Book Review – The Couple Next Door By Shari Lapena

This was a book I bought purely based on the blurb…

As always we begin with the Goodreads blurb…

Fast-paced and addictive, THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR announces a major new talent in thriller writing. You never know what’s happening on the other side of the wall.

Your neighbour told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn’t stand her crying.

Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll take it in turns to go back every half hour.

Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She’s gone.

You’ve never had to call the police before. But now they’re in your home, and who knows what they’ll find there.

What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?

****

‘How well do we ever know those around us? THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR will keep you glued to the pages in search of the answer. Even then, you’ll never guess the truth…until it’s too late’ LISA GARDNER

‘I thought the read-it-in-one-sitting thing was a cliche. Not any more’ LINWOOD BARCLAY

‘Meticulously crafted and razor-sharp. THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR lingers long after you turn the final page’ HARLAN COBEN

***The Sunday Times bestseller***

PEOPLE ARE CAPABLE OF ALMOST ANYTHING.

‘2016’s most talked-about new thriller’ Stylist

‘A twisty, utterly riveting tale that will send readers on a wild rollercoaster ride of emotions. Shocking revelations kept me turning the pages like a madwoman’ TESS GERRITSEN

As you can see this book sounds amazing and has some high profile writers championing it, the blurb fascinated me, but I was dubious, generally I find very few books live up to their hype.

I am going to confess half a dozen pages in I nearly ditched the book. It was something about the style it was written in, if felt a little stilted, disjointed but I was intrigued enough to give it a little longer and I am so glad I did. The style fits the story perfectly, as the storyline unfolds you understand more why the disconnect and slight disjointedness is completely appropriate. I hate spoiling stories so I am going to be really careful here because the plot twists are a total delight, but if you just go from the blurb as I did when I decided to read it the whole idea of worrying about what could be found in your own home is something I have considered before. Okay, I amy have been joking when I have said previously that if anyone ever checks my google search history I would be in trouble but think about it, if something tragic happened what do you have on yours or what books and films do you have in your house that someone could read a different meaning into? Scary isn’t it.

I read this book in a few days, a very rare thing for me these days, so you can tell how much I enjoyed it, I whole heartedly give this book 5 out of 5 stars and say if you pick it up, and struggle in those first few pages as I did, stick at it!

Book Review – Hallowe’en Party By Agatha Christie

I have to be honest I struggled to find a copy of the cover to my edition but finally…

Let’s begin as normal with the Goodreads blurb…

A teenage murder witness is drowned in a tub of apples… At a Hallowe’en party, Joyce—a hostile thirteen-year-old—boasts that she once witnessed a murder. When no-one believes her, she storms off home. But within hours her body is found, still in the house, drowned in an apple-bobbing tub. That night, Hercule Poirot is called in to find the ‘evil presence’. But first he must establish whether he is looking for a murderer or a double-murderer…

This book is a little darker than some of the other Agatha Christie books, it also is one of the few that breaks from her formulaic narratives and places the characters in a slightly different position to the normal you would expect. I confess Agatha Christie is a master at blindsiding you at times not always keeping the villain hidden but sometimes the motive or the people who are in collusion are the twists that come unexpectedly. This is one of those cases, you think you have a good idea about half way through about the guilty parties you are right to a point but it is the extra layers that make this a stand out for me in terms of her books. I make no secret of the fact I love Poirot but I also appreciate that for some the books are too quaint and tame, they lack the sex, gore and violence of modern books (my own included)  but they are nonetheless still wonderfully crafted tales and still worthy of reading.

So onto a score well it has to be 5 out of 5 stars for this one.

Book Review – The Surgeon By Tess Gerritson

Confession this was a reread…

Sorry for the quality of the picture, I always try to find a picture of the cover I have on my book, so on with the Goodreads blurb…

In Boston, there’s a killer on the loose. A killer who targets lone women, who breaks into their apartments and performs terrifying ritualistic acts of torture on them before finishing them off. His surgical skills lead police to suspect he is a physician – a physician who, instead of saving lives, takes them.

