Key Guide

CTM = Crime, Thriller, Mystery Genre Authors

ROF = Romance and Other Fiction Authors

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  1. Katherine Bucknell Canarino3My Rating: 2/5

    I have read quite a lot lately, but found myself with nothing left on my `read' list. My friend offered to lend me a book by an author that I had never heard of. To be honest if I was in a bookshop and saw this I wouldn't do more than glance at it. The front cover is not exactly the most enticing and the jacket gives little away as to the sort of book it is. I decided that I would give it a go anyway and started reading it as soon as I got home that night.

    Synopsis: David is an American Investment Banker and he lives in London with his wife Elizabeth and two children. His wife decides that he must retire; leaving the life they have in London and moving to a remote and rural area of America. Elizabeth goes ahead with the children and on the first evening in his London home David is contacted by a very old friend. This is the start of a story of betrayal and lies and delves deep into the relationship between two friends.

    Well where do I start? The first chapter is kind of a head scratcher. We are introduced to both Katherine and David along with their children. The first chapter itself is slow because of the way the author describes everything in such detail. I persevered and found that at chapter 4, I wanted to just shut the book and not return to it. However, I was not going to be defeated and convinced myself it was one of those books you needed to really involve yourself in.

    The basic story and plot is a good one. It is very difficult to give too many details as it would spoil the book but essentially the basis for the story is okay. The characters I found extremely hard work. I began to realise little over 6 chapters in, that I didn't like the writing style of the author. The reason I didn't like her style of writing is that this particular author examines the minds of the characters in great depth and can continue for half a chapter just explaining what they are thinking. She also writes with a slight poetic and dramatic edge, which if I'm honest isn't something I enjoy. The drama, yes, the poetry, no.

    Like I said, I persevered and once I adjusted my mindset to the author's way of thinking I found it easier to read. However, the book actually lacked any sort of substance because; I would go as far as to say that there was too much depth to the characters. Just as you are beginning to understand what they are thinking you forget why you needed know in the first place. The depth never leads to anything; it just seems to add to the poetic edge of writing.

    Over halfway in and I enjoyed it a little more that in the beginning as the story progressed and other characters were brought in. However, the story itself revolves around 5 or 6 main characters and I didn't like one of them! They were all written with great feeling, that much was obvious, they just weren't that likeable in my opinion.

    I was reading a page and coming to the end of a chapter near the end of the book and when I turned the page I was shocked to realise that I had finished the book. That was it, no real ending as such, no loose ends tied up, and the author just decided enough was enough. I was so frustrated that not only had I had to force myself to read this, that the ending was so abrupt. I felt like the author couldn't be bothered to finish the work she had started. Out of curiosity I looked up this author on Amazon thinking there may be a follow up, but there wasn't. What surprised me even more was that this particular book was rated as 4 out of 5. I was gobsmacked to say the least. I also wondered about the title of the book. Canarino is a lemon drink and the only reference to this drink is that Elizabeth drunk it when she first met David. That about summed up this book, it's like hot lemon water, it may be good for you but not everybody likes it!

    I can honestly say I will not be reading any more of her books and felt very disappointed with the book. Maybe I am not educated enough to appreciate this poetic style of writing, but if the truth be known I like it brash, loud and straight to the point!

  2. My Rating: 5/5


    Kat's Review: There are three people involved and none of them can predict just how dangerous things are going to turn out. DI Tina Boyd has a past that is littered with trouble and she just seems to attract it wherever she goes. She has been part of the team that has tracked down and now arrested the serial killer known as `The Night Creeper'. The only problem is he has now been kidnapped and it's Tina's job to hunt him down.

    Sean Egan is an undercover cop who has managed to become embedded in a dangerous criminal gang posing as another gang member looking for work. He is roped in on a job that means kidnapping the serial killer known as `The Night Creeper'. What he doesn't realise is that he will be forced to make decisions that could not only end his career but his life too.

    The Night Creeper is in custody arrested by DI Boyd. Not only is he a dangerous and sadistic killer but he is acting and looking like an innocent man. The reputation he has built was based on his brutality that all the police witnessed at each of the 5 murders that he committed. The only problem is, once in custody, he is claiming that he has a watertight alibi meaning that if he didn't commit one, then did he commit any.

