Archive | January 2, 2012

Mystery & Suspense Challenge 2011 and 2012

Back at the tail end of 2009, I discovered the brilliant Book Chick City, around the time of sign-ups for the Thriller & Suspense Challenge 2010 were happening. Was I tempted? Of course – 12 Thriller or Suspense books in 12 months. What a plan.


Plan didn’t go exactly to plan though, and at the end of December 2010 I was frantically reading Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffeneger in the hope that I could finish it by the end of the year, and that it would count as a thriller/suspense. Someone else had added it as their book, so I figured I was good on that, then on 30th (I think) I finished it. Phew.


Even before I finished it, I knew I had to do it again, so after the slight name change to the Mystery & Suspense Challenge, I signed up again – promising myself to do better in 2011. 


I thought I was doing ok when we had about 2 months left, even though November was NaNo, so my reading time was limited. I was wrong I had 4 books left to read. Eek. Somehow I powered through the writing madness and continued to read. Then mid December I did a count up, and I’d actually read 13 books. Um, oops. How did that happen? Me thinks someone’s maths isn’t that great (counting to 12 – apparently it’s harder than it sounds!). Just to prove how bad my calculations are – I’ve just recounted, and only have 12. Hmm. Something odd is going on here!


Yay, I completed the challenge again. The only problem is that until today, I hadn’t posted my reviews for them all. Heck, I read them, that’s what counts.


Here’s the list of the books I read (with links to each full review and just a very quick, few worded review here):


January – A Kiss Gone Bad by Jeff Abbott – Brilliant, can’t wait to read the next 2 books in the series


February – Fear No Evil by Allison Brennan – Again, fab. Again can’t wait to read the other 2 books in the series.


February – Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay – I think Barclay is my favourite thriller author at the moment – says it all.


April – Past Mortem by Ben Elton – not as good as some of his other books, but still really good.


June – The Truth About Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell – Love Jewell so much. This took me a while to get into, but once I was there I was hooked.


June – The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson – Love Koomson and everything she writes – this included.  


August – Every Last One by Anna Quindlen – Took me a while to get into this, and the whole pace was a bit too slow for me.


September – Trams AM by Rob Ryan – Brilliant. Loved from start to finish


October – Mitigating Circumstances by Nancy Taylor Rosenburg – Was hooked from the off – brilliant.


October – The Sculptress by Minette Walters – Love, love, love.


October – Die for You by Lisa Unger –


November – The Birthday Present by Barbra Vine (Ruth Rendell writing as) – slow, and bored me a little.


12 books, 12 months. I loved the challenge so much, that, yep, you guessed it, I’m doing it again in 2012 – yay!


Like the past 2 years, you don’t have to chose the books you are going to read for the challenge ahead of time, but I know for sure that I want to read the next one from each of the series’ by Jeff Abbott and Allison Brennan that I read in 2011. Other than that, I just don’t know, but can’t wait to find out.


Read more about the challenge here and if you’re interested sign up – it’s great – you won’t regret it!

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Past Mortem by Ben Elton – Review

With old friends like these, who needs enemies?

It’s a question mild mannered detective Edward Newson is forced to ask himself when, in romantic desperation, he logs on to the Friends Reunited website in search of the girlfriends of his youth. Newson is not the only member of the Class of take back ’88 who has been raking over the ashes of the past. As his old class begins to reassemble in cyberspace, the years slip away and old feuds and passions burn hot once more.

Meanwhile, back in the present, Newson’s life is no less complicated. He is secretly in love with Natasha, his lovely but very attached sergeant, and failing comprehensively to solve a series of baffling and peculiarly gruesome murders. A school reunion is planned and as history begins to repeat itself, the past crashes headlong into the present. Neither will ever be the same again.

This is going to be very quick – sorry.

I love Ben Elton – this was the second of his I read in 2011 – and I thought it was good. Good, but not as good as some of his previous novels. Regardless, I still really enjoyed it, and totally recommend it!

The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson – review

As teenagers, Poppy Carlisle and Serena Gorringe were the only witnesses to a tragic event. Amid heated public debate, the two seemingly glamorous teens were dubbed ‘The Ice Cream Girls’ by the press and were dealt with by the courts. Years later, having led very different lives, Poppy is keen to set the record straight about what really happened, while Serena wants no one in her present to find out about her past. But some secrets will not stay buried – and if theirs is revealed, everything will become a living hell all over again …Gripping, thought-provoking and heart-warming, The Ice Cream Girls will make you wonder if you can ever truly know the people you love.

Ever since I read My Best Friend’s Girl, I’ve been a huge Dorothy Koomson fan. I’ve loved every novel of hers I’ve read, so had high hopes for this one. I wasn’t disappointed.

The 2 main characters Serena and Poppy are both so loveable from the off, but you go from one chapter to another (from 1 point of view to the other) almost hating the other one because of what you thinks she’s done. But then it changes point of view and your perception changes when you think the other did it. Then it changes again, and again and again – so clever!

I spent the whole of the novel trying to work out what had happened, but it was a massive surprise when it actually came out.

I cannot recommend this novel enough. Although if I’m totally honest, I didn’t enjoy it as much as My Best Friend’s girl, but that says more about how much I loved that one than this one. Go, read it, I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Trans AM by Rob Ryan – review

Jim Barry is a family man and proud of it. He’s already begun educating his five-year-old son Tommy on the finer points of ball games. But when a tragic accident at a kids’ practice session leaves another boy dead, the bereaved father decides to seek his own special brand of restitution. Unless Jim and his wife Belle hand over Tommy as a replacement, Stefan Sebastyen swears he will kill them all. And pretty soon they realise that this is a guy who’s more than capable of keeping his word. With their backs to the wall, it’s Belle who comes up with a desperate plan to save her family…

I bought this book years and years ago from somewhere because I thought it sounded great. The problem  (pretty normal one for me) was that I bought newer ones before I got a chance to read it. This challenge gave me an excuse to pick it up.

Like some others I’m reviewing this week, I read it months ago, so I can’t give a detailed review of it (I promise I’ll get better at that next year!), but what I can tell you is that I loved it!

There are 2 main storylines in the book, and I had an idea of how they were going to come together, and I was right. While you should hate some people because of what they did, you can sympathise with why and so you don’t hate them – which is weird.

The story was great and kept me gripped from almost the beginning. The only problem I had with it was me skipping ahead at the very end and missing something very important. It happened in just one paragraph and I’d skipped it, so I had to go back and read it. Then I couldn’t believe it happened so had to re read it. Shocked is not strong enough a word!

All in all – brilliant. If I see another Rob Ryan book in the future I’ll definitely be picking it up!