Tag Archive | book review

The Headhunters by Jo Nesbo

Roger Brown has it all: clever and wealthy, he’s at the very top of his game. And if his job as a headhunter ever gets dull, he has his sideline as an art thief to keep him busy.

At a gallery opening, his wife introduces him to Clas Greve. Not only is Greve the perfect candidate for a position that Brown is recruiting for; he is also in possession of one of the most sought-after paintings in modern art history.

Roger sees his chance to become rich beyond his wildest dreams, and starts planning his biggest theft ever. But soon, he runs into trouble – and it’s not long before the hunter becomes the hunted…

headhunters

 

I read my first Jo Nesbo novel, The Snowman, last year, and loved it. I liked the setting of Steig Larsson’s novels, and so thought I’d give Nesbo a shot, I’m so glad I did, Larsson had nothing on him. The Snowman had me gripped, Nesbo is SUCH a good writer. When my step mum gave me this over Christmas I couldn’t wait to start reading it.

Roger Brown is a weird main character, in that he’s not really a very nice person, and you don’t warm to him easily. He loves money, art and his job. Luckily he also loves his wife. If it wasn’t for her, I actually think he’d be a monster. Although I I wasn’t sure about him for a long time, I was gripped by the story almost immediately, and kind of rooting for him.  Having finished it, I can’t say for definite if I do like him or not, but I LOVED the novel.

I is a totally thrilling thriller, I found myself getting really nervous in a few situations, with my heart racing, and that genuine nervous, jittery feeling.

At some points in the novel I thought that it was too much, that it was too unrealistic, but I’m not sure if it was. It’s hard to say anything else without giving too much away, but some of the situations he got in seemed just a little stretch of the imagination. Or he was just damn lucky.

I know it’s been made into a film, and I’m really interested to watch it, I think it has the potential to be brilliant.

I cannot wait to read more Nesbo books, he’s got a massive back list of novels that I’m going to love getting through. I just can’t believe I hadn’t discovered him before now!

 

2012 Blogging in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson Review

Cambridge is sweltering, during an unusually hot summer. To Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, the world consists of one accounting sheet – Lost on the left, Found on the right – and the two never seem to balance.

Jackson has never felt at home in Cambridge, and has a failed marriage to prove it. Surrounded by death, intrigue and misfortune, his own life haunted by a family tragedy, he attempts to unravel three disparate case histories and begins to realise that in spite of apparent diversity, everything is connected…

I read my first Kate Atkinson novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, when I was 16 when I chose it for my A-Level coursework. I loved it before I started, but unfortunately, by the end of the course I’d read it so many times, and dissected it so much that I got sick of it, and it put me off any more of her books. My step mum gave me this years ago, telling me I’d love it. I put it on a shelf and forgot about it.

Then the To Be Read Pile Challenge came along, and I thought it was time to add it. It took me another 9 months to pick it up to read.

I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it, but I enjoyed it a lot. I looked forward to picking it up, and thought about it when I wasn’t reading it.

Jackson is investigating several things, which I found interesting because there were lots of little mysteries in the one novel, plus Jackson’s story.

Case Histories is the first in a series of Jackson Brody novels by Atkinson, I’m definitely going to check out the next ones. It was also turned into a BBC series, which I’ll be really interested to watch if I can get hold of it.

End of Week Round Up

I must say, although I’m not writing everyday, I’m doing really well. But then I would say that as I’ve just written 1,828 words Yes in 1 go, in 1 day, in an hour and a bit, ish.

Lets look at that again – 1,828. Wow!

Unfortunately, although I’ve just done this many words, I haven’t smashed my weekly goal like I would have liked – mainly because my weekly goal isn’t a weekly goal, it’s a daily goal, and I’ve not been writing daily.

So, lets see how I’ve done this week, on writing and other goals:

Writing: Write 100 words Mon – Wed and Fri – Sun
Achieved:
Monday – 354
Tuesday – 167
Wednesday – None
Thursday (One Thousand Thursday) – 1,001
Friday – None
Saturday – None
Sunday – 1,828

So, I’m not writing everyday, but when I’m wriitng, I’m really writing. I can’t knock myself when I’m doing so well. I’ll just try for every day this week. Imagine if I could write 1,000 words a day this week…

Exercise: Gym once, walk 11km.
Achieved:
I didn’t go to the gym, but I went for a run on Tuesday night. It was a really good run, so I’m totally counting that as a tick.
Walked 14.5km. 

