Monday, March 28, 2011


Pages: 333
Date: 28/03/2010
Grade: 4.5
Details: No. 4 Bride Quartet

I ended my last review stating that I needed something lighter to lift my mood, and so I turned to my tried and tested author for comfort reads, Nora Roberts.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again (and probably not for the last time) I love Nora Roberts' books. Even if I can't quite put my finger on why I would enjoy her books so much. I'm not normally one for romances and I hate predictable books. And Roberts' books invariable are romances and because it's usually clear within the first two chapters or so, who the two characters are who will end up together they are also predictable. Everything for me to dislike therefore.
But, I don't.
In fact, I eat these books. I pick one up and have a hard time putting it down again until I reach the last page.
This book is no exception to that rule. Parker is the last of the four women and life-long friends who run the bridal service Vows to not have wedding plans of her own.
Malcolm is a friend of her brother and the husbands to be of two of her friends and apparently not her type at all. But, looks can be deceiving, and although Parker tries to resist, she can't deny the attraction that exists between them. Of course there are one or two issues to come to terms with, but the ending of the book is exactly what I expected it to be on the first page.
What works for me in these books is Roberts' writing. She manages to drag me into the lives of her characters, she makes me like them, care for them and want them to be happy. She also writes wonderful sexy scenes, which is definitely a big bonus.
I am very happy that Nora Roberts is such a prolific author. I can't get enough of her stories, and with Roberts there is rarely a long wait between two new titles.   

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Pages: 253
Date: 27/03/2011
Grade: 3.5

This is the story of a house, Mass Lunel in the Cevennes in France and of those who live there and those who would like to live there.
It is the story of family relationships and the influences they have on our lives as well as the story of the things we are willing to do for those and what we love, the things we wish for those we hate and about people basically being self-obsessed.
The story starts with a young girl walking away from her school trip picnic, seeing something and screaming. We are then taken back to the events leading up to whatever it was that made her scream.
Anthony Verey is a London antiques dealer who is starting to see his life and his future as hopeless. In an attempt to resurrect his life he decides to travel to France to stay with his sister, V who is delighted to have him. Less happy is V's lover, Kitty, who can't stand Anthony and fears losing V now that it's no longer just the two of them.
In France Anthony falls in love with Mass Lunel, and decides he wants to buy the house.
Mass Lunel is owned by Aramon Lunel a troubled man, who has a very uneasy relationship with his sister Audrun who lives in a small bungalow next to the Mass. While Aramon is desperate to sell the house in exchange for the huge amount of money it would make him, Audrun is equally desperate to make sure it won't happen.
This set of circumstance leads to an eventual climax that will leave non of the players unaffected.
This was not an easy book to read, although it was very well written. All of the characters have huge issues with their pasts as well as their present, and non of them were easy to like or even likable at all. The story is very dark, and the fact that there doesn't seem to be any real justice at the end of the story also means that I felt very ambiguous towards the resolution of the story. Was it justice, although not the conventional sort, or was it just wrong. Several hours after reading the book, I still haven't worked that riddle out for myself. It would probably have been easier to come to a conclusion about that issue if I could have felt closer to the characters involved, but I couldn't.
All I know is that after this book, I'm going to need to read something a lot lighter to lift my mood again.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Pages: 166
Date: 22/03/2011
Grade: 3.5
Details: Book club read

I've been wondering how to classify this book for myself. I'd call it a comedy of errors, except that I didn't find anything even remotely funny in this book. I guess therefore that a tragedy of errors would be a better description.
This is the story of two young people, Edward and Florence, whom we meet on the evening after their wedding in a hotel on the Dorset coast, as they anxiously get ready for their wedding night; their first night together.
The year is 1962, the sexual revolution has not yet taken place and both Edward and Florence are nervous about what is to come, although they both have very different reasons for their nervousness.
As the two would be lovers slowly make their way towards disaster, the reader learns about their lives so far, their hopes and their fears.
This was a very short book, only 166 pages, and the story is brought to the reader as much through what isn't written as through what is.
There is a suggestion of unpleasantness in Florence's past, but it's never brought to the foreground.
Descriptions are brief, explanations mostly absent and what I was left with was a rather detached description of two young people facing an event they were completely unprepared for.
I know that this book got great reviews in all sorts of publications, but for me the story and the way in which it was told just didn't work. I like to feel a connection to the characters in the books I read, I like to be able to either love or loath them, but I do want to feel some emotion when I read about their plight. Edward and Florence never really got off the page for me. I really didn't care whether or not they'd overcome their fears, whether or not they would stay together. They seemed to me cardboard cut-outs in a world I have no connection with.
I guess I'm the sort of reader who likes to have emotions, feelings and meanings jumping of the page. And this book just gave the bare basics of a story, leaving it up to the reader to supply the emotional input. And as such, it wasn't the book for me.
Still, I'd score this book a 3.5 because it wasn't a book I had to force my way through. It just wasn't quite enough for me.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Pages: 346
Date: 19/03/2011
Grade: 4
Details: no. 1 Ed Loy Mystery

