the unicorn crisis – jon rosenberg

The Unicorn Crisis

This was another Kindle bargain – just 97p when I bought it. However, I have learned that price is NOT indicative of quality!

David Ash belongs to The Hidden Academy, a group of powerful summoners / wizards who live amongst us like everyday folk, making sure that magic and mayhem don’t leak across to our world from the world of the Fae.

However, someone has summoned a Unicorn within his constituency (actually to a field just south of Stratford-on-Avon) and far from the light and airy creatures most people believe they are, they are rather violent, and not cuddly at all.  So David has to send this one back to where it came, and then find out who summoned it – and why?

His only friend is a TV addict dwarf, and he now has a visiting American summoner on his case, along with one from Belgium – neither of which seem to like him.

With the recent death of his master, some dodgy drug-dealers, his beautiful but feisty ex-girlfriend and his own past to come to turns with, he’s not having the best of times!

This book once again falls into one of my favourite genres, along with my recently review of Rivers Of London – that of a fantastical world that has its base in our own reailty.  And it was really good – I mean REALLY good.  Considering the subject matter, the characters were well-written and believable, and the story was really well-paced. I loved it!

Just to prove how much I must have loved it, I have to mention what should have put me off.

Proof-reading and editing of this book are absolutely non-existent! Honestly, I was so shocked. I often speed-read but i was loving every minute of the story, and I think that meant that I was reading it more closely than I occasionally do, and therefore the mistakes were so much more evident.

Here are a few within a few pages just as a taster:

“…was the middle of murder investigation…”

“If you don’t calm down you’ll open door…”

“…means that you needs be a member of…”

“I was afraid they’d might have been in the auditorium itself”

And there were far, FAR more.  Which was a shame.  I think the slopiness of the proof-reading and editing could put a lot of people off – and there is no need for it, it is a fantastic story. And yes, I HAVE downloaded the second book already but i am hoping that it doesn’t jar as much as this one did.

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the suicide effect – l j sellers

The Suicide Effect

I picked this book up free on Kindle last month – you know I’m one for a bargain.

It’s almost a month since I finished it, and it’s probably saying something that I had to re-read the blurb as I’d forgotten what the book was about!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad read at all – it’s just not very memorable.

Sula works for a pharmaceutical company, and one day overhears a shocking revelation about one the company’s drugs in development.  She is indecided whether to act on this new knowledge as she is currently fighting for custody of her young son and any trouble could be detrimental to her getting him back.

However, events are taken out of control and she ends up embroiled in something a lot bigger than she was anticipating.

It’s an interesting enough story – pacey although not particularly realistic but with enough depth to it to keep you turning the pages.

Would be perfect for a holiday read – or if you’ve recently finished something heavy!

london calling – james craig

London Calling

I got this book on Kindle as it had a pretty good rating on Amazon and was just £1.  I also needed a bit of light relief, and a non-heavy detective story set in London was just the easy trashy read I wanted!

I’m feeling a little torn about this book actually.  Overall it ticked all the boxes in the read that I was looking for – and it even ticked some better than I was hoping for, considering the genre.

BUT, I did have a slight problem with it – and this MAY well have just been me.

As per the genre, there is a serial killer on the loose – but this isn’t just about the fact that they’ve been killed, this covers the very very violent sexual rapey murders. Of men.

I’m not really much of a prude, but I did find the murder scenes rather crude and difficult to digest.  I know that murder is murder, and it’s disgusting anyway, and shouldn’t be easy to read, but there was something just a little too much about this.  Although to be fair, once you reach the end, and the really good twist, it makes it a lot more understandable.

The book is marketed as ‘Inspector Carlyle 1’ which suggests that there will be more featuring John Carlyle, the main character – and I have to say, I really really liked him.  There was a good amount of back-story so that I felt I could understand him, and I did actually buy into him and will no doubt be intrigued enough to buy the next one.

This one included some very polished Tory brothers on the edge of coming into power and seemed to make no excuse of the similarities to recent political events.

I had one other little niggle too – the author seemed to go into way too much background, explanations or detail abotu things that (personally) I felt didn’t really need it.  For example, he went into the process of checking emails on a Blackberry – and also seemed obsessed with the fact that a Blackberry is NOT a mobile phone. Which it is of course.  OK, it does other stuff, but essentially it’s a mobile phone like all other smart phones.  This was one example, theer were a couple of others, but they obviously didn’t wind me up enough to remmeber!

