Thursday, 22 March 2018

Demon Walk by Melissa Bowersock

Sixth in the Lacey Fitzpatrick and Sam Firecloud series, the private-investigating duo are asked to get to the bottom of a menacing evil threatening the lives of the San Jan Capistrano mission. A tough nut to crack, this one, as some of the usual methods aren't enough to combat a killer force.

It’s so easy to slip into this duo’s adventures. They’re like old friends, their tales like a comfy sweater or slippers. Better still, their personal relationship is heading in the direction us fans want. 

As always, Bowersock strikes the perfect balance, careful to make this a compelling supernatural mystery without overdoing the romantic elements between Lacey and Sam.

I’m about to do something I very rarely do: dive straight into book 7. I’m not ready to take off those slippers just yet.

See also:
Being Travis
Burning Through
Dragon Walk
Dream Walk
Finding Travis
Ghost Walk
Queen's Gold
Skin Walk
Star Walk
Sonnets for Heidi
Stone's Ghost
The Man in the Black Hat

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Look For Me by Lisa Gardner

This was a book that ticked a lot of boxes: a well-executed crime thriller that commits you right from the word ‘go’. Ninth in a series featuring Detective D D Warren, I worried I might have missed some crucial forerunning elements to give a full picture of any recurring characters, but it was a perfect stand-alone novel. Despite the fact that I guessed ‘whodunnit’ at about 75%, there were enough red herrings thereafter to keep me on my toes and the unravelling was very compelling. 

Five dead family members and one missing teenager, Roxanna: Detective Warren has to determine whether or not she (along with the family’s pet dogs) was fortunate enough to have avoided the same fate or if she was the orchestrator of the massacre. The search for the truth uncovers some unpleasant history in the lives of Roxanna and her pretty thirteen-year-old sister, Lola, one of the victims. Aided by Flora, herself a survivor of a heinous crime, piece by piece, racing against the clock, they peel away the layers of heartache to get to the truth. 

As I said…a lot of boxes were ticked. But a few had to be unchecked. Sloppy editing…missing words and word-endings, some very poor grammar (how does a 'best-selling author' not know the difference between there’s and there are???), some rogue apostrophes, Roxanna’s name misspelt, and alas, some head-hopping. Not sure who to blame here: the author for trusting her editor or the editor for lack of attention to detail. This in addition to some almost illegible  feint text in Roxanna’s autobiographical chapters. I was also slightly bemused by one of the character’s names: Anya Seton. Perhaps Gardner is a fan of this historical-fiction author. 

However, it was a cracking read, well plotted and structured. It was on point, well observed and researched. I particularly liked the relationship between Warren and Flora: their exchanges were sharp, witty and sometimes funny. I shall certainly hunt for other books in the series and indeed other novels by the author.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister

This was a most enjoyable book…written with a ‘sliding doors’ approach...and one I couldn't wait to pick up at any opportune moment. 

Joanna and her best friend Laura are on a girls’ night out, when Joanna receives some seriously unwanted ‘attention’ from Sadiq. On her way home, she hears someone behind her…seemingly following her. It must be Sadiq. He’s getting worryingly close and as they descend some steps, it happens: the moment that changes lives forever. Notwithstanding, there are two paths, Joanna can take. The story then pursues, in alternating chapters, each of the paths. 

This was brilliantly executed, extremely well written and the characters were very well drawn—Joanna, in particular. I really liked her and her husband’s, Reuben’s, character. 

Much as I was enjoying reading these two parallel universes, how the ending was going to evolve was constantly on my mind: but it came together excellently.

It’s quite a thought-provoking book: whatever you might think, you can never predict how you might act in a dangerous, threatening or serious situation. 

A very good and satisfying book. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

The Last Mrs Parrish by Liv Constantine

It’s a while since I’ve read a book like this: one where you can’t wait to find a free five minutes to dive in or can’t wait to go to bed to read…or even hope you’re going to get a teensy bit of insomnia!

Unusually authored (two sisters co-wrote), the writing is seamless. It’s a story of greed…and a girl, Amber, who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. It’s also a story of domestic abuse and the cunning the victim, Daphne, uses to escape it. How fortunate that she 'happens' to meet the greedy Amber.