Brilliant. I’m very happy with that. Especially because as soon as I’ve finished this, I’m going to go for a run. I don’t want to get ahead of myself and say this is a pattern, but it’s definitely a good start.

Blogging: 2 Check-in blogs, 1 book review blog, 1 other blog.
Achieved:
This is my second ROW80 Check-in
I posted a review of Marian Keyes’ The Mystery of Mercy Close on Tuesday
I posted a blog on Monday about the event I’d been to with SJ Watson and Rachel Joyce AND one yesterday about my progress on the reading challenges I’m doing this year. 

Tick, tick, tick.

That’s what I call a good week. I’m so happy. Having such a successful week under my belt is a massive motivation for me. I don’t want to do badly this week, I want to build on the success of this week. You know what? I totally can, and I totally will.

My goals for this week then:

Writing: 100 words Mon – Wed, 1,000 words Thursday, 200 words Fri – Sun. Yes, I’m upping the goal Fri – Sun. Why not, I can do it.

Exercise: gym or run twice, walk 15km. Well, I managed 14.5km this week, so why not 15 next? Why not indeed.

Blogging: Same as last week completely: 2 Check-in blogs, 1 book review and 1 other blog.

Hope everyone else’s week has gone as well, and that next week rocks for you!

The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes Review

Helen Walsh doesn’t believe in fear – it’s just a thing invented by men to get all the money and good jobs – and yet she’s sinking. Her work as a Private Investigator has dried up, her flat has been repossessed and now some old demons have resurfaced.

Not least in the form of her charming but dodgy ex-boyfriend Jay Parker, who shows up with a missing persons case. Money is tight and Jay is awash with cash, so Helen is forced to take on the task of finding Wayne Diffney, the ‘Wacky One’ from boyband Laddz.

Things ended messily with Jay. And she’s never going back there. Besides she has a new boyfriend now, the very sexy detective Artie Devlin and it’s all going well. But the reappearance of Jay is stirring up all kinds of stuff she thought she’d left behind.

Playing by her own rules, Helen is drawn into a dark and glamorous world, where her worst enemy is her own head and where increasingly the only person she feels connected to is Wayne, a man she’s never even met.

I cannot explain how excited I’ve been for MONTHS since hearing Marian Keyes has a book coming out. I’ve read every book of hers since Watermelon came out – apparently in 1995, and I can honestly say I’ve loved every single one of them. I, therefore had very high hopes for The Mystery of Mercy Close.

As expected, Keyes delivered. Once I started the novel, I couldn’t put it down, even in it’s hardcover state which I usually hate (too awkward, too heavy etc). Yes, I loved this one too.

Helen Walsh is the fifth and final Walsh sister Keyes has written about: Watermelons was about Claire; Angels was about Margaret (I still think this is my favourite of all her novels); Rachel’s Holiday was, unsruprisingly, about Rachel; and Anybody Out There was about Anna. And now we have Helen. I love that she’s gone back and written about each sister in the family, in each one you get a sneek into at least one of the other sister’s life, which is brilliant, because it’s kind of like keeping up with old friends.

In The Mystery of Mercy Close, Helen is going through a really bad time. She’s not got any friends, and in some scenes you can tell why (just wait till she interviews the neighbours, it’s hilarous, and cringy at the same time), and yet I loved her, and was routing for her in every way.

The story itself was gripping, from the off I was intregued, and worried for Wayne and his whereabouts. Once things kicked off, I was worried about several things going on with Helen. And I was excited about her relationship with Artie, and his kids. There were so many other things I loved about it, every page, every sentence was brilliant, but I can’t write about them all. All I can say is that if you love Marian Keyes like I do, you will not be disappointed.

This novel kills two birds with one stone (not including the enjoyment of actually reading) – it’s chick lit, so fits into the Chick Lit Reading Challenge, and there’s a mystery in it, so it fits in with the Mystery and Suspense Reading Challenge.

Memoirs of An Imaginary Friend by Matthew Green Review

My name is BUDO.

I have been alive for 5 years.

5 years is a very long time for someone like me to be alive.

MAX gave me my name. Max is 8 years old.

He is the only human person who can see me.

I know what Max knows, and some things he doesn’t.

I know that Max is in danger.

And I know that I am the only one who can save him.

 

I was instantly attracted to the cover, and the title of this, which is odd, because I’d say as a rule I like the novels I read to be fully based in reality (mainly chick lit, thrillers). Having said that, I read and loved Cecelia Ahearn’s If You Could See Me Now, which was also about an imaginary friend, so maybe that’s why.

