Friday, 31 October 2014

Lamentation by C.J. Sansom

Once again Sansom offers up a read of epic proportions with this nearly 650 page long mystery set in the era of Henry VIII during the last year of his life.

Shardlake will do anything for Queen Catherine Parr, almost to the point of obsession.

He endangers his friends and family in the attempt to keep her from harm. Danger to the point of near death.

The author melds the details of the complicated religious setting, which prevailed during this time in history, with the story and the characters.

The cry of or the mere murmur of the word heresy is enough to make any person fear for their life. Some people use the label to decry and remove their enemies.Unfortunately Shardlake tends to be target for many, because of his past interactions and current loyalties.

Sansom stays as close to fact as possible to give it an air of authenticity and has added an afterthought or notes to explain where liberties were taken to aid the tale.

I do think the story could have been a little shorter and still have given the reader the same kind of read and content. Then again detailed and drawn out tends to be kind of a trait of this particular author.

Sansom ends the book in a way, which suggests we will be seeing Shardlake again. The next time will probably be in the midst of trouble for his new employer, a person destined to create controversy and be at the centre of many a plot.

It will be interesting to see where Sansom takes Shardlake outside of the realms of Henry the VIII's tyranny.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Hoard by Neil Grimmett

Grimmett lays a particular heavy emphasis on the relationships between his characters. The emotional ties that bind, tear apart and often destroy people.

In The Hoard those emotions extend to and expand around the explosive materials and the actual main hub of the site.

They are volatile, destructive and threaten to swallow everything and everyone involved in its general vicinity.

The explosion is based on true events that happened at ROF Bridgwater in 1951, an explosion which killed six workers.The actual cause of the explosion was never determined, which folds neatly into this fictional story.

Byron is the son of one of the victims and he is back to find the truth, no matter how painful. He finds himself immersed in the rituals of an old boys brotherhood and the adrenaline pumped mentality of men who work in highly dangerous situations.
I thought there were too many scenes, dialogues and interactions, which were over-sexualized. Perhaps even to the detriment of the main plot.

Despite that Grimmett manages to create a vibrant story with a cast of eccentric characters. I think the most memorable character is the one left behind, the person who is driven slightly insane by survivors guilt and post traumatic stress disorder.

He sways between an almost paranormal ghostly connection and mental illness in a way that leaves the reader wondering just which one fits the description completely. The scenes in the river, where he communicates with the men of the past, are exactly the type of extraordinary imagery, dialogue and scene I have come to expect from this particular author.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

The Sentinel by Troy Denning

This is book five in the fantastic collaboration called The Sundering. 

Joelle and Malik have stolen a very powerful ancient artifact, which seems to be at the epicentre of a war between gods.

In a way this book manages to create an image of the bigger picture, sort of slotting in what the events in all the books are actually leading up to.

The destruction, rupture and splitting of the world by enraged and vengeful gods.

Their path collides with that of Kleef, a top-sword for the Marsember Watch, and Arietta, a nobleman's daughter. Together the four of them become more or less bound to each other, the artefact and their sense of duty. One could argue that their meeting is fate rather than just accidental.

Malik is the Chosen one of the god of lies, which is certainly apt because he spends most of his time trying to deceive or harm some members of the small group and the other half spreading lies.

Denning has woven parts of the four other books in the Sundering into this fifth one. If readers have read those or have been following this fascinating collaboration, they will recognise the moments when the stories link together.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The White Nile Diaries by John Hopkins

The book follows the travel of two Princeton Graduates called John Hopkins and Joe McPhillips. They are typical affluent men of their time with a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed view of the world.

It is written, as the title aptly says in diary form and also filled with correspondence between themselves, some of their hosts and the contacts, who enabled part of their difficult travels.

You can feel the innocence of youth, the burning desire to conquer the unknown and the flame of independence. The two of them plod on through armed borders, endless deserts, tropical diseases and even the occasional dangerous group of rebels. Often the escape conflict, death and prison by the skin of their teeth.

Their travels take place during the 1960's, a time of  great upheaval and development. At the same time they are able to experience certain places in a way you can't any more.

One of their more bizarre experiences is at Sam Small's Impala Ranch. I think that particular passage in the book gives the reader an excellent feeling of the vast space and feeling of loneliness foreigners, who chose to settle there, experienced.

That feeling of being surrounded by nothing but wild country and despite the fact the native inhabitants put up with the pesky colonialists, there was always the underlying feeling of not belonging.

Hopkins gives a realistic flair, taste and colour to the places they travel through. It is almost as if the reader is sat on the back of the sturdy motorcycle they called The White Nile.

This is a ride through history written by Hopkins during the actual travels with a great dollop of energy and the devil-may-care attitude of  youth

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Netgalley and I.B. Tauris

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The 100 Society by Carla Spradbery

This sort of reminded me of a YA version of Scream. The reader is introduced to group of teens fairly quickly and they disappear one by one just as fast. One death more horrible than the next.

Thinking about it, it is certainly more a YA than a teen read from a plot perspective.

The actual 100 Society the title refers to isn't given much attention.

I think it could have done with a wee bit more space in the story, as it is it just sinks into a quagmire of trivial details instead.

The author sets it up well with the line you've been tagged, let the games begin, but fails to deliver a decent game.

A pity really, because as a reader I felt as if the author had let the chance to create an interesting back-story and history slide through her fingers.

How was Grace's brother involved and why is he against her involvement in the society? How did it get started? Why, who and what kind of tags?