It’s fairly easy to guess early on (well, early-ish) how the story is going to unravel, but the writing and plot is so engrossing, I was more than just a little compelled to read on. It’s a well-structured plot that moves at the right pace. 

Despite the dark elements in the book, the quality of the writing makes this an easy and satisfying read.

These authors have very definitely made it to my look-out-for list.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Awake under the Night Sky by Vanya Sharma

This was a romance. A sweet and charming romance, but it lacked maturity, and reminded me more of a YA or serialised magazine story…in something like Woman’s Weekly or The Lady.

It’s a story of two young people who meet while they’re studying in India and fall deeply in love. But each have ambitions that drive them apart geographically. Vivian…to follow in the footsteps of her humanitarian grandmother, wanting to make a difference in third-world countries, and Andrea, who has pledged to make a success of his father’s ailing glass factory in Venice. Each does his and her best to forget and move on from the love they shared, but, as they find, it’s an obstacle they find hard to overcome.

The story lacked research, credibility and authenticity. Vivian was Spanish, Andrea, Italian and their study was in India. Somehow, there were no language barriers. The story was a little jerky, jumping around continents and time frames, and it was a little monotonous. Nothing very much happens until the end.

Sharma has tender and sympathetic way with words and can certainly execute a love story, but I think this was a little undeveloped and a tad ‘raw’. With experience and the proper guidance, I'm positive this author will evolve promisingly.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

A mix of first and third person POVs drives this story of a hard-nosed lawyer, Kate Woodcroft, intent on finding the charismatic James Whitehouse, an up-and-coming member of parliament, guilty of rape, an accusation made against him by the woman with whom he’d had a short affair. Sophie, his wife and university girlfriend, has to believe that everything he says, in court and out, is true. But her conviction is rocky, to say the least, because of THAT event in their final university year…

A couple of things irritated me…one, an odd ‘eh, ek, hn, hk, io, il, sy, SY' that ended most chapters. What on earth? Second…either the author or her editors seemed to have suddenly discovered the semicolon, the colon and the n dash and thought it would be a really jolly idea to put them in everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE, ninety-nine percent of the time incorrectly used. They really became a hurdle and a real annoyance. The text didn’t flow, and I very nearly put the book into my Kindle’s delete folder. 

I don’t think this enthralled me as much as it should have done. I would have liked more of the plot to be driven by a bit more dialogue rather than (sometimes tedious) narrative, but for all that, I enjoyed it, the way it was written and the little surprises along the way.

The plot was very credible and compelling, as was the style of writing, which was also insightful and intelligent.  Ultimately, I'm glad this book didn't end up in 'Deleted Items' before I finished it.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Hungry for Love by Maya Sacher

Here, supposedly, is a lady with a dilemma. Or does she?

Dentist, Elizabeth’s husband, Jesse, has been in a coma for two very long years. Along comes very handsome Australian zoo curator Aiden, and of course, she falls head-over-heels in love with him. She moves in with Aiden and doesn’t tell him she’s married until, rather predictably, Jesse wakes up. What an inconvenience. Elizabeth then spends the next 75% of the book trying to convince herself and the two men that well, couldn’t the three of them work in a non-ménage-à-trois sort of way. Why couldn’t she just merge them into one perfect man? Really.

I’m afraid I found this situation and Elizabeth very irritating. In fact, I rather wanted to slap her. Let’s remind you, dear: you’re married, and you must have realised that there was every likelihood that your husband (you know the one…in sickness and in health?) might wake up. I disliked her for her infidelity, I disliked her for expecting Jesse to be okay with her infidelity, and I disliked her for continually striving for a three-way set-up. It could work, couldn’t it, alternate weeks with each one? Seriously? I kept hoping that both men would just tell her to get on her bike, but no, she spoke, they said how high. 

I found it difficult to feel anything for any of the characters; they were all rather bland and one-dimensional. Aiden came over as an Eastender, rather than an Aussie and had a very irritating habit of saying ‘bout, instead of about. I’m not sure why.

I think I would have rather read ‘bout Jesse and Elizabeth rebuilding their lives after such a life-changing event. This author certainly has the ability and competence to develop these characters. Maybe there’s a sequel I don’t know about!