Friday, 17 December 2010

Criminal Plots Reading Challenge

I wasn't going to join any more reading challenges for 2011 but I saw this one and simply had to join in. I love Crime fiction and so it should be easy for me read the books for the challenge. I'm also hoping that I'll make some new discoveries by reading all the other reviews!

You can find full details of the challenge over at Criminal Plots Reading Challenge.

Harlan Coben - Darkest Fear

Myron Bolitar is a sports agent and part time investigator. He said that he had given up investigating until an ex-girlfriend from many years ago turns up unexpectedly with the news that her son needs a bone marrow transplant and the donor has gone missing. She wants Myron to track down the donor. Then she drops the added bombshell that Myron may be the boy’s father. The search for the donor reveals mysteries involving kidnapping, dark secrets and an F.B.I. investigation.

After reading Too Close to Home by Linwood Barclay many reviewers recommended Harlan Coben as a similar style writer. A quick scan of my to read pile revealed Darkest Fear so I decided to give it a go.

I enjoyed this book but I had one major problem with it: I really didn’t like the main character, Myron. I found him really irritating. He did grow on me a bit eventually, but I didn’t grow to actually like him. I liked his business partners / sidekicks Esperanza and Win and would have liked a little more of them in the book.

Darkest Fear is one of a series of books about Myron, maybe if I’d started at the beginning I’d have liked him more (or maybe not!). The fact that I haven’t read any of the previous books didn’t matter to the storyline at all. I get the feeling that I was missing a little background information but nothing of importance to the story in hand. The book worked well as a story in its own right.

I think it says a lot that although I found the main character incredibly annoying I still really enjoyed the book. I liked the writing style and the storyline and I didn’t manage to guess the outcome. It was somewhat farfetched but I don’t mind that, it is fiction after all.

I will definitely be on the lookout for more Harlan Coben in future, I may even read another of the Myron Bolitar books at some point.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Cy Flood – Sun, Sea and Sex: True Confessions of a Holiday Rep.

Cy worked as a holiday rep for ten years during the 1990’s in such popular holiday destinations as Spain, the Canary Islands and Greece. This book tells of some of his experiences over that time.

Having previously read and enjoyed Hotel Babylon and Beach Babylon (by Imogen Edwards-Jones) I thought I would probably enjoy this book as well as it’s a similar subject matter. Sadly though, this book did not live up to what was promised in the cover blurb.

It was interesting enough, I read it in a few days and doing so was by no means a chore but I feel that it left a lot to be desired. Most of the book was just about what the author thought of the places he had been. There was the odd amusing story but they were few and far between.

Something I noticed about the book was that there were a lot of typos. There really must have been a lot for me to notice them because that kind of thing generally passes me by. Whoever proof read it before it was sent to the printers should perhaps look for alternative employment!

I picked this book up second hand for £1 at the Book Barn which was a reasonable price, but had I paid the full cover price of £6.99 for the book then I would probably have thought it not worth the money.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Linwood Barclay – Too Close to Home

When the Langley family are murdered in their own home their neighbours, the Cutter family, are understandably worried. But what if the killer had gone to the wrong house? All of the family have their secrets so it’s a real possibility.

I really enjoyed this book and read it in just two days as it really pulled me in right from the start.

There was a good cast of characters who were well written and in the most part believable. The story was well written with good pacing that kept me gripped. As the secrets gradually come to light it’s fun trying to guess which ones are relevant and which are the red herrings. I did manage to guess who the killer was and why but not too far before it was revealed.

Too Close to Home was the first Linwood Barclay book that I have read but I will definitely be reading more in the future.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Stephen King Reading Challenge

Book Chick City are hosting a 2011 Stephen King Reading Challenge. When I saw this I just knew I had to join in as Stephen King is my favourite author and I have been looking for an excuse to re-read some Stephen King so this is perfect.
I am also following Floor to Ceiling Books' Dark Tower read along so that fits in quite nicely as well.

In fact I'd quite like to take part in all three reading challenges on Book Chick City as they all look fun but I think that this one and the Speculative Fiction one is enough for the time being!

Speculative Fiction Reading Challenge

Amanda at Floor to Ceiling Books has just announced a reading challenge for 2011 - the Speculative Fiction Reading Challenge.

I have decided to give it a go as it sounds fun. I have quite a lot of horror in my to read plie and some SF so it should be do-able. Plus I seem to be in a bit of a reading rut at the moment, gone frome reading a book a week to a book a month so hopefully this will spur me on!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Christopher Ransom – The Haunting of James Hastings

James Hastings works as a double for notorious rapper Ghost (think Eminem). When his wife Stacey is killed in a car accident he quits his job, a year later he is still struggling to come to terms with her death and when he meets a new woman, Annette, strange things start happening such as Stacey’s shoes appearing in the hallway and mysterious phone calls that originate from within the house when James is the only person there.

