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» Listings for March 2011

  1. June Hampson Fighting DirtyMy Rating: 5/5

    Kat's Review: June Hampson started the series of Daisy Lane books with her debut novel Trust Nobody in 2006. The book features Daisy Lane in the early nineteen sixties. June Hampson was born in Gosport and this is the setting for her books. When I first read the debut book I was blown away. It was a refreshing change to read this type of book set in the sixties. I was hooked and have read each and every book since then. This current book is release number 6 in the series.

    The series itself has remained pretty strong throughout. My last review of her previous novel wasn't as good as others. The beauty of this series of books is that we travel through the years following Daisy and her friends and family. In doing this each book is that bit further along and more and more things are happening in her life as she gets older. In her last book Jail Bait, I felt that the story was good but maybe Daisy Lane was slowing down and I really wanted to see more of her elder son Eddie Lane. I couldn't help but feel that some of the sparkle was missing from some of the characters that had shone through in her earlier books.

    With this latest release it seems my wishes came true. Daisy Lane and her good friend Vera are certainly back in the picture and they have their `mojo' back. They are indeed a major part of the storyline, but so too is Eddie, Daisy's eldest son who is now a young man. After a stretch in prison good guy Eddie wants to get back to work. The only problem is that people treat him differently because of Roy. Roy is Daisy's long time partner who also happens to be a top London gangster. Roy is like a father to Eddie and although Eddie has enormous respect for him, he wants to make it on his own.

    As Eddie is making his plans, Daisy and Vera notice a young runaway boy with some awful bruises. This along with rumours of a friend's lad arriving home with bruises makes them both suspicious. Daisy and Vera are determined to find out what is going on with these young lads and their bruised faces, but they don't realise just how dangerous it could be as well as the fact that the truth may well be more devastating than they could imagine.

    Vera, who in the first few books I took to my heart wasn't that much of herself in the last book. In this book she is back but with her own troubles and worries. It was nice to see her back to form but also with a big dose of reality on her plate too. The story is set around the family and their friends and we get to see each person's situation in the story which keeps it interesting right the way through. Daisy's youngest son (as I mentioned in my last review of Jail Bait) is like the devil child and in this book he is no different. He is a despicable creature who is quite frankly a horrible character.

    This book held my interest much more than the last as there are newer elements to the story along with characters such as Eddie's girlfriend Summer, as well as Eddie and Jamie's younger sister Gyp, whose father is none other than Roy. The young boys storyline was slightly different and maybe reminiscent of the era being the early eighties and it was quite nostalgic with the references to that period of time (makes me feel old!). The book flew by and I couldn't quite believe that it was finished and I have to wait for the next one.

    The story is a lot more fast paced than the last and the characters all seem to have their own brand of magic back. The ending wasn't maybe what I expected but is certainly another good opener for the next book. The beauty of this sort of series is that the author has made sure that she moves the characters along in time and introduces new elements which I loved. I finished this with a feeling of satisfaction and realised just why I liked June Hampson so much in the first place. June Hampson along with the likes of Mandasue Heller, Kimberley Chambers and Dreda Say Mitchell just show that our British women are first class at producing top notch crime fiction. Highly recommended although I would suggest you start at the beginning. 

  2. Lisa Gardner Love You MOre
    My Rating: 5/5

     Lisa Gardner's release prior to this one was entitled `Live To Tell' and if I am being 100% honest it wasn't my favourite of her books. There was a certain element of `supernatural' to that book and it just didn't sit right with me. Thankfully, she has returned to her former glory of producing a fantastic crime novel featuring DD Warren.

    DD Warren is featured in a series of books and this latest book is number 5 in the series. Detective D.D Warren is a very headstrong woman working in a predominantly male environment. She is a tough, no-nonsense woman who seems to fluctuate between doing the right thing the legal way, and doing the right thing the illegal way. In the last book Live to Tell it seemed like DD had become this sex-starved workaholic. There was a certain element of believability about it but it seemed a little harsh for even her to become that bad. In this latest book she seems to have finally settled back to her normal self, with thankfully a man on the horizon. As well as DD being part of a murder case and missing child's case, she also has her own personal issues to tackle which make for a great thread which can be continued on to the next book.

    DD is paired up with her ex-loved Bobby Dodge on a strange murder case. Brian Darby is found dead on his kitchen floor. His wife Tessa Leoni is a state police trooper and is claiming to have shot him in self-defence. It should be a simple self-defence case but Tessa's six year old daughter Sophie is missing. DD and Bobby soon become aware that this case is a little out of the ordinary. They are also aware that with a 6 year old child missing the clock is ticking.

    Tessa has her own secrets and as such you see and hear from her as her story begins with walking into her kitchen that fateful night. Lisa Gardner has produced an outstanding book. Tessa is absolutely brilliant and you understand that this is written with the sheer though of how far you would go for your child.

    The story is set into two parts that of DD and Bobby chasing the murder trail and Tessa trying to keep one step ahead the whole time. As usual I started out at a relatively sedate pace but soon couldn't help but keep reading. The ending came as a shock (which is always nice) and as Lisa Gardner is famous for, her crime scene descriptions and gruesome murders are very descriptive. Set in harsh Boston winter I felt like I was literally running behind them ain the snow, this book was an absolute corker and I was so pleased that the author has also given us the added bonus of a new dimension for the character for the next book.

