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Psychosis – Tony Marturano – Reader’s Group

Posted on 27th February 2017 in #bookreview/ advice/ book review/ books

PsychosisI was truly honoured this week to be a part of a reader’s feedback group for author, Tony Marturano.

I was there to give feedback on the first draft of his new novel ‘Psychosis’ and it was a fabulous experience.

It was also a pretty nerve-wracking, daunting experience too as I have never met Tony before so I had no idea what sort of person he was, or even if this whole thing was a scam and I would end up chopped into a thousand tiny pieces and never seen again…

My fears were, fortunately, unfounded. I was welcomed into Tony’s home and made to feel incredibly welcome. There were 3 of us ‘newbies’, 2 in person and 1 by skype plus 4 more seasoned members of the feedback group.

It was a fascinating experience and I feel incredibly fortunate to have taken part. The other people in the group were all lovely and time flew by as we all offered our thoughts (while being plied with coffee and pastries). Tony ran the process like a well oiled machine and took compliments and criticisms all with the same gentle humour and easy manner. This made it very easy to be completely honest and I think it was brave of him to open himself up to opinions in this way.

The book itself (another thing I was dreading – what if it was awful?!) was really good. I obviously can’t give any spoilers (and will review it on my book review site in due course) but it is a really strong storyline and Tony’s characterisation and descriptive writing are simply superb.

I hope to see these lovely people again and I have already downloaded some of Tony’s other books to read!

The Reader #BookReview

Posted on 27th November 2012 in #bookreview

The Reader

by Bernhard Schlink

The synopsis: For 15-year-old Michael Berg, a chance meeting with an older woman leads to far more than he ever imagined. The woman in question is Hanna, and before long they embark on a passionate, clandestine love affair which leaves Michael both euphoric and confused. For Hanna is not all she seems. Years later, as a law student observing a trial in Germany, Michael is shocked to realize that the person in the dock is Hanna. The woman he had loved is a criminal. Much about her behaviour during the trial does not make sense. But then suddenly, and terribly, it does – Hanna is not only obliged to answer for a horrible crime, she is also desperately concealing an even deeper secret.

I read this for a book group and I have to say first off that the fact this book begins with a child being groomed by and adult and they referring to it as an erotic love affair made it incredibly hard for me to read the rest of the book.

He was fifteen she was in her thirties. All obvious and disappointing jokes to one side, if this were a fifteen year old girl and a man in his mid thirties would it be ok?

How about if it were a fourteen year old boy and woman in her early thirties or a thirteen year old boy and woman in her late twenties.

Or a fifteen year old boy and a man in his mid thirties – not so funny or erotic now huh.

However.

I did read the rest of the book as was required and with the exception of the above noted scenes it was a good, though provoking book.

It left a lot of things unanswered and, for me, it had some pretty huge plot holes which I’m told are conveyed better in the film.

I don’t feel as though I can offer any more of a review than that; for me the book was tainted by its opening scenes.

The Casual Vacancy by J K Rowling #bookreview

Posted on 16th November 2012 in #bookreview/ book review/ books

 

The Casual Vacancy

by J K Rowling

Have to confess I actually had no idea what this book was about before I started reading it. The only press I’d seen regarding it was negative comments owing to it not being a children’s book. Which I personally thought was a bit odd – what gives anyone the right to dictate to an author which genre they ‘must’ write in?

So, I was actually under the impression that this was to be a shag-fest, swear-fest of a book, possibly about temporary office workers, (insert suitable reference not judging a book by its cover here 😉 ) and was therefore a little surprised to find myself reading a book about a vacancy at a Parish Council.

Not at all what I expected but a charming little (massive) book which leads you an a journey through the lives of the villagers of Pagford. This is a gentle read with lots of characters and intricately woven story threads which all pull together as you read on.

Overall it lacks the punch of the Harry Potter novels but as a standalone book it is a good, if bitter-sweet, read.