I had read and enjoyed Christopher Ransom’s first novel, The Birthing House, so I was interested to see what this next book had to offer. I preferred The Birthing House but I still enjoyed reading this book as well. James Hastings is a flawed character, but one with whom the reader is able to sympathise with most of the time.

The story was well paced, gradually building up the mystery and suspense. In places it was decidedly creepy. There were a few good and unexpected twists at the end (although this did make it slightly confusing at times). I think the book could have done without some of the epilogue though.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Rachel Vincent – Alpha

Alpha is the sixth and final book in the Faythe Sanders werecat series. It follows on almost immediately from where Shift left off. The pride and their allies are about to go to war against Calvin Malone and his followers, they know that it’s unlikely that they will all survive and there are some tough decisions ahead, especially for Faythe.

Rachel Vincent proved in previous books in the series that she is not afraid to kill off major, popular characters and this book was no exception to that. I had previously guessed one of the characters to be killed but that didn’t lessen the impact of it when it eventually did happen.

Faythe also has to choose between the two men she loves, Marc and Jace. There are plenty of occasions in the book where it could go either way. Personally I wanted her to choose the other one, but nonetheless the decision was made in a satisfying way and I didn’t feel that the reader had been cheated out of a proper decision which could easily have happened.

I had been really looking forward to this book and I was certainly not disappointed by it. The only downside is that this is now the end of the series!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Karin Slaughter – Fractured

Abigail Campano has her life torn apart when she returns home one afternoon to find her home broken into, her daughter dead and a man with a knife heading towards her. Agent Will Trent and Detective Faith Mitchell are assigned to the case. They have to unravel the events and find a missing girl but time is not on their side.

I have had this book in my to read pile for some time and having never read any Karin Slaughter but having heard good things about her I decided it was time to give it a go. I generally prefer British crime fiction to American. I think because I have a better understanding of how the British police work so I do tend to push the American books aside in favour of the British ones a lot of the time. That said I do enjoy American crime fiction with Jeffery Deaver being among my favourite authors.

I think Fractured is the second book about Agent Will Trent. I have not read the first but that didn’t matter, the story worked well as a stand alone book in its own right. I think there were some references to the previous book but I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything by not having read it.

The story was good and the pace was just right throughout, keeping me wanting to read on. The characters were on the whole, well written, believable and likeable.

Although I enjoyed reading the book it wasn’t spectacular. I will be reading more Karin Slaughter in the future (especially if it is a follow on to Fractured as I am interested to read more about Will Trent and Faith Mitchell) but I won’t be rushing to do so immediately.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Tania Carver – The Creeper

Suzanne Perry has a stalker. He crept into her bedroom at night, she thought it was a nightmare until she found a photo of herself sleeping stuck to her bedroom window the next morning. There are other young women that have gone missing and a body has turned up on a boat. DI Phil Brennan is assigned to the case but he has problems of his own.

This was the first book that I have read by Tania Carver and I enjoyed it. The characters were well written and believable and the plot was good. The pacing was just right throughout as well.

The parts that I didn’t enjoy quite as much were the events surrounding DI Phil Brennan’s personal life. I think I would have enjoyed this more if I had read Tania Carver’s first novel, The Surrogate, as from what I can gather it was set up in that book so having not read it I was unaware of the reasons behind certain things. This was a minor thing though which didn’t take up much of the plot so didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the book.

I will definitely be looking out for future releases by Tania Carver and will read The Surrogate at some point as well.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn – 102 Minutes: The untold story of the fight to survive inside the Twin Towers.

At 8:46am on Tuesday 11th September 2001, American Airlines flight 11 hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York. 102 minutes later both towers had collapsed and 2749 lives were lost. This book tells the story of the people inside the towers, those trying to escape and those that went there to help.

Everyone knows where they were on September 11th 2001. In a way it’s like the JFK moment for my generation. I remember that day as clearly as if it were yesterday. I was not personally affected but I knew people that were. I was at university at the time (about to start my second year). The husband of one of the mature students on my course had been in New York working on that day. He had in fact been scheduled for a morning meeting in the World Trade Center. Luckily for him the meeting got cancelled the night before so he was safely in his hotel room elsewhere in the city when the aircraft struck. His wife was unaware that the meeting had been cancelled, so she had no idea if he was still alive, and because of communication issues it was days before they were able to contact each other. At work, one of the secretaries had a cousin who was working in the World Trade Center at the time. She survived but lost a leg. There are so many stories like these we will only ever hear a fraction of them.

I’m fascinated by the events of that day. It feels wrong to say that but nonetheless it’s true. Channel 4 always show good documentaries around the anniversary of the attacks which I make an effort to watch so when I saw this book I had to get it. I had been planning to read the book ready to review for September 11th but I got behind with my reading so I’m a little late. The book actually took me almost two weeks to read which is quite a long time by my standards (I read most books in under a week). It was heavy going, I found I was mostly only able to read one chapter at each sitting. It was a lot to take in, both in the amount of information contained in the text and the emotional side to it as well.

