Wednesday 28 September 2016

Skin by Mo Hayder

Skin (Jack Caffery, #4)Skin by Mo Hayder
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - over 6 days

Pages - 384

Publisher - Bantam Books

Blurb from Goodreads

When the decomposed body of a young woman is found by near railway tracks just outside Bristol one hot May morning, all indications are that she's committed suicide. That's how the police want it too: all neatly squared and tidied away.

But DI Jack Caffery is not so sure. He is on the trail of someone predatory, someone who hides in the shadows and can slip into houses unseen.

And for the first time in a very long time, he feels scared.

Police Diver Flea Marley is working alongside Caffery. Having come to terms with the loss of her parents, and with the traumas of her past safely behind her, she's beginning to wonder whether their relationship could go beyond the professional.

And then she finds something that changes everything. Not only is it far too close to home for comfort - but it's so horrifying that she knows that nothing will ever be the same again.

And that this time, no one - not even Caffery - can help her ...

My Review

A young woman who has committed suicide or so it appears, DI Caffery is on the case and doesn't think it is quite so clear cut. Working alongside Police Diver Flea Marley the two try to get on with the job whilst acknowledging there is something between them. If that isn't enough to whet the appetite, Flea discovers something about her brother that could ruin both their lives and Caffery is being stalked. Can they solve the case, deal with their feelings and keep everything together whilst trying to deal with their own personal demons!

I wasn't sure if I had read Hayder before, I don't think I have and to be honest I think I need to start at the beginning of the series. Clearly a lot has transpired, it is after all the fourth book however I do feel the reader is at a disadvantage starting with this one and that is my fault. The chapters split between the two main police officers and we get a wee chapter here and there from the killer. There is some brutal animal treatment, in that they are skinned which made for really uncomfortable reading however it is relative to the main story line. I had major issues with the behaviour of one main character and some very questionable choices, I felt you had to suspend belief as I genuinely cannot see a cop doing some of the actions this one did. That in itself made the book a bit of a struggle for me and I failed to connect with any of the characters.

I am sure if you have read the previous books you may well love this one, I think my lack of knowledge on the back story impeded my enjoyment. I just couldn't get over some of the questionable choices made, maybe if I had read the previous books I would get where that character was coming from. Just a tad out of the realms of belief for me, coming from someone who likes horror and zombie reads I know I have a cheek! 3/5 for me this time, I would read this author again however I think I would make a point of reading the books in chronological order first.

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Tuesday 20 September 2016

Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak

Her Darkest Nightmare (The Evelyn Talbot Chronicles, #1)Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - < 1 day

Pages - 384

Publisher - Headline

Blurb from Goodreads

Evelyn Talbot knows that a psychopath can look perfectly normal. She was only sixteen when her own boyfriend Jasper imprisoned and tortured her—and left her for dead. Now an eminent psychiatrist who specializes in the criminal mind, Evelyn is the force behind Hanover House, a maximum-security facility located in a small Alaskan town. Her job puts her at odds with Sergeant Amarok, who is convinced that Hanover is a threat to his community…even as his attraction to beautiful Evelyn threatens to tear his world apart.
Then, just as the bitter Alaskan winter cuts both town and prison off from the outside world, the mutilated body of a local woman turns up. For Amarok, this is the final proof he needs: Hanover has to go. Evelyn, though, has reason to fear that the crime is a personal message to her—the first sign that the killer who haunts her dreams has found her again. . .and that the life she has so carefully rebuilt will never be the same…

My Review

Evelyn Talbot is our main character, we open when she is a teenager and has her first brush with a serial killer and near death experience. Fast forward to twenty years later, Evelyn is marked by her past experiences and now a Doctor studying some of the most depraved criminal minds. In an effort to understand the psychopaths, her past and predicting criminal behavior she is the pioneer of Hanover House, a mental health facility based in Alaska. Facing hostility from the local police form, still dealing with her past horrors, Evelyn is trying to keep it together and make a difference. When a mutilated body is found Evelyn's establishment comes under scrutiny and Evelyn has to face the possibility her past has come back to haunt her.

This is my first time reading this author, I cannot wait to read more by her and hope we get some answers I felt were left hanging from this book. Evelyn has many hangups, as you would expect, from the brutal sexual assaults and near death experience she suffered as a teenager. This drives her work as an adult and her career choice, she struggles with relationships and finds herself still looking over her shoulder. Attracted to Amarok, the local cop, Evelyn finds herself drawn to him and trying to work through her issues. The snow is thick and fast, there is a killer on the loose and the inmates at Hanover House may be behind bars but have a far reach!

