A really interesting concept. I love Sophie Hannah's writing and would have probably given this five stars if it wasn't for the fact that I just couldA really interesting concept. I love Sophie Hannah's writing and would have probably given this five stars if it wasn't for the fact that I just couldn't get on with the characters. Maybe we're not supposed to like any of them, but I felt there was some unfinished business and I wasn't really rooting for anybody. But as always, wonderfully executed and a clever idea. ...more
I thought this book was incredibly helpful. It pointed out so many errors in my writing. I read it once quickly, then again with notes, and have readI thought this book was incredibly helpful. It pointed out so many errors in my writing. I read it once quickly, then again with notes, and have read it a third time just to cement everything. ...more
This book opens with a tragedy on the island of Puerto Franco when a local girl called Leah goes missing and is presumed to have been drowned, althougThis book opens with a tragedy on the island of Puerto Franco when a local girl called Leah goes missing and is presumed to have been drowned, although her body was never found. This event has a devastating effect on the girl's mother and brother who never really come to terms with the loss. When the island is hit by a series of extreme storms, the locals believe that the girl's death has cast a curse on them all and the Mother and her son become alienated from nearly everyone.
Thirty years on, we enter the lives of an artist named Mar and her young daughter Lemay who venture from the mainland seeking out the peacefulness and beauty of the island as an inspirational retreat for Mar's work. All is not as it seems as the story unfolds and when the visitors explore the island and meet its varied inhabitants, you find out that everyone seems to have their own hidden secrets..
Mar is drawn to Leah's spirit which guides her through a series of often baffling hidden messages towards the truth behind the island curse with some surprising revelations.
This book has a lovely descriptive language which allows you to visualize the island setting and truly brings its local characters to life, but for me, this was sometimes at the expense of the story. Initially I found the pace to be slow as there was a lot of character and imagery building and I found myself wondering where it was all going. My patience however was finally rewarded and the plot picked up momentum as the threads began to weave together and the mystery unfolded. It's a very enjoyable read, rich in language, history and a diverse culture. ...more
I read this book when I was away from home staying in a hotel - in the smallest hotel room I have ever seen. I was bored and restless, and I was wondeI read this book when I was away from home staying in a hotel - in the smallest hotel room I have ever seen. I was bored and restless, and I was wondering how I was going to get through the few days ahead of me. But then I started to read ‘The Only Friends You Need” Suddenly going back to my hotel room at the end of each day didn’t seem quite so bad - I had six new friends to learn about.
And that’s how this book makes you feel. As if these were your friends too, and not just people that you are reading about. I have to say, though, that I wanted to shake one or two of them from time to time, and I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the partners of a couple of the friends, who seemed to be excluded from this tight circle even in their own homes.
But that was a relatively small issue in an extremely engaging book. The problems that each of the friends faced felt real in that they were based on dilemmas that could be relevant to any one of us, and they were handled realistically and sympathetically. I think we would all like to have friends like these, and Flic Everett has done an excellent job of drawing characters that we might love, hate, or just love to hate.
Like reviewer on Amazon UK, I did notice a small section of the book had some formatting errors, but they certainly were not sufficient to detract from my enjoyment. It’s definitely worth a read! ...more
This ‘Crazy Southern Irish Gal’ has definitely got the ‘gift of the gab’! Having been brought up in FloridaThe Art of Storytelling is Alive and Well…
This ‘Crazy Southern Irish Gal’ has definitely got the ‘gift of the gab’! Having been brought up in Florida during the seventies, she tells us about her life through a wonderful series of colourful characters, mishaps, confessions and events. I found myself completely drawn into her stories from the first page, recalling some of the personalities from my own childhood along the way.
You feel privileged to have been part of her journey down memory lane. Her true gift of storytelling conjures up cleverly selected images from the seventies right through to present day. This book is well written, funny and covers the complete spectrum of topics and challenges we all come across in our daily lives, but we often take their significance or importance for granted. It handles sensitive issues with great openness, honesty and humour and will leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling inside; wanting to reconnect with your past.
In many ways this book is quite cathartic and it will make you think about some of the decisions you have made throughout your own life. It teaches us that sometimes it’s good to stop and recollect the simple things and take stock of who we are and what we have achieved; celebrate the positive, forgive and forget the negative and move on with your life.
