Archive for March, 2013

Review: Birdman – Mo Hayder

Cover of Birdman by Mo Hayder

Title: Birdman (Jack Caffery #1)
Author: Mo Hayder
Publication date: November 8, 2008
Publisher: Bantam (Transworld Publishers)
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-553-82046-1
Length: 397 pages
Genre: Thriller
Age group: Adult
Source: Purchased
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | Awesome Books | The Book Depository

Synopsis

Greenwich, south-east London. Detective Inspector Jack Caffery – young, driven, unshockable – is called to one of the most gruesome crime scenes he has ever seen. Five young women have been ritualistically murdered and dumped on wasteland near the Dome. Subsequent post-mortems reveal a singular, horrific signature linking the victims.

Soon Caffery realises that he is on the trail of that most dangerous offender: a serial killer. Beset by animosity within the police force, haunted by the memory of a very personal death long ago, Caffery employs every weapon forensic science can offer to hunt him down. Because he knows that it is only a matter of time before this sadistic killer strikes again…

My thoughts

I should probably start this review with a warning and say that this book is not for the faint-hearted. I read quite a lot of crime fiction so I like to think I’ve had some time to get used to these kind of things and I’m pretty unshockable but some of Hayder’s descriptions of mutilated victims still made me shudder. This is not a book you should read at night or when you’re on your own either. Having said that, I still liked it. I should probably add that this is definitely not among the best handful of crime novels I’ve read and it didn’t exactly live up to my expectations but I will no doubt read the rest of the series. And I’ll tell you why.

So, the reason why I think this book didn’t really work for me or live up to my initial expectations is the fact that it didn’t keep me guessing. I like to read thrillers and/or mysteries where it’s all down to the detective – and the reader, of course – to figure out what happened, what type of a person the killer was and what motivation he had and piece all the clues together. In the case of Birdman, however, some of these are given. Beside the ongoing investigation, there are little bits of flashback episodes told from the killer’s perspective included in the book and we get a sense of what type of a guy he must be. Therefore, based on some of his stories from his childhood and his teens, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the police is looking for a sadistic sexual killer. The police may not be aware of that yet but we readers do know and it ruined it a bit for me. Another thing I didn’t particularly like is that most of the victims turn up all at once. There is a logical explanation for this in the story, of course, but this meant that it was not (or if it was, it didn’t work for me) the race-against-the-clock sort of thriller I was expecting, more of a ‘let’s figure out who dumped these five bodies here and why’ thing.

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Showcase Sunday #40 Plus Giveaway

Inspired by Pop Culture Junkie and the Story Siren, the aim of Showcase Sunday is to highlight our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders each week. For more information about how this feature works and how to join in, click here.

Incoming

Showcase Sunday 40

The Gift of Darkness by V.M. Giambanco { for review }
The Sweetness of Forgetting
by Kristin Harmel { for review }

Two lovely books by Quercus this week, both for review. The Gift of Darkness was sent to me by The Book Depository so many thanks to the TBD team for the review copy. :) I haven’t actually heard of this author or this book before but the synopsis sounds great so let’s hope it turns out to be a good one. And a big thanks to Quercus for sending me a finished copy of The Sweetness of Forgetting, I can’t wait to read it. And since I already have a spare proof copy of this title, I decided to do a giveaway and give someone else a chance to read it. So, if you’d like to read it just click here and follow the (very simple) instructions. You have time until midnight tonight to enter – I’ll select a winner tomorrow afternoon. And it’s open internationally, of course!

Oh yes. And I bought two nail polishes this week – one is a sort of pink-orange-ish colour and the other one is… well, I think ‘ladybird pee yellow’ would describe it best. It actually turned out to be less bright and neon than I expected but it’s a lovely spring-like colour all the same. :)

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Review: If Snow Hadn’t Fallen – S.J. Bolton

Cover of If Snow Hadn't Fallen by S.J. Bolton

Title: If Snow Hadn’t Fallen (Lacey Flint #1.5)
Author: S.J. Bolton
Publication date: December 20, 2012
Publisher: Transworld Publishers
Format: Ebook
ASIN: B00AQIFMX6
Length: 85 pages
Genre: Thriller
Age group: Adult
Source: Purchased
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Waterstones | Amazon UK

Synopsis

They say that snow covers everything that is mean and sordid and ugly in the world… but beneath the carpet of white, the ugliness remains.

11 November 2012, London. Long-smouldering feelings come to a head in a burst of shocking violence. A young Muslim man is brutally murdered by a masked gang. There is just one witness to the horrific crime: DC Lacey Flint. Or at least that’s what she thinks…

My thoughts

Short stories are a tricky business. Getting everything right, from the characters to a good storyline and a neat ending, in such a short amount of time is, I think, quite difficult.  There were many occasions in the past couple of years when some of my favourite authors ventured outside their comfort zone and gave short fiction a try but, as much as it pains me to say this, they failed miserably. Their novels might be spot on but when they were restricted to 80 or 90 pages, their stories either felt terribly rushed or fell a bit flat for me.  And this is why I’m still a bit sceptical about short fiction. However, If Snow Hadn’t Fallen didn’t disappoint at all. In fact, I found it just as gripping and  fast-paced as Now You See Me (the first book in the Lacey Flint series) was.