Whilst there is a lot of dark topics in this book, sexual abuse, sexual deviancy, murder and torture there is also friendship, relationships, family, survival and personal growth. A story that engages the reader from the opening page, draws you in and keeps you up until the small hours to see where the story is going to go. 4/5 for me this time, I will be checking to see if this author has any other books and waiting impatiently for the next. Thanks so much to Bookbridgr for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review and introducing me to a new author, for me anyway.

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Monday 19 September 2016

The Comfort Of Others by Kay Langdale

The Comfort of OthersThe Comfort of Others by Kay Langdale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Publisher - Hodder & Stoughton

Pages - 230

Blurb from Goodreads

Minnie has always lived with her sister Clara in her family's beautiful, grand, yet increasingly dilapidated house Rosemount. Now in her seventies, she finds herself looking back to a life that has been shrouded with sorrow, and a painful secret that she has guarded since her teens.

Eleven-year-old Max, who lives opposite Minnie on the housing estate built in Rosemount's grounds, has grown up happily with his single mother. But his mum has begun a new relationship and suddenly life is starting to change.

As each of them tell their stories, she via a resurrected childhood journal, him via a Dictaphone, they spot each other through their bedroom windows and slowly and hesitantly an unlikely friendship begins to form.

A friendship that might just help Max come to terms with the present and enable Minnie, finally, to lay to rest the ghosts of her past...

My Review

Two main characters, Minnie is a seventy year old lady who has sequestered herself away in her home with her sister. Little Max is eleven, trying to come to terms with the new man in his mothers life and how his home and everything he knows is changing. Both catalogue their emotions and feelings in different mediums, Minnie in a written diary and Max on a Dictaphone, these two unlikely individuals form a friendship that helps the other cope and face the challenges in their lives.

This is a beautiful tale of an unlikely friendship, how both characters have suffered and have to face the obstacles that bar their happiness. There are some themes that are quite uncomfortable reading in the book, abuse, neglect, abuse of power however there are some beautiful and uplifting ones too. Friendship in the most unlikely of places that brings together two unhappy people, each dealing with their own turmoil, finding in each other happiness and strength to face their own demons.

Each chapter is headlined with the character it is centred on and alternates between the two, the chapters are relatively short in length. The writing itself en captures the reader quickly and draws you into the characters lives. Whilst Max and Minnie are characters you quickly warm to, Max's mother and her boyfriend quite often made for very uncomfortable reading. Overall it is a riveting wee read, happiness, sadness, secrets and some tough aspects covered with a beautiful tale of friendship. This was my first time reading this author and it won't be my last 4/5 for me this time.

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Sunday 18 September 2016

The Butcher's Theater by Jonathan Kellerman

The Butcher's TheaterThe Butcher's Theater by Jonathan Kellerman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 4 days

Pages - 628

Publisher - Bantam

Blurb from Goodreads

They call the ancient hills of Jerusalem the butcher's theater. Here, upon this bloodstained stage, a faceless killer performs his violent specialty: The first to die brutally is a fifteen-year-old girl. She is drained of blood, then carefully bathed and shrouded in white. Precisely one week later, a second victim is found. From the sacred Wailing Wall to the monasteries where dark secrets are cloistered, from black-clad bedouin enclaves to labyrinthine midnight alleys, veteran police inspector Daniel Sharavi and his crack team plunge deep into a city simmering with religious and political passions to hunt for a murderer whose insatiable taste for young women could destroy the delicate balance on which Jerusalem's very survival depends.

My Review

1985, they find the first mutilated body of a young unidentified female in the slopes of Mount Scopus, Jerusalem. Inspector Sharavi is on the case with his team and before too long another body appears. The team know they have a serial killer on their hands and a tough job investigating in a city where political agendas are explosive, the U.N do not appreciate any questioning and the detectives keep hitting walls of silence. With a dangerous psychopath on the loose, racism and poverty aiding the killer the police have to put their wits and possibly their lives on the line to bring the killer down, before they strike again.

This is a huge read, a lot of it peters out and around the characters, going back to their personal history or past or musings which detracts from the main story line. We also get an insight into the killers past and to present day. There is a lot of jumping around, many characters which took a bit of getting used to and I needed to go back a few times to keep my characters right.