I found the book to be well written and easy to follow. Because it followed the stories of so many different people it did on occasion become a little difficult to remember who was who, but on the whole the authors did a good job of making sure that the reader knew whose story was currently being told. The ones that particularly stood out for me were Doris Eng and Christine Olender, trapped on the top floors of the North Tower in the restaurant, Windows on the World with no way of escaping. Ed Beyea and his friend Abe Zelmanowitz. They were below the impact zone in the North Tower waiting for help, Ed was a wheelchair user so could not use the stairs and Abe wouldn’t leave him. Roko Camaj, a window cleaner in the South Tower and Firefighter Orio J Palmer who was the first rescuer to make it to the impact zone in the South Tower. These are just a very small selection of those whose stories are told in the book. The stories were obtained from interviews with survivors and relatives of those who died and also from recordings of telephone calls made to the emergency services and messages left on the answer phones of loved ones.

As well as telling the human side of the story the book also looked at the reasons why the towers collapsed so quickly and why the planes caused such devastating damage preventing everyone above the impact zone in the North Tower from escaping. Most people above the impact zone in the South Tower also died as despite there being an intact stairway only 18 people managed to find it and escape successfully.

One thing that annoyed me slightly about the book was the continual references and comparisons to the sinking of the Titanic. I can see why the authors may have wanted to draw comparisons but once or twice would have sufficed. I actually find the sinking of the Titanic quite interesting as well, but if I want to read about that then my husband has plenty of books on the subject that I can read.

I liked the diagrams that were included in the book. They helped to give a better idea of the damage such as were the impact zones were and how the stairways and supporting columns were damaged.

I felt at times the book was needlessly political. Whilst I did find it interesting it didn’t really seem to fit all that well. The book is marketed as a story about what it was like inside the towers and the content about the whys of it all did seem to detract from that a little.

That said the book was good and very interesting, although also emotionally draining as can be expected from a text dealing with such a subject. I have picked up more information from the book than I have from the documentaries, I think the information sinks in better when I read it. If you have an interest in the events of September 11th 2001 then this book is definitely worth a read.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Dom Joly Talk and Book Signing

Last Thursday I attended a talk and book signing by Dom Joly at Waterstones in Bristol Galleries (or The Mall Bristol as it’s now called, not to be confused with The Mall Cribbs Causeway!). I was pleased that he was coming to Bristol as we had been planning to go to his book signing in Bristol for his autobiography “Look at me, look at me” a few years ago but it unfortunately got cancelled.

We arrived just on time for the 7pm start and found some seats in the second row. Unfortunately, just before the talk started a large man sat in the seat in front of me which restricted my view somewhat!

Dom was promoting his new book “The Dark Tourist”. He spoke about the places he had visited for the book and his experiences there and showed photos from the trip. He spoke in a very entertaining manner and I thoroughly enjoyed the talk and would have been happy for it to go on much longer. He then opened up for questions from the audience. I’m not generally a fan of audience questions as they can end up being repetitive, pointless or just plain bizarre! A few of the questions asked did fall into those categories but there were a few good questions asked as well. The music from Trigger Happy TV was mentioned which I found particularly interesting as I like the music from the show.

After that we queued up to get our books signed. Dom was friendly and nice, he signed our books and I got a photo with him which you can see below.

Dom Joly

Looking forward to reading the book now. If it’s even half as good as the talk then it will be a good read. I will definitely make to effort to go to another signing if he releases any more books in the future.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Richard Matheson – I Am Legend

Robert Neville is the last man alive, the rest of the population have become bloodthirsty vampires. He spends his days safeguarding his home, killing the vampires and searching for a cure. He spends his nights barricaded in his home trying to drown out the vampires that gather outside trying to get him.

I was looking forward to reading this book as it sounded like just the kind of thing I like. I had seen the film some time ago but couldn’t really remember it very well (in fact I couldn’t even remember it was vampires, I thought it was zombies but that came back to me once I started reading).

I was certainly not disappointed with the book. I enjoyed it very much and read it quite quickly. Before starting I was a little disappointed that it was so short but having now read it I think the length was just right, it would not have gained anything from being any longer, in fact it may have been the worse for it.

I think the loneliness of Robert Neville was captured well. I particularly liked the chapters with the dog which really illustrated this well. I found the book to be well written, enjoyable and quite thought provoking. I would definitely recommend it.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Louis Theroux – The Call of The Weird: Travels in American Subcultures.

I really enjoy watching Louis Theroux’s documentaries and have watched most of them so when I saw this book I had to have it. He has a unique and entertaining style and this is carried across in the book almost as well as on the television.

The names of the chapters are the names of the people who are the main subjects and looking down through the list I recognised many of those names. Even the ones that weren’t familiar at first glance soon came back to me as I stared reading their chapter. There were just two exceptions to this, Ike Turner, as that documentary never got finished and Oscody of the Heavens Gate cult as this is one of the episodes that I have missed.