Ed Loy has been living in America, where he worked as a private investigator, for 20 years when he returns home to bury his mother. On the night of the funeral he's asked by Linda Dawson to look for her husband, who has been missing for a few days. Although he is reluctant, Ed does agree to investigate and soon finds himself up to his neck in murder, secrets, gangland crime, corruption and mindless violence.
The Ireland he has returned to is nothing like the Ireland he left so many years ago, but it does appear that the past is playing a huge part in the mystery Ed is investigating in the present. And maybe getting to the bottom of somebody else's mystery will help Ed solve a mystery of his own.

This was a good crime story. It was also a very violent crime story and one that doesn't show Ireland in the best possible light. However, one of the reasons the book is good is because it's all too plausible.
The descriptions of Irish politics and the various areas of Dublin in which the story is set are very recognisable and those descriptions paint a very clear picture of the setting.
With Ed Loy, Declan Hughes has created a realistic and interesting character. Ed Loy has enough weaknesses to make him human, and shows enough kindness towards others to make him likable.
I needed to find a new series of mysteries like I needed a hole in the head, but I will be reading more in this series. This first book has managed to hook me.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Pages: 456
Date: 16/03/2011
Grade: 4-
Details: Published in the US as 
            The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

I've come to the conclusion, that it's probably best to come to a book without any expectations. I had heard and read lots of very enthusiastic comments about this book before I started it, and therefore expected quite a lot.
And, this book has a very interesting concept. Connie Goodwin is using her summer holiday away from Harvard to clear out her grandmother's cottage, getting it ready to be sold, while she's also trying to decide on a topic for her dissertation.
Soon into the cleaning process Connie finds a mysterious piece of parchment with the name Deliverance Dane on it. Intrigued, Connie decides to find out more about the name and the person behind it, only to find herself discovering unknown facts about her family's past, the Salem Witch trails and herself.
Once she discovers that Deliverance had a spell book that might still be around somewhere she doesn't only have an interesting personal quest on her hands, but also a potential research subject. The discovery also leads to danger and a centuries old curse that only Connie can stop if she can find the book.
Like I said this is a very interesting premise for a story, and in places the book certainly lived up to its promise. But, in others it didn't.
I found the main characters in the book rather two dimensional, and never really got a feel for their motivations, feelings and characters. I also thought the book was a bit too heavy on the ins and outs of academic research, which slowed the story down too much for my liking at times.
It is almost as if the author didn't quite know what to do with the story. It's not quite a book about research and personal discovery, and it's also not quite a paranormal adventure story. It's a bit of both with neither aspect developed enough to completely satisfy me.
Still, I did mostly enjoy the story, and have therefore rated it a 4-.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Pages: 122
Date: 14/03/2011
Grade: 4-
Details: Quick Reads

This is a book in the Quick Reads series. These are shorter books by well known writers specifically aimed at people who want to improve their literacy skills, but interesting for anyone who loves reading a good story and wants a shorter read.
The story in this book is typical Patterson fare. A gruesome murder and quite a few suspects.
The story starts with with the line: "Killing isn't murder when it's necessary" as thought by someone who is moving through a house in London in the middle of the night, preparing for something.
The next day is Valentine's day and Zee Barnes, the younger and pregnant wife of famous and wealthy restaurant owner Jack Barnes is on her way to meet him when she meets someone and is horrifically murdered. Shortly afterwards her heart is delivered to her husband.
The police get involved and investigate all those living in the same building as Jack and Zee, which leads to a remarkably fast solution of the mystery.

This was a fun read, if even more improbable than Patterson's books can normally be. The time frame in which autopsy and test results came back was astonishing and completely unrealistic. And because the book is so short there really wasn't a chance to get any feel for the characters. But, as always, I did find myself compelled to keep on reading until I knew what had happened and who had done it. I can imagine this book being a great introduction to Patterson for the one or two people in the world who haven't read a book by him yet.


