it was a bit of an effort to get through. I am in the minority though as I know lots of people who loved this story and the movie, give it a go and see what you think. 2/5 for me this time, this was my first dance with this author, I would read him again though.

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Wednesday 29 April 2015

Dark places by Gillian Flynn

Dark PlacesDark Places by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 424

Publisher - Phoenix

Blurb from Goodreads

Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars.

Since then, she has been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben's innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her borther's? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back?

She begins to realise that everyone in her family had something to hide that day... especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find.

Who did massacre the Day family?

My Review

Libby Day is the survivor of her family being butchered, well apart from her brother who is serving time in jail for killing them. Libby was only seven years old when it happened and her testimony put Ben in jail. Twenty four years later Libby is stumbling through life, doing not a lot when she is contacted by crime group fanatics who believe her brother is innocent. Libby is desperate for money and agrees to go, before long she is questioning what she remembered that night and could Ben actually be innocent?

This is my third book by this author, she has a unique style to her writing. I find it hard to feel anything akin to liking or even tolerating most of her main characters. Libby is despicable, getting through life exploiting what happened to her family. Her past is littered with stealing, animal cruelty, lies and having a sole interest in herself. You can appreciate, after all she has been through, she will be affected however she is not a very nice or likable human being.

Libby does as the group bids her, speaks to people she hasn't in decades, tracks down witnesses in a bid to discover what actually happened to her family. The journey the reader sees her go through is one of discover and self examination. The tale is spun in a way that is keeps the readers interest but again, I felt I needed a good scrub after reading it. There are some twists and turns throughout. If you liked Sharp Objects and Gone Girl I am sure you will like this. 3/5 for me this time, there was a few things I guessed correctly and others I didn't see coming. Well worth a read if your familiar with this author and like a dark tale.

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Stay Alive by Simon Kernick

Stay AliveStay Alive by Simon Kernick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 week

Pages - 420

Publisher - Arrow Books

Blurb from Goodread


You’re on a trip with your family, miles from anywhere. A shot rings out – and your whole life changes in an instant.


A woman is racing towards you, chased by three gunmen. Although you don’t know it, she harbours a deadly secret. She’s in terrible danger. And now you are too.


You’re running, terrified, desperate to find safety.

You know that the men hunting you have killed before.

And if they catch you, you’ll be next …

My Review

The tale opens "21 days ago" we are introduced to Amanda Rowan, she stumbles upon her husbands murder and the killer is still in the house. What ensues is a game of cat and mouse, Amanda is running for her life, her killer will stop at nothing and innocent people will die!

Amanda is one of our main characters, the whole story is focused around her and the maniac who is after her. Along the road she meets other people who will be dragged into the chase and fight to survive.

The tale skips between the 21 days ago, flipping to present day and then back and fourth between the two time lines. It is easy enough to follow the time line and the characters involved. The crime and chase starts from the very first chapter and your drawn into a scary and dark world through Amanda and the people she meets as she tries to stay alive. I found it really hard to put down at first, however, as the story goes on a few things didn't sit right with me. By the end of the story you understand everything however I just felt a few aspects were a bit out there and hard to believe. It is still a really good story though and I will read this author again, 3/5 for me this time.

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Sunday 26 April 2015

Play Dead by Harlan Coben

Play DeadPlay Dead by Harlan Coben
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 4 days

pages - 518

Publisher - Orion Books

Blurb From Goodreads

Ex-fashion model and successful business woman Laura Ayars' perfect world is shattered at a time which should have been the happiest of her life. On her honeymoon, her sports superstar husband goes for a swim - and never returns. But what has happened to David - is he really dead?

Whilst struggling to cope with her grief, Laura is plagued by questions and doubts. Was it an accident? Or suicide? Or some terrible, ill-judged hoax?

As events begin to unfold, Laura starts to uncover a conspiracy which reaches deep into the past, and is now slowly beginning to destroy everyone involved. Someone will do anything to keep Laura away from the awful truth - and she has no idea who she can trust .

My Review

Successful business woman and model Laura Ayars couldn't be happier, she is married to a basketball legend and they are on their honeymoon. However, David goes out for a swim and doesn't come back, is he really dead? Laura struggled to cope with her grief and enlists the help of Davids friend to dig and see did David really die. As more questions arise, secrets from the past are threatened to be uncovered and someone will stop at nothing to make sure that doesn't happen. Lives are at stake, people will die but will Laura ever find out the truth about what happened to her husband.

This book near got a two stars from me, when you get to the crux of the matter and start to discover what has actually transpired, you need to suspend belief. Whilst the boundaries of reality are pushed to breaking it is actually written well and easy to read. I found myself signing in exasperation at times whilst still wanting to carry on and find out what happened to the characters and why some people were acting so shifty.

Overall its an ok read, one maybe for on holiday where you don't have to put much effort into thinking about it. 3/5 for me this time, I have more Harlan Coben to read, more recent and very different to this which, he does admit isn't his best work and from decades ago but still worth a wee read I would say although don't judge his recent works on the strength of this one.