It was very interesting to see how the peoples lives had changed. I especially liked the chapters about JJ Michaels, the porn star and Jerry Gruidl, an Aryan. Jerry is particularly fascinating as on one hand he comes across as a nice man, he seems quite kind and helpful in many ways but then he reveals his very strong racism and hatred towards non-white people and Jews which is a complete contradiction to the nice side of his personality.

You would be able to read and enjoy this book not having watched the documentaries as Louis includes a summary of his previous visit to that person in each chapter but I think having a knowledge of the programmes helps make the book more enjoyable.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Esther Verhoef – Close-up

Margot has recently split up with her long term partner after he had an affair with her best friend. She is bored in her job and her self esteem is at an all time low. When she meets Leon and starts a relationship with him everything changes. He brings her confidence back and helps her to leave her job and go after her dream of doing daring interior design projects. But Leon has secrets that he doesn’t want to talk about. His previous girlfriend died in his bath. The police believe she committed suicide, but in fact she was murdered.

I picked this book up in The Works a while back as it sounded intriguing. I’m so glad I did!
The book is well written, the translation was well done (the book was originally written in Dutch) and the characters are believable and on the whole likeable. The plot is engaging and suspenseful, I hated having to stop reading to do such things as go to work or sleep!

Most of the book is written following Margot but every so often there are chapters that are written in the first person perspective from the point of view of the killer. I really liked that and thought it really enhanced the book. I also loved the ending. It was not what I had expected but it worked perfectly.

I will definitely be looking out for more books by Esther Verhoef in future. I believe Close-up is currently the only one that has been translated into English so far but another is due out later in the year. Close-up is one of my favourite books that I have read so far this year and I am excited to see what else Esther Verhoef can offer.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Carol Smith – Fatal Attraction

Rose is a mathematical genius and talented musician. In her first year at Oxford University she sees Joe playing jazz in a local bar. He is in his final year studying physics. His musical talent and strong intellect appeal to Rose and she rapidly becomes obsessed with him. Even after he marries her sister, Rose will not give up. She will do anything to make him hers, even murder.

This book was not really what I had expected. I thought it would be based around the planning and committing of a murder (or murders) and to some degree it was, but this was only a small part of the overall story. The story is set over approx. a twenty year period following Rose’s life and her obsession with Joe.

I found the story quite enjoyable, although it was a little slow in places and did feel repetitive at times. It reminded me a lot of Barbara Vine in many ways (although less complex and not as well written), and I would recommend anyone that enjoyed this book to try a Barbara Vine. Fans of Barbara Vine might enjoy this as long as they don’t set out with expectations too high, whilst the style is similar Carol Smith’s storytelling and writing is much less sophisticated.

This book was a quick read, taking me just a few days. There was a twist at the end but I saw that coming from a long way off. It was so obvious in fact that I thought maybe it wasn’t going to happen and it was a red herring, but sadly not. That said I will still read another Carol Smith book in the future. There is plenty of room for improvement so will try another to see if that improvement is forthcoming.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Imogen Edwards-Jones & Anonymous –Fashion Babylon

Tales (supposedly all true) from fashion industry insiders set around a fictional designer and her team over a six month period.

I have read Air, Hotel and Beach Babylon and enjoyed them all so decided to read Fashion as I managed to get a cheap copy. The fashion industry is not something that really interests me but I thought the book would be entertaining anyway. It was but not hugely so. Perhaps someone more interested in fashion would get more out of it but I found it pretty slow going and quite repetitive in places.

Also, as I said before I don’t know much about the fashion industry but the book didn’t really tell me anything new. It’s fairly obvious that there is going to be partying with lots of drinking and drug taking, that ideas are going to be stolen and that models get funny if they expect to be first on but end up being moved down the running order.

That said, it was still a fairly entertaining read. It just didn’t live up to the other Babylon books, but I think that had more to do with me and than the book itself. I am still looking to get Pop and Wedding Babylon to read in due course (and as these are subjects that interest me more than fashion I have higher hopes for those).

Monday, 16 August 2010

Alexandra Sokoloff – The Harrowing

Its Thanksgiving holiday and most of the students from Baird College have left to spend the long weekend with their families. In the old Mendenhall building just five students remain. They find an old ouija board and start using it one stormy night. Strange occurrences start and the students have to work out what is going on and how to stop it.

OK, so it’s not the most original story line but it was entertaining. I liked the characters and I enjoyed the storyline even though it was a little predictable. I really liked the way it was written as it was pretty much a film in book format if that makes sense. I could picture it all and I could easily see it as a low budget horror film.

I didn’t find it at all scary but then I’ve read and watched a lot of horror over the years and may be a little de-sensitised to it. I can’t even remember the last time a book scared me (or a film for that matter) so if you do scare easily then you may find this scary, I can’t really say as it’s all subjective.