But as homicide detective Thomas Moore and his partner Jane Rizzoli begin their investigation, they make a startling discovery. Closely linked to these killings is Catherine Cordell, a beautiful medic with a mysterious past. Two years ago she was subjected to a horrifying rape and attempted murder but she shot her attacker dead. Now she is being targeted by the new killer who seems to know all about her past, her work, and where she lives.

The man she believes she killed seems to be stalking her once again, and this time he knows exactly where to find her…

The fact I decided to reread this does give you a clue I enjoyed it, though to be fair my book piles are all messed up so I may reread a lot over the coming months. This is the first book in the Rizzoli & Isles series though we do not actually meet Isles at this point. I had forgotten how little we actually get to know about Rizzoli in this book and went into it with knowledge gained from the rest of the series and influenced by the TV series and I have to say it does actually change the reading. This first meeting with Rizzoli she is brash, reactive and a little bit of a stereotype, she reminds me of Cagney from the Cagney & Lacey TV series, I think this is in part because other than the victims she is the only female character and is made to look harder as a result. I really did believe when I picked this book up I would award it a five, I am sure that is what I would have probably done after the initial read but in this read through there were issues.

The book is supposed to be the first in a series centred around two characters, yet we only meet one of them, I can forgive this because I would assume when the author first wrote this she possibly did not know she would make it a series and involved the second female character, however for the first part of this book Rizzoli is almost a secondary character and almost treated like the bitchy woman scorned in some places. The interactions with Rizzoli and many of her colleagues are quite clichéd, though I appreciate it is realistic that a woman cop has to work harder to prove herself  certain aspects such as the tampax in the water bottle I would hope would be outdated with improvements to workplace equal rights laws, but to be fair I cannot comment to whether this would be factually true. Overall I still enjoyed it and I know I loved it the first time round, I cannot decide if you would enjoy this more going into it with the knowledge from the TV series or not, I think it may spoil the story but give the character more depth.

I had to stop to think about the score I would give this and decided that I would give it a 4 out of 5 stars, it will be interesting to reread more of this series.

Book Review – Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination By Helen Fielding

I think this is actually an interesting contrast to my last book review…

As always we begin with the Goodreads blurb…

At the close of the last millennium, Helen Fielding debuted the irrepressible (and blockbuster-bestselling) Bridget Jones. Now, Fielding gives us a sensational new heroine for a new era…Move over 007, a stunning, sexy-and decidedly female-new player has entered the world of international espionage. Her name is Olivia Joules (that’s “J.O.U.L.E.S. the unit of kinetic energy”) and she’s ready to take America by storm with charm, style, and her infamous Overactive Imagination.

How could a girl not be drawn to the alluring, powerful Pierre Ferramo-he of the hooded eyes, impeccable taste, unimaginable wealth, exotic international homes, and dubious French accent? Could Ferramo really be a major terrorist bent on the Western world’s destruction, hiding behind a smokescreen of fine wines, yachts, and actresses slash models? Or is it all just a product of Olivia Joules’s overactive imagination?

Join Olivia in her heart-stopping, hilarious, nerve-frazzling quest from hip hotel to eco-lodge to underwater cave, by light aircraft, speedboat, helicopter, and horse, in this witty, contemporary, and utterly unputdownable novel deluxe.

It may seen ironic that the last book I reviewed I complained about the plot being too far fetched but while the other die so within the thriller genre here in Rom-Com/Chick-Lit it works perfectly, the author mocks the very absurdity of the plots within the actual title, but here mixed with comedy it works brilliantly. The Bridget Jones author manages to create another cast of characters that grab the imagination though I have to say the lesser characters are less rounded than in the first Bridget Jones book, however it is not really an issue, as unlike those others, these are not likely to feature again. I did really enjoy this book, it is fun and an easy read which provides perfect escapism, it is definitely the perfect holiday read, there is a but though!

