Archive for the ‘Book reviews’ Category

9 Days to Go! Review: The Maze Runner – James Dashner + Win a Signed Copy!

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Publication date: 4 September 2014
Publisher: Chicken House
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781909489448
Length: 371 pages
Genre: Science fiction
Age group: Young Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
My rating: 4 Stars

When the doors of the lift crank open, the only thing Thomas remembers is his first name. But he’s not alone. He’s surrounded by boys who welcome him to the Glade – a walled encampment at the centre of a bizarre and terrible stone maze.

Like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they came to be there – or what’s happened to the world outside. All they know is that every morning when the walls slide back, they will risk everything – even the half-machine-half-animal Grievers that patrol the corridors – to try and find out.

The Maze Runner is another good example for books that have been on my to-be-read list for years but I never managed to pick up. With the UK premiere being only 9 days away, I thought it’d be a good time to finally sit down and read it. I don’t know what I was expecting exactly – a fast-paced, race against the clock kind of thing, perhaps? – but in all fairness, it didn’t ‘wow’ me. It’s a brilliant idea for a book and for a fictional world and I loved Thomas as a main character, but the writing didn’t captivate me as much as I hoped it would.

And with other, similar YA trilogies out there (the Hunger Games being one of them) it’s impossible not to compare them. And compared to its competition, The Maze Runner – for me – wasn’t strong enough, wasn’t as strong as it could have been. It’s still a good book and I will still read its sequel. But it could have been so much better.

The story reminded me of Kevin Brooks’ The Bunker Diary, which I absolutely loved and which I reviewed earlier on. In fact, the way the Glade works is pretty much the same as the odd underground place in Brooks’ novel. People are taken to the Glade, one by one, in an empty elevator. They have no recollection of their past, all they remember is their name. They’re being watched all day long and the ’creators’ who put them there send them various supplies through the elevator every week. They don’t know why they’re there and who did this to them – and neither do the characters. All they know is that they need to find a way out through the maze that surrounds the compound.

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Review: An Evil Mind – Chris Carter

An Evil Mind by Chris Carter

An Evil Mind by Chris Carter
Publication date: 31 July 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781471132193
Length: 496 pages
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
My rating: 4.5 Stars

A freak accident in rural Wyoming leads the Sheriff’s Department to arrest a man for a possible double homicide, but further investigations suggest a much more horrifying discovery – a serial killer who has been kidnapping, torturing and mutilating victims all over the United States for at least twenty-five years. The suspect claims he is a pawn in a huge labyrinth of lies and deception – can he be believed?

The case is immediately handed over to the FBI, but this time they’re forced to ask for outside help. Ex-criminal behaviour psychologist and lead Detective with the Ultra Violent Crime Unit of the LAPD, Robert Hunter, is asked to run a series of interviews with the apprehended man. These interviews begin to reveal terrifying secrets that no one could’ve foreseen, including the real identity of a killer so elusive that no one, not even the FBI, had any idea he existed … until now.

Having read most of his books in literally one sitting, I think it’s safe to say that whatever Chris Carter writes I fall in love with within seconds. An Evil Mind wasn’t any different. Although it’s very different from anything he’s written before, it’s just as tense and captivating as his other novels – but in a completely different way.

In case you’re not familiar with his writing, his previous books were famous for being of the nail-shredder, race-against-time variety and being on the gorier side. I enjoyed every second of every story but they were not for the faint-hearted. All his books featured various serial killers on the loose and Detective Robert Hunter trying to chase them down. So how is this book different, then? In An Evil Mind, the killer is already in FBI custody. We already know who he is and the fact that he’s guilty. What we don’t know is how many people he killed, who they are, and why he did it. All we know is that he knows Robert and refuses to talk to anyone else. So, once again, it’s up to Hunter to put the pieces together and figure out if Lucien is telling the truth and whether he has any other tricks up his sleeve.

Other than the fact that Carter’s writing is brilliant, I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this book. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where you know who the killer is right from the start (solving the mystery alongside the detective is part of the fun, right?) so I was intrigued by the premise of Carter’s novel. It was definitely a pleasant surprise.

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Review: Victims – Jonathan Kellerman

Victims by Jonathan Kellerman

Victims by Jonathan Kellerman
Publication date: 11 October 2012
Publisher: Headline
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780755374526
Length: 374 pages
Genre: Thriller
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
My rating: 5 Stars

Not since Jack the Ripper has there been such a gruesome crime scene. One look at the victim’s apartment turned charnel house is enough for Milo Sturgis to summon The Crime Reader. But even Alex Delaware’s skills may be stymied when more slayings occur in the same ghastly fashion…with no apparent connection between them. The only clue left behind – a blank page bearing a question mark – seems to be both a menacing taunt and a cry for help from a killer baffled by his own lethal urges. This one will haunt The Crime Reader’s waking life, and his darkest dreams, long after its end.

