Friday 31 July 2015

Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay

Broken Promise (Promise Falls, #1)Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 4 days (on and off)

Publisher - NAL

Pages - 512

Blurb from Goodreads

From the New York Times bestselling author of No Safe House comes an explosive novel about the disturbing secrets of a quiet small town.…

After his wife’s death and the collapse of his newspaper, David Harwood has no choice but to uproot his nine-year-old son and move back into his childhood home in Promise Falls, New York. David believes his life is in free fall, and he can’t find a way to stop his descent.

Then he comes across a family secret of epic proportions. A year after a devastating miscarriage, David’s cousin Marla has continued to struggle. But when David’s mother asks him to check on her, he’s horrified to discover that she’s been secretly raising a child who is not her own—a baby she claims was a gift from an “angel” left on her porch.

When the baby’s real mother is found murdered, David can’t help wanting to piece together what happened—even if it means proving his own cousin’s guilt. But as he uncovers each piece of evidence, David realizes that Marla’s mysterious child is just the tip of the iceberg.

Other strange things are happening. Animals are found ritually slaughtered. An ominous abandoned Ferris wheel seems to stand as a warning that something dark has infected Promise Falls. And someone has decided that the entire town must pay for the sins of its past…in blood.

My Review

The first in a new series by Linwood Barclay, David Harwood is going through a tough time, he's lost his job, is living with his parents with his child. His cousin, Marla, has mental health issues and when David drops around he finds her with a baby. Marla has prior for trying to steal a baby so David is concerned. A little bit of digging finds the real mother, murdered and Marla is in a world of trouble. David does a bit of digging and soon discovers there is so much more to this and may have bitten off more than he can chew!

This was a great wee book, I could have read it in a day to be honest, sadly work didn't permit. Anyways, theres a bit of background to start with on the main character David and his family before the whole murder scene unfolds. There are some random happenings throughout as well, animal killings and weird staging of manikins that leads to further developments in the case.

There are lots of twists and turns, secrets, betrayals, violence and murder to name but a few of the things that went on in the tale. It is fast paced, intriguing and draws you right in so you want to know what happened, why, who and don't really want to put it down. There is quite a bit of hinting between the character discussions that they know what has happened however the reader is trying to link and guess at what has transpired.

A strong opening to a new series, I imagine there will be more, there are a few questions left unanswered and I believe this is setting up the next book or books. If I have read this author before it has been a long long time ago, I would certainly read him again and definitely the following in this series, 4/5 for me this time.

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Wednesday 29 July 2015

The Driver by Mandasue Heller

The DriverThe Driver by Mandasue Heller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Publisher - Hodder

Pages - 320

Blurb from Goodreads

When you play with fire, everyone gets burned... Joe Weeks is new to the Grange Estate. Tolerant, doesn't mind a bit of weed, doesn't try to pull other men's women. Live and let live is his motto... Eddie Quinn is the hardest man on the estate. Everyone knows that it's a bad idea to cross him, or his pit bull. But everyone also knows he's honest, as drug dealers go. Joe's pleased when Eddie offers him a job. But then he meets Katya. A prostitute. A slave. And desperate to escape from Eddie.

My Review

Joe Weeks has just moved to the Grange Estate. It is rife with drugs, prostitution, violence and a tight leash on it all - held by Eddie Quinn. Joe just wants an easy life after breaking up with his girl. Eddie is hardcore, he will let loose his dog or his temper if pushed and Joe best watch his step. However, once he befriends some of the neighbours and is in need of a job, he finds himself working for Eddie and catching the eye of Katya. Katya works for Eddie, no one messes with Eddie or his business, Joe can't help himself and gets caught up in a tangled web that threatens not only him, but all involved.

