A rare book that totally lives up to the hype on the back cover. Without being a spoiler, I loved the way-out use of the abortion clinic bomber blowinA rare book that totally lives up to the hype on the back cover. Without being a spoiler, I loved the way-out use of the abortion clinic bomber blowing himself up in the wrong place as a plot solution to get the main protagonist out of a dire predicament. It was far-fetched, original and ingenious enough to be just believable....more
A legal thriller with some unconventional twists linked with a favourite feminist topic (the crime of rape) and written by a woman. Loved the insightsA legal thriller with some unconventional twists linked with a favourite feminist topic (the crime of rape) and written by a woman. Loved the insights into the working of the female mind. [As a male author I rely on a female editor to point out gender flaws in my manuscripts - but I'm glad to say she identifies very few.]
The reader can spend a lot of time inside "Cinda's" head but she's totally believable as a character (not surprising considering the author's legal background) and the book is an enjoyable read, though it seemed truncated at the end.
Did "Jason" get what he deserved? That depends on your point of view about rape.
A hero with a childhood psychological trauma no one would want to experience, inventive escapes from a lot of tight situations, a traumatised dog, a sA hero with a childhood psychological trauma no one would want to experience, inventive escapes from a lot of tight situations, a traumatised dog, a scary villain or two you'd never want to meet, and a beautiful, lovable young woman make this one of the most enjoyable thrillers I've ever read. Koontz can really write a story....more
With no pre-knowledge I kind of felt this read like a sequel right from the start. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I'd read "Want to Play" firstWith no pre-knowledge I kind of felt this read like a sequel right from the start. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I'd read "Want to Play" first.
I assumed, sexist that I am, that P J Tracy was a man since Live Bait is a suspense/thriller but, when I finished reading, I found on the back cover a reference to "her second novel".
It has a slow build and past halfway before I really became intrigued.
A good conclusion, and unexpected last minute action.
I was keen to see Grace and Magozzi commit in the story but it wasn't to be. ...more
Having read this book, the first thing I had to do (being a New Zealander) was to find out: Who is Michelle Holman? I discovered that she writes romanHaving read this book, the first thing I had to do (being a New Zealander) was to find out: Who is Michelle Holman? I discovered that she writes romance/comedy novels so (that not being my preferred genre for reading) it was not surprising that I had never heard of her even with us both being from NZ.
It's a story that could have been set anywhere, so the references to NZ/Auckland are rather inconsequential. Maybe settings aren't all that significant in the particular genre. My ignorance probably shows in the rest of this review.
It was one of the best 2 books I've read where sexual tension builds so tensely that it was an explosive mental release (for me) to have the two characters reach the point of physical consummation. All those references to male anatomy (above the waist) were rather hard to relate to for a heterosexual male.
The story is zany - a difficult situation created and handled very well & holding my interest. I rather imaged a different, quirky ending, but Ms Holman specialises in happy ones, I've learnt.
I see that, in real life, she met her husband to be in England & brought him back to NZ. That, by coincidence, happens to 2 characters in my next book, shortly to be published.
The best story I can remember ever reading in this genre. Brilliant. Lives up in every respect to the back cover hype - and that in itself is high praThe best story I can remember ever reading in this genre. Brilliant. Lives up in every respect to the back cover hype - and that in itself is high praise.
Hart made me sympathetic to every character except the worst of the villains. I fell in love with poor suffering Grace.
So many plot twists and such well placed suspense!
A must for all crime-suspense-thriller readers....more
The cover is graced with an endorsement by highly respected NZ author, Dame Fiona Kidman who dubbed it: "A brilliant psychological thriller...this tauThe cover is graced with an endorsement by highly respected NZ author, Dame Fiona Kidman who dubbed it: "A brilliant psychological thriller...this taut, knowing novel is absolutely compelling."
Not all readers see things the same, of course, but the endorsement makes one hesitate about using lesser superlatives. It was brave of the author to write this inter-racial sort of story when set so close to where she lives - it's not as if that's in a large anonymous city. I know the Taupo/Turangi locality from many visits in the course of my previous employment.
I guess readers/reviewers, in reacting to a book, are a little conditioned by their own experiences. I volunteer in a charitable organization in a poor city suburb. Based on that experience, the characters in this book are well drawn and very true-life. I found it all too real and slightly disconcerting because of seeing so much in the characters of what I see in clients in my charity work.
Shaw has a noticeably original prose style in this book that I agree is "taut" and "knowing", which fits the story well.
It was compelling in grabbing your sympathy, right near the start, for the main protagonist, Jessica Pollard. As a reader I cared about what would happen to her and about how she would get through the effect of past trauma on her life.
It is a "woman in peril" novel and so fits the thriller genre though it was well into the story before suspense started and Shaw did not use multiple POVs.
