This was the first Peter James book I read and I love a good haunted house story but little did I realise I'd be jumping everytime a door creaked at h...moreThis was the first Peter James book I read and I love a good haunted house story but little did I realise I'd be jumping everytime a door creaked at home for a week afterwards, and that was during the daytime...
It is a throughly well written thriller/horror with a strong protagonist whose fiesty determination to uncover the truth makes her likeable. There are some haunting incidences that really stay with you.
James' ability to build tension and to keep a pacey narrative turns this book into a page turning, heart thumping, ghost train of a ride. The shocks keep you on the edge of your seat and sometimes you have to remind yourself to breathe.
As the plot unravelled I found myself figuring out the conclusion, but I'm not sure if this is what we were meant to do. But then I don't think the book was spoiled by this as the quality of the writing and the pace of the narrative are very rewarding.
Overall an excellent introduction to Peter James' spooky supernatural novels and one that will keep you guessing until the very last sentence...(less)
I envy Barrie Hawkins and his wife Dorothy. They have dedicated themselves to rescuing homeless and neglected dogs and as a result their work is trans...moreI envy Barrie Hawkins and his wife Dorothy. They have dedicated themselves to rescuing homeless and neglected dogs and as a result their work is transforming both canine and human lives in ways they had never predicted. At times the work seems unbearably tough, emotionally, but the rewards appear incomparable. This book details their first year's work rescuing German Shepherds and large breeds and the unpredictably funny and heart-renching moments that they were faced with. I found myself crying on at least three separate occasions and had to put the book to one side, but the urge to be enveloped in the wonderful story soon won me over. A beautiful, satisfying read that is written with humility, stoicism and is never in danger of becoming overly sentimental. Barrie, Dorothy, you deserve OBEs. (less)
This work is truly a masterpiece in not just the fantasy genre but in the literary world of fiction. It can be read as a throughly well-written and th...moreThis work is truly a masterpiece in not just the fantasy genre but in the literary world of fiction. It can be read as a throughly well-written and thought provoking vampire tale and as a beautifully crafted metaphor on loneliness, and it is here where it's power lies. The last man on earth, as he knows it, lives with the constant threat of vampiric mutilation. Throughout this short book, which covers a few years in time, our hero is constantly faced with a choice: Does he kill himself? Does he yield to the vampires wishes and in so doing become a vampire himeself? Or does he fight back? Never before have I read such an insightful treatise on loneliness, isolation and the courage that can be captured beyond man's frailties. The tension is unrelenting and Matheson has paced it perfectly. I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys thoughtful literary fiction even if they don't think they'd enjoy fantasy/sci-fi. (less)
Before reading A Darker Domain, I had only read Val McDermid's Tony Hill series of books which are some of the most accomplished, intelligent crime fi...moreBefore reading A Darker Domain, I had only read Val McDermid's Tony Hill series of books which are some of the most accomplished, intelligent crime fiction available today. A Darker Domain started so well; excellent characters, realistic and comfortable dialogue wound around a well paced and engaging thriller. But it soon became clear that the secrets of her plot were unravelling like wool. Was Val revealing the conclusion purposely because there were twists to come or had she taken her eye off the task in hand and had accidentally let things slide? I'm still not sure, but I know that as a reader and admirer of Val's work, I felt let down. Lovers of crime fiction read such books because they like to play the role of investigator, they like to solve the puzzle especially when the protagonists/detectives can't, but we also don't want it to be too easy. The device of using split viewpoints across different time frames lead to too many reveals and as a result this novel failed. The ending, which has been noted by other reviewers as weak, desperately needed more detail and to be carefully paced. It was like she'd finished it on the bus... However, I am still eagerly awaiting the next Tony Hill book due in the autumn because when she's on form, Val McDermid is a legend. (less)
What vets are really thinking but you never thought to ask.
Nick Trout is British, living and practicing veterinary medicine in Boston in a state of th...moreWhat vets are really thinking but you never thought to ask.
Nick Trout is British, living and practicing veterinary medicine in Boston in a state of the art animal hospital. This true to life account takes you through a typical day in his working life, and this typical working day happens to be 24 hours long. Don't be put off by the fact it is set in the US as Trout has considerately changed certain language for his UK audience. i.e. pounds(lbs) becomes stones and he has even included lots of up to date statistics on UK veterinary data.
Each case is a story written with warmth and sometimes frustration. His accomplished prose makes for a fascinating and enjoyable account of a vet's viewpoint about his job, his patients and their sometimes incorrigible owners.
The structure allows for the recounting of a case at regular intervals, thus building up an entire days practice but also invites the reader to share the more technical and medical aspects of treatment without it ever becoming dull.
His candid approach even lifts the lid on issues which may never have crossed our minds before; How does the act of euthanising a patient affect a vet? How many vets are actually happy in their jobs? Can vets truly practice ethically when a client's ability to pay becomes a problem?
This book is by no means dry. Dr Trout is aware that comparisons will be drawn between himself and James Herriot. Unlike Herriot, Tell Me Where It Hurts is funny and educational, offering hope and humility, humour and heartache. It is James Herriot for a more sophisticated audience.