Ooooh this was a good read, I love small estate style stories as there is always gossip, nosy neighbours and scandal. Throw in some thugs ruling a small empire, affairs and murder and you would have just some of the things covered in The Driver. This book draws you in fairly quickly, you meet the residents as the main character Joe does, how quickly he gets drawn in and follow him down a slippery slope. The story flows well as Heller always manages, nearing the end we are flung a curve ball which I did not see coming and even now I am finished I am not sure how I feel about it. There is also quite a brutal violent scene in this story and a few issues that reflect the reality of drug addiction, particularly in relation to a dependent child, just a heads up.

Well done, good charactisation and she really brings to life and lifts the estate from the page. 4/5 for me, if you follow my reviews you know I am a huge Heller fan so this won't be my last. I have another on my tbr and look forward to the one she is currently penning. If you haven't read Heller before, you don't mind swearing, gritty crime and some harsh issues then definitely give her a go.

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Sunday 26 July 2015

Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison

Dead Witch Walking (The Hollows, #1)Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 4 days

Publisher - Harper Torch

Pages - 416

Blurb from Goodreads

All the creatures of the night gather in "the Hollows" of Cincinnati, to hide, to prowl, to party... and to feed.

Vampires rule the darkness in a predator-eat-predator world rife with dangers beyond imagining - and it's Rachel Morgan's job to keep that world civilized.

A bounty hunter and witch with serious sex appeal and an attitude, she'll bring 'em back alive, dead... or undead.

My Review

To be honest, I am a bit torn with this review, there are things I liked about this tale and things I didn't. Rachel Morgan is our main character, a runner for a company called Inderland Security (I.S.), a supernatural law enforcement agency. She has been given some pretty rubbish cases to chase up and has had enough. However, no one leave the agency by choice as Rachel will soon learn and spends the tale trying to get herself out of the contract that is put upon her head. With the help of Jenks (a fairy) and Ivy (a living vampire) she goes about tackling the task and needing all she has to stay alive.

The book has a mix of everything, even werewolves however, I think because there is so much breadth there wasn't enough depth. Ivy came across as a really interesting character yet she was in the background a lot. The spells seemed interesting enough but again your left with a lot of questions, did I mention, Rachel is a witch. She seems to be a kick butt kind of girl but has a lot of insecurities and makes some very questionable mistakes and impulse choices. Her whole relationship with Ivy confused me as they are colleagues and friends yet there is so much distrust and questionable dialog between them, in fact some of the dialog itself either annoyed me or made me snigger.

I thought the transformation spells and part of the book covering that was really well done but again, some of the interactions and dialog with the characters didn't flow naturally. That said "Go Turn yourself" or "Do you hear me you sodden sack of camel dung? Tag! You're it!". This is what I mean by being torn, some of it irked me and some made me laugh.

I think had the book had a glossary that may have helped a bit too. We know half the population of humans were wiped out by genetic bioengineering which resulted in a virus. Therefore all the species and creatures came out to live amongst humans however there was a lot of questions left for that too, well I had them anyways. An on the fence 3/5 for me this time, I would certainly read more in the series in the hope of getting the answers, hearing more of Ivy and seeing how the story plays out.

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A lovely Saturday

It isn't often I blog anything other than reviews and giveaways, maybe an odd interview with an author. However, yesterday was such a great day I thought I would share some of it with you guys.

The weather, in typical Scottish style went from sunny to rainy intermittently, however it was so nice I took the opportunity to fire it up and read outside.

You really do have to enjoy the little things in life and I can honestly say, reading outside by and open fire is most definitely one of them.

I haven't received book post with more than one book in ages due to taking time out for study and my coursework. I recently amended my review tab as my course is nearing the end and I will be able to start accepting reviews again. These two beauts came through, Lisa Gardner I have read before I am sure and Melissa Bailey is a new one for me and it is always nice to find a new author.

We went a walk to try and spot some deers however youngsters were out with motorbikes so we had no chance, however I got some beautiful pictures of the skyline at the top of the hill.