    OH MY GOD! There are so many words that I just can't find to explain this book. Corker, cracking, brilliant, exceptional, breathtaking, fast, edgy, the list goes on. What I will say is that this is a five star book that confirms that Simon Kernick deserves his place in the world of crime writing.

    I have been an avid Crime and Thriller reader for the best part of 16 years and am shocked at the fact that I only discovered Kernick by reading Relentless a mere 8 months ago. Relentless was itself an absolute gem of a book (for which I rated it 5 out of 5) and I was pleased that I had read one of his books and planned on reading a lot more. Unfortunately for me my `to read' list was getting longer and Simon Kernick went to the back of my mind. That was until Tuesday of this week, when I wandered into a book shop, only to see his new release sitting there on the shelf. I grabbed it with earnest and placed it at the top of my list as it had been 8 months since I had read Relentless and wanted to see if this was as good as the last one. I needn't have worried as this book was, if possible, even better than Relentless. Hence the reason for the review a mere 2 days later!

    With this authors genius style of writing it took me no more than one chapter to become engrossed. The story hits you in the gut from page one and doesn't give up until the very last page. It had all the ingredients of a crime book that any reader wants. Great meaty characters, all flawed in their own strange ways. A story that is paced so quickly you feel like you're in the passenger seat of a Formula One car, and to top it all off a story that takes you on more twists and turns than a roller-coaster ride.

    The characters Sean and Tina are written extremely well in the first person and I loved the fact that the switch between the two was easy. Tina has her own demons, as does Sean which always helps towards the realism of a character in my opinion. They weren't picture perfect and both have the same streak for doing things their way, no matter what the cost, or what rules they have to break. The chapters weren't too long and were punchy and to the point.

    The crime scenes themselves are written extremely graphically, which not to everybody's taste I understand, was completely relevant to the story and the type of violence that Sean and Tina were surrounded by. I could find no flaws with this book and am already adding him to my pre-order list. I suggest that if you haven't read a book by Mr Kernick that you add him to your list now, you won't be disappointed.

  3. Erica JAmes The Queen of New BeginningsMy Rating: 4/5

    Clayton Miller has lost everything. He was one of the country's best selling comedy script writers. His writing partner and best friend Bazza drops a bombshell and leaves not only the partnership but takes Claytons long term girlfriend Stacey with him. Clayton is on the edge and when the press start hounding him, his agent decides that a break out in the sticks where nobody knows him will do him good until the media hype dies down. Clayton moves into a house through rented by one of his agents friends. When he arrives he doesn't expect to see anybody, so when a cleaning lady turns up from the agency he is shocked. Alice Shoemaker is the cleaner, except what Clayton doesn't realise is that she is actually a Voiceover artist and is doing this job to help out a friend. Alice quickly realises that this rude and obnoxious man is acting suspiciously. Clayton in turn is also realising that Alice is not quite telling the truth. Over time the two of them form a friendship but what they don't realise is the extent of the deception that both of them are guilty of.

    I have read each and every one of Erica James' books. I have always enjoyed them and rated them at least 4 out of 5, except for her last book `It's the little things'. I was disappointed to a certain extent and only gave it 3 out of 5, so I was hopeful that this book would be an improvement on her last as I have always enjoyed her books. Thankfully this one is a definite improvement.

    The story is pretty quick to gather momentum and I fell for the characters almost immediately, which is always a positive in my eyes. Clayton is a great character and although the beginning of the story introduces him to us as a bitter and grumpy man you can't help but feel for him. He is like a duck out of water having previously lived his whole working life in London. Now he finds himself out in the sticks with just fields for company.

    The initial meeting with Clayton and Alice is also quite funny and the author has written it incredibly well with just the right dose of humour. Her books in the past sometimes are meaningful and sometimes more the romantic type but with this one she seems to have hit the mark and got the balance just right.

    We meet a few characters along the way which I can imagine fitting in perfectly in the village. We meet the crazy neighbour known as George. Her first meeting with Clayton sets the scene perfectly for just how eccentric the old lady is. We also meet Ronetta, Alice's next door neighbour and friend along with her son Bob who has a soft spot for Alice.