So, overall, I really enjoyed it for what it was, but I could have done without the crude, difficult to read rapey bits – which were there for a reason!

truth dare kill – gordon ferris

Truth Dare Kill

This is another bargain book on Kindle – just £1 if you’re interested!

This is the first ‘Danny McRae’ book, with Unquiet Heart being the second.  It is 1945 and Scottish Danny McRae is a private investigator in London – an ex-policeman, he has returned from the war after being captured by the Germans and suffering severe head trauma.

When he is approached by a glamorous woman to investigate the possible death of her married lover, who just happens to have been his commanding officer in France, and the one person able to help him piece together the missing fragments of his memory, he takes on the job.

At the same time, prostitutes are being murdered in Soho, and it seems that the brutal killings are being committed at the same time as Danny has experienced blackouts due to his head wound.

This was an enjoyable enough book, although I found Danny rather difficult to like, so I’m not sure whether I will read the next one.  There were some quite clever twists and turns, but I found the characters a little shallow, and the ending rather unbelievable.

Still, an interesting enough retro-thriller.

the golden acorn – catherine cooper

The Golden Acorn

I picked this up on my Kindle for free (thanks Amazon!), as I thought that The Girl would like it.

However, after I’d finished Arcadia Falls, I was going through a bit of a headachey time, and I knew that the next book I needed to start was Parrot & Olivier in America, which looked quite hard-going…so I took the easy route before starting it by reading this, a children’s book!

I’m glad I did, as it was lovely.  Just lovely.  The Girl has since read it, and really enjoyed it too.

Jack Brenin is a young lad who has come to live with his grandfather in rural England, having been living in Greece with his father following his mother’s death.  Little does he know that his life is about to get fantastical as his very presence is playing out an ancient prophecy.

There are some great new fantasy creatures, some haunting moments and nobody dies…it’s a truly beautiful kids’ book, with just the right mix of fast-paced action, minor peril, great friendships and Enid Blyton style ‘jolly hockeysticks’ food-based capers!

I will definitely be getting the next one for us both to read!

reasons to be cheerful – part 4

'Spot' the difference?

My super-speedy-no-quibble replacement Kindle.

As I have said many times on this blog, I am surprisingly in love with my Kindle.  I never thought we’d really get on, I thought we’d only be part-time lovers (I am now singing Stevie Wonder to myself) – but the strength of my devotion has been more powerful than I would ever have believed.

So, imagine my horror and dismay when I picked up my love (after a break of a couple of days while I’d been reading my paperback of The Invisible Man) and there was an ink smudge on it.  An ink smudge!!

So, on Monday, I looked on the Amazon website to get some idea of what I could do about it.  I went through the ‘Contact Us’ section, and with a Kindle query, it says “It’s best to talk to us, enter you’re phone number here and we’ll call you” and you have a choice of RIGHT NOW or IN 5 MINS.  I chose the former, and my mobile rang immediately and I spoke to a lovely guy.

I told him I’d turned it right off (unheard of with a Kindle) and back on again, the screen wasn’t damaged, I have a case for it and don’t believe anything had been dropped on it and that I’d even tried shaking it like an Etch-a-Sketch to see if it cleared the screen. Ahem.

He said “Well, it sounds like a fault and nothing you’ll be able to do” tap tap tap “right, I have a new one being desptached to you ASAP – you’ll also get an email which will take you to a link to print off a label and call DHL to pick your old one up.  Keep the power lead and use the packaging from the new one to send the old one back.”

“Oh. Thanks. Can I keep the old one til I get the new one.”

“You have 30 days to send the old one back, otherwise we will have to take the charge from your account.”

“Oh. OK. Thank you.”

Simples.

That was Monday – it arrived on Tuesday but I wasn’t in, so I picked it up from the Post Office this morning.  That is what *I* call Customer Service!

This has made me VERY happy 🙂  Love you Amazon.  Love you Kindle. Mwah.

wish – alexandra bullen

Wish

When I finished Black Magic Sanction, I had a quick look at what else I’d loaded onto my Kindle, and saw this, so started reading it.

A few pages in, I realised I’d actually downloaded this free ebook for The Girl, but as I was feeling ill, I thought “What the hell?!” and carried on reading.