I was happily engrossed in this book until I noticed that I was running out of pages and seemed a long way from the story being resolved. The action in the last section of the book seems a little hurried and lacking in the detail and atmosphere building of the earlier sections, it is almost as if she was busy writing a great book and then it was pointed out she was reaching her word quota and had to finish it off quickly. I am not sure if the answer would have been to leave the last section for a next book and build up the previous action to the climax of this one or to just have risked making this one longer, I certainly would be happy to see Olivia have more adventures but only the author knows what her intentions are in that regard.

So to scores up until that last bit this would have had the perfect score but because I felt the last bit was on diet rations it gets 4.5 starts out of 5.

Book Review – Call After Midnight By Tess Gerritsen

This book is a stand alone novel and not part of the Rizzoli & Isles series

As always let’s begin with the Goodreads blurb…

THEY’D SAID HER HUSBAND WAS DEAD … SO WHY WAS SHE SURE HE WAS STILL ALIVE?

A ringing phone in the middle of the night shakes newlywed Sarah Fontaine awake. Expecting her husband’s call from London she hears instead an unfamiliar voice. Nick O’Hara from the US State Department is calling with devastating news: Geoffrey Fontaine, Sarah’s husband of two months, died in a hotel fire … in Berlin.

Convinced her husband is still alive, Sarah forces a confrontation with Nick that finds them crisscrossing Europe on a desperate search for Geoffrey. Trying to stay one heartbeat ahead of a dangerous killer, they become quarry in the clandestine world of international espionage, risking everything for answers that may prove fatal.

When you love a series by someone you can find their stand alone novels lacking, however I have read a couple of others which I had really enjoyed so I was optimistic about this one.  Sadly for me this book was a bit of a flop, the plot is a little implausible, well more than a little to be honest, but more than that the characters themselves just do not ring true.  Had it remained steadfastly a thriller, spy drama it might have been more engaging but the sub plot of a romance between the two main characters just makes it so hard to believe. We are asked to believe that the grieving widow, whose reaction to her husbands summons is to jump straight on a plane can fall in love with another man within a few weeks. I accept her husband is not who he pretends to be, nor does it turn out they had the happy marriage she thought they had but the reallocation of affections is too swift without the soul searching one would expect.

The pacing is fast and furious, in places a little too fast as you barely get time to get a real feel for places and situations before we are torn away to the next, I do love Tess Gerritsons books but for me this one just did not grab me the way her others have,

So time for a score and I hate having to give this score but I have to be fair so I award it 3.5 stars out of 5.

Book Review – Telling Tales By Alan Bennett

I have to say I challenge anyone who has heard his voice not to read this and hear him talking to you…

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As usual begin with the Goodreads blurb…

Ten childhood snapshots from the master of the monologue Alan Bennett recalls his childhood in a sequence of talks that are funny, touching and told in his unique style. Hampered, as he sees it, by a family that never manages to be quite like other families he recounts his early years in Leeds a place where one learned early on the quite useful lesson that life is generally something that happens elsewhere: there is hiking every Sunday, trips into town and teas in cafes. Its an ordinary childhood, Bennetts father a butcher, his mother a reader of womens magazines who dreams of coffee mornings and cocktail parties and life down south. He re-lives family crises, early pieties and the lost tradition of musical evenings round the piano, all these tales told with that wry observation and ironic understatement that has earned Alan Bennett a place in the forefront of contemporary writing.

Even though his childhood in Leeds took place decades before my own I can still relate to much of what he was saying, I grew up on the outskirts of Leeds in a mining village and to be honest it always felt like you went back a decade or two from the city centre. But the truth is that even for those who grew up in other areas there will be elements from their own childhood they recognise, after all we all have those certain characters in our childhood that make their mark one way or another. Though it is written about a specific area the language is not dialectically difficult, and as I said in the opening if you have heard Alan Bennett’s voice it is impossible to read this without your head creating the illusion of him narrating it to you.  It is also interesting reading the introduction the understand more about his reasons for choosing to use this medium to relate his personal stories. It is a slim book and can be read in one night and makes a refreshing change to some of the ‘celebrity’ memoirs that are three hundred volumes of drivel., it is a testament to Bennett’s genius that he can select out a few memories that give you such an in-depth understanding into his childhood without needing a whole book.