If you like horror and fancy a quick entertaining read then you should enjoy this book. If you want deep and meaningful or new and different then this is not the book for you.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Dean Koontz – Breathless

Grady Adams is out walking his dog when he witnesses two strange creatures running in the meadow. He contacts his vet friend Cammy Rivers to see if she can shed any light on what they might be. She too is amazed by the creatures and emails photos to some contacts for their opinion. Before they know what is happening Homeland Security have sealed off the area and taken the creatures for testing. Grady and Cammy are horrified by this and set about trying to do something about it.

This book is a little slower paced than Dean Koontz’s usual offerings but it is still unmistakeably Koontz. I’m sure that I could identify writing by Dean Koontz in a “blind” reading as he has a very distinctive style. Plus in his more recent novels the main character is pretty much the same person, just repackaged a little. That’s more of an observation than a criticism, I’ve read most of Dean Koontz’s books and enjoy them very much.

Breathless seemed to me to take a while to get going and to be honest, whilst it did pick up the pace a little towards the end it never really took off. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, because I did. I just feel that perhaps something was missing. I really liked the ending, I think it was apt and worked well, but the journey to get there could have been better.

There were lots of separate sub-plots that at first seem to have no connection to one another but all linked together cleverly at the end. I particularly enjoyed the stories of the man in the Vegas casinos and Tom Bigger, a homeless man. There was one sub-plot that had almost no bearing on the story whatsoever and could easily have been left out with no detriment to the book at all, although it would have left the book considerably shorter as it was one of the more in depth sub-plots, but to me it didn’t add anything to the story and was the one I enjoyed the least.

I did quite enjoy this book but it’s certainly not one of my favourite Den Koontz offerings. If you like Dean Koontz then you should like this book. However, if you have never read anything by Dean Koontz I would suggest starting elsewhere in order to see what he is truly capable of.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

David Long – The Little Book of the London Underground

I picked this book up at the London Transport Museum shop in London recently as I have a long held fascination with the underground. The book is a potted history of the underground, packed full of interesting facts and information. It covers pretty much everything from the first attempts at building the underground through to wartime usage, abandoned stations and the underground in popular culture. Of course, because it covers such a large subject in a small book it is not able to go into much detail, but it gives a good overview on the subject.

It is written in a light and entertaining style. Its easy to dip in and out of and I think would be of interest to those with a passing interest in the underground right through to those with a keener interest looking for a good starting point.

It has certainly re-ignited my interest in the subject and I will be going back and continuing to read another book on the subject which I started reading some time ago but didn’t get round to finishing at the time. I will be looking out for books on abandoned stations as these are of particular interest to me. I also found the wartime usage chapter very interesting and will be looking to read further on that as well at some point.

I enjoyed the Little Book of the London Underground and would certainly recommed it.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Charlie Higson - The Enemy

Some kind of plague has struck, affecting everyone over fourteen. Some die, others turn into zombie type creatures that want to kill and eat the living children. The story follows a group of kids from the Camden area of London approximately one year after the plague happened. They have set up home in a supermarket and survive by scavenging for food in the surrounding area. When they hear that central London is safer and that another group of kids have set up home in Buckingham Palace where they are able to grow food and keep animals they decide to make the journey across London to try and build a better live for themselves.

I saw this book advertised on T.V. back when it was first released and I really liked the sound of it. Anything post-apocalypse and you immediately have my interest. I didn't realise at first that it is a children's book, so I was disappointed when I found out. It still sounded good though and there is a warning on the back that it contains strong language and violence so that was a good sign!

The story has a large cast of main and supporting characters that are well written and believable. The plot was gripping with lots of tension and atmosphere. One thing I particularly liked is that the author is not afraid to kill off major characters. I like that in a book, it adds tension and mystery because if a character gets into a dangerous situation you don't know if they are going to survive or not.

I have a niggle with the book. This is that the zombies are referred to as "mothers" and "fathers" (as opposed to men and women) which really grated on my nerves. Having read the extract from the sequel at the back of the book I now know the reason for this, but that doesn't make it any less irritating.

Having said that it had very little impact on my enjoyment of the book which overall I thoroughly enjoyed. It was also fairly easy to forget that it is a children's book, I think it's a book that would be enjoyed by anyone that is into zombies and / or post apocalypse regardless of age. There is quite a lot of violence in the book so some parents may want to read it first before letting younger children loose on it. The swearing was minimal, the only swearword I recall seeing was "bastards". Most of the time the actual word is avoided and replaced with something like "Akkie swore loudly" and I would think that most kids know more swearwords than their parents would like to admit anyway!

So overall I really enjoyed this book and recommend it. I am looking forward to reading the sequel when it is released later in the year.

Monday, 26 July 2010

John Harvey – Far Cry

In 1995 Heather Pierce went missing while on holiday in Cornwall. Thirteen years later her mother has remarried and has another daughter, Beatrice who is approaching her 10th birthday. When Beatrice goes missing DI Will Grayson is assigned to the case. Is there a connection between the disappearances? On top of this a local paedophile has recently been released from prison and DI Grayson is concerned that he is likely to re-offend.

