Book Review – Attic Of The Mind by Hemmie Martin

This is a book I picked up at #Darker2017 and was looking forward to reading…

As Always we start with the Goodreads blurb…

The time is right for Lilith Fields to seek revenge. Twenty-five years have passed since the sadistic abuser tortured the patients of the psychiatric ward, and now Lily has decided he must meet his final judgment. As her plan unfolds she discovers she is not the only one with a dark secret. Now, only time will tell if Lily’s demons will be vanquished, and just how many people are really involved.

The first thing I need to comment on is the size, and let me state this is not something that I consider as part of the review just personal preference, I print my books as 5 x 8 inches, this book is printed in 6 x 9 inches. I picked up a couple of books this size when I was at #Darker and I think it is partly to do with which formatting and printing services the author uses, while it does not make a great deal of difference and it will not stop me buying a book I really want to read I do find them quite cumbersome to hold. While they are closer in size to a hardback they do not have the rigidity and flap around in your hands, like I say this is personal preference but has also been interesting to me as a writer because I did at one point contemplate printing in this size so I would be interested if anyone has any feedback on that.

So onto the book itself, I loved the story. Every character you meet has their own secrets and flaws, it is hard to really judge any of them morally as this book challenges the reader to judge cause and effect, where the line between retribution and revenge lies. It is hard to feel real empathy with any of these characters, even the enigmatic Lilith is difficult to pity, this does not take away from the enjoyment of the book, it makes them more real, more lifelike.

I like to be careful not to give away spoilers however it becomes apparent very quickly who the main antagonist is, the former charge nurse Finlay Walker, if I had to pick up on one thing to criticise it would be his back story. Part way through we are given a brief insight to his childhood, I think I would like to have seen this avenue developed a little more, while it is not necessary to the plot in some ways the fact it was introduced does raise the question of if there is more to know, there is the potential for a prequel or a spin-off regarding the past and the influence other characters may have had on the overall outcome of this story.

As I have stated before it is hard sometimes judging a book by an author you have met, liked and you respect but in this case it is easy, the book was an excellent read that I have no problem recommending to anyone who is interested in dark, psychological dramas, there are twists and turns and just when you think you know where you are with everyone you can still find yourself falling down another rabbit-hole. I give this 5 out of 5 stars.

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Book Review – Retail Stole My Life: The Bitter Rants Of A Supermarket Worker By Rob Gonzo

I need to give a shout out to my friend Mandy who pointed me towards this book…

First the Goodreads blurb…

This book dishes the true dirt on working in a supermarket – from the bizarre customers you will meet to the managers you will learn to loathe. Best of all, you can read it for free using the kindle unlimited app for Iphone, Android and Windows. Own your copy today.

First let’s talk about the blurb because, to be honest, if I had come across this book with that blurb I would not have read it, as it was it was recommended to me so I thought let’s give it a go.

If you have ever worked in retail you are going to chuckle through this book, in fact if you have ever worked in any job where you are under a manager you are going to find bits that apply to you no matter what your job is, the interview process made me laugh and remember my own, which was not dissimilar. As many of you know I work in a supermarket as my day job so the book should have been a huge hit with me, and it was to a point. In many aspects, the book did not go far enough, not sure if it was through fear of being identified or the worry that no one would believe some of the more colourful tales that most retail workers could tell.  I have commented before if I wrote a book about my personal experiences that people would dismiss them as being too far-fetched to be true. So while this book was amusing and did make me laugh it could have gone further.

My second issue with this is something I hate bringing up, but I have to, none of us are perfect, and I can forgive a few grammatical errors, I can even forgive the occasional typo but there are a few spelling mistakes in this book which as it is fairly short I would have expected to be picked up on. I feel I have to bring this up because firstly they are obvious and secondly because if I am suggesting you spend your money on something I have to be honest.

I struggled to decide on a score for this because I did enjoy it but I have to be honest and consider it in terms of what it is and my expectations, in the end, I decided that 3.5 out of 5 is a fair score (though as I mark up on Goodreads because they do not give half score options it will get a 4 there). The book has potential and I do believe the author has talent and an excellent conversational style of narration, I just needed it to go further and be run through a good spell checker or even the free Grammarly program (which I do now use).

Book Review – The Debt & The Doormat By Laura Bernard

So this is another book by an author I have become friends with on FB and will be seeing in Leeds in March so once more I was nervous when I started reading…

The Goodreads blurb says…

Poppy and Jazz have been best friends from the first week of university. Whenever these two get together trouble isn’t far away and things haven’t changed much. When Jazz gets herself into financial trouble Poppy, being a good friend, offers to help. She instead ends up being talked into swapping lives, with Jazz insisting it will be good and help her get over her broken heart.

Poppy is thrown into a new life, full of crazy housemates. There’s fitness freak Izzy, horrendously beautiful bitch Grace and the slightly gorgeous, if not incredibly grumpy Ryan.

Quickly, with the help of Jazz, her life is thrown upside down. Madness ensues and her need to please everyone gets her in more trouble than she could ever imagine.