And for the score, well it has to be five out of five stars.

Gold star

Book Review – The Children Of Witches By Sherri Smith

I picked this book up in a charity box and confess it was the title that grabbed my attention…

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As always let’s begin with the Goodreads blurb…

When rumours of witchcraft sweep through the town, Anna’s son, Manfred, who does not communicate like other children, is seized by those who use him to pursue their own agenda. As innocent townsfolk are accused, a climate of fear prevails. No one is safe – and Manfred is at the heart of the terror.

I confess I did not really pay much attention to the blurb when I picked the book up, I had just done my shopping after finishing the day job and was having a flick through a trolley full of books we had, donations for which went to our local charity, I spotted it thought it looked interesting and grabbed it, throwing my donation into the tub. The actual blurb on the book is longer than the Goodreads one and plays a lot more on the witchcraft aspects of the story. I was really looking forward to it and it has some really good point it also has faults though.

The story is based on real events and at times I did question if it would have been better as a factual examination of the events or as taking it further and going for pure fiction. The story in some ways is reminiscent of the Salem witch trial, the way that it is the children who accuse and that they are encouraged to greater and greater accusations, the way the accusations are made and the way the villagers react to them is intriguing, as is the initial introduction of the Church into the mix however for me this was where the story became a little sluggish. There seemed, and maybe it is because I am not religious myself to be too much of the church at times and not enough of the family, I really cannot put my finger on what exactly the problem was because I understand with the plot where it was going but at times getting there felt like wading through treacle in wellies, which is a shame because the conclusion of the aspect of the story was really good. I was not really that taken by they end of the story overall, but to be fair because of the characters involved, even without having a real story it related to I do not think this was ever going to be a happily ever after story, I would like to have had more about the other characters on the periphery and how their lives were effected by the conclusion of the story. Do not get me wrong I enjoyed it and this is a good book in many ways but I do think it could have been an amazing book if it had explored the broader consequences rather than such a small character focus group.

So a score, I debated this but am going to go for three and a half stars out of five.

gold-stars-3-5

Book Review – Doctor Who; Time Lord Fairy Tales By Justin Richards

I did wonder if I had already done this one but apparently not…

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Goodreads says…

WE ARE ALL STORIES, IN THE END…

Fifteen tales of ancient wonder and mystery, passed down through generations of Time Lords.

Dark, beautiful and twisted, these stories are filled with nightmarish terrors and heroic triumphs, from across all of time and space.

There are times when you get incredibly excited about a book and for me this was one of them, I thought it would be a fun read and was looking forward to some unique fairy stories, however what you actually get is mainly a twist on traditional fairy tales. Now don’t get me wrong they are well written, entertaining and I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I think the problem is it was not quite what I expected. I would love them to have taken things further and made the tales more alien. I think one issue is also who the book is aimed at, while I enjoyed it I am not so sure the monster would have understood everything in it, Doctor Who is a family show and although this is certainly not an adult book it is certainly aimed at older readers. I think my favourite story was Cinderella and the Magic Box, and one other good aspect of this book is it does feature a mix of new and classic Doctors.

So it needs a score and I am going to give it 4 out of 5 stars, good but not quite great.

4stars

Book Review – Me and the Fat Man By Julie Myerson

It has been a while but I do have a pile of books waiting t be reviewed so lets start the new year with getting back to it…

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And as always we begin with the blurb taken from Goodreads…

An unlikely romance, a psychological mystery, an erotic thriller–Me and the Fat Man is all and none of the above, eluding categorization as skillfully as it limns its characters’ desperate, love-starved lives. In Julie Myerson’s third novel, Amy waits tables in a small English city and in her spare time turns tricks for reasons she can’t quite articulate, even to herself. She’s married, but without love or lust or much of anything else. “I like you because you don’t expect anything,” her husband tells her when they first meet. An orphan born in Greece, Amy grew up in a foster home that was “creepy and electric,” where she was treated with ostensible fairness but always made to feel just how lucky she was that they took her in. “What’s flesh and blood? Not blood and string and fat like on a joint of meat, but just this person smiling and smiling at the stupidest things about you,” she muses, and thinks, “I’d have given anything for that.”