I haven’t summed up the plot very well but hopefully you get the gist. I like the way in which the different plot strands intertwine throughout this book. The Main ones are the 1995 disappearance of Heather, the present day disappearance of Beatrice and the local paedophile. There are also a few smaller ones as well. It’s not as complicated as I’ve managed to make it sound though!

I really enjoyed this book. The pace was just right and the different parts of the story linked together well. The characters were well written and the story interesting and engaging. The book is reasonably long but it only took me a few days to read it. I had not read any John Harvey before but will certainly be looking to read more of his books in the future.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Marco Perella – Adventures of a no Name Actor

Marco Perella is a successful actor who has had roles in many films and television shows but he is not a famous actor as his roles are normally smaller supporting roles such as “Highway Patrol Man”. He lives in Texas with his family and most of his acting work is done in his home state which is a contributing factor to why he has not become famous as in order to get leading roles you pretty much have to live in LA (or be prepared to travel there a lot).

The memoirs were entertaining and gave a good, if a little brief, insight into the world of film and television acting. I liked the way that the book was written and the anecdotes about meeting with famous actors. I also enjoyed the insight into the process of film making from the auditions through the filming.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Charlaine Harris – Dead in the Family

This is book ten in the Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) series and I had been eagerly anticipating its arrival.
Sookie is still recovering from the Fae war and Eric is still under pressure from the new regime, a situation that is not helped by the arrival of his maker and “brother”.

I did enjoy reading this book, I read it in just two sittings, but I felt that it was a little lacklustre and uneventful. There was no main plot, just several small sub-plots linked together and not a great deal really happened. Perhaps that was even more noticeable because Dead and Gone (book 9) was so eventful so it was a case of going from one extreme to the other.

I always enjoy plot lines involving Eric and it was interesting to learn a little more about his history and his “family” and that plot line was the most eventful. I also liked the sub plot about Sookies nephew Hunter, it will be interesting to see how that develops.

The book was enjoyable and worth reading for people already into the series but certainly not one of the best of the series, still looking forward to the next instalment.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Rachel Vincent – Shift

This is book five in the Faythe Sanders werecat series. It follows on about two weeks after the events of Prey. Faythe is still recovering and the pride is on the brink of war when they come under attack from a flock of Thunderbirds.

This book wasn’t as good as Prey (I’d have been surprised if it had been) but it was still very enjoyable. Again lots of fast paced action but overall it felt like it was really just setting everything up for the next book which I believe is going to be the last in the series. There are still unresolved issues carrying on from Prey and I’m really looking forward to finding out what happens. Just have to wait until October now!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Rachel Vincent – Prey

Prey is the fourth book in the Faythe Sanders werecat series. This book follows on approx. two months after the events of Pride. Marc has been exiled to the free territory and Manx is facing trial for murder. The pride are under increasing difficulties due to disorder within the territorial council and when Marc goes missing Faythe has to try to find him before its too late.

This book blew the others out of the water, it was the best so far by a long shot. It is packed with action, emotion and some unexpected occurrences. Faythe is really developing as a character, she has had to grow up a lot over the events of the series and this shows even more in Prey.

A lot happens in this book (one of which I really want to mention but it’s a big spoiler so I wont) but it doesn’t feel rushed or overrun with things going on. I couldn’t put it down!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Rachel Vincent – Pride

This is book Three in the Faythe Sanders, Werecat series. This book follows on shortly after the events of Rogue and focuses on Faythe’s trial and the events surrounding it. Faythe stands accused of infecting her ex-boyfriend from college and then killing him to cover it up. If found guilty of these crimes she could face the death penalty. The trial takes an unexpected turn of events when it becomes clear that there are some unruly strays in the surrounding forest along with some missing humans. Faythe must help get to the bottom of the mystery and prove her worth.

This book is my favourite so far in the series. I really enjoyed it and read it really quickly. It has the typical fast pace that I have come to expect from the books. Again this book builds to a final climax although this time it didn’t feel like the ending was rushed. Its fairly obvious that Faythe is not going to be executed seeing as there are three (one not yet released) more books about her to follow but that doesn’t detract from the story at all and indeed the outcome is bittersweet.

I’m very much looking forward to the next instalment.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Rachel Vincent – Rogue

This is the second book in the Faythe Sanders werecat series and follows on shortly after where Stray finished.
Faythe is now working as an enforcer for her father. When Toms (male werecats) have started to turn up dead on the prides territory they must find out who is behind the attacks and put a stop to it.

Again I really enjoyed this book, although not quite as much as Stray. It was nice to see further development of the characters and get to know them a little better. As before there was plenty going on and the pace was quite fast. The momentum built up to the big finish but to me the ending seemed a little rushed and I think it would have benefited from being a little longer.

That said it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book and I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Rachel Vincent – Stray

This is the first in a series of books about werecat Faythe Sanders. Faythe has been away at college for the past five years. However, when other female werecats (tabbies) start to go missing Faythe’s father, the alpha of the pride, forces her to come home for her own protection. The pride must work out who is behind the kidnappings and put a stop to it before any more tabbies go missing.