The setting of the books location was very well suited, I have never been to Jerusalem however the landscape, caves, slopes and poverty stricken areas enabled the killer to camouflage himself and carry out his "work". The book is riddled with racism, hate, lack of respect for human life, abuse, torture, murder and most definitely not for the faint hearted. If you like reading about killers with expansive details on location and local behaviors this will be the book for you. 3/5 for me this time, I found the animal torture, sexual deviancy and side stories just a bit much however Kellerman does have a way with words.

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Wednesday 14 September 2016

Competition time

So, since we are two weeks into the month I am well overdue getting this competition up. This month I will be giving you guys the opportunity to win a bookmark. There are two up for grabs, as shown below. I have hosted this up on the Facebook page for SMBSLT for a wee change.

To be in with a chance of winning you just need to click here head over to Facebook, like the post, share and comment. This competition will run until the end of the month, open worldwide.

We may also have a wee Q&A feature coming up with a giveaway, keep your eyes peeled.

Honey I'm home

That is us back, got home last night after a lovely 12 days in Benidorm, our first visit there. My reading was significantly slowed down between the beautiful wee family of kitties and the all inclusive.

We found a lovely wee restaurant that did beautiful mojitos so ended up there a few times, right next to the beach front.

It had been a while since I read Kathy Reichs and came across the term websleuths, I hadn't heard about this despite all the crime/true crime drama I read. Apparently they are ordinary people who in their spare time look into missing persons, crimes etc. It was all really interesting and there are lots of websites dedicated to them.

The hotel had its own bookcase for guests to exchange books, I love this and wish every hotel did it. I manage to read only 10 books, all the ones I took and a few from the bookcase.

Here is a picture of almost the whole family on my last day <3

So I have a ton of reviews to catch up on, to sort the competition winner from last months comp and get this months up and running. I am thinking of doing a wee competition on the Facebook page for So Many Books So Little Time as well, however I need to sort all the post holiday washing & of course some more reading. xxx

Friday 2 September 2016

The Devils Work by Mark Edwards

The Devil's WorkThe Devil's Work by Mark Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time take to read - < 1 day

Publisher - Thomas & Mercer

Pages - 376

Blurb from Goodreads

A gripping psychological thriller from the bestselling author of Follow You Home and The Magpies.

When Sophie Greenwood returns to work after four years raising her daughter, she is ready for an exciting new challenge.

But after an unnerving encounter drags up memories she’d rather forget, things take a turn for the sinister. What is her ambitious young assistant really up to? And what exactly happened to Sophie’s predecessor? When her husband and daughter are pulled into the nightmare, Sophie is forced to confront the darkest secrets she has carried for years.

As her life begins to fall apart at work and at home, Sophie must race to uncover the truth about her new job…before it kills her.

My Review

Sophie Greenwood is taking a huge step in her life, going back to work after having her little girl AND it is her dream job. Head hunted for a prestigious publisher, Jackdaw Books, the world's most successful publishing company, Sophie is up for the challenge. However, Sophie has a connection to the head of the company, something from her past she would rather not revisit. Challenges arise in the form of her ambitious young assistant, work politics and soon it is evident someone is out to get Sophie. A spiral of events soon has Sophie on edge, questioning everything and putting her family and herself at risk!

So this is either my first Edwards book or it has been a very long time since I danced with this author. The opening chapter sets the hairs on the back of your neck up, we then go to Sophie's first day at work and drop in over a 50 odd day timeline from when her job began. With periods of throwback to Sophie's past we begin to get an insight into the connection with her employer and hints at what may have happened, building intrigue and mystery.

It begins as a slow burner well after the prologue, eerie and drawing an atmosphere where the reader holds their breath and the heart starts pounding. Particularly, for me, one office scene and I think those who know how bitchy an office environment can be and how quickly the tables can turn. Events transpire that set Sophie on edge, questioning who she can trust, impacting her relationships, behaviour and sanity. I think psychological thrillers are taking off right now, if you enjoy that genre you will love this book! Certainly won't be the last time I will be reading this author, 4/5 for me this time. Thanks so much to Thomas & Mercer for sending me a copy of this in exchange for an honest review. You can pick up your own copy on the 13/09/2017 from all good retailers.