We sat out so long the daylight went and I sat and read by firelight, it was honestly one of the nicest things I have experienced in a while. Just so peaceful and the kitty even joined us once or twice throughout the day. This wee fishbowl is left over from a party we attended last weekend. I loathe the colour pink and have ordered purple balls however, it did look pretty nice on the outside table to the opposite side of the fire.

Wednesday 22 July 2015

The Bad Fire by Campbell Armstrong

The Bad Fire. Campbell ArmstrongThe Bad Fire. Campbell Armstrong by Campbell Armstrong
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 8 days

Publisher - Harper Collins

Pages - 442

Blurb from the back cover

Commit a sin and you'll go to the Bad Fire... That's what Eddie Mallon was told when he was growing up in Glasgow. Now he's about to discover that even after all these years, the fire never goes out.

Eddie was just a child when his familysplit down the middle. He went to America with his mother and later became a cop; his sister Joyce stayed in Glasgow with their father, the charming, violent, mercurial Jackie Mallon. Now Jackie has been murdered and the son he didn't know is coming home for the funeral. But while he's back in town, Eddie can't help questioning the work of the local investigators. And when he does, he finds himself spiralling into the mysteries of the past as well as the present.

My Review

My friend recommended Campbell Armstrong to me years ago and it is only recently I have got round to picking him up. The story is set in Glasgow, Jackie Mallon is a known face to the police, they know he is involved in illegal activities they just can't nail him for anything major. He is respected by those he does business with, one face wants in on the action and Jackie isn't playing. Jackie is killed and his trusty sidekick is missing, his estranged son is back in Glasgow, to bury his father and get some answers!

I loved the descriptions of the streets and places within Glasgow. Some I knew and are still in standing, others I need to Google or ask around to see if they were about or just add ins from Campbell's story telling. The location is a perfect place to write about crime, just look at some of the statistics from the last 30 years. Family and loyalty are a big part of this tale too which are also attributes strong in the city, I feel.

There is a lot going on to keep you interested in the book, murder, secrets, investigations however I have to admit, in some parts I struggled. It is not exactly how the author writes as you can follow it easily enough, more some of the phrases. For example "Murder's very rich gravy', Perlman said and focused his good eye hard on Eddie. 'Can you make it stick to the wall, son?" and random phrases like that I just didn't warm to. Then there was a few turns in the story that I just felt didn't add anything and were maybe added as an afterthought. I was left with some questions which I never like happening although the story overall was fine and you did get pretty much everything answered in the end. Therefore 3/5 for me this time, I would read this author again however I won't be rushing out to get the back catalogue just yet.

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Grey by E L James

Grey (Fifty Shades, #4)Grey by E.L. James
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 7 days

Publisher - Vintage

Pages - 576 pages

Blurb from Goodreads

In Christian's own words, and through his thoughts, reflections, and dreams, E L James offers a fresh perspective on the love story that has enthralled millions of readers around the world.

Christian Grey exercises control in all things; his world is neat, disciplined, and utterly empty—until the day that Anastasia Steele falls into his office, in a tangle of shapely limbs and tumbling brown hair. He tries to forget her, but instead is swept up in a storm of emotion he cannot comprehend and cannot resist. Unlike any woman he has known before, shy, unworldly Ana seems to see right through him—past the business prodigy and the penthouse lifestyle to Christian’s cold, wounded heart.

Will being with Ana dispel the horrors of his childhood that haunt Christian every night? Or will his dark sexual desires, his compulsion to control, and the self-loathing that fills his soul drive this girl away and destroy the fragile hope she offers him?

This book is intended for mature audiences.

My Review

Firstly I feel I must say this is not a fresh perspective on Fifty Shades of grey, not from my point of view. I was looking forward to reading more about it from Christians point of view, learning more about him and the therapist, Mrs Robinson and details that would make Christian possibly more understood or sympathetic. That didn't happen, the book is almost exactly the same as the first book, obviously there are a few changes throughout, instead of the inner Goddess we get some of Christians thoughts on what is transpiring. However this book has not done anything to improve the negative aspects people thought of him from the first books.

