black widow – christopher brookmyre

January 30, 2016 6 comments
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Black Widow – Chris Brookmyre

I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Diane Jager is a successful surgeon – but her words can cut as deep as her scalpel, as many found when she wrote an anonymous blog about sexism in the NHS.

With her anonymity outed rather dramatically, she has been living with the moniker ‘Bitchblade’ but now she is in real trouble. After a whirlwind affair, her husband of a few months is missing, presumed dead and everything is indicating that it is at Diana’s hand.

When her sister-in-law brings in Jack Parlabane to investigate, the nails can be heard firmly being hammered into her coffin – but is she really a murderer?

Whenever people ask me my favourite authors, Christopher Brookmyre is at the top of my list, and Jack Parlabane is definitely one of THE best crime novel characters. Although we’re seeing him at his most vulnerable in this book – disgraced, out of work and newly divorced to his beloved Sarah.

Parlabane is actually a secondary narrator to Diana in the story – her past narrative interspersed with his present investigations until close to the end, really twisting your perceptions of the truth one way and then another, leaving you guessing.

Tightly written, it is exciting, full of action, believable characters and a fantastic movie-esque plot.

Thank you Mr Brookmyre for never letting me down. I felt smug every time there was a hat tip to a previous book that I recognised.

13 minutes – sarah pinborough

January 24, 2016 Leave a comment
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13 Minutes – Sarah Pinborough

I received an ARC copy of this book in return for an honest review.

I have never read any of Sarah Pinborough’s books before, but picked this one as it sounded like something that both myself and my 16 year old daughter could read and discuss – I read a lot of YA due to this :)

Teenage ‘Mean Girl’ and Queen Bee Natasha is found in the water by a dog-walker one early morning. She is revived but was dead for 13 minutes.

She can’t remember how she met her icy ‘death’, but is starting to mistrust her two closest friends who have been acting strangely around her since her ‘accident’, making her more dependent on her old geeky friend Becca. Could her friends have been attempting to kill her? Might they try again? Is she safe?

The story is told in a number of ways, mainly first hand by Becca, but also through transcripts of diary entries, counselling sessions and police interviews with Tasha. This gives the story a chance to give a multi-narrator view.

Having been one, I swear that teenage girls are one of the nastiest and hurtful groups of humans on the planet, and this book really encapsulates the underlying tensions that go on, in contrast to the veneer that they tend to show to the world.

I realised that there was going to be a twist when I got to about 80% and everything seemed to be wrapped up nicely – and it was a good one. Although I’d really enjoyed the story up to that point, it added another dimension and took it from good to great.

Well crafted characters – although almost all were completely unlikable and flawed, you really WANTED to know what happened, and what the outcome was going to be. A great skill for an author to have, and something that works really well in psychological thrillers such as this.

Beautiful cover too ;)

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough will be published on 18th February 2016.

one shade of grey…or white

October 20, 2015 2 comments

I know that it is about time that I get back into blogging again.  The nights are drawing in, and I feel a little more alive.  Silly season is almost over at work too, so a good time to start concentrating more!

I have been reading like a lunatic – many books that I want to share too, so I may go back and retrospectively add them.

I’ve also seen some fantastic stuff at the theatre etc – my pile of programmes is starting to look rather precarious!

However, what is bothering me most at the moment is that I haven’t dyed my hair for about a year now, and I need to make a decision whether I let the white bits stay. Every woman must get to that stage at some point where they think “It’s simply not worth fighting it any more!”

I got my first grey hair at 21, so it’s been a long time coming.  It all seems to be concentrated behind my ears at the moment – you know, in the classic ‘nit area’.

The question is, am I really not that vain any more?

Categories: Background Blah Tags: , , , ,

boo – neil smith

Boo – Neil Smith

“The sky used to be bluer in my day,” says the old man. “But it is your day,” I reply. “You aren’t dead yet.”

I received a review copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Thirteen year old Oliver “Boo” Dalrymple got his nickname at school due to the ghostly colour of his pale skin, and his white-blond sticky-up hair. He is now having an opportunity to live up to his name as he is quite suddenly dead.

“I died in front of my locker at Keller Junior High on September 7, 1979,” he tells us.

Boo wakes up in Town. Town isn’t much of a heaven. Only thirteen year olds that have died in America inhabit his particular Town, but some of the thirteen year old inhabitants have been thirteen for decades – apparently you rebirth after 50 years.

Boo has always been a little ‘different’. He never made friends easily, his social skills were never the greatest, he has a habit of voicing the inappropriate, but his IQ is superior for his age. Town is both a disappointment (it’s much like America but with less stuff) and a wonder (people and buildings can ‘fix’ themselves when they are broken).  So, Boo spends time getting to know his fellow Townies, conducting his own experiments, and trying to work out how he died, which he believes is due to his heart defect.

However, when he discovers a fellow student from his school, Johnny,  who tells him that they were actually both murdered – and that their murderer, the mysterious Gunboy who he only sees in his nightmares, killed himself too, so is probably in Town somewhere.

Boo and Johnny decide to track down Gunboy and demand answers – but are either of them ready for the truth and its own consequences?

I loved the idea behind this book, although some of the details were a bit odd. A Town full of just thirteen year olds? All I kept thinking was that they were actually growing old and well into middle-age and probably falling in love – and then, well, wouldn’t they be wanting to have sex? And that would just be totally weird!

Surprisingly, even though the book starts off with a dead kid, it took me ages to get into it. Boo isn’t exactly the easiest character to like, and Town just seemed so…normal.  There was a lot of description about how things were, but there was so little that was fantastical (and perhaps that was just the point) that I kind of switched off through a lot of the text.