It’s actually quite a sweet concept.  A teenage girl (Olivia – about 17 I think) and her paremts have just moved to San Francisco following the sudden death of her twin sister Violet.  They are all finding it hard to adjust to their new lives, and one day Olivia goes into this little tailors, and ends up with a beautiful, magical dress.  She discovers that the dress has the power to make a wish come true, and wishes that Violet was back.

Violet’s ghost returns but can only interact with Olivia herself.  they then find that Olivia is able to have two more dresses and two more wishes.

It’s a lovely teenage girl book, about friendship, acceptance, family, dealing with grief, adjusting to changes and boys.

I think The Girl will love it – I certainly enjoyed it.

the basement – stephen leather

The Basement

I didn’t think I’d heard of Stephen Leather, but having a look over his apparently extensive collection of books, I have definitely read The Bombmaker and I have at least heard of Cold Kill, and perhaps a couple of others.  However, I got this one when it was free for Kindle (it is now the dizzyingly high price of 72p!)

To be honest, if I had paid, I would’ve felt robbed – and that was the main reason for me looking to see whether this was the first book that he had ever written, as that was what it felt like.

It was very, very short, and very easy to read, but that was mainly because it was totally without depth.

There is a serial killer in New York who is kidnapping, raping and then murdering women – the bodies are never found but videos of their ordeals have been sent to the police.

Another woman has been kidnapped and two detectives are hoping to find her before she falls to the same fate.  They happen to stumble across a rather odd screenplay writer who has written about a serial killer, whose profile fits that of the killer and who doesn’t seem the most helpful of citizens.  Is he the killer though?

It’s a very short story, and I didn’t guess the ending, which was good, but I didn’t particularly enjoy the journey.  The story felt slapped together, the characters two-dimensional and I really couldn’t give a stuff about the woman who was being held captive.

However, you get what you pay for, and 72p isn’t too bad for a couple of hours’ mild entertainment!

EDIT:  SPOILER ALERT *** SPOILER ALERT ***

I’ve noticed that I have had a few people come to this page as they are searching for an explanation of the ending of this book.  i am now going to explain it – so click away if you don’t want to know.

***HERE COMES THE SPOILER*** (HIGHLIGHT TO READ) ***

The female cop is the killer, and she was trying to pin it on the writer.  That is all.

Unless of course, I got it totally wrong – in which case, can someone let me know!  🙂

room – emma donoghue

Room

There has been so much talk about this book recently that I decided to make it the first that I read on my lovely shiny new Kindle (the eReader that I said I would never buy and am now officially in love with).  I managed to get it for just £4.09 about 3 weeks ago from Amazon, which is great as they are now charging £6.74.  Yay me for being impatient!

So, for anyone who doesn’t know, Room is a story inspired by (not based on) the Fritzl case.

It starts on Jack’s 5th birthday.  He and Ma live in Room, which is 11ft x 11ft.  Old Nick comes in Door sometimes, usually at night, but Jack has to hide in Wardrobe and has never been allowed to meet him.  Everything that isn’t in Room is Outside.   Jack likes watching TV and knows that everything on TV is ‘not real’, unlike him & Ma and everything in Room.

Then, soon after his 5th birthday he & Ma are able to go Outside, and Jack realises that he has to come to terms with the reality that is the world outside Room.

I sped through this book – as it’s written from a child’s view, it is obviously extremely easy to read, laying an innocence on some extremely difficult subject matters.  We learn that Jack’s Ma was kidnapped at 19 and kept imprisoned in this one room for 7 years, but this isn’t her story, so the complete emotional torment that she must go through is only scratched upon occasionally.  this is totally Jack’s story – of what it must be like to have be born into such an environment, believing that your entire world is 121sq ft.

It was very clever and well thought out, although there were a couple of things that annoyed me.  Sometimes Jack would miss words out in his speech, which certainly made him seem more of a 5 year old, except a ‘normal’ 5 year old wouldn’t talk or think the way that he does, and he correctly uses extremely large words throughout.  It just felt inconsistent – either he was wise beyond his years and far more eloquent, or he wasn’t.

I think telling it from Jack’s innocent view made it a far easier read.  I didn’t feel any horror in the situation, because as far as he was concerned, it was all normal.  Even the ‘action part’ of the story (I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t read it) felt quite matter-of-fact.  I didn’t feel any fear for Jack particularly, perhaps because he couldn’t articulate such fear in his voice.  Telling the story from Ma’s point of view would be a completely different story – and one I would love to read too.

So, I thought it was brilliant, although the ending was a little obvious.

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