Pages: 472
Date: 12/03/2011
Grade: 4
Details: Young Adult

Andi is 17 years old, lives in New York where she goes to a very priviledged school and is a very angry young woman.
She's angry with her father for leaving, angry with her mother for being crazy, angry with herself for allowing her brother to die and angry with the world around her for not taking her pain away.
With her mother completely breaking down and Andi herself on the verge of failing her school's final year her father sets her an ultimatum and brings her to Paris with him where she can work on her assignment in a different environment.
In Paris Andy finds the diary of Alexandrine, a young girl who lived at the time of the French Revolution and finds herself becoming completely rapped up in the French girl's attempts to save a young royal prince from death.
When Andi and Alexandrine's worlds literally colide, it might well be the end of Andi, or it could be her (re)making.
I'm glad I took two days out before reviewing this book. When I finished it I wasn't at all sure how I felt about the story. I really couldn't like Andi and couldn't believe the apparent indifference on the part of the adults around her. Alexandrine wasn't much easier to like, especially at the start of her story.
Virgil, the boy Andi meets in Paris is perhaps a bit too good to be true, and the ending of Andi's story a bit too polished.
But there were also parts of the story I really did love, especially everything to do with Andi's love for music and her guitar. 
But, after two days of living with my memories of the story and of the reading experience I have come to the conclusion that I loved this book far more than I disliked it.
The writing is beautiful, the historical parts of the story are fascinating and the losses endured heartbreaking. This story isn't quite as good as A Gathering Light by Donnelly, but overall a satisfying read.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Pages: 348
Date: 07/03/2011
Grade: 4-
Details: Translation from French
            Review copy

The copy I read of this book was an uncorrected bound proof, kindly send to me for my opinion by Bookhugger through the RealReaders programme. The book is due to be published here on April 4th, 2011.

This is the story about Martin Beaumont, a young man from Paris, France who, while spending a summer in San Francisco, meets Gabrielle with whom he falls deeply and irrevocably in love. But once the summer is over he returns to France and it seems that their chance at love has been lost forever for reasons Martin doesn't know or understand.
Years later Martin is a successful but bitter detective in Paris on the hunt of notorious art thief, Archibald Maclean, a hunt that turns into an obsession.
But is Martin really chasing Maclean or is Maclean playing a game with Martin?
When Maclean travels to San Francisco preparing for his nex big theft, Martin follows him there. And in San Francisco Martin will face Maclean as well as a love he thought lost forever and big questions about life and death.
What to say about this book? It is completely unlike anything I've read before, and it wasn't at all what I expected from the blurb. I was expecting a thriller in which a cop follows a master criminal combined with a love story. And those aspects where certainly in the book. But it was much more than that and even the term magical realism doesn't seem adequate when I'm trying to classify this novel. The book was too philosphical to be simply filed under thriller and too dark to be qualified as a simple love story. The last quarter of the book plays out in an otherworldly realm which stretches the reader's ability to suspend disbelieve to its outer limits, and for some probably beyond those limits.
In some aspects this story was a bit too simple for me, all the links a bit too convenient and explanations to easily accepted by all involved. In other parts though, the story took me to completely unexpected places which, while fascinating, also seemed a bit too far-fetched.
Having said all that, the book captured me almost from the first page, and although I did find the ending a bit contrived and convenient, it did put a happy smile on my face. And that is the reason I mark this book 4-, despite my reservations as far as some parts of the story are concerned.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Pages: 482
Date: 03/03/2011
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 3 Josephine Tey Mystery
I really liked this book, but maybe not quite as much as I did the previous two books in the series.
In this, the third Josephine Tey book by Nicola Upson, Josephine is in her club in London working on a new book. The story she is writing is based on the execution of two women, 30 years earlier, for baby farming.
The crimes of the two women, Amelia Sachs and Annie Walters, were horrific as were their executions. For Josephine there is an added interest though, since she went to school with Sachs' daughter, who killed herself there for reasons that were unclear at the time.
The past soon surfaces in the present though when the brutal murder of a young seamstress appears to be linked to the executions in the past. Soon Josephine's draft novel is much more than a fictionalised portrait of the past, it has become information needed to solve the new murder. Although 30 years may seem like a long time ago, someone is still desperate to protect facts from that time from coming to the surface now. The only questions being who that person might be and what they are hiding.
This books shows a lot of what life in the first half of the 20th century was like. It takes the reader from the comfortable and somewhat decadent surroundings of a private club, the to grim interior of Holloway Prison and the desperate darkness of the London slums. There is a nice mix of Josephine's private life and problems with a good murder mystery. And I always enjoy trying to figure out what parts of the story are based on fact, and how much is pure fiction.
The reasons I have for not enjoying this book quite as much as the previous ones are that Josephine wasn't actually involved in solving the mystery and the fact that I had not only the murderer but also their hidden motive figured out long before the characters in the book did.
Something I do really like and appreciate is that Josephine is not idolised in these books. She is very human and at times not very likable, which makes her all the more real. I will most definitely continue reading this series.
One warning for people who might be interested in reading this book without having read the previous two. I think you really need to have read at least the first book in the series before starting this one.