Saturday 26 September 2015

The GraveDigger's Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates

The Gravedigger's DaughterThe Gravedigger's Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 19 days

Publisher - Harper Perennal

Pages - 582

Blurb from Goodreads

In 1936 the Schwarts, an immigrant family desperate to escape Nazi Germany, settle in a small town in upstate New York, where the father, a former high school teacher, is demeaned by the only job he can get: gravedigger and cemetery caretaker. After local prejudice and the family's own emotional frailty result in unspeakable tragedy, the gravedigger's daughter, Rebecca, begins her astonishing pilgrimage into America, an odyssey of erotic risk and imaginative daring, ingenious self-invention, and, in the end, a bittersweet - but very "American" - triumph. "You are born here, they will not hurt you" - so the gravedigger has predicted for his daughter, which will turn out to be true.

My Review

Rebecca Schwart aka Hazel Jones aka Hazel Gallagher is our main character. We open up with Rebecca reflecting 10 years post her fathers death. Then we skip to New York, Rebecca has another name and is living a working married lady who encounters a man following her and mistaking her for another woman. We follow this time in her life briefly before heading into her childhood and her life as the Gravedigger's daughter. Here we get a view of Rebecca's life and her journey into early adulthood. The story then goes to her life as an adult and the tale follows from there.

I don't know what I expected from this book however it wasn't what I got. The main theme is really just about Rebecca the individual, who progresses in her life and becomes Hazel. She goes through a lot of hardship, loss and hurt, we follow the life of her, her husband and her son. It then, I felt, abruptly changes, leaves you hanging although in the letters at the end it hints at the sons outcome. The chapters are quite short in length which I really did appreciate and generally like in a story and a warning that there is some bad language throughout. There are many themes touched upon within the story, Nazi's, war, grief, murder, suicide, violence, love, abuse to name just some that are covered.

I found the character of Rebecca/Hazel very different although she is shaped by things that happen to her, there isn't a clear cut reason to why the big change. The relationship with the men in her life is so different, this could be reflective of the time and past male influences. Some people have loved this book, I just found it really hard to get through. I can honestly say I think this is the longest I have read a book as I had to keep putting it down to try something else as my interest would drop. Some of it is quite interesting, the decline of her fathers mental health during and after the war, how her brother reacts to the town despising them. Rebecca's personal growth and changes, in between there was a lot I really didn't like and found it didn't hold my attention. Your left with questions and the ending, whilst is can be perceived as cleverly done and well thought out, it is also rather abrupt which I personally am not a fan of. 2/5 for me this time, this was my first time reading this author and I am not sure I would read her again. Her writing style just didn't engage me however, as I have said, some people really loved this book so I would suggest giving it a bash.

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Friday 25 September 2015

The Retribution by Val McDermid

The Retribution (Tony Hill & Carol Jordan, #7)The Retribution by Val McDermid
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 402

Publisher - Little Brown and Company

Blurb from Goodreads

There is one serial killer who has shaped and defined police profiler Tony Hill's life. One serial killer whose evil surpasses all others. One serial killer who has the power to chill him to the bone: Jacko Vance. And now Jacko is back in Tony's life - even more twisted and cunning than ever before.

My Review

I have only ever read 1 or 2 of McDemids books before, this one is 7th in a series. Whilst I didn't have any problems following the plot, I do feel I should have read the others before hand as there is history between some of the characters. Tony Hill is a profiler and very good at what he does, he is the main character along side Carol Jordan. Carol has a serial killer on the streets, taking out prostitutes and she may just need Tony's help. However a bigger killer is on the streets, Jacko Vance. Jacko is one of the worst killers they put behind bars and now Tony must focus all his attention on Jacko, before more bodies turn up.

Tony and Carol are complex characters, they are also involved although their relationship is on the down key. Carol is fiercely private, it is hard enough being a cop but to be a female and in charge of investigations, she has more to lose than the men in the department. It is a busy story, two killers, Tony & Carols relationship and the sidelines of everything going on between. However, McDermid makes it flow well and keeps you interest in all aspects of the story.

I think I will probably go back and get the earlier books in the series and maybe re read this one. Whilst I enjoyed the pace and how the story was done, I feel if I read the others I would have got a better insight into some of the actions of the characters.

There is quite a bit of gore involved so not for the faint hearted and some of the behaviours or choices or the characters annoyed me. I did question would someone behave in such a way and fiction isn't always what would happen in reality but it did annoy me in some aspects. The pace of the story changes also, it take a bit to get going and then it just seemed to speed up and end which also took a part of the enjoyment away for me. Still a good read and I do think this author is really talented at what she does, 3/5 for me this time though.