The book starts off almost exactly where Now You See Me ended and is, again, narrated by London detective Lacey Flint. Lacey’s boss Dana Tulloch and her friend, reporter Emma Boston make an appearance as well which I was thrilled about – I loved both of them in the previous book so it was lovely to ‘meet them’ again. However, since this book is – obviously – not as detailed as a full length novel, it’s probably better if you read Now You See Me first (if you haven’t read it yet), so that you have a better understanding of the characters and what they’ve been through prior to this story. It’s a great thriller on its own but knowing Lacey’s background story will make it even better.

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Review: The Terrace – Maria Duffy

Cover of The Terrace by Maria Duffy

Title: The Terrace
Author: Maria Duffy
Publication date: August 1, 2012
Publisher: Hachette Ireland
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781444726084
Length: 394 pages
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository

Synopsis

Nestled in the heart of Dublin city, St Enda’s Terrace is like any other close-knit community: warm, colourful, looks after its own. But behind closed doors lie secrets . . .

In Number Eight he wants a baby, she doesn’t. The guy a few doors down just wants to find love. Across the street a single mum struggles to cope. While the people next door might appear to have it all, their mortgage holder knows different.

When the street syndicate wins the National Lottery, it seems that things are looking up. Enter a New York production company on a mission to document a ‘quintessential’ Dublin community – just as it becomes clear that the winning ticket is nowhere to be found. Facades begin to crumble in the scramble to uncover the missing ticket and, as the gloves come off for the once unremarkable residents of St Enda’s, it’s game on with everything to play for

My thoughts

I’ve known Maria from Twitter for almost a year so when she asked me if I wanted to read her book, I was over the moon. She’s absolutely lovely and hilarious and I couldn’t wait to read The Terrace. But – and saying it makes me cringe so bad I want to hide behind my desk in utter embarrassment – no matter how much I wanted to love this book, I just didn’t. I couldn’t. I loved the idea of the missing ticket and this mystery element in the story but the book as a whole just wasn’t for me.

What I did like about the novel, apart from the story of the missing lottery ticket, is its characters. I love the fact that they’re ordinary people just like us, which makes them easily relatable for us readers. I found Marco in particular really adorable and someone who actually reminded me of a friend of mine – he was definitely my favourite character and he put a smile on my face every time I picked the book up.

What really bugged me, though, and what eventually put me off – as ridiculous as it will sound – was the author’s overuse of names and exclamation marks. I know it’s important to differentiate the two – or more – speakers in a dialogue but when it’s clear who is speaking to whom I don’t think it’s necessary to use people’s names in every single sentence. I know there are people who do talk like that in real life but most of us don’t and it’s both unnecessary and slightly annoying after a while. As for exclamation marks, I’ve seen this overuse in a few other books and I just don’t get it. I mean, using them in a dialogue or at the end of a sentence which expresses enthusiasm or surprise is one thing and it’s totally fine. But closing almost every chapter with it and using it in sentences where you don’t need them at all makes the text – at least for a weird grammar freak like me – a bit awkward. And as much as I didn’t want to let it affect me or bother me and as much as I tried to concentrate on the plot only, this false enthusiasm (or bad editing?) was starting to give me a headache. Mind you, I’ve checked every single review on Amazon and Goodreads and no one mentioned it (or the overuse of names) so it might be just me, I don’t know. But it did put me off and this is why, despite the fact that the story was interesting, I’m only giving this book 3 stars.

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Showcase Sunday #39

Inspired by Pop Culture Junkie and the Story Siren, the aim of Showcase Sunday is to highlight our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders each week. For more information about how this feature works and how to join in, click here.

Hello everyone!  How are you doing? I’ve had a pretty… well, let’s just say exhausting week. I think I’m coming down with the flu or something because I wasn’t feeling too well in the past few days. I also have a few presentations coming up at uni and my BA thesis is due in about 10 days so I’ve been writing and trying to come up with something interesting non-stop. Anyway, I did get some goodies to cheer me up, so let’s see this week’s incoming books!

Showcase Sunday #39Showcase Sunday #39 - 2

Red Dragon by Thomas Harris (purchased)
Too Close to Home by Linwood Barclay (book swap)
Vicky Finds a Valentine by Emlyn Chand (gift)

Finally! I’ve been meaning to read the Hannibal Lecter series for years. The Silence of the Lambs has been one of my favourite films ever since I can remember and I have a feeling the books are even better than the film was. And since The Book Depository had a 10% offer in the past one or two weeks, I decided it was time for me to find out so I ended up ordering a copy of Red Dragon. Heck yes!