Then a stranger named Harris walks into the restaurant and promises to give Amy back her past, claiming to have known her mother. Slowly he draws Amy into his life and introduces her to Gary, the gentle fat man of the title. Prompted by Harris, the two find themselves in an affair; what’s surprising is that they fall in love, the last thing either of their lives has led them to expect. But Gary has secrets of his own, and is strangely in Harris’s thrall. The key to both of their pasts lies on the Greek island of Eknos, where Amy’s life comes spiraling together in a way that seems both improbable and true–like everything else in this novel, from its offbeat eroticism to the painful physicality of its prose. Me and the Fat Man is bleak and magical in equal measure. –Mary Park

I did not actually buy this book, it was one which came free with a newspaper and if I am honest I did not have high expectations. The story is a very strange one, none of the main characters are ones you feel sympathy for, in fact it is easier to dislike them which makes sticking with the story quite hard at times. It is a very strange plot in many ways with the real interesting elements not coming in until you are over half way through the book, to be honest several times I came close to putting it down, and if you are looking for a happily ever after or even just a definite ending this is not the book for you. It is well written and some of the descriptive passages are brilliant at evoking the places and events, it really does come down to whether you feel the need to relate to characters.

I did sort of enjoy it but felt at the end I was left wanting more answers, it was a little like catching a glimpse of something happening through frosted glass, you get the gist but feel the details are lacking, without giving away spoilers I feel like there was so much more to tell at the end. Deciding on the score for this one was hard because in places it is engaging where as at others it is hard work finally I decided on 3.5 stars out of 5, maybe I would not recommend rushing out to buy it but if you come across it then it is worth picking it up and giving it a go.

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Give-aways & Great Offer

To celebrate the launch of my first novel I have two special treats for you first…

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Let’s start the party a little early with a give-away that will last the full week if you have not already grabbed a copy then from now till Friday you have the chance to get Disintegration and Other stories for free, and please if you get it, read it and love it feel free to leave reviews they are always highly appreciated xxxx

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Disintegration-Other-…/…/B00ZP28UPU

https://www.amazon.com/Disintegration-Other-Stories-Paula-Acton-ebook/dp/B00ZP28UPU

Next offer…

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Those of you that have known me for a while know how much meaning this book has, 50% of any profits made from this book go to http://www.cords4life.co.uk/ a charity set up in memory of an incredibly brave little boy, because of that this book will never be posted free on Kindle but I will do the occasional special offer, to celebrate the launch of Ascension I am doing a 99p special on it for this week

https://www.amazon.com/Voices-Across-Void-Paula-Acton-eb…/…/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Voices-Across-Void-Pa…/…/B01GZ5NFPU

And now here are the winners for yesterday’s prizes from the on line event party, don’t forget you can be entered every month into a prize draw by signing up for the newsletter on the pop up here or over at http://paulaacton.co.uk and simply opening the email each month

✯ ☆҉‿➹⁀☆҉☆ Give-away Winners ✯ ☆҉‿➹⁀☆҉☆

I did try to record the draw but technology is working against me with the batteries on my camera dying then my phone refusing to stay put so I could film on that so I hope you trust me when I promise the draw was done fairly…

Give-away One – the bookmark has been won by Dianne Wolfenden

Give-away Two – The bag charm has been won by Giles Bachelor

Give-away Three – The most highly sought prize the mug has been won by Margaret Reynolds

Give-away Four – the brooch has been won by Angelique Renee Hass

Give-away Five – the charm Bracelet has been won by Mandy Gafney

Give-away six – The signed copy of Voices across the void has been won by Angelique Renee Haas

And the big one the signed proof copy of Ascension has been won by Heidi Nicole.

You can find the Kindle version of Ascension on Amazon…

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https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ascension-Queen-Ages-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B01MFFE4NU

https://www.amazon.com/Ascension-Queen-Ages-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B01MFFE4NU