I really enjoyed this. Once I started it, I just couldn’t put it down. Budo is such an awesome character, I got really into it and the story, and the lives of the characters. I know the blurb about the book said that Max was in danger, but I didn’t really think it would turn into a Mystery and Suspense Challenge novel, but it did, and that kept me gripped. I was literally sat there reading it willing the right thing to happen (I don’t want to give away anything, so sorry, but that has to be vague). At the end of the day, it’s not a John Grisham/Meg Gardiner type thriller, but there’s a mystery there.

I totally recommend this, and will be reading his other books (it took me a while to find them, in the US he goes by another name, Matthew Dicks, and here in the UK Something Missing seems to be under that name!)

The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes Review

June the first, a bright summer’s evening, a Monday . . .

And into the busy, bustling homes at 66 Star Street slips, unseen, a mysterious visitor. As the couples, flatmates and repentant singletons of No 66 fall in and out of love, clutch at and drop secrets, laugh, cry and simply try to live, no one suspects the visitor patiently waiting in the wings. For soon, really very soon, everything is going to change . . .

 

Marian Keyes was the first author I really remember getting me into chick lit. I remember at uni reading all her novels, and loving every single one. As her career progressed, I carried on reading, and loving every single one of them.

Which is why it was such a surprise that I bought The Brightest Star in the Sky when it came out, but it sat on my shelf for a few years before I read it. I can’t explain why that is, I cannot understand any logical reason why I would have done that.

In January when I was deciding my 12 books for the TBR Pile Challenge, I knew I had to put this on – oh, how hard for me.

I started reading it, and, predictably, couldn’t put it down. I was enthralled with the characters, I laughed and cried with them. TBSITS is Keyes at her best (does she write anything that isn’t her best? I’ve not read it if she has – and like I said I’ve read everything of hers). It’s not Angels, which to be honest is hard to beat because it’s in my top 5 ever books, but it’s damn good. I’d recommend it to any Keyes fan, or female fiction fan, in fact anyone.

Keyes’ new novel ‘The Mystery of Mercy Close’ is out in September, and I will be there on the day, ready to buy it, and this time, I’ll read it immediately. I cannot wait!

After The Party by Lisa Jewell Review

It’s eleven years since Jem Catterick and Ralph McLeary first got together. They thought it would be for ever, that they’d found their happy ending. As everyone agreed, they were the perfect couple.

Then two became four, a flat became a house. Romantic nights out became sleepless nights in. And they soon found that life wasn’t quite so simple any more. But through it all Jem and Ralph still loved each other, of course they did.

Now the unimaginable has happened. Two people who were so right together are starting to drift apart. And in the chaos of family life, Ralph feels more and more as if he’s standing on the sidelines, and Jem that she’s losing herself. Something has to change. As they try to find a way back to each other, back to what they once had, they both become momentarily distracted – but maybe it’s not too late to recapture happily ever after …

 

I bought this over two years ago, at an Evening with Lisa Jewell event. I met Lisa herself, chatted to her (about writing and editing, she likes editing, I hoped her encouragement would have made me at least try editing a novel, it didn’t!), and she signed the book. The problem back then, was that I couldn’t read it.

I’d literally (like three weeks before) just gone through a break up. I was emotionally fragile. I knew the premise of the book was Jem and Ralph having problems in their relationship. I suspected they were going to split up. But what after? How would that relate to my life? Obviously it wouldn’t, whatever happened in a book written by someone else, wasn’t going to have any impact on my relationship. BUT, I felt that if they broke up and stayed apart I’d be even sadder than I was, and lose hope in love, which I didn’t want to do. If they stayed together, or broke up then got back together, it would have given me hope that my ex and I would get back together.

I mean yeah, of course.

So I put ATP to a back shelf, to read when I was stronger. Four months later my ex and I got back together, but the book by this point was at the back of my TBR pile, I’d get round to it. Then I wanted to read it towards the end of last year, but I’d just written 55,000 words of a novel about a relationship falling apart, I needed to finish it in my words, not let Lisa’s writing or ideas influence me (I’m possibly a very influencable person – if that’s a word).

Then I signed up for the TBR Pile Challenge and just knew that ATP had to be on it. Wednesday morning I picked it up.

Now, since Wednesday (when I started feeling better after the nasty virus that knocked me down and kept me away from work), I had a massive to do list. Obviously then, I’d pick up a novel by one of my favourite authors. Like duh!