Before she knows it she’s got a fake boyfriend and is hiding so many secrets she’s scared they’ll spill out any minute. With a bullying boss, a sex crazed colleague, a mental mother and three brothers each with their own dramas, life has gotten pretty difficult for Poppy. And all of this would be much easier, if she could just stop falling over.

Will she get her life back to normal before her brother’s upcoming wedding? And will she want to?

The truth is I don’t really read a lot of Chick Lit these days, in my early twenties I would read a lot more than I do now (if only there were more hours in the day) so I would alternate the genres I read, one serious book usually fantasy or historical, you know the type things that require concentration, then I would read something lighter, chick lit or comedy.

I have to be honest I picked this up, read the first couple of pages and was not sure I was really going to enjoy this but hands up, I was wrong! Once I got into it I was hooked, I don’t normally read on my breaks at work but this book made me anti-social and two nights running caused me to be laying in the bath long after the water had got cold. If I was going to be super critical I would question whether the main character Poppy needed to have quite so many incidents happen to her in one book, it did push it to the bounds of believability that one person could be that unlucky but in this genre it is pretty normal to go for exaggerated plot lines.

The only real fault I have with this book was at times the timeline got a little confusing, one minute you are jumping forward hours while another it is weeks with no real distinction, a couple of times I did find myself having to backtrack a little to just check how long had passed but overall this is right up there with the books I loved by Freya North and Sophia Kinsella and I will definitely be checking out the next in the series.

So the scores on the doors, well on Goodreads they do not allow for half marks so I will, of course, markup but here on my blog it is a 4.5 out of 5 stars just losing half a point for the fact I had to step out of the moment to check on time frames occasionally otherwise it would have been full marks.

Book Review – My Love Forever (The Night Movers Vampire #1) by Helen Bright

Okay I am going to put a disclaimer here that I am friends with this author on FB, I am also going to say that I hate reading books by people I like as people because it is horrible to face the fact you might not like what they have written, but I promise you this will still be an impartial review, I am nothing but honest and will admit if I had really hated it I would have just pretended to have not read it yet and said nothing, so with all that said let’s get to it…

We begin with the Goodreads blurb as always…

Alex knew Julia was meant to be his when he saw her fourteen years ago with her father at a party thrown by his company Night Movers.
She was a young innocent eighteen year old and off to university shortly, so he decided to let her live a little before he made her his. After all he was a nine hundred and fifty year old vampire living and working in his company, alongside the humans he employed in modern day Yorkshire. He had waited this long to find love so he could wait a little longer.

Not quite a year later Julia is engaged and later married.
Alex thought his chance at love with Julia was gone.

Fourteen years on and a terrible accident leaves Julia with a devastating tragedy that no parent should have to go through, and her marriage breaks down.
Julia then finds herself back home in Yorkshire and applying for a Job with Night Movers.
Will Alex convince Julia to be his after all she has been through? And can she accept the fact that he is a born immortal vampire?

Gina has sacrificed her happiness to stay in a loveless marriage for the sake of her family for many years. But now they are grown and she’s still unhappy but won’t leave because she feels like a failure.
Nik, a vampire and co-owner of night movers is in love with Gina, but she lacks confidence in herself and can never accept that someone like Nik could love her.
Will Nik convince her that she’s all he needs?
This new paranormal romance takes you to the village of Barrowfield where the Night Movers transport company, owned by three vampires is based.
Sadness, humour, friendship, love and sex, makes this series a must read for fans who like their paranormal romance with extra bite.
Due to adult content this book should only be read by persons aged 18 or over.

So as you see a vampire story, so we have worry number one, as my daughter would say I am a vampire snob, I love the Anne Rice and Brom Stoker style of classic vampire, so I was a little worried how I would fair with this story right from the beginning but actually I really enjoyed this, the author creates a mythology for her vampires backgrounds, while not exactly an origin tale for the species she begins intertwining a historical element I hope will be revisited and explored later at a further time within the series.

She quickly develops the personalities of the main characters and with the clever use of humour, she allows you to connect with them as individuals. Of course, there are characters you warm to more, and I have to say that I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series in the hope the character and plot development continues and we see each of the vampires receive their own lead role in a book. I love the setting, again I was nervous about a rural setting for this in terms of the credibility for a vampire living there long term but this is again dealt with plausibly within the plot.

The final thing to discuss is, of course, the adult content, and although I still have a few personal reservations about vampires having sex, the scenes themselves are incredibly well written and realistically written also, the only possible worry is certain scenes are so well written that it makes you wonder if the author is writing from personal experience which is fine with an author you are never likely to meet and slightly different with one you are seeing in a few weeks.

So I think you can tell I loved this book, despite all my reservations, the facts that counted against it before I started reading it, I thoroughly enjoyed it, I recommended it to my daughter and downloaded the rest via Kindle Unlimited. I am going to start leaving links for the books of fellow Indie Authors after the scores to make it easier for you if you want to check them out after. So I guess we need a score, I could hardly put this down so it gets the full 5 out of 5 stars and a hearty recommendation for anyone looking for a great paranormal romance to read.

You can find the book here

If you would like to learn more about the author then you can find her on FB here and be sure to say hello, she is lovely.

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