So what’s the deal with the title you ask? I won’t spoil it for you, all will be revealed, you will just have to clear your schedule, turn the Blackberry off and buckle up for an extraordinary heartwarmingly funny ride....more
I have to say that I thought this book was wonderful. It is the gentle tale of two people who shouldn’t be togetherA touching story, beautifully told
I have to say that I thought this book was wonderful. It is the gentle tale of two people who shouldn’t be together by the normal rules of morality and the times. Kate is a young, extremely bright college student who has never had much time for boys. David is a professor at the college she attends. Brilliant but somewhat aloof, he is trapped in a loveless marriage where nobody - not even his children - can see any worth in him. But this is Seattle in the 1950s, and nineteen year olds don’t have affairs with married men in their late forties. Nobody would find that acceptable. And yet, these two find a rare love for each other.
As a reader, you cannot help but begin to wonder what is going to happen. How can this end well? It is difficult to say without adding spoilers. But somehow Rebecca Heath has managed to tell this story in such a way that the sadness and the happiness mingle to just give the reader a sense of satisfaction.
Each chapter begins with the brief extract of a letter from Kate to her mother - but of course, the letters don’t even touch the surface of what is really happening in Kate’s life. There is no way that Kate could tell her mother the truth, but somehow she manages to talk about her life without telling lies, whilst at the same time failing to mention the turbulent emotions she is experiencing.
I would say this is not a romantic novel. It’s a well-written true love story. For me there is a distinction. This book has none of the hallmarks of traditional romantic fiction, and doesn’t attempt to put a rosy glow on life and the lovers. It’s about real people, experiencing emotions that may not be right, but can’t be avoided. It is a book for people who have been in love themselves, who will recognise the emotions that shine through in the writing. ...more
Excellent story - fast paced action - well worth a read
The Viper Contract tells the story of an ex US Air Force fighter pilot, Colin Pearce, who has bExcellent story - fast paced action - well worth a read
The Viper Contract tells the story of an ex US Air Force fighter pilot, Colin Pearce, who has been forced to take up a career as a contract pilot, ferrying businessmen and the like around. The money’s good, but it doesn’t excite him the way his former profession did. And then something happens to change all that. He is approached by the CIA to act as an undercover agent in a daring and deadly airstrike which could have disastrous consequences reverberating around the world.
The bulk of the story is based on the time he spends undercover. The mercenary outfit that recruits him firmly believes he is onside - although one or two maybe have their doubts. But it’s a strange life. He has no idea where in the world he is, and the attitudes of the some of the women - who seem to be competing for his attention - is somewhat bemusing. But, of course, he can’t possibly ignore their advances!
The plot of this book is excellent. It moves at a great pace, and on the whole, the characters are well defined. I was puzzled by some of their behaviours from time to time, but nothing that detracted from the story. It is tense and exciting, and written by a man who understands his subject well.
There were two very small issues that just prevented me giving this book five stars. The first was that Broyhill did dwell on the detail of some of the plane’s functions. If you are an aeroplane enthusiast - you will love this. I’m not, so in a couple of places I skipped ahead. But it’s a pretty minor issue, to be honest. The other thing was the very end of the book, where I felt that two of the characters behaved in a manner which didn’t fit well with their cutthroat vicious characters. But in realty, this was the last page of the book, more or less - and overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
This review was written by Rachel Abbott for the Kindle Book Review ...more
I have also interviewed Jennifer B White for my blog
When 26 year old Delilah returns to the town sheAn engaging and intriguing tale of the paranormal
I have also interviewed Jennifer B White for my blog
When 26 year old Delilah returns to the town she was brought up in, she discovers that some things never change. Her old grandmother is now dead, but the ramshackle cottage that she lived in is still full of all the junk that had accumulated over the years, and Delilah despairs of the task ahead of her in clearing the place out to make it habitable.
But strange things begin to happen to her, and gradually she becomes aware that this town has two sorts of inhabitants - the living, and the “otherwise”. Within the town is one woman - living - who is able to speak to the spirits that are “otherwise”, and gradually during the telling of the story, lies and secrets from the past are revealed culminating in a dramatic and surprising climax.
Otherwise is a well written novel by a person who one can only believe has some real affinity with the paranormal. Her characters are real, believable, and human (even when they are not). It is difficult to write a review of this book without giving away its secrets - but it is more than just a tale about spirits. It is a story about how spirits might want to cling on to the world, because at the time of their passing there were still issues to be resolved. It’s a story of love, but also of murder and deceit. The final outcome was a surprise, and one which felt slightly uncomfortable to me, as the normally astute Winnie had totally misread one situation.