But after a slow start, the middle to end was far more interesting and it became quite a page turner for a while.  I loved the ideas more than the actual book, but it was an easy, unusual story that I’m glad that I read.

are you watching me? – sinéad crowley

June 20, 2015 2 comments

Are You Watching Me – Sinead Crowley

I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Liz Cafferky has her own past, but she is pushing through this to promote the work of the drop-in centre for men where she has been working for a while, to try and pay her dues to founder Tom, who rescued her from her own demons.  However, when men start being murdered, and their only connection is the centre where she works, Liz starts questioning everything – even whether she could be the next to die.  Can Liz escape her past – and the killer?

I hadn’t read ‘Can Anybody Help Me?’ which was the début novel from Sinéad Crowley, and apparently her first featuring Sergeant Claire Boyle of the Irish Garda in Dublin. And having read this second in the series, I don’t really feel that it is necessary, as the book definitely stands alone. However, I understand that there may be some who have read the first and may have a vested interest in this novel as they may have already bonded with Claire, especially as she has returned to her role after a few months maternity leave – and all that brings for her and her family.

Coming to this book as a Crowley virgin however, I almost felt that there was too much emotional and personal content about Boyle, and I didn’t buy into it. I understand that all those that HAVE read the first book may already feel that they have a history with her, and may have got more from those parts of the story.

The actual thriller was OK, no great shakes, but cruised along as a fair enough page-turner. I DID actually want to know what happened, I was invested enough to care, but didn’t feel that there was enough excitement to make it stand out amongst others that I have read.

The parts with Boyle and her baby and her husband kind of slowed the pace down, and that may have been on purpose, to add to the next in the series, but as a brand new reader to the Boyle series, it was just an irritation. Perhaps you actually NEED to read ALL the books in this series!

Are You Watching Me? by Sinéad Crowley will be published on 2nd July 2015.

traces, peacock theatre

Traces - The 7 Fingers

Traces – The 7 Fingers

Last night I managed to get last minute tickets to take my daughter to see Traces at the Peacock Theatre.  Traces is the latest show from The 7 Fingers (Les 7 doigts de la main) from Quebec.

Aged between about 23-27, the 7 performers were actually from all over the globe, Canada, USA, Australia, France & China – and we knew that because they actually told us during the show.  It was actually a lovely twist to inject some personality and a LOT of humour into their performance. It certainly made my 15 year old have a favourite (Kevin from the USA whose trapeze dance she particularly enjoyed).

They certainly had a lot of skill between them – all were fantastic acrobats and very cool clowns (not a painted smile in sight, but the clowning was certainly part of the act), but individually there were outstanding performances on the trapeze, Chinese pole, Chinese hoops (as per photo), hand to hand, teeterboard, diabolo, cyr wheel and aerial strap.

I have seen all of these on stage before, and possibly by more ‘polished’ troupes, but there was something wonderfully quirky, fun and totally engaging about Trances that had the audience on their feet giving them a standing ovation as soon as they had finished.

And my daughter? She thinks EVERYONE should go and see it :)  They’re on at the Peacock until 12th July.

me before you – jojo moyes (audiobook)

Me Before You – Jojo Moyes

Lou Clark suddenly loses the job that she loves, and her family situation means that she is forced into taking the first suitable role that comes along. This happens to be as a carer for Will Traynor. A young man who has been left as a paraplegic following a motorbike accident.

Lou discovers that she wants to help Will recover his zest for lie, however, Will has something completely different planned.

THERE WILL BE SPOILERS!!!

I’m not really sure where to start. I got this as an audiobook and the narration was absolutely spot on.  I think the main narrator (Lou’s voice) was Jo Hall, but that’s just from the order in which they were listed. She was natural, sounded the right age and exactly how I would’ve expected Lou to sound – brilliant for an audiobook!

However,by no fault of the narrator, I simply didn’t like Lou. The character seemed juvenile, selfish and completely oblivious to the real world.

The situation also felt completely unreal with a rather awkward shift between scenes sometimes. I found it a little odd that someone with no experience of caring for anyone at all (especially someone who seemed so self-obsessed and uncaring) could be left in charge of someone with such needs, with no training at all.

If you took out the fact that Will was a paraplegic, it was a very very bog-standard “Girl is wasting her life away without even realising she’s wasting her life away, doing nothing, and with a boyfriend who takes her for granted MEETS egotistical, snobbish tosser who was a tosser before he went through a life-changing event, and is now a tosser for a completely different reason. Together they manage to smooth / rough each other’s edges and realise that life isn’t that bad after all.”

The only difference was the immense difficulties in the life of a paraplegic, and how it affects those around them, and eventually, the right to die if that’s what they choose.

Personally, that was the most interesting part of the story, and yet the least explored. It was all about Lou’s shallow feelings, and falling in love with Will and dealing with HER grief.  For me, it kind of made the actual deep crux of the story feel unimportant, and almost belittled.

However, I will admit, I know that I am in a minority. Almost everyone I know that has read this book says that it is a total must-read, a wonderful book and an absolute tear-jerker. As someone who cries at almost everything, I was expecting to be almost bed-ridden with grief for a few days, but as it was I just felt rather cross.

I fully expect to suffer a barrage of abuse for my review.

If you want a fluffy chick-lit rom-com with a slight edge to it, this is for you. If you want a perceptive glimpse into dealing with someone who wants to exercise their right to die, and the effect that it has on those around them, I would suggest looking elsewhere. Apparently there is a film about to be made too.

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