    This is a brilliant book which I loved and I cannot imagine any crime fan not enjoying it. Fast paced, with lots of twists in the plot, it never stands still for a minute. Get out there and grab yourself a copy!
     

  3. James Patterson 10th Anniversary
    My Rating: 3/5

    In the last book 9th Judgement I was not a happy bunny. The lead character Lindsay seemed to have had a personality transplant and had become this wimp overnight. Thankfully she seems to have got some of her backbone back in this latest book. Her and her work partner Rich are a good fit and the case they worked on was the main thread of this book in the beginning. Thankfully the story was somewhat better than some of the others in the series although a long way off as good as they could be.

    Yuki is the other character I just cannot get my head around. For a start she is an Assistant District Attorney so the true nature of somebody in that position doesn't fit with how she is being written. The main thread for her was again not a bad story, but we keep seeing the insistent `pushing' of her becoming involved with somebody and having to find herself a man. There is something about it that just doesn't sit right with me.

    Cindy is the one character that I think has become stronger and her relationship with Rich played a bigger part this time round. The last book I read their relationship felt like an added extra that was dumped in the book at the last minute but thankfully now it all seems to have taken an upward turn and fits her character and the story a lot better. Cindy was by far the best part of this latest read which isn't that positive a sign seeing as the book features Lindsay a lot more.

    Medical Examiner Claire was the only character that was missing for the largest part of the book. It felt like they had forgotten her or maybe it was the fact that there were a lot less dead bodies in this one for her to autopsy. Either way I think she should have featured more that she did.

    Okay, I feel like I do this every time I read a Patterson nowadays. It's almost like I get a shock if I love the book. The thing with Patterson books is that the writing style is genius. They are short sharp chapters which manage to pique your interest and keep you turning pages. However, the real heart of the stories seems to be somewhat missing. Is this down to Patterson losing his touch or down to the co-authors who some people claim are the real `writers' to these books? Who knows?

    The three stories that ran were okay, but just that, okay! They were interesting enough to keep me reading and in truth the only thing that made me that bit more interested were the characters I have grown to understand and know the more I have read.

    The pace was as usual pretty good but there were no great surprises and like I mentioned before the body count was low! If this was the first in the series I think there would be less of a following and I think that people go back to these books time and time again because they are `easy readers'.

    If you look at the overall rating of these Murder Club books you may be surprised. Amazon ratings show the majority of the series to be `middle of the road' and I can understand why. Love him or loathe him, you won't find many people that haven't heard of or read a James Patterson.

    This time I won't try to convince myself that I won't pre-order because (for no obvious reason) I probably will (what a sucker!). I wouldn't say this was awful, but I wouldn't say it was his best.

  4. Chelsea Cain The Night Season
     
    My Rating: 4/5
     
    My Review: I was so looking forward to getting this latest Archie Sheridan instalment. Chelsea Cain's last book was my first and although I hadn't read the first two I had enough background to pick up on Archie's past. This book is the 4th in the Gretchen/Archie series but you actually don't see Gretchen Lowell in this book but it didn't make the slightest bit of difference to me.

    Once again it doesn't take long for Archie to get thrown in at the deep end quite literally. Following his absence from work he throws himself back into this new case with renewed vigour. I adore Archie as a character; he is terribly flawed but a great character that is written extremely well. We also see the return of Susan Ward who I also love. She is a reporter who is always doing the opposite of what she is told. In this book she is no different. She trails Archie as he tries to track down this latest killer.

    We also at the same time see what Susan has been investigating relating to a sixty year old tragedy. Unknowingly the two cases are interlinked and Chelsea Cain works wonders intertwining the two stories. As usual the body count is pretty high and there are no holds barred for the gritty and grimy crime scene descriptions.

    Her writing is as usual well paced and full of suspense with the added bonus of two characters that work well together. The story itself was good and as usual Chelsea Cain has produced a book that is highly enjoyable.

    Although this book is said to be part of the Archie/Gretchen series I am sort of glad that Gretchen didn't appear. No doubt we haven't sent the last of her but it was nicer still to see a different killer emerge from the shadows. As usual, I finished the book in just under two days, and then found myself disappointed. Why didn't I take my time and make the book last longer? I suppose like everybody else I will just have to be patient and wait for the next instalment.

  5. My Rating: 3/5

    I hold my hands up, I love trashy books! So when I read the sleeve of this book it seemed to be right up my street. It certainly isn't lacking in substance with a whopping 608 pages. The media side is quick to hype this author as a Jackie Collins type read, but seeing as Jackie Collins has such a long and successful career, as well as a huge following; it's quite a statement to make.

    I dived straight into the book and immediately fell into the story. Victoria Fox gives a chapter for a character making it easy to follow. We meet all of the glamorous characters and get a feel for the situations they are in. Within the first few chapters I already knew who I did and didn't like and the characters are (as expected) typically celeb-like with their various wealth and status.