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Thursday 23 April 2015

Robert B Parker's Cheap Shot by Ace Atkins

Robert B Parker's Cheap Shot (The Spenser Series)Robert B Parker's Cheap Shot by Ace Atkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Publisher - No Exit Press

Pages - 223

Blurb from Goodreads

The iconic, tough-but-tender Boston PI Spenser returns in an outstanding new addition to the New York Times bestselling series from Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Ace Atkins. Kinjo Heywood is one of the New England Patriots’ marquee players — a hard-nosed linebacker who’s earned his reputation as one of the toughest guys in the league. When off-field violence repeatedly lands Heywood in the news, his slick agent hires Spenser to find the men who he says have been harassing his client. Heywood’s troubles seem to be tied to a nightclub shooting from two years earlier. But when Heywood’s nine-year-old son, Akira, is kidnapped, ransom demands are given, and a winding trail through Boston’s underworld begins, Spenser puts together his own all-star team of toughs. It will take both Hawk and Spenser’s protégé, Zebulon Sixkill, to watch Spenser’s back and return the child to the football star’s sprawling Chestnut Hill mansion. A controversial decision from Heywood only ups the ante as the clock winds down on Akira’s future.

My Review

If you haven't read a Spenser novel you don't have to to pick it up and jump right in. I believe this is number 3 in this series, there is 4 so far by this author however the series was started with another author so there are more.

Spenser is a private detective, not too sure if he was a police officer prior t that as he has an extensive list of contacts and a few men who assist him on the team. Kinjo Heywood is a big time star on the New England's Patriots team. He had an incident two years prior where someone lost their life in a night club, now his nine year old son has been kidnapped are the two related? Kinjo is surrounded by a team that don't want Spenser involved however Spenser is on the clock and won't stop till he finds the boy or Kinjo fires him.

The book took a wee it to get going but once it starts it kept my interest. The kidnapping reminded me of a successful movie plot after a while and that sometimes irks me when the rest of the story is original. Otherwise though I did quite like it, I enjoyed the team dynamics and the story got there eventually. 3/5 for me this time and I would read this series again. Thanks to RealReaders for sending me a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.

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Sunday 19 April 2015

Inside The O'Briens by Lisa Genova

Inside the O'Briens: A NovelInside the O'Briens: A Novel by Lisa Genova
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 352

Publisher - Gallery Books

Blurb from Goodreads

Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.

Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?

As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.

My Review

Joe O'Brien is an everyday kind of guy, he's a cop, he has a family and he is fourty four years old. When symptoms can no longer be ignored or be passed off Joe is tested for Huntington's disease and is positive. The story follows pre diagnosis, the introduction to Joe and his family and the progression of the disease and how it can affect a families lives.

I love this author, she takes hard subjects, diseases and brings them to the reader in an informative way that keeps the knowledge and seriousness of the disease at the forefront whilst giving it a human face. You get to know and care about a family and watch them try to deal with this condition, manage it, and deal with their own feelings as well as the aspertions from some of the town folk.

Joe and his family go on an emotional journal taking the reader with them, it packs quite a punch knowing it is a fictional story based around a very real condition. Not only has Genova brought the spotlight to a condition I hadn't had a great deal of knowledge on, she has also set up a fund for it. This lady does fantastic work educating through fiction and I hope she continues to write for a long time. 4/5 for me, thanks to Netgalley for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review, this book is available to buy now.

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Sunday 5 April 2015

Aprils giveaway is The Lie by C L Taylor

This book isn't released until April the 23rd (2015) so this competition will run until the end of the month as always, which is after the actual release date. You can find my thoughts on it here, as always, no spoilers, If you haven't read her first book, The Accident, you don't have to as this is a stand alone however I suggest you seek it out as it is a great wee read.

As always, enter by using the rafflecopter below, the more entries you do the more chances you have on winning. The winning entry is always checked, if postal address isn't left and the winner fails to claim the prize within 48 hours another winner will be selected.

Good luck and as always thanks so much for stopping by and taking part. I will open this up to everyone (UK and outwith). Happy Easter people, hope you have had a nice weekend.

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Friday 3 April 2015

Five Ways to Kill A Man by Alex Gray

Five Ways to Kill a ManFive Ways to Kill a Man by Alex Gray
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 5 days

Pages - 424

Publisher - Little, Brown Book Group

Blurb from Goodreads

A beautifully crafted, darkly atmospheric crime novel from one of Scotland's most talked-about crime writers An unpredictable killer is loose on the streets of Glasgow, experimenting with death. Beginning with brute force, the murderer moves on to poison and drowning, greedy for new and better ways to kill. Faced with a string of unconnected victims, DCI Lorimer turns to psychologist and friend Solomon Brightman for his insights. Lorimer is also assigned to review the case of a fatal house fire. His suspicions are raised by shocking omissions in the original investigation. Some uncomfortable questions have been buried but Lorimer is the man to ask them. As the serial killer gets closer to Lorimer's family, can the DCI unmask the volatile murderer before the next victim is found too close to home?

My Review

DCI Lorimer has a dangerous killer on his hands, to begin with they seem to kill indiscriminately and it takes a bit for the police to catch on their is a serial killer. However once the killer has gained confidence and targets their preferred group, the police pull together and set about "catching their man". Lorimers personal woes are laced through the story, his family life, inlaws. This seemed to be to give the reader a bit more understanding and depth of the character but there is actually a bit more to it which is revealed later.

In under 30 pages we had three murders so the book starts off quite fast paced. The descriptions of locations and minute details are emphasized so even if you are unfamiliar with Glasgow, you get quite a picture. I think for some people it adds enjoyment to a story if you know some of the places it is based in and it was one of the things I did like in this book. I believe this is quite a few along in a series, however I haven't read the previous ones and got on fine with this one.

It isn't too often I guess who the killer is however with this one I did. The build up and all the small things are explained very clearly however the motive is largely left to the reader to gleam from the details that are given. For me this brought the overall enjoyment of the story down and raised questions as to why the killer did a lot of the things they did. I don't like loose ends although some readers enjoy books that do that, for me it is a 3/5. I would read this author again but I won't be rushing to get anymore or chasing up the back catalogue.

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