Christian comes across as quite creepy in these, I never got that from the original books, controlling a tad, overbearing at points yet but not exactly creepy. I also don't remember him being so sweary, his thoughts towards his staff at times are quite annoying too but I feel I may be nitpicking there.

We have some flashbacks to when he was a child, some interaction from the good doctor and Mrs Robinson, I really wanted there to be more. Not the sex side but more their relationship, how did Mrs Robinson manage to get Christian to be from the aggressive angry young man to the successful albeit trouble with personal relationships man that Grey becomes.

Don't get me wrong, some of the fans totally loved this book and whilst it does offer some insight, it wasn't anywhere near what I was hoping for. I guess I just wanted to understand what made Christian tick, instead I got the same story that I felt made him look worse than before. I genuinely hope if she goes on to write more from Christians point of view, she does so with more focus on him than the sex and makes him a bit less creepy stalker and more misunderstood needs to be loved, 3/5 for me this time.

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Monday 20 July 2015

Dying For Christmas by Tamar Cohen

Dying For ChristmasDying For Christmas by Tammy Cohen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Publisher - Black Swan

Pages - 393

Blurb from Goodreads

I am missing. Held captive by a blue-eyed stranger. To mark the twelve days of Christmas, he gives me a gift every day, each more horrible than the last. The twelfth day is getting closer. After that, there'll be no more Christmas cheer for me. No mince pies, no carols. No way out .

But I have a secret. No-one has guessed it. Will you?

My Review

Well this is a weird and creepy little tale. Jessica Gold is our main character, along with her captor and Kim the investigating officer of Jessica's disappearance. The story splits into two, the before, the immediate events prior to the kidnapping and that which follows after. When we are at the before with Jessica in captivity, it is claustrophobic in parts and the tension and fear is palpable. The after, I felt a little frustrating as I wanted things moving faster to get to what had transpired.

Jessica is hard to understand, you wonder why anyone would do as she does, however as the story evolves you get a better understanding of her character which helps try and see where she is coming from. Kim, the officer is a bit harder to understand, the whole situation with her family life and the drive for her job, when you see the cost in regards to her family I just didn't get at all.

The book captures you fairly early on and as much as parts frustrated me, I found it hard to put down. I have read Cohen before and will read her again, if you haven't read her yet this maybe isn't the one to start with, some love it, some hate it, I am in between as I did like however there were a few things that irked me so 3/5 for me this time.

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Thursday 9 July 2015

The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink

The Last Act Of LoveThe Last Act Of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - < 1 day

Pages - 243

Publisher - Picador

Blurb from Goodreads

In the summer of 1990 - two weeks before his GCSE results, which turned out to be the best in his school - Cathy Rentzenbrink's brother Matty was knocked down by a car on the way home from a night out, suffering serious head injuries. He was left in a permanent vegetative state. Over the following years, Cathy and her parents took care of Matty - they built an extension onto the village pub where they lived and worked; they talked to him, fed him, bathed him, loved him. But there came a point at which it seemed the best thing they could do for Matty - and for themselves - was let him go. With unflinching honesty and raw emotional power, Cathy describes the unimaginable pain of losing her brother and the decision that changed her family's lives forever. As she delves into the past and reclaims memories that have lain buried for many years, Cathy reconnects with the bright, funny, adoring brother she lost and is finally able to see the end of his life as it really was - a last act of love. Powerful, intimate and intensely moving, this is a personal journey with universal resonance - a story of unconditional love, of grief, survival and the strength of the ties that bind. It's a story that will speak to anyone who has lost someone close to them, to anyone who has fiercely loved a sibling, and to anyone who has ever wondered whether prolonging a loved one's life might be more heartbreaking than saying goodbye.