    The character Stacey is the perfect woman that we all love to hate. Selfish, money grabbing and very cold hearted. Although Bazza has done the dirty on Clayton you can't help but root for him. I wouldn't like to add spoilers but the way things end with Stacey was absolutely perfect!

    The story is told with snatches of Alice's past built in to explain the current state of play and it makes for fantastic reading. All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this book and thought that it was a perfect mix of all that a reader wants. Unfortunately, I wouldn't rate the book as a 5 star because there are other books that I have read very recently that in comparison are much better, but it was a great read all the same. I will continue to read Erica James and only hope that her books continue being this enjoyable.

  4. Carole Matthews Its Now Or NeverMy Rating: 5/5

    Kat's Review: This story introduces us to twins Annie and Lauren. The opening of the story is the two of them attending their elder Sister Chelsea's 40th Birthday party. At only a year younger than her Annie and Lauren can't understand quite where their own lives went wrong in comparison to their elder sisters. Chelsea looks like she has the perfect package. Two beautiful children, a handsome and doting husband, the perfect marriage and to top it all money! With this in mind the pair of them makes a decision that this year will be their year. No matter what they will both chase their dreams.

    Annie is married with two reasonably grown up children and a husband of over twenty years. She works for a company as a receptionist and the most excitement her life sees is the visitors to her company. Her husband is certainly devoted, just not to her. She is a fishing widow and to top it all off she begins to feel completely unfulfilled. Lauren is the polar opposite to Annie working in Sales for a successful company. She has no ties and no responsibility. The only problem is her life revolves around her married lover. She is hopelessly in love with him and truly believes that it is only a matter of time before he enters her life permanently. Or is it?

    Carole Matthews never ceases to amaze me. Her last book `That Loving Feeling' was a corker and this one is no different. As an author she tends to give the audience exactly what they want without compromising her own writing style. This story is written around a situation that many women will empathise with being realistic, but not overboard. Annie is a typical married woman who still loves her husband and children but is going through a phase where she just wants a bit of excitement. This makes for some very funny situations which women around the world will be laughing at.

    The same applies to Lauren, Annie's twin. She is a typical woman that wants it all but knows that she can't really have it. The two characters Annie and Lauren have been written extremely well and I loved them both from Chapter one. The male characters are also fantastically written without being too `overdone'. There is nothing better than reading a character that you can actually imagine meeting. I don't want to go in to too much detail with regards to the actual story because I don't like spoilers but the men and women featured in the storyline are fab!

    Another thing that I like about Carole Matthews style of writing is that she tends to come out with some very funny one liners or situations that make me laugh out loud. I think it isn't so much the actual words themselves but the fact that they are something you can maybe imagine yourself, or somebody you know doing! Look out for the Car Wash incident (v. v. funny). I confess to still somewhat missing Carole's contribution to her `Chocolate Lovers' series. For some reason these books have always been my favourite of hers, having said that this most recent book and her last one I would give 5 out of 5.

    Overall Carole Matthews produces typical Romantic Comedy in her own style and never fails to amuse me in some way, shape or form. Don't get me wrong, yes all of her books are of the same Genre and style but that is why I continue to read them. If it's not broken, don't fix it and Carole Matthew's books certainly don't need fixing. After all you don't buy a Horror Film expecting to see romance do you?!?

  5. James Patterson Worst Case

    My Rating: 4/5

    Detective Michael Bennett works in the busy city of New York. His wife died two years ago leaving behind their amazing ten adopted children. Michael Bennett's life is solely his work and his children. Thankfully he has the help of his Grandfather Seamus and Nanny Mary Catherine. Apart from his children the most important thing in his life is his work. He had previously come up against killers and cases that he has solved and this year is no different. A young man who has one of the wealthiest set of parents in New York is snatched and held hostage. 

    The only problem is that this killer doesn't want money. The killer insists on questioning the young man and it dawns on the hostage that money can't help him, only the correct answers can.Michael Bennett is called to the family home of the boy and then starts the race to find the boy before the killer makes it a murder case. Drafted in to help is Emily Parker an FBI Agent who is an Abduction Specialist. Between them they try to figure out the killer's next move. What they aren't prepared for is a killer that takes his beliefs to the extreme.Michael is not prepared for this case as well as managing his family brood without incidence. What he is even more shocked at is when his love life suddenly becomes part of the mix.