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Review: A Murder is Announced – Agatha Christie

Cover of A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie

Title: A Murder is Announced
Author: Agatha Christie
Publication date: January 3, 2005
Publisher: Harper Collins
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780007191024
Length: 415 pages
Genre: Mystery
Age group: Adult
Source: Purchased
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository

Synopsis

The villagers of Chipping Cleghorn are agog with curiosity over an advertisement in the local gazette which reads: ‘A murder is announced and will take place on Friday, October 29th, at Little Paddocks at 6.30 p.m.’

A childish practical joke? Or a hoax intended to scare poor Letitia Blacklock? Unable to resist the mysterious invitation, the crowd begins to gather at Little Paddocks at the appointed time when, without warning, the lights go out…

My thoughts

A Murder is Announced was the very first Agatha Christie book I’ve ever read and also the reason why I fell in love with Dame Agatha’s writing all those years ago and why I’ve been a huge fan of hers ever since. It must have been about five years ago when I read this book but I remember it almost as if it were yesterday. I keep saying that I don’t think I’ll ever find a book as atmospheric and as flawless and well-plotted as And Then There Were None, which I literally read in one sitting, holding the book with shaking fingers (no, I’m not exaggerating here), but A Murder is Announced is no doubt my favourite Marple story.

I suppose one of the reasons why I loved this book so much was the fact that I had a feeling who the murderer might be from quite early on in the story (while the usual scenario would involve me guessing right until the end and suspecting every single one of them) and it gave me a certain amount of satisfaction to see that indeed, I was right. Oh yes. And the murderer happened to be my favourite character, which made it even more interesting.

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Author Guest Post: An Interview With the Hero of ‘Out of Sight Out of Mind’

Hello everyone and welcome back! I have a very special guest for you today – you may or may not remember that I read and reviewed Evonne Wareham’s previous novel, Never Coming Home, last year and absolutely loved it. Evonne’s new book, Out of Sight Out of Mind, was published last week – on March 7th – and she’s here with a special interview today. So without further ado, please welcome Evonne herself!

About the book

Out of Sight Out of Mind - Evonne Wareham

Everyone has secrets. Some are stranger than others.

Madison Albi is a scientist with a very special talent – for reading minds. When she stumbles across a homeless man with whom she feels an inexplicable connection, she can’t resist the dangerous impulse to use her skills to help him.

J is a non-person – a vagrant who can’t even remember his own name. He’s got no hope, until he meets Madison. Is she the one woman who can restore his past? Madison agrees to help J recover his memory, but as she delves deeper into his mind, it soon becomes clear that some secrets are better off staying hidden.

Is J really the man Madison believes him to be?

Guest post

Thanks to Vicky of Books, Biscuits and Tea for inviting me here today. I’ve asked Jay, the hero of my new paranormal romantic thriller, Out of Sight Out of Mind, to join us, for a short interview about his part in the story. I know Jay finds it difficult to talk about himself, although in this case I hope that he can be persuaded to open up just a little. I should explain – Jay is currently suffering from amnesia and doesn’t remember anything that happened in his life before about three months ago. I’ve got together with Dr Madison Albi, the research scientist who is helping him in his attempts to recover his past, and we’ve managed to convince him that answering a few questions might help to jog his memory, or maybe someone else’s.

Before we begin, I’d better give you a quick description of what Jay looks like. A little over six foot tall, broad shoulders, probably early to mid thirties, dark blue eyes, dark hair sprinkled with a few traces of silver, flopping forward onto his face. I am sure he’d laugh if he heard me say this, but there is no doubt that he is a very attractive man. Madison is always completely professional in everything she does, but I suspect that privately she might agree with me. Even so, I know she would take great care about letting her feelings interfere in any way with her work. She has a reputation as a very dedicated scientist, who is meticulous in her research. I think we’re ready to begin. Briefed by Madison, I’m going to start with something general.

“Welcome, Jay. To start us off, can you tell me about the things you do remember?”
“It’s not much.” He’s frowning. “All I can recall is what has happened in the last three months.”
“You don’t remember your name, or where you live? Your job?” I can feel a shiver running down my spine at the thought. “That’s frightening. But you still know basic things, like how to read and write. Do you think you were in some sort of accident?”
“I really don’t know – but there’s no evidence of anything like that.” He sighs, and I can feel my own breath catch. “It’s just, well, it’s like there is a wall, inside my head, cutting off everything from my past.”
His face is so desolate there’s a lump gathering in my throat. “I can see that it’s hard for you to talk about …” Oh no – wrong thing to say – Madison did warn me about displaying anything that looks remotely like pity. Jay’s still fiercely independent, even if he doesn’t know who he is.
Better move on to something more positive. “You do recall something though – your name?” Ah, that’s better, he’s settled back in his chair.

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