Jonathan Kellerman is one of those authors whose work I keep seeing every time I go into a bookshop and whose books I’ve wanted to pick up for a very long time. Being an avid reader of crime fiction – and fast paced thrillers in particular – I felt they would be something I’d enjoy but somehow I never got around to actually picking them up. When Victims landed on my doorstep a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t wait to get started.

There are currently 29 books in the series featuring The Crime Reader, that is, forensic psychologist Alex Delaware, out of which Victims is the 27th. As much as I was looking forward to reading the book, a small part of me was worried whether I’d miss anything by not being familiar with the previous 26 books. With long series like this, authors often cut to the chase and don’t go into details about their characters, their past, their personalities, leaving you to figure out the relationships between them and everything else yourself. Which is understandable. If you’ve read 26 books with the same couple of characters, you probably know all about them. But, being a newbie to Alex’s world, I was a tiny bit worried.

Well, I shouldn’t have been. I didn’t for one second feel as if I was missing something. A few chapters in I felt as if I’ve known Alex and his friend and work partner, Milo Sturgis, for a long time. In fact, their dialogues and  their chemistry is one of the things I think makes this book as good as it is. But characters alone don’t make an excellent book – you need a killer plot and compelling writing as well. Kellerman’s Victims ticks all these boxes. His writing draws you in at the very beginning and you won’t be able to put the book down or stop guessing right until the very end.

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Review: A Dark and Twisted Tide – Sharon Bolton

A Dark and Twisted Tide by Sharon Bolton


A Dark and Twisted Tide by Sharon Bolton
Publication date: 8 May 2014
Publisher: Bantam Press
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9780593069189
Length: 448 pages
Genre: Thriller
Age group: Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
My rating: 4.5 Stars

Former detective Lacey Flint quit the force for a safer, quieter life. Or that’s what she thought.

Now living alone on her houseboat, she is trying to get over the man she loves, undercover detective Mark Joesbury. But Mark is missing in action and impossible to forget. And danger won’t leave Lacey alone.

When she finds a body floating in the river near her home, wrapped in burial cloths, she can’t resist asking questions. Who is this woman, and why was she hidden in the fast-flowing depths? And who has been delivering unwanted gifts to Lacey?

Someone is watching Lacey Flint closely. Someone who knows exactly what makes her tick…

There are only a handful of crime writers whose new books instantly go to the very top of my wish list, and Sharon Bolton is one of them. After reading all three books in the Lacey Flint series, as well as an e-book short story, I’m convinced that no matter what she writes about or how she does it, I’m going to end up loving it. All of her books are so well-researched, so twisted and mind-boggling and so well-written that it’s impossible not to be captivated by them. A Dark and Twisted Tide is no exception.

Bolton’s ability to grab your attention within seconds and to keep up this suspense, this tension throughout the book is one of the reasons why I love her work as much as I do. As our killer and his/her soon-to-be victim make their appearance at the very beginning of the first chapter, the reader cannot help but wonder what is about to happen, why is s/he doing it. And of course Lacey can’t stay out of it either. A Dark and Twisted Tide pretty much continues from where the previous book ended, with Lacey leaving her team and joining the Marine Unit in the hope of a quieter, less stressful life. But someone has other plans. After discovering the first victim during her early morning swim in the Thames and a handful of (seemingly) practical jokes it becomes obvious that someone is keeping a close watch on her. And, once again, the killer will make sure that Lacey is very much part of his/her twisted game.

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Review: Wedding Night – Sophie Kinsella

Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella
Publication date: 23 April 2013
Publisher: Dial Press
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9780812993844
Length: 446 pages
Genre: Chick lit
Age group: Adult
Source: Won
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
My rating: 3 Stars

Lottie just knows that her boyfriend is going to propose, but then his big question involves a trip abroad—not a trip down the aisle. Completely crushed, Lottie reconnects with an old flame, and they decide to take drastic action. No dates, no moving in together, they’ll just get married… right now. Her sister, Fliss, thinks Lottie is making a terrible mistake, and will do anything to stop her. But Lottie is determined to say “I do,” for better, or for worse.

I adore Sophie Kinsella. She’s one of those very few people whose work I’ve loved since my early teens and whose books go to the very top of my reading list the minute they are published. I’ve read every single one of her novels and, with the exception of one, I loved every one of them. She has a great sense of humour which is there in all of her books, and her characters always manage to grow on me. Needless to say, my expectations for this book were very high. But I didn’t love it. In fact, I was a little bit disappointed.