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Wednesday 23 September 2015

Las Vegas themed giveaway

Returning from Las Vegas I have brought some goodies home with me for a wee additional giveaway. A wee red totebag, a chip keyring and a Las Vegas pen as shown in the pictures. Apologies the pictures are showing on their side, I cannot for the life of me get them to upload the correct way.

This competition will run just past 2 weeks from the day of listing, as the items are small and light I am opening this up worldwide. As always, please use the Rafflecopter to enter, the more entries you complete the more chances you have of winning. Please feel free to share on the usual sites and good luck to all entering.

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The Good Neighbour by Beth Miller

The Good NeighbourThe Good Neighbour by Beth Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Publisher - Ebury Press

Pages - 424

Blurb from Goodreads

Everyone has secrets. How far will you go to protect yours?

After living next to the neighbours from hell, Minette is overjoyed when Cath and her two children move in next door. Cath soon becomes her confidante, a kindred spirit, even her daughter’s babysitter.

But Cath keeps herself unusually guarded and is reluctant to speak of her past. And when Minette witnesses something unspeakable, she begins to question whether she really knows her new friend at all…

My Review

Minette is delighted to have a new neighbour, more so when she actually meets her & her two children. Minette has a 9 month old Tilly & is fairly bored at home, Cathy brings a new lease of life and some unexpected adventure. Cathy has secrets, she keeps her past to herself and as she as Minette get closer they both share secrets as their friendship grows. However, Cathy isn't exactly as she seems and Minette learns that having someone like Cathy as a friend may be not be the blessing she thought.

The book is split into chapters, headed by which character it is that is talking. The start of the story introduces us to the main characters, the neighbours. Abe, Minette & baby Tilly, Cathy the newest neighbour and her two children Davey and little Lola, over the way is the unbelievably handsome Liam and his partner. There are a few other characters spread out however these are our key players. It is hard to review everything I would like to say as Cathys past and secrets play a big part in it and aren't revealed until you get further into the story. Needless to say there are twists and turns, secrets, lies, betrayals, friendship, family and love to name just some of the themes going on.

Some of the characters diaologue with each other and certain behaviours were a source of frustration for me however that is one of my small complaints. I felt like a nosey neighbour, watching the ongoings of my other neighbours and I think this will hold attraction for many readers. It kept my interest, I think it was quite well done and I would read this author again, 4/5 for me this time. Thanks so much to the author and publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Saturday 12 September 2015

Septembers giveaway is a £5 Amazon Voucher

Greetings from Las Vegas :D Finally got a decent connection to the internet so thought I would take advantage and post the giveaway. As always, use the Rafflecopter below to enter, the more entries you complete the more chances you have to win.

This months giveaway is a £5 Amazon voucher. The competition will run until the end of the month. As always, thank you for stopping by, commenting, entering and good luck!

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Sunday 6 September 2015

The New Woman by Charity Norman

The New WomanThe New Woman by Charity Norman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2.5 days

Pages - 374

Publisher - Allen & Unwin

Blurb from Goodreads

Luke Livingstone is a lucky man. He's a respected solicitor, a father and grandfather, a pillar of the community. He has a loving wife and an idyllic home in the Oxfordshire countryside. Yet Luke is struggling with an unbearable secret, and it's threatening to destroy him.

All his life, Luke has hidden the truth about himself and his identity. It's a truth so fundamental that it will shatter his family, rock his community and leave him outcast. But Luke has nowhere left to run, and to continue living, he must become the person - the woman - he knows himself to be, whatever the cost.

My Review

Luke Livingstone is about to end his life, he has it all planned. He must save his family from his shame, he cannot live with his secret any longer. However, a chance encounter on a train makes Luke confront his demons and embrace his life long dream. In doing so and living the life he has always wanted, he may hurt everyone he loves and ruin everything he has ever known.

This is honestly not a book I would normally have picked up, just the title wouldn't grab me and I haven't heard of it before. This is the story of Luke Livingstone, coming to terms with what he has always known and embracing it. It is told through his voice and excerpts from Eilish, Luke, Kate, Lucia & a small part from Simon. How one mans actions and journeys can impact on a whole family and how they each deal with it.