My Review

I didn't read the blurb from this book when it came through so I wasn't too sure what the book was about. The first chapter sets you straight on that, Cathy is at the hospital, years melt away and we go back to life before the accident. Cathy and her brother are close, teenagers on the brink of their adult life. When Matty is hit by a car and left with horrific brain injury, Cathy and her family have to learn to cope and look after Matty and deal with this new life. From praying for his recovering, learning acceptance of his condition and finally undertaking the heartbreaking decision to do what is right for Matty and say goodbye.

I could have read this one sitting, sadly I had to keep putting it down to concentrate on my essay, however I read it in less than 24 hours. This is an honest and heart wrenching story of a families loss of a vibrant member of their family. Of learning how to give medical care to keep Matty alive and well cared for. To coming to terms with the harsh reality of his condition, trying to cope with loss, guilt, love, emotions, hope and the devastating truth. Medical and legal processes, trying to keep a family together after one of the most devastating life changing events and taking the reading on this brutally honest and emotional journey.

It isn't often after reading a book you want to reach out and hug an author, after this book I did. An honest account of one of the hardest aspects of a persons life and the decisions and thoughts that follow. Rentzenbrink opens up her world of hurt and devastation with such emotion that you can't help but be touched by what their family had to endure. Grief is not always just about death and The Last Act of Love opens up a different view of what the other side can be like. Bless him and his family, reading this tale will make you want to hug your loved ones tighter. Reading this book is a bit of a roller coaster of emotion, you can't help but be drawn into the families heartache and I think this will conjure up memories and personal loss for some readers. 5/5 for me, I feel I could go on and on about this book, it will certainly stay with me long after putting it down. Thanks so much to Waterstones for sending me a copy of this in exchange for an honest review and a chance to read a book I may not have normally considered.

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Lennox by Criag Russell

Lennox (Lennox, #1)Lennox by Craig Russell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 425

Publisher - Quercus

Blurb from Amazon

Glasgow, 1953: the war may be over but the battle for the streets is just beginning. Three crime bosses control the murky streets, but a small-scale con is trying to invade their territory. The balance is shifting. Lennox, a hard man in a hard city at a hard time, finds himself caught in the middle - a dangerous place to be.

One night, a body is discovered on the road, his head mashed to pulp, and Lennox is in the frame for murder. The only way of proving his innocence is to solve the crime - but he'll have to dodge men more deadly than Glasgow's crime bosses before he gets any answers.

The first in a unique and memorable crime series, Lennox is gritty, fast-paced, mordantly funny and totally compelling.

My Review

It is Glasgow, 1950s. There are crime bosses and small time criminals trying to carve a bit of business out for themselves. When a particularly brutal slaying of one of the small time players is carried out Lennox is called upon to investigate. Lennox is a private eye, has fists of steel and an attitude to match. He has no intention of getting involved until suddenly he is being fingered as a suspect and the police are turning up the heat. Can he uncover the killer before he goes to jail, or worse, is taken out!

This is the first in a series, Lennox is a hard man, not entirely likable to be honest, he is a bit of a cad to the ladies although his background gives some insight into his thought process and actions. He is intelligent, sly like a fox and tough enough to keep himself protected although manages to annoy and bring violence where he goes.

Good paced story, certainly a good start to a series, I liked reading a tale set in old Glasgow. It is littered with coarse language which some readers may find offensive. Can't say I loved any of the characters to be honest although they are cleverly created in fitting with the theme of the tale. 3/5 for me this time, I would read this author again.

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Saturday 4 July 2015

July Giveaway - 1 signed copy of The Betrayer by Kimberley Chambers

This months giveaway is a signed, brand new paperback copy of The Betrayer by Kimberley Chambers. My review can be found here

Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter the competition. As postal costs have increased, this giveaway will be restricted to UK entries only. The more Rafflecopter options you complete, the more entries you will have. The winner will be selected at the end of the month. Thanks for entering and good luck guys.

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