Although I don’t normally read novels of this kind, I found it very engaging. I had no trouble finding the story highly credible, although there were one or two points that my naturally logical mind struggled with when the lines between living and dead seemed to be unnecessarily crossed. But they were very minor issues for me in an otherwise highly enjoyable read.
A compelling mystery, well written and very entertaining
You can tell from the naming of his main characters - Dakota Stevens and Svetlana Krüsh - thatA compelling mystery, well written and very entertaining
You can tell from the naming of his main characters - Dakota Stevens and Svetlana Krüsh - that author Chris Orcutt has a sense of humour, and this is apparent throughout his writing. This book is no comedy - far from it - but Orcutt displays a lightness of touch in dealing with his characters that makes it a joy to read.
The story focuses around Dakota - ex FBI agent now turned PI - and his ‘beautiful assistant’ chess world champion Svetlana. They are offered a job to find a missing painting - and paid a substantial amount in advance. When their client goes missing, they have the option of taking the money and doing nothing. But that is not Dakota’s style - and as he begins to investigate what seems like a simple art theft, the plot genuinely does thicken. Dakota and Svetlana piece by piece uncover a much greater crime dating back to decades earlier.
This is an extremely well written novel. It has all the elements you would want to find in a book of this genre: plenty of fast action, beautiful women, secret wealth and bravery beyond measure. But add in a couple of extra ingredients and you have a real winner. The extra ingredients? The quality of the writing. The book moves at a pace, and it’s a consistent pace. It never flags. But the ingredient that makes this a winner for me is definitely Orcutt’s wit. He paints the Dakota Stevens character so well that you cannot fail to like him.
Like another reviewer, I would love to understand his relationship with Svetlana. As a man who seems to jump on every available woman at every opportunity, it remains a mystery why the gorgeous Svetlana seems to be excluded from his attentions (although he makes several comments that would suggest there is no lack of interest on his part). And I did find it slightly difficult to keep up to speed with all of the characters - particularly early on in the book. But I have concluded that this is a failing on my part. Possibly reading this book into the early hours of the morning didn’t help my memory!
Some reviewers have commented that this book would make an excellent film. I disagree. I think it has TV series written all over it. An excellent novel that is well worth reading. I’m seriously looking forward to the next in this series. ...more
It’s important to say at the outset that isn’t a book about religion - which is what I thought when I saw the title. It’s actually about a young girl called Faith, and the first part of the book focuses on her early life with her twin sister Charity, flashing between the present and the past - but beautifully done.
The novel starts with a remarkable opening line: “The first time my sister died, we were three years old” and builds steadily and consistently from this point, creating a sad tale of two young girls brought up in an apparently loveless home. It continues until Faith is in her early twenties.
It has a mixture of styles, from heartbreakingly sad to tense and scary, and Christine Dougherty carries them all off well. In places, her writing is superb and her use of imagery excellent. Although it’s not the usual action thriller style that is my preference in books, I found it totally compelling.
The plot was intriguing and imaginative. The characters were well-drawn, and some were emotionally complex. Dougherty did an outstanding job of painting a picture of the lives of the twins. It isn’t a fast paced plot - but then it’s not meant to be. It’s a gradually unravelling story, with many hints thrown out about mysteries that are revealed as the book continues, and I couldn’t stop reading.
I did feel, though, that there were a number of elements that weren’t explained fully by the end of the book. I know there is to be a sequel so perhaps this is intentional. But it did leave me slightly frustrated. I definitely won’t introduce any spoilers into my review, but there was an underlying reason why the girls lives were as they were, and I felt that this provided an opportunity for a more sinister feel in places. The end of the story leaves the reader in some doubts about the future - but again, that is no doubt intended as a lead in to the second book. Nevertheless I did feel a slight sense of disappointment that the ending wasn’t quite up to the truly exceptional quality of the majority of the book.
That said, I would strongly recommend it to anybody who likes well written novels with a good storyline and credible - if not necessarily likable - characters. The exceptional quality of the writing makes it a book that is well worth reading. It deserves 4.5 stars really.
A tense and disturbing thriller with a unique female protagonist
Harvest of the Heart begins with the murder of Elsa Danforth's mother on her fourth biA tense and disturbing thriller with a unique female protagonist
Harvest of the Heart begins with the murder of Elsa Danforth's mother on her fourth birthday. This would be traumatic enough for any child, but Elsa has a strange connection with her mother, and this bond results in Elsa experiencing the horrors of her mother's brutal murder through their psychic connection. Elsa's mother is just the first victim in a killing spree that lasts for years, and the serial killer becomes known as The Harvester. The killings happen in September or October each year, and the FBI are struggling to understand the motives of the killer, and what is so special about this particular time of year.