It is a very emotive story, dealing with a subject that touches so many lives yet is still something we hear not very much of. Funnily enough, it isn't too long ago Caitlyn Jenner embraced the world, maybe this book and positive media may make it a more acceptable world so people aren't having to hide for years from who they really are.

The book examines relationships, friendships, love, fear, violence, marriage and trans gender related issues to name only some of the themes touched upon on this book. I found it hard to put down and I felt for most of the characters having to deal with such a huge issue it evoked empathy and really makes the reader think. 4/5 for me this time, this is my first time reading this author and I would read her again. Thanks so much to RealReaders for sending me a copy of this in exchange for an honest review and introducing me to a new author.

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Wednesday 2 September 2015

Untouchable by Ava Marsh

UntouchableUntouchable by Ava Marsh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 384

Publisher - Corgi

Blurb from Goodreads

They know who she is. She knows too much.

Stella is an escort, immersed in a world of desire, betrayal and secrets. It’s exactly where she wants to be. Stella used to be someone else: respectable, loved, safe.

When a fellow call girl is murdered, Stella has a choice: forget what she’s seen, or risk everything to get justice for her friend. In her line of work, she’s never far from the edge, but pursuing the truth could take Stella past the point of no return.

My Review

The first page opens with an intimidating scene, he has his hand around her throat and a message for her. We flip back to three years prior, Grace aka Stella is an escort, prostitute, working girl, a harlot, words Grace uses to describe herself. We slip into Stella's world, sex, drugs, debauchery & danger. This is what Stella does, this is what she is good at, this is her worth in the world. One of Stella's friends ends up dead, murdered and Stella can either let it go or put herself and those around her in grave danger, will she?

The story is dark, gritty and has some explicit sex scenes so it is definitely not for the easily offended or faint hearted. You are drawn into Stella's dark world, trying to work out how she ended up there, there are small clues to her former life, you know something bad happened that she is punishing herself for, but what? Your kept on the edge of your seat, there is danger from the opening page and your never sure what is coming next.

A strong debut novel, packs a punch and is lined with danger, action and keeps your interest. This is my first dance with this author, I will look out for her next. A strong 4/5 for me this time, will be recommending it to friends. Thanks so much to the author for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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The Mistress's Revenge by Tamar Cohen

The Mistress's Revenge. Tamar CohenThe Mistress's Revenge. Tamar Cohen by Tamar Cohen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 346

Publisher - Black Swan

Blurb from Goodreads

You think you are rid of me. You think you have drawn a line under the whole affair. You are so, so wrong.

For five years, Sally and Clive have been lost in a passionate affair. Now he has dumped her, to devote himself to his wife and family, and Sally is left in freefall.

It starts with a casual stroll past his house, and popping into the brasserie where his son works. Then Sally befriends Clive's wife and daughter on Facebook. But that's all right, isn't it? I mean, they are perfectly normal things to do. Aren't they?

Not since Fatal Attraction has the fallout from an illicit affair been exposed in such a sharp, darkly funny and disturbing way. After all, who doesn't know a normal, perfectly sane woman who has gone a little crazy when her heart was broken?

My Review

Silly Sally, thats what Clive called her. Clive whom she embarked upon a five year affair with, both married, both have children, both linked in each others circles. Now Clive has called time on the affair, Sally is seeing a therapist and keeping diary entries cataloging the affair and how she saw it all. Clive has moved on, Sally just can't let go and this is her story, of her fall from a loving mum, wife and career woman to one who is fully obsessed with her ex and her world is crumbling around her.

Firstly, there are no chapters in this book, there are page breaks, however it is almost a continuous monologue. Told in first person, Sally speaks clearly to Clive in her entries, there are no dates, she just launches in as if she is having a conversation, all one sided of course. Whilst this isn't my favourite type of layout, I think it serves its purpose, casting light onto just another aspect of how obsessive Sally is/has become.

I can't say I liked any of the characters, Sally is hard to like at all, selfish, obsessed, her behaviour and all consuming affair takes over everything. It is hard for the reader to witness the destruction to those around her, and Sally, whilst she is oblivious. I think this was smartly done in that these kind of situations you see the actions but not the insight of the mind or rational of the individual.

Whilst this was hard to read in parts it was hard to put down, understanding just how Clive managed to get Sally to that state, by manipulation and his actions was quite an insight. Whilst this is a work of fiction I am sure people can identify seeing behaviours like this with friends or family. Going by reviews, this is a marmite book, I think it was very well done however with such unlikeable characters one may require something lighter after finishing this. 4/5 for me this time, I have read Cohen before and I would read her again.

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