I couldn’t put it down. literally couldn’t put it down. I went back to work on Thursday so wanted an early night on Wednesday, but I couldn’t put it down. I’ve a ton of house cleaning to do, but I couldn’t out the novel down. I stayed up till 1.30am last night reading it, but couldn’t keep my eyes open so had to put it down. This morning I finished it, instead of cleaning the house, instead of writing up some meeting minutes, instead of blogging or writing.

It was brilliant. The characters were so realistic, sometimes I wanted to shout at them, cause they felt so real. I don’t think I need to say that the story kept me gripped from the off (if I do, re read the previous paragraph!). AND, I cried my eyes out at the end. It’s been a while since a book had that effect on me, and I loved it.

I love books that actually make me think, I want to say that change me, but that’s a bit strong, books that make me look at my life in a different way. This totally has done this. We want to have kids in the next few years, and going through the actual being a parent thing with Jem and Ralph has made me want to appreciate not having kids before we do, appreciate each other when us is just the two of us, not three or four or whatever.

After the Party is the follow up to Ralph’s Party, Jewell’s first novel 10 years previously. I love the idea of a follow up to what happened in the previous, because you always get to the end of a novel, and it’s happy ever after. Only it’s not. It’s happy right then. Exploring 10 years later is just brilliant.

Meeting Lisa was an awesome experience, here’s a picture from that night.

Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson Review

Memories define us.

So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep?

Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love – all forgotten overnight.

And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.

Welcome to Christine’s life.

This was chosen as our book club book for last month. Each month one of us suggests a few books, and we all decide which we like the most.

For some reason I love books about memory – The Memory Collector by Meg Gardiner, and films too – Memento and 50 First Dates. Without reading any of the other book descriptions, I KNEW I wanted to read this on. I knew that if it wasn’t the chosen one for the book club, that I’d still have to read it.

I was gripped from the off, you’re literally thrown in there with her and feel the horror of what she’s going through from page one. It starts with her waking up, thinking she’d had a one night stand and is in her mid twenties. She runs to the bathroom, to find she’s actually 20 years old.

I loved this book so much. The writing was so real, you felt you were there going through it with her. Every time I put it down (which wasn’t many, I read it very fast), I shuddered at the thought of going through that – of forgetting everything that had happened the day before, of not remembering my partner, having to fall in love with him again each day. Horrible.

The thing that wrecked it for me, was that it won two crime awards – Crime Writers’ Association Award for Best Debut Novel and Galaxy National Book Award for Crime Thriller of the Year. Great things for the author, really great things, but it meant I read it wondering about the crime. Instead of just reading it and letting the story come to me, I was looking deeper into everything to find the crime. That’s not a criticism of the novel, I couldn’t get enough of the novel, I just wish it hadn’t been branded on the cover.

I strongly recommend this novel. All three of us that read it (yeah, it’s a small book club, more just friends getting together, and deciding on a book to all read), totally loved it. I think you will too!

After The Snow by SD Crockett Review

“I’m gonna sit here in my place on the hill behind the house. Waiting. And watching.

Ain’t nothing moving down there.

The valley look pretty bare in the snow. Just the house grey and lonely down by the river all frozen. I got to think what I’m gonna do now that everyone gone.

But I got my dog head on.

The dog gonna tell me what to do. The dog gonna help me.

The house look proper empty – don’t it dog?

You just sit quiet in these rocks Willo.”

Set in the haunting and barren landscape of a new ice age, AFTER THE SNOW is the story of fifteen-year-old Willo, a ‘straggler’ kid who loses his family in the opening pages. Completely alone, he is immediately flung into an icy journey of survival, adventure, friendship and self-discovery – with only the dog spirit inside his head to guide him.

I was intrigued by this novel. I read the reviews and they were so split. I decided I had to read it, because I had to know more about it.

The MC, Willo has a weird language and way of thinking (narrating) that put a lot of people off. I can see why, the first few chapters were a bit of a struggle, but once I got used to it (maybe 3 chapters max), I completely forgot about it, and the story took me along.

The thing that kept me going for the first few chapters was the wonder of how he was going to survive on his own, in this new (old to him, it had been there his whole life) ice age. As things started happening I was more and more gripped by the things happening to him. It’s got a great, proper feel good ending too.

When I heard about it, I couldn’t decide if I could put it on my list for the Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge. I kept that in mind the whole time I was reading it. I decided I could, because there was the mystery of how/why/where his family disappeared, but then I remembered the word SUSPENSE too, there was a lot of that.

I’d really recommend this novel, although not to everyone. If you’re looking for a nice, easy read, this isn’t for you, it is hard going to start with, but the work pays off, and it’s a really enjoyable book.