    The main story focuses on Lana Falcon who was although a great lead character, the only one that took me longer to get to know. However, as the story progresses and each of the character's secrets are revealed it becomes more apparent why everybody is in the situation that they are. I liked the fact that Lana's past as told as a separate story, where the author changed the font to make it clear which parts were in the past and which were present day. I also liked the main male lead of Robert St Louis and thought that if a man like that existed in real life, women would have a serious problem keeping their hands off him!

    The one character and storyline that failed to make the book better was that including Alberto (I won't say too much for fear of spoilers), but this for me ruined a large proportion of the book. Other than this particular character, the story I think was just what any `Bonkbuster' fan would want. Plenty of sex, drugs and adultery along with a splash of celebrities and set it all down in the glitzy ton of Vegas.

    The book was probably a little too long and it felt like a few parts were padded out a bit too much, but aside from that it went at a good pace and was a very easy read. There will be no great surprises and the ending was pretty predictable, however this book is exactly what it says, a Bonkbuster! It's easy to read, full of trash but enjoyable all the same.

    I will definitely look forward to her next book and hope that no characters such as Alberto turn up. Yes this book was okay, but to put her in the same league as Jackie Collins is a little too far from the truth at the moment. It is definitely the same style, but has certainly not reached the great heights that Jackie Collins is currently at.

  6. Simon Kernick The PaybackMy Rating: 3/5

    I am a huge fan of Kernick's after reading Relentless. I also found previous book The Last Ten Seconds was a corker of a read. With this one I feel like it was a bit flat in comparison. The story itself was okay, and we get to see Tina Boyd and her obsessions once again. I just felt it wasn't as good in comparison to his last one.

    Like I said before Tina Boyd once again makes an appearance and all of her obsessions are highlighted even more in this book. She is a really good character and with the double up along with Dennis Milne they made for great lead characters. Dennis Milne has appeared in previous Kernick books but I have yet to read them. Even if you haven't read past books of his, this book can still be read as a stand alone.

    The story is mainly set in Manila and as usual the story starts out at breakneck speed. This is one of the main things that sets Kernick apart from other authors. He managed to pick you up and chuck you headfirst straight into the thick of it. The pace hardly lets up throughout the whole book and as usual you will be turning the pages quicker than you can read.

    The story itself was okay, but just okay. I loved the writing and the characters but just felt there was something missing with this book. I couldn't even tell you what it was, just that it doesn't read as well as some of his other books. As usual the crime scenes are gory and gritty and frighteningly realistic. This is definitely a no holds barred author when it comes to the graphic descriptions of how people die. Having said that; it’s done brilliantly and just ends up drawing you further into the story.

    Overall I felt a little bit mixed about this book. On the whole it was as usual a great book from Kernick, just not as good as others he has written and was lacking that usual magic sparkle. I would still recommend and look forward to reading his other books still on my to-read pile!

  7. DSM Hit Girls
    My Rating: 5/5

     First off I want to explain a couple of things. This book can be read on its own and is by no means part of a series that you have to read in order. Having said that, this book by Dreda Say-Mitchell, features people from past stories. We meet Schoolboy (featured in Running Hot), Daisy Sullivan (Gangster Girl), and the four girls Jackie, Anna, Roxy and Ollie (Geezer Girls). The great thing about this book is that if you have had the pleasure of reading the others you feel like you have already bonded with (and in my case loathe or love) the characters.

    In the very short space of 3 or 4 chapters you feel like you have been through the wringer. The tension is so high at such an early stage I wondered how much more my heart could take. Thankfully the book continued in this pace but gave us dips and highs with the tension leaving my heart room to breathe a little easier through certain parts of the book.

    There are a number of storylines threaded throughout the book, and I mean throughout from the very beginning to the very end. Although there are numerous storylines they all link together but are easy to follow and they just add to the increasing drama of the book.

    The characters are great from all previous books and I love the fact that DSM has kept them true to their previous form (there is nothing worse than characters having a personality change overnight). We see pieces of the puzzle begin to form but none of them are straightforward and as you progress through the book more and more secrets reveal themselves.

    This book is exciting, thrilling, full of suspense, gritty, compelling, hell there aren't enough adjectives to describe it all. If there is one thing I will say about this book, it's that if you do not buy it, borrow it or at least consider it you are seriously missing out. This book was one that kept me breathless with anticipation, scared of what may or may not happen, and excited at the prospect that people would get what was coming to them. It has been a while since I have read a book that is such a roller coaster and I loved every single second of it.

    I have read all bar one of her books and if I'm being 100% honest my least favourite was Running Hot (her first book). Her 3rd and 4th books (Geezer Girls and Gangster Girls) were top notch and I think those of you who have not read her before should start with these and finish with this one her latest book Hit Girls.

    I have said in the past that Dreda Say-Mitchell is a new rising star in the Crime World. I have to be honest and say that I was wrong. She isn't a rising star, she is already there. This is the top of her game and to be honest it makes the likes of Martina Cole and Mandasue Heller pale into comparison. I can only hope as I wait with baited breath for the next one that she continues the work she has started as it doesn't get much better than this!