Tag Archive | Thriller and suspense reading challenge 2010

Snapshot by @CraigRobertson_ Review

A series of high-profile shootings by a lone sniper leaves Glasgow terrorised and police photographer Tony Winter – a man with a tragic hidden past – mystified. Who is behind the executions of some of the most notorious drug lords in the city? As more shootings occur – including those of police officers – the authorities realise they have a vigilante on their hands. Meanwhile, Tony investigates a link between the victims and a schoolboy who has been badly beaten. Seemingly unconnected, they share a strange link. As Tony delves deeper, his quest for the truth and his search for the killer lead him down dark and dangerous paths.

In 2010 I signed up for the Thriller & Suspense Challenge (now Mystery & Suspense Challenge) with Book Chick City. That year Simon & Schuster gave away ARCs of upcoming releases to everyone who took part. Some people got a novel I can’t remember, some people got Craig Robertson’s debut novel Random.

The book was too big for my letterbox, and I wasn’t in, so I had to go to the post office to collect it. I clearly remember sitting on the bus on the way back, telling myself I’d just have a quick look at it, but not start it properly because I was in the middle of reading something I was enjoying.

That was a mistake. I was gripped. Literally from the 1st page. I didn’t want to get off the bus when it came to my stop, because I had to stop reading. I was like that until I finished it. It was gross (some murders, some actions are too disgusting to be put in words – Robertson doesn’t agree). When I put it down, although I was repulsed at some of the things I read (the eye, the eye!!!), I knew without a doubt I’d read anything else written by him.

Somehow I missed Snapshot getting released last year. As soon as I found out about it, I got it. I finished the book I was reading within a couple of days, and I started Snapshot. And I didn’t do anything else until I’d finished – including going to buy new boots, which my boyfriend had promised he was going to buy!!! Can you believe it!?

It wasn’t a gripping from the very first page novel, but by the end of the 2nd chapter I knew it was going to be good, and I wouldn’t be able to put it down – and was right.

The main character Tony, is a little bit weird, and sometimes I got a little freaked out by him, but at the same time he’s pretty loveable, and gets you into the story quickly. It’s fast-moving and gripping and just bloody brilliant actually. Towards the end, I totally thought I’d got what was happening, and who the murder was,  but Robertson was too clever for me and just a few pages later it turned out not to be. Which although I was gutted about, gave the novel a brilliant twist and kept it going.

If you like thrillers, I’d totally recommend this. In fact if you don’t, I still would. It’s nowhere near as gross as Random, but saying that, there’s still a lot of blood and gore. Maybe I wouldn’t recommend it if you’ve a weak stomach!

Robertson’s next novel comes out in June – I definitely won’t be missing that one!

Really Good Books

I was thinking earlier it would be really good to do a blog today. Then I started wondering what I could write – it’s not like I’m actually writing is it. So that would leave… reading. I’m really enjoying the book I’m reading now Jeff Abbott’s A Kiss Gone Bad, and the thought of that led me to… I’m reading a lot of really good books at the moment.

In 2009 I only read 17 or something books, and only a handful of them really stood out. I think I tried to do a top ten books I read that year, but didn’t have a top ten. There just weren’t enough good ones there.

Last year was the opposite. I read 45 books, and enjoyed a huge number of them. So, what better way to spend a blog, than with my top books of last year. I was thinking top ten, but going through my list, I’ve actually made a top twenty. Hope it’s not too boring:

YA:

  • Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (I only read this to prove to people I wouldn’t like it. I loved it. I think it’s my favourite book of the year)
  • Avalon High by Meg Cabot (When I was researching YA novels before writing mine, I knew I had to read one of Ms Cabot’s books – the queen of teen and all that)
  • Summer Dreams Winter Love by Mary Francis Shura (this was my favourite book growing up, and I wanted to read it again. It still had that magic)
  • Della Says… OMG by Keris Stainton (I loved the sound of this when I started following Keris’ blog, and was lucky enough to get invited to her launch party where she signed the book. After all that I was so glad I loved it)