 

 

Lasting Damage #BookReview

Posted on 11th October 2012 in #bookreview

LASTING DAMAGE

by Sophie Hannah

The official blurb: Sophie’s sixth psychological crime novel to feature Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer.

It’s 1.15 a.m. Connie Bowskill should be asleep. Instead, she’s logging on to a property website in search of a particular house: 11 Bentley Grove, Cambridge. She knows it’s for sale; she saw the estate agent’s board in the front garden less than six hours ago.

Soon Connie is clicking on the ‘Virtual Tour’ button, keen to see the inside of 11 Bentley Grove and put her mind at rest once and for all. She finds herself looking at a scene from a nightmare: in the living room there’s a woman lying face down in a huge pool of blood. In shock, Connie wakes her husband Kit. But when Kit sits down at the computer to take a look, he sees no dead body, only a pristine beige carpet in a perfectly ordinary room…

——————————

I didn’t give the last Sophie Hannah book that I read a great review, so I am all the happier to say that this one was actually really good!

The Zailer/Waterhouse relationship side of the book was still weak however and I can’t help thinking that Sophie Hannah started something several books ago that she was then compelled to continue with; I wonder if she regrets it?

Putting that to one side, the storyline was excellent and forgiving a few elements that slightly stretch plausibility (but then don’t all books?) it was a really good and well put together story.

As ever, Sophie Hannah’s observational skills when it comes to recording relationships is simply excellent she manages to capture that familiarity of the routines that families have which are disliked by so many of the family yet which continue year after year, just because. The unspoken words between Connie, her sister and her parents are all there loud and clear.

There was one little thread through the story of which the purpose eluded me but that’s not to say that it spoilt the book. Maybe I’m just not on the right wavelength for these novels some of the time.

Sorry if this sounds like a negative review, I think my experience of the previous book has possibly prevented me from reviewing this book on an impartial basis; it had something to prove from page one!

For me, this was Sophie Hannah back on form and I would recommend it.

Halfhead #BookReview

Posted on 8th October 2012 in #bookreview

Halfhead

by Stuart B. MacBride

The blurb: Terrifying serial killer thriller set in the gritty Glasgow of the near future, from the bestselling author of the Logan McRae series. There are worse things than the death penalty… They call them halfheads: convicted criminals, surgically mutilated and lobotomized by the State, then sent out to do menial jobs in the community so everyone will know what happens when you break the law. There are no appeals, no reprieves, and no one ever comes back. Until now. Dr Fiona Westfield, one of the most prolific serial killers Glasgow has ever seen, is waking up. Surrounded by blood and death and darkness. William Hunter has risen through the ranks since putting Westfield away; now he’s Assistant Network Director, in charge of police actions. But a routine murder investigation is about to embroil him in an appalling conspiracy. The vast connurb blocks on Glasgow’s deprived south side are ready to explode. Eleven years ago the VR riots killed millions – now someone wants to start them all over again. And Will is being dragged back into a past he desperately wants to forget…

 

Halfhead offers a scary view into the future of our world.

I really enjoyed the escapism created by the story being set in the future, yet not so far into the future that the was unimaginable. It’s the very concept that this monstrous way of living isn’t too much of a stretch of the imagination that makes it so great. It is easy to believe that the world could head that way.

As always, in my opinion, with Stuart MacBride’s books, the characterisation is superb; the Dr Fiona Westfield character is just fantastic. Despite her being a sick, perverse serial killer you end up feeling such empathy for her wanting her life back.

Very engaging, fast paced and an all round great read.

Brilliant book! Brilliant concept and if you are a fan of his other books then this is a ‘must read’! In fact, as this book is not part of a series, but is a ‘stand alone’ book you can feel free to read and enjoy whether you’ve read any of Mr MacBride’s other books or not. And if you really haven’t read any of his other books then you need to find yourself a copy of the sensational Cold Granite and get acquainted with Ds Logan McRae.