    I have read all of James Patterson's books and to be frank they can be hit and miss. Sometimes he can produce fantastic stories but in recent years it seems like he churns out so many books that sometimes the story doesn't have the author's whole focus. The Michael Bennett series is co-written with Michael Lewidge.This particular book I really enjoyed. I have also read the two previous Michael Bennett novels so I already had some background on the characters which always helps. 

    The second book in the Michael Bennett series (Run for your life) I rated at 4 out of 5 and to be honest this book was no different.The character himself is pretty good, he is clearly a family man but one who lobes his family and that comes across well with the writing. The added bonus of this book is the angle of the love life interest. The only thing was with this angle is that it felt very rushed, almost like JP/ML felt they had to introduce somebody. We don't hear as much about Michael's family which is a shame because his Grandfather Seamus was featured a little more heavily ion the previous book and he is a great character. 

    As for the killer himself, we see the story written from his perspective and to be honest this was the weakest are of the book. It almost felt a little rushed and there was no real depth to him. However as usual, James Patterson manages to balance out these flaws with his style of writing. His chapters are short and sharp and always paced quickly meaning they keep you a little hooked. I always find that no matter what my opinion of the story or characters I am always compelled to keep reading. Maybe this is why his books are such a success? Up until the release of `I Alex Cross' which was quite recent, I actually preferred the Michael Bennett series. After that recent release I again became latched with the Alex Cross character. I must say though that after reading this Michael Bennett book, he may not be my favourite of the JP characters but I definitely want to see more of him. 

    All in all James Patterson hasn't failed to deliver a good book. My only concern is that I never feel like it's a five star read lately like I have with other authors such as Dennis Lehane. I think that he produces so many books in such a short space of time that the reader never quite feels like he has immersed himself fully with one character and concentrated on that one book.Overall he is still a great author and I would recommend his books to anybody as they are an enjoyable read. JP had better watch out though, recently some great authors have been producing 5 star books which may threaten his status as the number one Crime Writer.

  6.  My Rating: 4/5

    We meet DCI Andrew Fenwick again who has featured in all of her books. This story is a complex case which involves the huge family run Wainwright business. Alan Wainwright, the owner of this empire is found dead and his death is ruled suicide. His only son is expecting to inherit his fortune but he, along with the rest of the Wainwright family are shocked, when half of his assets along with the company are left to Alan's nephew Alex. Alex is married to the elusive Sally who is certainly not popular with the family after a whirlwind romance and very quick wedding to Alex. When Fenwick initially looks at the case it seems that it is a simple case of family jealousy. When Graham starts investigating Alex's wife, he doesn't like what he finds. When a second Wainwright family member is found dead Fenwick smells the starting of a murder case. The only problem is that he has to prove it. He along with the trust sidekicks Cooper and Nightingale throw themselves into the case head first. The story takes a turn for the worse when Fenwick's family are directly involved.

    Unfortunately for me, I read Corley's books in the wrong order and I think this has maybe had an impact on my opinion of this book. I enjoyed Requim Mass which was her first novel and felt that the storyline was the strongest thing. However, my second book was then Grave Doubts which I gave a 5 star to and I absolutely loved. In reading Fatal Legacy I was in fact going back one step. I felt that the characters were under-developed (which is maybe why I enjoyed Grave Doubts so much) and that we didn't really get to know Fenwick, Cooper and Nightingale all that well. Aside from the characters themselves, the storyline was great (as usual), if like I said before a little complex. The book is based largely around the financial aspects of the company and Fenwick working out if the case is as simple as `Murder for Money'. Corley's descriptions of settings and scenarios are excellent and when you can feel the Detectives getting closer to the answers you can almost feel the tension rising in your body. In my (limited) opinion this makes for fantastic reading! Like her other books I felt I had to really involve myself in the story so I knew exactly who everybody was. Although I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I would only give it 3.5 out of 5. The reason for this is that because I have read Grave Doubts (the follow up to this story); I know just how good her writing can be. I am now eagerly anticipating reading her latest book Innocent Blood. I think that with her development of the characters in the follow up book and her great storytelling her latest one should be an absolute corker.