Meanwhile, young Elsa is growing up. She becomes a strong and spirited girl who excels at running. The story follows her life as she grows, and gradually it becomes clear that her principle objective is to kill the Harvester, so that he can't destroy the lives of any more young women.
A young FBI agent has similarly developed an obsession with the Harvester - but despite some intricate planning and warnings to people to stay off the streets in the danger period, the Harvester continues to elude him.
Michael Selmer writes well, and the book flows from descriptive passage to dark and terrifying revelations about the Harvester. Some of the scenes of murder are gruesome in their detail, but cleverly written. Elsa's character develops nicely from childhood to adulthood, and the novel has an excellent climax, with an unexpected ending.
For me there were one or two slight gaps in the story. We learn of Elsa's connection with her mother early on, but the relevance of this disappears on her mother's death, to be reignited momentarily towards the end. It felt as if this could have had more significance as the story progressed. We know what the Harvester does, and some reference is made as to why - but I never felt that I entirely understood his motivation, or why this only happened once a year. What Selmer did very well, though, was demonstrate the escalation in the horror of the murders, if not in the frequency.
During Elsa's growing up period, the writing was fluid and the story was interesting, but it became slightly disconnected from the main theme, with the focus moving away somewhat from the Harvester's activities.
That said, I would recommend this book as a very good read, and these are minor points in an otherwise excellent story.
An ingenious plot, well written and worthy of its high ratings
Gray Justice is the story of a man who has lost everything, all because of the selfish aAn ingenious plot, well written and worthy of its high ratings
Gray Justice is the story of a man who has lost everything, all because of the selfish actions of a joy rider. What he cannot tolerate is the fact that this joy rider seems to feel no guilt for his crimes - and, along with a vast number of similar criminals, nothing stops him from re-offending. The sentences handed out are risible, and it would appear that the government is going to do nothing to impose harsher sentences or develop strategies to reduce the number of recidivists. So Tom Gray comes up with an ingenious plan which involves the whole population of the UK, and requires some definite and positive action from the government. What he fails to realise, though, is that one of his clever strategies results in a conclusion that he had never anticipated.
This is an ingenious plot, with some surprising but well thought out twists and turns. The pace is fast, and all aspects of the book appear to be well researched - so much so that you might wonder if the author had himself been a member of the SAS. Gritty and brutal in places, McDermott paints very strong visual images throughout the story. I loved the idea of Tom Gray being more than just your average vigilante - an option that was perhaps open to him after he lost his family.
Any reservations that I have are minor, and do not detract from the overall enjoyment of the story. Personally I thought that the proposed punishment was a little harsh for the crimes, and there are other offenders who were maybe more deserving of Gray’s justice. I also completely understood the motives of the protagonist, but I would have liked to have been more aware of what he was feeling. After all, this was a pretty significant undertaking, and I didn’t get much of a feel for Tom Gray ‘the man’ and how this mission was affecting him. Some of the other characters were also a little indistinct and it would have been good to recognise a number of strong and individual personalities.
But these are a trivial reservations in an extremely gripping story. I wish four and a half stars were possible! Gray Justice...more
This is a well written novel, and I can understand why it has proved so popular. I am more of a thrill seeker though, and so although I thought that tThis is a well written novel, and I can understand why it has proved so popular. I am more of a thrill seeker though, and so although I thought that the characters were well described and it is an excellent detective story, it didn't make me shiver or keep me up all night.
But for those people who love a crime story, a strong and likeable main character and an interesting plot it would be the perfect book. There is no hint as to who the perpetrator is throughout the story, and the reason for his crimes is quite a shock. For me, why he did it came as much more of a surprise than how he did it. The how seemed to be the big mystery of the case, but it is one area that I found slightly disappointing, as I thought it was something that could have been solved sooner. But I will say no more...
An easy book to read, well written, and I would certainly consider buying more books in this series. ...more
A good read. I'm going to do a full review soon - but just wanted to say that I would have liked to give it 4.5 stars if that were possible! It is welA good read. I'm going to do a full review soon - but just wanted to say that I would have liked to give it 4.5 stars if that were possible! It is well written, and has a good storyline. Some of the characters were very strong, and it is certainly well worth reading. My slight reservations were that I thought the outcome was slightly too obvious; perhaps because it reminded me of a real case here in the UK. But that aside, I would certainly recommend it. ...more