 

 

A Room Swept White #BookReview

Posted on 25th September 2012 in #bookreview

 

A Room Swept White

by Sophie Hannah

TV producer Fliss Benson receives an anonymous card at work. The card has sixteen numbers on it, arranged in four rows of four – numbers that mean nothing to her.

On the same day, Fliss finds out she’s going to be working on a documentary about miscarriages of justice involving cot-death mothers wrongly accused of murder. The documentary will focus on three women: Helen Yardley, Sarah Jaggard and Rachel Hines. All three women are now free, and the doctor who did her best to send them to prison for life, child protection zealot Dr Judith Duffy, is under investigation for misconduct. 

For reasons she has shared with nobody, this is the last project Fliss wants to be working on. And then Helen Yardley is found dead at her home, and in her pocket is a card with sixteen numbers on it, arranged in four rows of four . . .

I find Sophie Hannah to be an outstanding writer, her plots are often brave and touch upon subjects that most authors would leave well alone. A Room Swept White is a classic example of this as all the way through the book you have the much deeper unspoken subplot of whether or not you, the reader, believes that the three women killed their babies.

Sadly for me the book was lacking key characters to carry such an amazing storyline.

The Simon Waterhouse, Charlie Zailer and Proust relationship has become farcical. Such a shame as a few books back it was brilliant. Now Zailer is basically kept in a box until the author needs her for something, Waterhouse has become borderline psychotic but with none of the charisma which would normally accompany such a role and as for Proust, well, I’m a bit lost for words.

The worst thing for me was the way that the story seemed to jog along with lots of ‘is it this person, is it that person’ and then all of a sudden it felt as though the allocated number of words had been completed therefore, like a magician pulling a rabbit out from a tatty hat, the murderer is revealed and a few other loose ends are randomly and unbelievably tied up all in the space of about 4 pages.

Insulting.

 

Moonlight Mile #bookreview

Posted on 20th September 2012 in #bookreview/ Crime Fiction

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MOONLIGHT MILE
By Dennis Lehane

The official blurb: Amanda McCready was four years old when she vanished from her blue-collar Boston neighborhood. Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro risked everything to find her—only to orchestrate her return to a neglectful mother and broken home.

Twelve years later, Amanda, now sixteen, is gone again.

The disappearance of little Amanda was the case that troubled Kenzie and Gennaro more than any other. Still haunted by their consciences, they must now revisit the nightmare that once tore them apart—following the trail of a lost teenager into a world of identity thieves, methamphetamine dealers, and Russian gangsters, right up to the doorstep of a dangerously unstable crime boss and his demented wife. Once again Patrick and Angie will be putting everything that matters to them on the line in pursuit of the answer to the burning question: Is it possible to do the right thing and still be dead wrong?

I had no idea what to expect of this book as it was written by the guy who wrote Shutter Island. If you’ve seen the film you”ll no doubt recall that it was slippery than a big of snakes!

With that knowledge, Moonlight Mile was more conventional that I expected. It fide have lots of clever layers and tiny subplots which all built up to create a well thought out story.

Brilliant characterisation, if a little stereotypical in places, but I have to confess I liked that.

If you are a crime thriller fan like myself I’ve no doubt that you’d enjoy this book.

For more reviews see my book review page.

Cold Kill #BookReview

Posted on 16th September 2012 in #bookreview

COLD KILL

by Neil White

The blurb: Every breath you take, he’ll be watching you…

When Jane Roberts is found dead in a woodland area Detective Sergeant Laura McGanity is first on the scene. The body bears a chilling similarity to a woman – Deborah Corley –murdered three weeks earlier. Both have been stripped,strangled and defiled.

When reporter Jack Garrett starts digging for dirt on the notorious Whitcroft estate, he finds himself face-to-face with Jane’s father and gangland boss Don who will stop at nothing until justice is done. It seems that the two murdered women were linked in more ways than one and a dirty secret is about to surface that some would prefer stay buried.

As the killer circles once more, Jack and Laura must get to him before he strikes again. But his sights are set on his next victim and he’s watching Laura’s every move…

I enjoyed this book, it had engaging characters and a horrible storyline!