  7. J A Kerley Little Girls Lost

    My Rating: 4/5

     I confess that I have never read any work by J A Kerley but the jacket info was enough to convince me it was worth a try. It comes under the Thriller/Suspense category and is justified to be there I can assure you. I picked the book up with absolutely no expectations and was really pleased that I made the choice to read this.

    This is apparently the 4th book in the Carson Ryder Series however I can only judge based on this book which can quite easily be read as a stand alone novel. Carson Ryder is a Homicide Detective in Alabama and he is called in to help with a case where young girls are disappearing. The only problem is that so far there are multiple girls going missing, but no bodies, no clues and nothing to even indicate what on earth is going on. Unfortunately for Ryder his partner Harry Nautilus is in hospital after being mysteriously attacked and left for dead.

    Connor Sandhill is an ex cop who now runs a restaurant and is know as the `Gumbo King'. Connor left the police force under circumstances that seemed highly suspicious although he has never confirmed or denied any of the rumours. With no leads and being on his own Ryder decides to enlist the help of Connor as he has a reputation at solving very difficult cases.

    At the same time Connor finds himself in the unfortunate position of being a babysitter for his ex-girlfriends sister. Little Jacy is only 9 and when Connor finally agrees to watch her he finds juggling that with working on the case. The nightmares he has regarding the missing children become an awful reality when he realises Jacy is missing. Both he and Ryder now have to face the fact that there is a good chance that these little girls will never be seen again. The question is can they wade through the murky waters of bent cops, angry citizens and the mayor to find the person responsible.

    I must say that the first 3 or 4 chapters were a little on the slow side but by chapter 5 I realised that I needn't have worried as the story flowed and I didn't want to put the book down. The story itself was good but the characters weren't as good as they could have been in my opinion. I absolutely adored Connor Sandhill as a cop that played the rules his own way to get the desired results. Carson Ryder was another story. He lacked something (which I can't put my finger on). It seemed like he never really came into his own and that was a little disappointing but didn't lessen the enjoyment for me. Overall I thought it was a great read and I would definitely recommend and certainly would read other books in the follow up series.

  8. Jilliane Hiffman Pretty Little ThingsMy Rating: 5/5

    Jilliane Hoffman was introduced to me originally by a friend and I read her first novel Retribution (2005) which I adored. However her next book didn't come out until a year later (Last Witness - 2006) and another two years go by before another book gets released (Plea of Insanity - 2008) and after that I forgot about her because it is so unpredictable with the timings of her books. Therefore I couldn't wait to get my grubby little paws on her latest thriller.

    Pretty Little Things tells the story of Elaine Emerson know as Lainey. She is a normal girl except for the fact that she might as well be invisible in her own home. Her mother is too busy to know or care what she does, her little brother can do no wrong, her step-father is too busy at work and her elder sister no longer bothers coming home. So when Lainey is left to her own devices online, things go terribly wrong. With their recent house move and the loss of all of her school friends Lainey is finding it hard enough as it is to fit in at her new school, so when a handsome boy makes friends with her online she sees no reason why she shouldn't meet up with him. For Lainey this is where it all goes wrong. Where she is taken and who has taken her she can't say but she does know that she is scared and that she isn't alone.

    Bobby Dees is a Special Agent and when he gets that all too familiar phone call one morning he knows the coming weeks will be hell. Bobby is suffering with his own demons and his marriage is falling apart at the seams following the disappearance of his own daughter over a year ago. Still, he pushes his grief to one side and gets to work on his latest case involving the missing Lainey. Bobby soon realises that Lainey was pretty much left to her own devices and it doesn't take long for him to figure out the last contact Lainey had was with somebody known only as El Capitan. The question is can he get to her before she winds up being another statistic?

    Wow, I was really thrilled with this new book and finished it within a day and a half. It took me the usual two or three chapters to really absorb myself in the story but once there I couldn't resist going back chapter upon chapter until before I knew it I was finished. The story is laid out really well with the story told from Bobby Dees, Lainey as well as the disturbed life of the man who has taken young Lainey. The chapters were written well enough for me to start fearing for my nieces growing up! Bobby Dees is written very well and you end up liking him and Jilliane Hoffman doesn't go overboard with the sympathy vote for him which I liked. I cannot come up with one thing I didn't like about this book and am only sad that I now don't know how long I will have to wait for the next one!