Worth reading and not hard to finish. A bonus if you like the small-town NZ setting, which Shaw captures very well....more
With a review of a 1999 copyrighted book I've obviously come across it in a second-hand shop. As a writer, I know this does the author out of a royaltWith a review of a 1999 copyrighted book I've obviously come across it in a second-hand shop. As a writer, I know this does the author out of a royalty (and regret that) but it's the best I can afford. And second-hand sales at least get an author additional readers. It's also a fact that I find myself more comfortable with traditional fiction writing from last century than some of its more modern forms.
One way to judge a book is by how well it measures up to its cover blurbs.
I agree with the "Guardian" reviewer that "Turow succeeds in bringing his characters to life and in exquisite and moving detail". They are a colourful lot, though I found the narrator, who appears occasionally in the first person, rather unnecessary to the story.
However, I would not have used the superlatives of other reviewers quoted on the back cover. I did not find it "spectacular" (though I appreciate the amount of effort the author put into research), nor all that much of "a humdinger of a plot", nor particularly "gripping".
For me, judged against other thrillers I've read, it was not a page-turner, so I read it doggedly in small doses. The very small font size of this edition also made it more difficult to read easily.
After trying Turow, I still prefer Grisham....more
I rarely read historical fiction but the ancient Romans have always fascinated me - and my copy of this book came cheaply in a book sale.
I expected itI rarely read historical fiction but the ancient Romans have always fascinated me - and my copy of this book came cheaply in a book sale.
I expected it to be bloodthirsty, with horrible deeds, and it did fulfil that expectation, of course; the reason I put off reading it at first.
The violence could have been less graphically described and would have left an entertaining tale that spoke less of man's inhumanity to man, and the horrors of war and conquest, no matter what the epoch.
Both Roman and British motivation in slaughtering each other are well brought out in the book and the fate of the British hero, King Caratacus, is left slightly in doubt in the last few lines.
The trouble with historical novels, with real historical figures in them, is that you can resolve any dilemma about what happened. Two websites I checked confirm that Caratacus was pardoned by Claudius and left to wander Rome.
The records I searched do not mention what happened to him after that.
Rufus is an engaging minnow among characters in the story but is frequently at the forefront of the plot and is most likely to get the sympathy vote from a reader.
The epic story is masterfully told, living up the book blurb.
Skilfully combines travelogue (USA) and autobiography with anecdotes about the life of Jack Kerouac. The author has great powers of description that bSkilfully combines travelogue (USA) and autobiography with anecdotes about the life of Jack Kerouac. The author has great powers of description that bring to life each place she visits and each person she meets.
The only background information she gives in "about the author" is about having a recent MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University of Wellington. She appears justly proud of her skill as a writer. She is no young student though, not with the colourful life the book reveals she has lived.
If I knew as much about Kerouac in my teenage age years as I know after reading this book he would never have become an author I idolised in my youth.
I read the book at a leisurely pace as a time-filler (I don't read much non-fiction) and was always happy to pick it up again and continue to the end.
The choice of dark cover & mountain photo (not shown here) are unfortunate - a more attractive one might be less off-putting. The cover did not turn out to match the narrative, which was not all dark or sombre....more
Lead character Malin Fors certainly frustrates the reader with her mindless alcoholism (not really explained in the book) and her inability to follow-Lead character Malin Fors certainly frustrates the reader with her mindless alcoholism (not really explained in the book) and her inability to follow-through on her feelings towards her teenage daughter. At the same time it makes you want to keep reading to find out if she will deal with her devils or not. In some ways her going into rehab at the end of the book is an anti-climax, much as you hope it will be her salvation.
All in all, she became a character I cared about.
The most unusual feature of the book (apart from its Swedish setting) is that the murder victims continue to be POV characters after their deaths.
The book has a lot of characters for a reader to handle & I sometimes lost track of where they fitted into the story.
Slim leads to the perpetrator of the murders develop very slowly in a very tentative spread-wide net, with no obvious suspect until very late in the story. That keeps the reader's interest while as frustrating for the detectives as for the reader.
A long book which I might have passed over reading if it had not been loaned to me by a friend....more
I read a lot of thrillers and, in my experience, this one has considerable originality, most of all for its first-person narrative buItems from a Book
I read a lot of thrillers and, in my experience, this one has considerable originality, most of all for its first-person narrative built on the lead protagonist’s internal dialogue which fills most of the book.
Koontz has created an interesting, possibly unique, character in “Odd Thomas” with his paranormal faculties. The book hints at darker things being possible though my imagination could not fill the gaps.
This thriller also stood out for little sayings I thought were memorable. They were:
“The joys of life can be found anywhere. Far places only offer exotic ways to suffer.” I wonder how many travellers can relate to that? It’s always nice to return home, though sometimes to daydream about living elsewhere.