Chick Lit:

  • Love Lies by Adele Parks (I got given a small booklet on the street. It was the first two chapters. I couldn’t read just that, I had to get the whole book and read it.  But then I love Adele Parks so would have had to get it at some point anyway)
  • Foursome by Jane Fallon (This is the best book I read in this category. I loved everything about it, and will definitely be on the lookout for more books by her)
  • Husbands by Adele Parks (what can I say? I love the lady, I had to read more than one)
  • The Happy Home for Broken Hearts by Rowan Coleman (I got a copy of this from the publisher to review. I was pretty scared I wouldn’t like it then there would be loads of pressure on me to say something nice about it. Luckily it was great – it was Rowan Coleman, of course it was great)
  • The Baby Group by Rowan Coleman (ditto the great comment above)
  • What My Best Friend Did by Lucy Dawson (another that is in my top three of the year I imagine. Great. Not sure if it’s really chick lit, but I think it belongs here)
  • Ralph’s Party by Lisa Jewell (I read this when it came out ten years ago,  but after winning a ticket to an evening with Lisa, I thought I should re-read it before I went. So glad I did, I’d forgotten how good it was. And Lisa Jewell – she’s awesome and funny, and has a great story of how she got published. I like the idea that mine could go the same way…)

Thrillers:

  • Until It’s Over by Nicci French (my step mum gave me this, saying she loved it. Well, so did her step daughter)
  • The Memory Collector by Meg Gardiner (Although this is only the second book of hers I’ve read, I am a huge Meg Gardiner fan, and this is my favourite book. Can’t wait to start on her other series of books)
  • Too Close to Home by Linwood Barclay (Again second book of his I’ve read. Again this is my favourite)
  • Random by Craig Robertson (I got this free from the publisher because of doing the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge. It’s his debut book, and it’s brilliant)
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo & The Girl Who Played with Fire both by Stieg Larsson (I only picked the first up because of the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge. I was so glad I did. I watched the movie too – it sucked)

 Sci-Fi:

  • The Caves of Steel by Asimov (I read this on recommendation from the other half. He thought I should read something DIFFERENT, so I did. I didn’t want to enjoy it, but I did. I want to read the rest in the Robot series)
  • 1984 by George Orwell (It’s a classic – I had to read it at some time. This was the year. It totally deserves the hype it gets)

I really hope 2011 is as good for books as last year was. I’m on book three, and so far it’s certainly shaping up that way!

What were your favourite books from last year?

Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge 2010 Round-Up

Around Christmas I wrote a blog and in it had a big long moan about how badly I thought I’d done in this challenge. After that I sat down and worked out what thriller or suspense books I’d read throughout the year and was shocked to realise I’d actually read 11. Wow! I then thought about all the other books I’d read over the year, and went over to the host of the challenge Book Chick City to see what other people had read. shockingly someone had reviewed Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. I wasn’t too sure if it was a thriller or suspense, but as someone else had used it, guess what? I’m really happy to use it.

So that means… I completed the challenge. WOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOO! The thing I haven’t done is review all the books yet, but I will get there. Here’s the list of them – the highlighted ones are linked to the review. The unhighlighted ones will have a review as soon as I can add it.

There you have it, my 12 books. I’m really happy I did it. I think the challenge pushed me to read more thrillers than I would have normally done, because I tend to favour chick lit and romance. I don’t know why I do that, I really love thrillers.

One of my aims of doing this challenge was to introduce myself to new authors. I certainly did that. The first book I read, a Sandra Brown book, I only picked up because of the challenge. I was so glad I did – I totally love both of her books I read during the challenge. I can’t wait to read more of hers.

Nicci French was introduced to me by my Step Mum. Again because I told her about the challenge so she gave me that book. I totally loved it, and will be looking out for more Nicci French books this year, and in the future.

Simon & Schuster sent all the people in this challenge an ARC of one of two novels. I was so happy I got Random by Craig Robertson. I hated the goreiness of it, but loved that at the same time. Last time I saw his update on Twitter, he was writing a new book. When it gets published I’ll be first in line to read it.