Overall I found it all a little rushed and underdeveloped. The characters lacked depth and the plot was predictable. With some fleshing out it could have been much better, but it wouldn't change the fact it is a killer kills everyone one by one Scream scenario.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Friday, 10 October 2014

The Little Shop of Hopes and Dreams by Fiona Harper

Nicole was a true hardcore romantic when she came up with the great idea to start a Marriage Proposal Planning company. 

Now after watching one too many enthusiastic couples melt into each others arms she realises she is missing out on something. 

Something or someone who will make her heart sing like a canary on champagne.

On a night out she meets that certain someone and he not only makes her heart sing, he also makes her limbs weak, her heart pound and her body ache for the horizontal tango. Numbers are exchanged and one would think things are a go, except Nicole chickens out and that’s when things get really complicated.

One year later and the perfect solution to all their business problems has waltzed in the door. The problem with the oh so perfect solution is the unexpected complication called Alex.

Harper knows just how to twist the plot in a way that keeps readers on their toes. A man with trust issues, a gal who doesn’t trust her instincts and a delightfully spontaneous socialite called Saffron to top it all off. This is certainly a romance with more ups and downs than a roller coaster ride.

Buy The Little Shop of Hopes and Dreams at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @FiHarper_Author@HQStories or @HarperCollinsUK

Read The Summer we DancedThe Doris Day Vintage Film Club or The Other Us by Fiona Harper

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

"There's a difference between loneliness and solitude." Never were there truer words spoken. I loved this wee book and the sheer simplicity of it.

No complicated love triangles, no predictable bad boy and no overly dramatic teen scenarios. It is just Owen and Lucy, and the perfect imperfection of the two of them.

Life is strange when it comes to rare random encounters, especially when two people click in a way that is hard to describe. Something more than just a physical need, a connection of souls, although it may be somewhat of a cliché.

Sometimes when you meet the right person it just isn't the right time to be together. People pass each other like ships in the night, and that's all it will ever be. Just a chance encounter.

Owen and Lucy hold on tight to that red string , which seems to connect them. Throughout the span of time, the complexity of different locations and other relationships, they still pine for each other. Sending postcards to each other, almost like stepping back a few decades before emails, sms and social media.

Not many of the new generations understand the nostalgic thought behind this now outdated mode of communication. Not many of them will  ever experience the beauty of receiving a handwritten letter. In this technology filled era communication is electronic, digital and paperless.

The Geography of You and Me is suitable for both younger and older readers, despite the main market target being YA. The story is such that the ages of the two main characters could be raised a few decades and the tale would still remain the same. The undeniable and inexplicable connection of two human beings.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Ruthless by Cath Stainciffe

You don't often get books turned into TV series that stick more or less precisely to the written word.

Staincliffe writes the way it would look if given to a screenplay writer, which saves and passes a particular element in her writing onto the screen.

The focus is on the interview techniques, securing a confession and in doing so being able to charge the perpetrator with the crime.

Staincliffe has created a fierce trio of female police officers, who are bound together by gender, loyalty, leadership and friendship.

I really enjoyed the character of Gill the most. Her snarky remarks, bolshy attitude and her strong leadership of those around her. She rules with an iron fist and yet still manages to maintain a close friendship with Janet. The same applies to Rachel and Janet.

The story mixes police crime with the personal lives of the three of them. Tragedy, heartbreak, past lives filled with neglect, all have to be set aside when it comes to law, order and procedure.

The author has also chosen to shine a spotlight on legal and illegal highs. An interesting point of view, focusing on the fact that the illegal drugs are probably less of a risk than the unknown legal highs being sold by drug dealers.

Staincliffe offers up a fresh breath of reality with the third book in the Scott & Bailey series.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan

Finally Sarah Morgan brings us the story of the most stubborn and difficult of the O'Neil brothers.

Tyler has the reputation of a daredevil playboy, who hops from woman to woman in the blink of an eye.

The tabloids were full of his supposed exploits during his time as a ski champion and celebrity.

Unfortunately everyone tends to believe what they read in the media, despite the fact most of the gossip magazines make stuff up as they go along.

Tyler and Brenna have been friends for their entire life. Brenna has been in love with him for a long time, but keeps it hidden from everyone. Well, at least she thinks she is keeping it hidden.

The reality is every knows how she feels except for Tyler. He has no clue at all and tries very hard to maintain the strict boundaries of friendship between the two of them.

The women of the O'Neil family conspire to play matchmaker between the Brenna and Tyler. Their sly move rattles the bones and memories of the past. Brenna finally confronts a secret she has kept from everyone, a secret she let determine her life since her teenage years.

The pain and humiliation of being the victim of a bully. Day in and day out Brenna went through hell and didn't tell a soul. Now the bully is back in town and it is time to deal with her horrible past.

Sarah Morgan brings this delightful series of romances set around the Snow Crystal resort to a surprising and compelling end. In her own very specific and talented way Morgan manages to create a warm-hearted tear-jerker with plenty of laughs and a good ol' family feeling.

Buy Maybe This Christmas at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

You can connect with Sarah online at her website: www.sarahmorgan.com on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AuthorSarahMorgan or on Twitter @SarahMorgan_

Read: Holiday in the Hamptons (From Manhattan with Love #5)New York Actually (From Manhattan with Love #4)Miracle on 5th Avenue (From Manhattan with Love #3)Sunset in Central Park (From Manhattan with Love #2)Sleepless in Manhattan (From Manhattan with Love #1)Christmas Ever AfterFirst Time in Forever, Suddenly Last Summer or The Notting Hill Diaries, all by Sarah Morgan.

Follow @SarahMorgan_@HQStories and @HarperCollinsUK