Tag Archives: book review

You Are Dead by Peter James

This book is another in the Roy Grace series but I don’t think I have been reading them in order, I’m not sure it makes much difference. The characters progress through the series and there is an element of linking but the investigation is mostly unique to the book.

This is the story of the hunt for a killer who brands his victims with You Are Dead. It takes a while to link all the cases together and work the timeline back to cold cases but it winds up to a dramatic ending past anything you could expect.

There is also a new lead to follow on the whereabouts of Roy Grace’s first wife. This sees him confronting some long-held feelings at a time when he believes he is moving on with his life after finally being able to declare his wife dead.

I don’t read much in this genre but these books are easy to read and hold your attention throughout. They are obviously written with an inside knowledge of policing due to the level of information provided which makes them more believable.

I’m sure I’ll read more of the series in the future, just maybe not in order!

Time and Time Again by Ben Elton

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I’ve always been a fan of Ben Elton’s writing but I seem to have lost track of it in the last couple of years. I saw this by accident when looking for Christmas presents for others and added it to my wish list. From the jacket it appears that I have missed one of his books being released so I need to get myself a copy of that now.

This book hooked me in and I didn’t want to stop reading. The story of a time traveller, trying to alter the course of history by changing the worst thing that happened is interesting.

How could you know if you were really making things better or not by altering the truth?

That is exactly what the book explores. There are twists and turns which keep you hooked. The characters are likeable and you become attached to their story.

It does make you think about whether or not time travel would be a good thing and what you would do if you were faced with similar choices. Maybe by the end you’ll be challenging your own earlier thoughts on the matter.

If you like a good, well written story with lots of drama then I think you will enjoy this.

The Mystery Of The Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine

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I brought this book with a gift voucher I was given by a friend for my birthday last year. I just went into Waterstones and picked a couple of books that caught my eye.

I really enjoyed this book. It reminded me of the kinds of book I would read as a child. I could imagine reading it as a bed time story and being asked for one more chapter before bed!

It was a detective story based in a Edwardian department store which had me picturing Selfridges the whole time. The characters are easily imagined and believable and you get drawn into the story and choosing who you want to see come out on top.

I’m doing a children’s writing course at the moment and my tutor keeps advising me to read more children’s books to get into the modern elements of the genre. I’m glad I chose this book as it gave me some ideas of where I would like my own writing to go.

On reading Wikipedia I find it is the first book in a quartet of Sinclair’s Mysteries (the department store in the book) so if your children like this book then there are more in the series to enjoy.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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I have to admit I saw the movie before I read the book. I couldn’t swear that I knew about the book before I watched the movie, I don’t remember anyone talking to me about reading the book at the time.

Reading the book having watched the movie I was reading it as the movie characters. I knew what was going to happen and therefore the twists and turns lost their impact on me.

That being said, there are elements of the book, as there usually are, that are portrayed differently on film. There was an element of me reading it as ‘this was different in the film’.

I did enjoy the book, I think it’s really well written but I have to say watching the film first spoiled a lot of it for me. I’ve not encountered that with any other book I’ve read after watching the film to this degree.

I won’t talk about the plot because it’s hard to explain it and make it sound interesting without giving away the key parts. If you take out all the important stuff and break it down it just sounds like any other story but it’s much more than that.

If I could do it again I would read the book then see the movie, I think that would give you the biggest impact of the story. If you like dark themes then I think this would appeal to you.

Heat Wave by Richard Castle

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I’m a fan of the TV show Castle so when I saw a box set of 3 of the Nikki Heat books from the show I had to see what it was all about. I’m sure I read somewhere that the books were written by Nathan Fillian who plays Richard Castle in the show but it seems there is a lot of speculation over the author. I like to think he wrote the books anyway.

I think it was an interesting move by the shows makers to bring out the books that are referred to throughout the shows. It’s obviously a money spinner but it also adds another element to it.

I enjoyed the book. As I was reading it I was seeing the actors in the show playing the characters they are based on and that is kind of the point. It was a quick read but sometimes you want something quite short to fill time.

I think you would still be able to enjoy the book if you have never seen the show as it isn’t really about that. What you need to know is all covered. If you are used to reading die-hard crime fiction then this is probably not going to appeal to you but if you prefer your crime a little more light-hearted then go for it!

I have another 2 books in the series to read so I’ll look forward to seeing if they’re just as good as this one!

I think they have finished making Castle now which means another one of my favourite shows has bitten the dust but at least the reruns are on most of the time!

See Me by Nicholas Sparks

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I love reading Nicholas Sparks novels. They hook you right in and before you know it you’re reading way past your bedtime, hoping to get to the end of the next chapter before you fall asleep.

This book was no exception. I loved the damaged characters and their complicated lives. I loved that it wasn’t the usual boy meets girl and they live happily ever after. As we know in real life it doesn’t always happen that way!

As with most of my reviews I don’t like to give away too much of the story as I think it spoils it if you know what is going to happen. That said as with most stories of this kind some of it you see coming and others is a curve ball surprise you don’t quite catch up with until the reveal.

I can see why a lot of his novels get turned into movies. The depth of character and challenging circumstances make for page turning reading but also a dramatic cinema experience.

The Notebook was my first experience of Nicholas Sparks. I remember seeing the movie trailer on TV with my sister and both of us laughing at how silly it sounded. That was until we both separately saw the movie after it’s DVD release. We couldn’t have been more wrong. It hooked us both and we regularly watch the movie now. I came across the book in a shop a long while after and once I read it I realised I preferred the movie. Since then I have mostly read the books before seeing the movies or watched the movie but not realised it was originally a book.