I honestly wouldn’t have read Asimov if it wasn’t for this challenge and my boyfriend convincing me it would work really well for the challenge. Sci-fi? Me? Nah! But, yeah. I actually enjoyed it. So much so, I’m going to read the other books in the Robot series. I don’t think I’ll read any others of his though, Sci-fi does still… I was going to say scare me, but I think it just doesn’t interest me that much. Hopefully he’ll (the boyfriend) will bully (!!) me into reading more of Asimov, or maybe another sci-fi writer – and he’ll find something easy-reading that I’ll ‘get’.

I’ve had the Judith Cutler book (and another) for years and didn’t pick it up in all that time. This challenge made me pick it up. I’ll definitely be reading the other one I’ve got of her’s (Dying to Fall) and probably the rest of that series.

That’s it. All the others I think I would have read anyway. But that’s pretty impressive – five authors that now I’ll be looking out for, that would have pasted right by me without the challenge.

I’m really impressed with how much I enjoyed the books I chose for this challenge. Looking at this list, I can genuinely say I loved each and every one of them. How good is that?!

I only have one small regret to come from this challenge. At the beginning of 2010 I looked around the internet and got recommendations of authors from people/places (including other people taking the challenge) and got a list of authors I wanted to read. But, I didn’t read any of them. That upsets me. But I’ll get over it. Just because the challenge is over… doesn’t mean I have to stop reading thrillers & suspense novels.

Plus… You never know what other challenges will be round the corner in 2011…

Happy New Year Everyone

Can you believe it’s 2011 already? And 5 days in at that. 2011, wow!

I don’t make resolutions. A few years ago I decided to stop making them because I always break them. This year I’d like to, like to, but I’m not going to. I’d like to make a resolution to write blogs more often. I’d like to make one to write more full stop. But I’m not going to. If I do, I know I’d just break it/them.

I’d like writing and blogging to become part of my life again. In my last job I was great at them both. Well, blogging anyway. I just need to find a routine to get into where I write and blog regularly. I’m just not sure what that will be yet.

I guess I should do a bit of a review of 2010. Right now I’ve got about 3 million other things to do (including another blog about my Next Big Challenge, a round up of the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge and a few book reviews. Phew), so it’s going to have to wait. I’ll do one soon – I promise!

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffeneger Book Review

I’d been wanting to read this book since… well since I finished The Time Traveller’s Wife. TTTW is probably my favourite EVER book, so having read that, I knew I had to read any other books that Niffeneger wrote. Then towards the end of November I found it in a book market (there’s one every weekend on the South Bank of the River Thames – nice) for a sillyly cheap price – looking almost new. Well, what could I do.

I wasn’t too sure about using it for the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge, but someone else had, and if it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for me – and reading this took me to 11 out of the 12 books I needed for the year, so it totally worked for me!

When Elspeth Noblin dies she leaves her beautiful flat overlooking Highgate Cemetery to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina Poole, on the condition that their mother is never allowed to cross the threshhold. But until the solicitors’ letter falls through the door of their suburban American home, neither Julia nor Valentina knew their aunt existed. The twins feel that in London their own lives can finally begin but have no idea that they have been summoned into a tangle of fraying lives, from the obsessive-compulsive crossword setter who lives above them to their aunt’s mysterious and elusive lover, who lives below them and works in the cemetery itself.

As the twins unravel the secrets of their aunt, who doesn’t seem quite ready to leave her flat, even after death, Niffenegger weaves a delicious and deadly ghost story about love, loss and identity.

Honestly, the book doesn’t compare to The Time Traveller’s Wife – but that’s not to say it’s not good – it’s just not awesome. I did really enjoy it, but what I found was I didn’t like some characters – in fact I disliked more characters than I liked. But, I really liked some characters.

The story grabbed me almost from the beginning with the mystery behind Elspeth and her sister’s estrangement, then carried dragging me in with the tangled lives of the other characters.