“...spent his life killing himself with food ... without the solace and refuge of food, he would have been dead long ago ... books and excess poundage are his insulation against pain”. It says a lot about how many of us use food as a harbour from the difficulties of life and become obese as a result. At least book-reading doesn’t add on any fat.
“threnody” – a new word to me, meaning a lamentation, especially of a person’s death.
“She says that what holds their marriage together is that she feels too damn sorry for him to ask for a divorce.” Rather clever and amusing, I thought, and a reminder that there are so many reasons why marriages last.
I also liked Koontz’s ideal of marriage, expressed by his character, “Odd Thomas”, as: “What really holds their marriage together are mutual respect of an awesome depth, a shared sense of humour, faith that they were brought together by a force greater than themselves, and a love so unwavering and pure that it is sacred.” I can’t help thinking that this so beautifully describes the marital holy grail that a couple should pursue. ...more
These days, I usually read thrillers but picked this novel up for an insight into how a woman author wrote about women. It's crammed with mundande detThese days, I usually read thrillers but picked this novel up for an insight into how a woman author wrote about women. It's crammed with mundande detail but still fascinating,easy to read and quality writing.
As a father I wanted to reach out and protect the three daughters in the story (sometimes from themselves) but as every father knows from experience you can't do that even with your own - not absolutely. As for the mother, I wanted to shake some sense into her, as the saying goes. I suppose that all says what a good job Fairbairns made of her characterization.
The father in the story cheats on his wife and hits his teenager daughters but is not portrayed as a total villain.
In an "Afterword", Fairbairns, says that while the book was "to some extent inspired by events which occured in [her] own family it is not an account of them". She even outlines the significant similarities. I suspect she had a better relationship with her father than her characters did with theirs.
The book has sexual references that I'm sure a male author would not get away with portraying as natural and ungratuitous....more
As a bestseller, the 1984 Corgi edition of this novel retailed at NZ$9.95. I found this gem in a second-hand book sale for NZ$3. It would have been woAs a bestseller, the 1984 Corgi edition of this novel retailed at NZ$9.95. I found this gem in a second-hand book sale for NZ$3. It would have been worth full price if it had been sold as a current bestseller. The copy I now hold belonged at some stage to one L. de Groot. It’s a book I’ll add to my hoard because even though I may never read it again, I treasure it. I read a few of Michener’s sagas many years ago and he is the master of blending fact and fiction in fascinating stories. In a miniscule way, by comparison, I’m providing a little snapshot of the history of NZ’s Campbell Island in my next novel “Island of Regrets”. That aside, I had to recommend “Poland” to readers, who have not yet discovered it, as a great read that will keep you enthralled from start to finish. With such a history, it is amazing that any Poles survived let alone, as the book blurb says, with an “unconquered heart”. The novel “reveals this spirit in all its drama and tragedy”. The novel is rightly described in the blurb as “spectacular” and few novels better justify that tag. In the first external examination I ever took as a young person I failed in the subject “history” but, after reading Michener, the essence of Poland’s history is imprinted in my brain. ...more
I've read a dozen or so books since my last review but have been too busy to do reviews because of producing 2 novels & a second-edition of my ownI've read a dozen or so books since my last review but have been too busy to do reviews because of producing 2 novels & a second-edition of my own.
"The Secret" is a family saga covering two generations, the story told from the point of view of father and son. It does not miss a beat in lightly covering a range of pornographic cliches but is still an interesting and entertaining read - in parts hard to put down.
This is the first of Robbins' books I've ever read. All I know about the author is that he wrote "The Carpetbaggers" which was turned into a film I saw many years ago. On the back cover of "The Secret" he is described as "the bestselling author is back" and his having led "a colourful life" He's certainly used it to create colourful characters and situations in this book.
Worth having read but I wouldn't describe myself as having become a committed Robbins fan. ...more
A UK literary agent, after seeing my first novel, kindly described me as "a more dynamic Custler". After reading Clive and Dirk Cuttler's "Crescent DaA UK literary agent, after seeing my first novel, kindly described me as "a more dynamic Custler". After reading Clive and Dirk Cuttler's "Crescent Dawn" I certainly don't think I deserve that honour.
A big book (548 pages in hardback) it has a complex plot and sub-plots. The characters are many but mostly clearly defined enough to be memorable - quite a feat for any writer.
I've not followed all Custler's works, but found it interesting having the saga's lead character, Dirk Pitt's, grown up son and daughter added to the mix. Somehow they made it a more enjoyable read than previous Dirt Pitt books I've read.
I found the action more believable than in some thrillers I've read, and the restraint from constant killings was a relief. [In the last thriller I wrote, "Relinquished", only one crook died, and that was by accident - not that others escaped retribution.]...more