As I just mentioned, one of the reasons why I love her books so much is the fact that they’re unbelievably funny. And not just ‘make you smile’ funny, but ‘laugh-out-loud and silently choke to death on public transport while trying not to snort with laughter’ funny. Her main characters always remind me a little bit of Bridget Jones. Sometimes they’re a bit clumsy, in some ways we can all relate to them – and they’re all hilarious. Some of her stories are a bit far-fetched but that’s part of the package and it never really bothered me before.

But what I realised after reading one of her previous books, Remember Me? (the other one I didn’t really like) is that far-fetched stories like these can easily turn into ones that are over-the-top. I think – for me, at least – there’s a very fine line between the two and Wedding Night happened to fall into the latter category. It’s similar to how I feel about movies. You know comedies that are absolutely hilarious and make you literally cry with laughter? And then there are the ones that start out brilliantly but after a while the plot becomes a bit… forced and instead of being hilarious, the characters’ clumsiness and/or general behaviour just becomes unrealistic and off-putting? I’m pretty sure I’m not explaining this very well but that’s how I felt about this book. There’s only so much far-fetched plot you can take before you realise that a) it’s not even funny anymore and b) the reason why everything is so unrealistic and exaggerated is to make the book funnier but it’s not working.

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Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock – Matthew Quick

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

Title: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
Author: Matthew Quick
Publication date: 16 January 2014
Publisher: Headline
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781472208200
Length: 273 pages
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Age group: Young Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository

In a nutshell

Leonard Peacock is turning 18. And he wants to say goodbye.

Not to his former best friend, whose torments have driven him to consider committing something tragic and horrific. Nor to his mum who’s moved out and left him to fend for himself. But to his four friends.

A Humprey Bogart-obsessed neighbour
A teenage violin virtuoso
A pastor’s daughter
A teacher

Most of the time Leonard believes he’s weird and sad but these friends have made him think that maybe he’s not.

He wants to thank them and, and bid them farewell.

My thoughts

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock has been recommended to me by an increasing number of people in the past few months and after hearing so many great things about it, my expectations were very high. Since it left such a lasting impression on the book blogger community and all those people whose taste I absolutely trust, and since I generally like books dealing with suicide or mental illness, I decided to give it a go. Now, after reading the book, I can’t thank all these people enough for their constant nagging – because it was simply amazing.

I loved this book for so many different reasons, I don’t even know where to begin. Perhaps the best place to start is the narration and our main character, Leonard. On the surface, Leonard is your average eighteen-year-old secondary school student with an average life. Okay, maybe the fact that his mother abandoned him and, as it turns out later on, doesn’t have the faintest idea about what he’s going through and how tough his childhood has been isn’t so average. On the contrary. But other than that, he seems like any other guy his age. Until he starts talking. Through Leonard’s story we learn that, in fact, he couldn’t be any more different from everyone else. I loved his unique voice and his way of storytelling. And while he’s just a young guy trying to get through his school years, his attitude and his way of thinking, his thoughts about adulthood couldn’t be more mature. His anger and his thoughts about not wanting to grow up – because adults just don’t seem to remember how to be happy – reminded me of Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye (one of my favourite classics of all time) and I loved Leonard just as much as I loved him.

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Review: The Dark Inside – Rupert Wallis

The Dark Inside by Rupert Wallis

Title: The Dark Inside
Author: Rupert Wallis
Publication date: 30 January 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781471118913
Length: 368 pages
Genre: Paranormal
Age group: Young Adult
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository

In a nutshell

The House on the Hill has been abandoned for as long as James can remember. So when he discovers Webster, a drifter, hiding there, he’s instantly curious about the story behind the homeless man. What is he running from?

Afflicted by a dark curse, Webster is no longer who he used to be. But there is said to be a cure and it might just be that by helping Webster, James will find some solace of his own. Together they embark on a journey, not knowing that what they discover will impact them both in ways they never imagined…

My thoughts

Although the synopsis doesn’t reveal too much about the story, I was intrigued by the mysterious premise of the book. What is Webster running from? What is this dark curse? Will they find a cure before it’s too late? It sounded like an action-packed story full of twists and turns but in the end, it turned out to be quite different from what I expected. It’s not a bad book. Far from it. It just didn’t really work for me.

The first thing that took me a while to get used to is the fact that The Dark Inside is a mixture of fantasy and reality. It’s a very fairytale-like novel. There’s a bad witch and her loyal son, potions, curses, magic, you name it. Yet, the novel is set in an everyday place, somewhere in a small English village. Magical elements are mixed with real problems, real characters throughout the book. I kept wondering what to think: is this a magical tale? Is this real? What’s going on? This clash of two different worlds shouldn’t be a bad thing. But, again, it didn’t work for me.

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