At over 600 pages this book is quite long (although personally I like long books) but it certainly didn’t feel it. It was quick and easy to read. The action was fast paced and flowed well. I’ve read several reviews of this book where the reviewers have said they didn’t like Faythe, I can see why people would say that but I liked her. Faythe is far from perfect and she makes mistakes but I think that helps the character as it makes her more real. I don’t want to read about perfect individuals who can do no wrong so its nice to have a main character with flaws.

I have ordered the rest of the books and I am looking forward to seeing where the series goes.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Richard Laymon – One Rainy Night

Ten years or so ago I used to read a lot of Laymon, in fact I think I managed to read most of his books. After his death in 2001 there were a couple of new releases but since its impossible to write from beyond the grave there hasn’t been anything since. I was browsing a second hand bookshop a few weeks ago when I found One Rainy Night, reading the blurb on the back it didn’t sound familiar so when I got home that evening I checked my bookshelves to make sure I didn’t have it. I didn’t, so the next day I went back and bought it.

The basic synopsis is that one evening a strange black rain starts falling over a small town. The rain sends anyone it falls on into a homicidal rage going after people to kill, especially the dry ones.

The book was fairly standard Laymon. Lots of sex and violence (in fact I’d forgotten just how violent his books can be, I think I’ve gotten more squeamish as I’ve got older). It was a quick read but enjoyable. Not among his best, but the characters were likeable and the fast paced action was engaging. I tend to prefer the more realistic storylines but for £2.50 it was good for keeping me occupied on a train journey to London and back (although I did feel a tad self conscious reading my horror novel when the people all around me were reading things like The Times and New Scientist)!

Having read this book I feel tempted to go back and re-read some of the Richard Laymon books I read years ago. I always feel guilty about re-reading though, as my to read pile is so big but as it’s been so long since I last read the books it will almost be like reading for the first time anyway. I have got some other re-reads planned as well so I’ll have to see.

If you want a fairly quick, easy, entertaining read and are not adverse to blood and gore then One Rainy Night should satisfy. If you want deep and meaningful you best look elsewhere.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Barbara Vine – No Night is too Long

This is the story of Tim Cornish and the events surrounding the murder of his lover Ivo. It is written in the first person, mainly as an account written down by Tim in an attempt to exorcise some of the guilt that he feels.

I was very quickly drawn into this book and hooked by the story. The characters were well written and the story engaging and suspenseful. One of the things I particularly like about Barbara Vines books is the way in which they build slowly and have excellent insight into the characters and this book did not disappoint.

Nice twists at the end, some east to spot and some not so.

Overall very enjoyable and would certainly recommend although if you have never read any Barbara Vine I’m not sure this one would be the best place to start (I’d suggest Grasshopper or The Chimney Sweeper's Boy as a good starting point).

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The Book Habits Meme

I saw this on Floor to Ceiling Books (who saw it on Genre Reader and The World in the Satin Bag) and I thought it was fun and interesting so decided to give it a go myself.

Do you snack while you read? If so, favourite reading snack:

Very rarely. I tend to find it too distracting. Occasionally I may eat some biscuits or a bar of chocolate but only if I’m really hungry!

What is your favourite drink while reading?

I normally don’t drink while reading either! When I do then it’s blackcurrant squash. Or maybe a hot chocolate if I feel cold.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?

I couldn’t write in a book ! If I do want to mark something I’ll use a scrap of paper or a post it note but that is very rare anyway.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?

I use a bookmark. At the moment I am using a Budleigh Salterton postcard as my bookmark. I did have a proper bookmark but my husband replaced it with the postcard so that’s what I’m now using. I have also been known to use leaflets (Kelevdon Hatch being the favourite) as bookmarks and even an old envelope in the absence of anything better. I will also lay the book flat to keep the place if I’m only leaving it for a short period. Anything longer than a couple of minutes and the bookmark goes in. I NEVER turn down the corner. I hate that.

Fiction, non-fiction, or both?

Mostly fiction. For me reading is a fun pastime done for entertainment and fiction delivers that. I do occasionally read non-fiction as well though. I enjoy a good autobiography and I enjoy reading non-fiction books on subjects that are of particular interest to me (most notably seaside piers, I have a good collection of books on the subject).

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?

I prefer reading to the end of a chapter but I will stop in other places as well. I have to get to a convenient stopping point though such as the end of a paragraph. I couldn’t stop mid-sentence or at the end of a sentence mid-paragraph. When I was a child I always insisted on reading to the end of the chapter. That was mostly a ruse to get more reading time when told to stop reading and go to sleep though!

Are you the type of person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you?

No. I’d have to be really, really irritated to even come close to throwing the book and I’d probably have stopped reading the book long before I got to that point if it was that bad.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?

No, I don’t like interrupting my reading flow. I can generally work out what words mean anyway (if not the exact meaning then at least a general idea of what it means).

What are you currently reading?

I have just started No Night is too Long by Barbara Vine.

What is the last book you bought?