I really liked the dynamics between DS McGanity and her reporter boyfriend. That is until I read the blurb for the next book and realised that yet again it is she who solves the case after he somehow receives exclusive clues. That means it will be the exact same book but with slightly different suspects. Hmmm.

And yes, I know that there are other series out there which I love and therefore it’s the same DS who continually solves the crimes, but, I think it’s the fact that it’s a cop/reporter relationship and the reporter ALWAYS happens across very vital information and is brave enough to dive in headfirst to solve things.

I loved that about this book (hey, no one said I wasn’t a contrary Mary) but I just don’t know if it would be insulting for it to keep happening? Maybe I just need to read another one and find out.

Anyway, this book, well woven story with lots of little bits and pieces that kept you guessing. If you like crime thrillers then you’ll like it. Simples.

Notting Hell #BookReview

Posted on 14th September 2012 in #bookreview

 

 

Notting Hell

by Rachel Johnson

What can I say about this book….. it certainly does sound like hell, I’d hate to live there!

Intelligent, witty and well observed – it offers a tale of the ‘idyllic’ lives of the rich and/or famous.

I think the most worrying aspect is that it is probably a perfectly good example of some real lives in that area. How draining to have to be so fake and pretentious all the time; while shagging your neighbour’s husband and being blissfully unaware that she is shagging yours.

That about sums it up really.

 

 

Birthdays for the Dead #BookReview

Posted on 13th September 2012 in #bookreview/ Crime Fiction

Birthdays for the Dead

by Stuart MacBride

The synopsis bit: Five years ago his daughter, Rebecca, went missing on the eve of her thirteenth birthday. A year later the first card arrived: homemade, with a Polaroid picture stuck to the front – Rebecca, strapped to a chair, gagged and terrified. Every year another card: each one worse than the last.

The tabloids call him The Birthday Boy. He’s been snatching girls for twelve years, always in the run-up to their thirteenth birthday, sending the families his home-made cards showing their daughters being slowly tortured to death.

But Ash hasn’t told anyone about Rebecca’s birthday cards – they all think she’s just run away from home – because if anyone finds out, he’ll be taken off the investigation. And he’s sacrificed too much to give up before his daughter’s killer gets what he deserves. 

I have given this book 5 starts (out of 5) on Good Reads because, frankly, it kicks butt! I think it would make for brilliant TV.

DC Ash Henderson is policeman on the edge and he makes for a fantastic character. I started off missing Logan McRae and the well-known, well trodden streets of Aberdeen but was soon sucked into the downright murky world Ash and his faithful sidekick Rhona. I didn’t like the Dr McFruitloop character when she was first introduced, felt she was a little too contrived, but I grew to love her after a couple of chapters. 

I should add that before anyone reads this book they need to be fully aware that the subject matter is grim beyond all measure. It is painful to read and certainly not for the feint hearted. It goes WAY beyond the usual line in the sand for describing atrocities and if you look directly at it you’ll struggle to read on! I tend to read the words but ignore the content when he’s talking about the girls.

OK so why did I give it 5 stars?

This book doesn’t confirm to the norm. It doesn’t do as you expect it to. MacBride has been brave enough (bored enough?) to throw the crime writers rule book out of the window and he has written an outstanding standalone book which is like no other.

DC Ash Henderson is a ridiculous yet fantastic character. He does not abide by the rules – most similar characters fly close to the wind, or bend the rules but he does not have any boundaries not a single one. It is exhilarating to read about someone who just does want he wants/needs in order to get what he wants.

This book seems to have been somewhat slated on Amazon and I think a lot of its critics were expecting a fluffy crime book that follows the crime-by-numbers format of some other writers. It is hard reading in places. The pace does move so quickly that you literally feel your head spinning. It is down right gritty, grim and unbelievable; yet FABULOUS.

I loved it.

Having said that, I’ve gone from this to the slightly more frothy Notting Hell as I felt I needed to wash all of the macabre grimness out of my system!

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