I guess you’d have to say this is a ghost story, and there’s definitely a little fantasy mixed in there, but there’s also love, romance, friendship, family and more. Enough to have me glued to it. I was disappointed in the ending, it’s hard to say why without giving too much away, but the positions people finished in felt wrong, especially when the one I didn’t like did well and the one I loved didn’t do.

Regardless, it was a great book, and I’d recommend it to anyone that likes a little mystery, a little romance, some family stuff… anything like that. I really can’t wait for her next book…

Belated Happy Christmas

Well that’s Christmas 2010 done. Well, actually it isn’t. There’s still five hours of Boxing Day left and I’ve still got another 2 days off work. As far as I’m concerned until I go back to work on Wednesday, it’s still Christmas.

Plus tomorrow I’m visiting the other half’s family, which is part of Christmas.

What would be nice, was if I could also do some writing… Lets look at the excuses I can come up with to NOT write though…

Well, I’m in the process of moving. That’s going to take a while. I’ve technically already moved ME and the important things I need, but it’s the everything else I need to move now. Which could take a while. Plus there’s all the getting sorted in a new place. And the stress that I’m only going to be living there for 6 – 8 weeks before doing it all over again (wall to bash my head against anyone?) 

I’m still ill. Last weekend a cough/cold developed and it’s firmly attached itself to me. A couple of times in the last week I’ve thought writing would be cool, but then I’ve realised how ill I felt and climbed further under the duvet. Yes, I fully admit I am a bad bad person at being ill. I have man flu. But at least I’m not ill all that much. I’d probably have no friends, and be single!

I got some books for Christmas, but cooking and household books. Nothing fiction-y. Although I have a suspicion, I may be getting a couple of novels from the other half (I hope anyway). I’ve not done much reading this month. Well, I’ve read two books, but then I got ill. Maybe I could squeeze another one out before the end of the year. Depending on what I get tomorrow (from the other half).

I need to do another post on my huge fail of the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge. I need a few more days to build myself up for that one – it’s just too depressing right now though – I hate failing. 😦

What I’m really happy with though, and I’ll do a full post on this before the year is out, is how many books I’ve read this year. Last year I read 17 and hardly enjoyed any. This year, I’m read many many more (I don’t know the exact number) and I’m well happy with it.

How was your Christmas or if not Christmas, your holiday? Hope lots of you got lots of writing done 😉

December Plan Making

My Mum asked my yesterday if I felt relieved that NaNo was over. My answer? No! No because I know the story isn’t finished yet. And no because now I don’t have NaNo to kick my butt, I have no idea if I’m going to finish the novel or not. Sucky eh?

No, I need to be more positive. I will finish the novel. The fact that I have done no writing in December means nothing. It’s not even the end of the second day yet!

I’m just about to go to the TGIOP. Any guesses what that is?? It’s the NaNoWriMo Thank God It’s Over Party. Woop! I’m actually really tired so half don’t want to go, but I’ve had such a blast meeting new people over the last month, that I’m going to force myself. And I know I’ll be happy I went once I get there. I just hope I’ll still be happy about it tomorrow when I’m suffering from a hangover!!!

As this blog is titled, Plan Making, I really should make some plans for December. Ok, how about this:

  • Finish reading 12 books for the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge
  • Finish Reviewing 12 books for the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge
  • Finish reading Her Fearful Symmetry
  • Participate in Fiction Friday 4 times
  • Participate in Rowan Coleman’s Status Short Story Competition
  • Write another 5,000 words for The Dating Project.

I think I can happily focus mainly on reading this month. I really want to complete the T&SRC, and I’m already really into HFS. I hardly read anything in October and nothing in November, so I’m happy with that to even the months out. The Dating Project can stay in my life, but just take a little step back for a while.

I’ve got a day off tomorrow – yay. I’ve not decided what I’ll do, but I imagine reading, reading, reading maybe with a little writing sprinkled in too!