This is an excellent book for anyone (young teenagers and above) who might be considering a career in veterinary medicine. Alternatively, if you have ever visited a vet with your pet and harboured inappropriate questions regarding their lifestyle, ethics or how they see their clients, then I think you might be pleasantly surprised. (less)
Never having read any of the Grace novels before I picked this up and began reading it even though it is the fourth of a series. I was seriously hooke...moreNever having read any of the Grace novels before I picked this up and began reading it even though it is the fourth of a series. I was seriously hooked from the beginning, and the narrative was pacey and thrilling enough to keep me hooked right to the final gobsmacking sentence. Even though we knew who was reponsible for the murders before the conclusion, the excitement of the chase and watching the plot unfold was where this book's entertainment lay. The device of using different temporal viewpoints is popular with crime writers and James has used it here with astonishing effect, drawing parallels between past and present events. The narrative whisks you along as the details of the plot, the past and the present are untangled like different coloured balls of wool, finally revealing the places where the snags are; where one lead meets another. The book's characters are sympathetically and colourfully drawn. I cared about one particular character so much I was routing for her all the way. Grace is incredibly likeable and you find yourself getting angry when he gets angry; feeling sorry for him when he's sad. Peter James has written one of the best police procedurals I've ever read, and has clearly done his research. If you enjoy the minutiae of detective work and want an edge of your seat thriller which is finely crafted then this book is for you.(less)
5 Stars for Craftsmanship, 3 Stars for Entertainment
At around 150 pages The Bookshop is a work that can be devoured in a single sitting, and is intend...more5 Stars for Craftsmanship, 3 Stars for Entertainment
At around 150 pages The Bookshop is a work that can be devoured in a single sitting, and is intended to be. The Bookshop is perfect in every way. It is a literary masterpiece where every action, scene, sentence and image exists for a reason and is swollen with significance like the swollen marshes of the fens that lace the novel.
From the first page we encounter the portent imagery of a heron and an eel fighting for their survival, a motif which occurs throughout the novel, encapsulating Florence Green’s fight with her community. As the story develops there are other significant motifs to ponder; the red dress for example or the behaviour of ‘the rapper’.
The plot is simply poised; our protagonist, middle-aged Florence Green decides to open a bookshop in her village and is shocked to discover that local opposition is about to make her venture more difficult than she predicted. This is a book about the spite and fear that exists in provincial communities but it is also a portrait of the individual versus bureaucracy.
Fitzgerald makes allusions to the rotting current of unfairness with simple narrative enhancements; the village is named Hardborough for example. There is damp in the old buildings signifying that rot is setting in.
The characters are drawn with dark humour. In any other setting and in under a lesser writer’s pen they could easily have become caricatures, but it is testament to Fitzgerald’s skill that many of them remain on the right side of revolting.
So as outlined earlier, this book is perfect so why only 4 stars? Without question The Bookshop deserves 5 stars for literary merit, economy of style and demonstrating insight into human nature, presented in beautiful, lyrical prose, but I just failed to find it entertaining as a novel. I am only too aware that this is a subjective point of view and a matter of individual taste. I wished I’d enjoyed it more, the book deserved it, but I would whole-heartedly recommend it anyone who appreciates style and form, especially within poetry or short stories to give it a go. You may engage with it on a whole new level. I can’t deny that this book is important, and has added something new to my appreciation of great writing. I think Penelope Fitzgerald summed it up best herself in The Bookshop:
“A good book is the precious life-blood of a masterspirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life, and as such it must surely be a necessary commodity.” (less)
A change of pace from A Quiet Belief in Angels, in fact the prose feels like it was penned by a diffe...moreSensational, Challenging, Angry and Breathtaking.
A change of pace from A Quiet Belief in Angels, in fact the prose feels like it was penned by a different author, though this merely illustrates Ellory's ability to change the suitabilty of his language for different narratives and styles of fiction. A Quiet Belief was narrated by a damaged young man in a poetic, stream-of-consciousness style whilst A Simple Act of Violence is a tough police procedural narrated, for the most part, in the impartial third person. The characters and plot drive this novel through some big issues like an armoured truck of anger. (Ellory's anger). If you've ever wondered what role the CIA has played in the US's drug control policy there's some background in here. There are some major themes rolled out; self sacrifice; the nature of truth; the loneliness of the individual; individual beliefs versus the state. A massively confident book with a massive outlook. Give Ellory another 10 years and he'll be producing not only the best crime fiction in the world but Literature that cannot be ignored.(less)
Simple, clean prose with a gothic undercurrent. A shabby old house and two strange sisters. Liked the moth stuff. Reminded me of Barbara Vine's early...moreSimple, clean prose with a gothic undercurrent. A shabby old house and two strange sisters. Liked the moth stuff. Reminded me of Barbara Vine's early books.(less)
The blurb promised exciting seances, ghosts and supernatural occurences. It turned out to be nothing more than a lame victorian sex romp peopled with...moreThe blurb promised exciting seances, ghosts and supernatural occurences. It turned out to be nothing more than a lame victorian sex romp peopled with stereotypes amidst a class struggle. Prose was very good but overall story disappointing.(less)
A sweet tale, nothing life changing. Would recommend for children rather than adults. Bought it simply because the dog in the book reminded me of my f...moreA sweet tale, nothing life changing. Would recommend for children rather than adults. Bought it simply because the dog in the book reminded me of my first dog who was also from a rescue centre. (less)
Subversive Cross Stitch is a refreshing take on cross stitched samplers. The patterns are large, easy to read and attractive. Very simple and quick to...moreSubversive Cross Stitch is a refreshing take on cross stitched samplers. The patterns are large, easy to read and attractive. Very simple and quick to complete. The best thing about the designs is that they're so easy to adapt - you can simply mix and match little motifs or add your own subversive message to produce your own original, irreverant heirlooms. Whilst reading Julie Jackson's charts you find new ideas popping into your head. Loads of fun.(less)