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Some Girls Do by Clodagh Murphy

Some Girls DoSome Girls Do by Clodagh Murphy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - < 6 hours

Pages - 408

Publisher - Hachette Books Ireland

Blurb from Goodreads

Claire Kennedy is NiceGirl, the anonymous author of steamy online blog 'Scenes of a Sexual Nature'. An internet sensation, she attracts the attention of Mark Bell, a hot London publisher. But when it becomes clear that Mark is interested in more than just a book deal, Claire has to act fast. Because little does Mark know that NiceGirl is a lot more experienced in the bedroom than real-life Claire Kennedy.

Mark is offering Claire the life she's always dreamed of - a steady relationship, the literary world of London and a posh Highgate apartment.

But when Claire hires the services of struggling artist and commitment-phobe Luca to brush up on her sex skills, things get more complicated...

Great sex, friendship AND love ... can't a girl have it all?

My Review

Claire Kennedy lives a relatively quiet life, working in a book store, living with and looking after her mother. She lives through her online blog and Twitter as NiceGirl, author of a steamy sex blog. When she is offered a book deal and hits it off with the publisher Mark, Claire realises she needs someone to make her online exploits a reality and teach her the sexual expertise she has been claiming to have before she is exposed and loses it all.

Aw Claire is such a sweet girl, devoted to her mum who is a card, really funny lady although not a huge character she brings warmth and humour to the book. Luca is a friend of a friend, struggling artist but a Lothario with the girls and the answer to Claire's problem. They enter an agreement, Luca will give Claire private lessons to be everything she wants for Mark and Claire will pay Luca for the education.

A book that covers a sexual education, graphically written sex scenes in some parts, a budding friendship, humour, family and of course entries of the online blog Claire keeps. The book isn't just about sex, it also examines family values, love and a sister in law from hell, she is subtly portrayed but irritated me in just about every scene she appeared in. Claire's mum Espie is one of those wee diamond characters that whilst she doesn't feature hugely overall I love what her character brings to the story and how devoted Claire is to her. This was my first time reading this author, I would read her again, 4/5 for me!

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Almost The Perfect Murder by Paul Williams

Almost the Perfect Murder: The Killing of Elaine O'Hara, the Extraordinary Garda Investigation and the Trial That Stunned the Nation: The Only Complete Inside AccountAlmost the Perfect Murder: The Killing of Elaine O'Hara, the Extraordinary Garda Investigation and the Trial That Stunned the Nation: The Only Complete Inside Account by Paul Williams
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 283

Publisher - Penguin

Blurb from Goodreads

'A great book ... really comprehensive' Miriam O'Callaghan, RTÉ

'Fascinating' Pat Kenny, Newstalk

'It is very rare for murder to involve the degree of calculation revealed in this case' Irish Times

For over a year everyone assumed missing Dublin woman Elaine O'Hara had ended her own life. But after her remains were found gardaí discovered that Elaine was in thrall to a man who had spent years grooming her to let him kill her. That man was Graham Dwyer, a married father of three and partner in a Dublin architecture practice.

Almost the Perfect Murder details the exhaustive investigation - one of the most complex and chilling in Irish criminal justice history - that allowed gardaí to build a case against Dwyer. And it outlines the twists and turns - both in the courtroom and behind the scenes - during the dramatic trial that followed.

Almost the Perfect Murder contains startling new material based on extensive research conducted especially for the book. This includes fresh insights into the garda investigation and background information on Graham Dwyer.

This is the definitive account of the case that gripped the nation by Ireland's leading crime journalist, Paul Williams.

'An example of doggedness and tenacious police work, which saw that justice was done, and seen to be done' Irish Independent.

My Review

I had never heard of this case before, Elaine O'Hara went missing from Dublin in 2012, presumed to have committed suicide. Elaine had a long history of mental health issues and previous suicide attempts, a year later Elaine's body is found. The police discover evidence that points to murder and start a thorough investigation that uncovers the gruesome details and exploitation of a vulnerable woman.

Apparently if you followed the case when it was in the news there isn't much in this book that would be new. The police recover text messages sent between Elaine and her killer, very graphic and quite disturbing. Violence, blood letting, sexual torture, BDSM, exploitation and sexual deviancy. The book covers the run up to the trial, actual copies of text messages sent and received, personal items from the killer, sexual fantasies that many readers may find disturbing.

I have read a lot of true crime books, this is one of the more unsettling ones, I think because of the brutality of the relationship and how graphic the evidence is. The writing is relatively clear although I felt some of the timeline between events jumped a bit without clear distinction of how much time had lapsed. Otherwise, if you like true crime and don't mind stomach turning details of brutality then this book will be a winner for you, 3/5 for me.

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