I bought 3, I went into a new shop that had opened up and was just leaving when I noticed their book section which contained cheap books. I came away with 102 Minutes – The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn; The Road Taken by Michael Buerk (autobiography) and another book about an unknown actor who does extra work (it’s called something like Tales of an Unknown Actor) but I can’t remember the exact title or author at the moment and a quick search of Amazon has proved fruitless (it’s at home and I’m at work which is why I can’t just get the book and have a look).

Are you the type of person that reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?

Just one at a time for me. I can’t understand why people would want to read more than one book at once anyway.

Do you have a favourite time/place to read?

My favourite place to read is in bed. I mostly read before going to sleep. I’ll read pretty much anywhere though except for in a car / coach / bus as that makes me feel sick !

Do you prefer series books or stand alones?

I like both. If I had to choose I’d go for stand alone but there are some great series as well. Ones that spring instantly to mind are the Dark Tower books by Stephen King and the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris (of which I am eagerly awaiting the release of book 10 in a few weeks).

Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?

It depends who I’m recommending too! But I have always loved Stephen King and will always recommend him (the particular book I recommend would depend on who I was recommending it too based on what they like). I would always recommend Swan Song By Robert R McCammon (I got my sister to read it and even she enjoyed it and we have very different reading tastes).

How do you organize your books?(by genre, title, author’s last name, etc.)

I keep all my signed books together (in no particular order) and all my first editions together (again no particular order, they are mostly Stephen Kings as I have tried to avoid starting other collections of first editions). My paperback books are just randomly scattered round the bookcases really! I have two dedicated Stephen King paperback shelves and I did start trying to group by author but it didn’t really last long! I’m tempted to sort them all out by author but I don’t have the time at the moment.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

John Connolly – The Reapers

This story centres around Reaper (assassin) Louis and his partner Angel who find themselves targets due to events in Louis’ past. They must draw on all of their experience and skill in order to survive.

For me this book was a slow starter, it took me a while to get into it, perhaps because I’ve been reading a lot of very fast paced books recently. This one started off quite slowly with the pace picking up gradually throughout.

I found the characters to be well written and likeable, my favourite being Willie Brew the everyman mechanic who is caught up in the events due to his association with Louis and Angel. One of the things I particularly liked about this book were the flash-backs into Louis’ past. It gave an interesting insight into his past and what had shaped him into the man he had become.

For me this book wasn’t one of those obsession books that I try to grab every possible second reading. However, once I got into it I did look forward to reading it each day and found it to be enjoyable.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Peter James - The Perfect Murder

I picked up this book in the supermarket the other day. It’s in a series called Quick Reads and it was exactly that! I didn’t really take much notice of how long it took me to read it but I read the whole book in one sitting that was less than an hour.

It was an enjoyable little book, fairly predictable but still engaging. It kept my attention throughout and made me want to keep reading it. I think it would work well as an episode of Murder In Mind (a series of stand alone TV dramas shown on the BBC a few years back).

I think this book would be good to read on a train journey as its quick and entertaining but doesn’t require too much thought.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Jeffery Deaver – Roadside Crosses

Although I had read the previous Kathryn Dance novel (The Sleeping Doll) I entered into Roadside Crosses thinking that I don’t really like Katherine Dance as a character. However, after a couple of chapters the book had me well and truly gripped and I now really like Kathryn Dance and am eagerly awaiting the next book about her, more so than Lincoln Rhyme. I think because she is a new character she is a lot more fresh. I also like her back story and am interested to see where that goes.

As for the book itself I really enjoyed it although I felt at times there was a little too much explanation. Having read The Sleeping Doll and the Lincoln Rhyme novel in which Katherine Dance was introduced (which escapes me at present, it may have been The Cold Moon) I already know what kinesics is as its explained there. I know that it needs to be included for the sake of people who are picking up the book without having read the previous ones but it does get a little tedious! Also some of the explanation about blogs etc to me was unnecessary as I work in IT and use the internet a lot but to an ordinary reader that may well have been very useful.

The storyline was engaging. I managed to spot a couple of the twists coming (when you read a lot of Jeffrey Deaver I think you start to see the patterns so it makes spotting the twists a little easier) but I didn’t work out the main twist. It only took me a week or so to read as it had me reaching for it whenever possible. I would certainly recommend Roadside Crosses although I would suggest reading The Sleeping Doll first to get the best out of it.

Monday, 19 April 2010


Hi, I’m Lucie. Over the past week or so I’ve been reading peoples book related blogs and really enjoying them so I thought I’d give it a go myself.

I love to read. My favourite type of story is post-apocalyptic which you can tell from my two favourite books ever - The Stand by Stephen King and Swan Song by Robert R McCammon. I also love horror, crime and thriller books.

My favourite authors include Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Jeffrey Deaver, Barbara Vine and Minette Walters.

Recently I have read all nine Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris along with the short story collection. They were followed by 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill.

As well as book reviews I will also be adding the occasional film and TV review.