There are only so many ways you can write love stories, the differences lie in the characters, their back stories, and the way they are brought together. But that is what makes a well written romance story so good. Because everyone who reads it will feel something different. Some will empathise with their own personal experiences and others may look at it and wonder where their own knight in shining armour is.

Me personally, I find a comfort in these sorts of movies and books. I don’t like to watch them in groups, I like to sit and enjoy them alone so I can wonder. I often shed a few tears and eat chocolate, but that’s why I watch them. Because every now and again I feel a good cry helps to level me out and makes me feel better.

Having been in love with someone for 3 years who will probably never care for me in return I like the hope that I get from these books. It reminds me that sometimes no matter how hopeless a situation seems a new day can bring a change in events and things can work out how you always hoped. I also guard myself against the fact that our love may always be one-sided and I can live with that as long as I have my friend.

We all have an inbuilt need to be loved or at least accepted by other people. Sometimes no matter how hard you love someone it is never enough. But that’s what makes love so special when you find it. Anything that makes you feel that good should be worth a little effort!

Tony Hadley: To Cut A Long Story Short

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I love Spandau Ballet, they made some brilliant songs. I was too young in the 80’s to fully appreciate them in all their glory but as an adult I’ve seen them live twice and would definitely go again. One of the big things I like about them is Tony’s voice, it just makes me smile.

I found this book really interesting. It seems very open and honest and discusses the various legal wranglings that went on between mostly Tony and Gary Kemp. It ended up changing my opinion of Gary in the end. I always thought he was a nice down to earth guy but in this book he comes across as holding a vendetta against the other members of the group which seems wholly ridiculous.

Its worth pointing out that the legal elements of this book are all told from one side but the fact it was printed must mean that the facts have been checked somewhere along the lines. For example suing 3 ex members of the band for calling themselves Ex-Spandau Ballet seems baffling when that is indeed what they are and when someone you grew up with needs to make a bit of money what’s the harm? Who knows how many records were sold on the back of those performances?!

But it isn’t all about the bad times. The book starts at the very beginning and the more you learn the stranger the later events appear. The copy I have was updated to the point of Tony receiving a request to reform the band in 2005 for a comeback tour and by the end he hadn’t made a decision. Seeing what went before it would seem impossible that they ever managed to reform, I would imagine that a pretty in depth contract was drawn up this time before it did.

If you like reading music biographies then I would recommend this book. Even if you aren’t especially a Spandau fan there is still a lot of interesting stories that show the other side of what is seen as a glamorous career.

The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine by Alexander McCall Smith

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I went to see Alexander McCall Smith give a talk about writing and his books last year. I have to admit I’d never heard of him before. I was invited by a friend, and went to catch up with her as much as to hear the talk. I was familiar with some of his characters without realising it.

The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency was made into a TV series on BBC 1 I think it was, I didn’t watch it but caught small parts of episodes.  As part of our ticket to the event we were given the chance to choose a book from the table and I chose The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine as my friend said that series was good.

The story was nice. I felt that I missed some of the connections between the characters by entering the series part way through and not starting at the beginning. However, how the characters were linked was explained well enough in the book for me to follow.

The one thing that I found frustrating was the constant use of the characters full name at every opportunity. Characters are not referred to by their first name but in all instances as e.g. Mr J.L.B. Maketoni which after a while just annoyed me. I’m sure there is a reason for it, perhaps one I missed along the way, perhaps it is personal writing style of the author but to me it was unnecessary and began to affect my enjoyment of the book.

From the talk I could tell how much the author put into his characters and his writing output really is something to behold but I fear his writing style was just not for me. Having said that the story was good, there were twists and it was pleasant to read but it didn’t hook me on the characters and make me want to read more as I have with other authors.

I know that Alexander has many loyal followers who love his work and I’m sure my view would not matter one jot to that. If you can overlook the constant need for full names including titles in every conversation then you too may enjoy this book.

The Lost Saint by Bree Despain

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I didn’t realise that this was he second book in a series when I brought it. I was attracted to the striking blue on the black cover and didn’t think any more of it. As I’ve said before I never read a book blurb before reading it, so I had no idea what the book was about.

I enjoyed this book. It was a story about complicated relationships between a variety of characters which turned out to be werewolves and daemons.

There were twists and turns and things I didn’t see coming which I like in a book. I don’t want to be able to guess where the story is going in advance.

I want to be taken down a road and have a massive derailment half way so I question everything I thought of up to that point. But not so much in every book! Sometimes I’m just happy for it to be as it is; the writer in me knows how hard it is to trick the readers satisfactorily!

I don’t know if I enjoyed the book enough to read the rest of the series. I don’t feel it grabbed my interest enough for that, there are so many other books I have yet to read.

Maybe one day I will find out what happened to the characters but for now I’m happy to have been entertained by this instalment.

Going To Sea In A Sieve by Danny Baker

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I really enjoyed this book. At times it made me laugh out loud. It was like an old friend sitting and telling you about all the crazy and wonderful things they have done with their life.

I knew some of the stories from the TV series Cradle to Grave but reading them told in the first person made them seem more real somehow.

One thing is for sure, Danny Baker has lived a very interesting life and I’m looking forward to the release of the next part of the story to see what else is in store.

I hope there is another instalment of the TV series too as I enjoyed that very much.

I love proper London characters, I have a fair few of those stories in my family. They wouldn’t survive in the modern world but there is something special about their charm and the way life was lived back in the day.  My maternal great-grandmother is someone I would very much have loved to meet for that very reason. She was a character of the highest order and a mother of 18 children.

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