Wednesday 30 September 2015

Monster by C.J. Skuse

I wasn't expecting it to get so dark, probably because it starts out with a general Enid Blyton boarding school feel to it.

The normal toxic relationships between teenage girls living in close vicinity to each other. Away from their parents and siblings, and shut off from the real world, as they go about their daily life in a cold and strict environment.

Skuse lulls the reader into a false sense of security.  The focus is on the myth of the monster, the fear of the unknown and the slightly dysfunctional boarding school atmosphere.

Then from out of nowhere the pace, the plot and the genre changes in one foul swoop. I can't  tell you what, why, when or who, because it would spoil the surprise heading your way.

I think it is possible Skuse might return to this particular set of characters, because of the way she left the beast storyline. Something to explore in the future perhaps?

Overall it was a surprising read that will appeal to readers who like some innocence with their gore, a portion of mean with their candy floss sugary sweet and a wee bit of gnarly bloody beast with their murders.

Looking forward to see where this author takes us next with her twisted imagination.

Buy Monster at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read The Deviants by C.J. Skuse. or Sweetpea.

Friday 25 September 2015

Baseball Dads by Matthew S. Hiley

Well I have to give it to Hiley, he absolutely does warn the reader what they are in for before the book even gets started. He also says he doesn't care and isn't interested whether you happen to be offended or not.

The chances of you being offended or being offended on behalf of someone else, at some point during the book, are fairly high.

It is violent, crude and graphic. Hiley leaves no stone unturned, whether it be politics, religion, race or sexuality. I cringed, I gasped and I think at one point I shut my eyes and shook my head.

Now, I understand what Hiley was trying to do. It is supposed to be a satirical, dark comedy with a huge finger pointing at the hypocrisy in our society. Does it do that? Yes it does, but at times it just seems like a step too far to make a point.

Personally I felt the surrounding story, and that is all it is, a bit of a story to go with all the barbs and jibes, was a bit of a let down. It needed to be just as hard-hitting as the rest of the dark comedy.

If you like your satire tough and chewy, and your comedy on the blacker side of dark then Hiley may just be your cup of tea.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Sunday 20 September 2015

The Scam by Janet Evanovich & Lee Goldberg

It is a quick read, kind of a penny novel crime with the focus on con-men and scams instead. White Collar set-up and as fast-paced as the A-Team on a role.

It is a light-hearted read with two flamboyant main characters. It doesn't have a lot of substance or depth, which is fair enough if you really are just looking for flighty venture into the world of con and crime.

Nick and Kate have plenty of sexual tension between them, and the majority of their dialogues are innuendo. Nick is Bomer's Neal Caffrey and Kate is DeKay's Peter Burke.

Can he be trusted or not? Will Nick always choose the con instead of the straight and narrow path? Where does Kate crossing the boundaries become too much?

Fox and O'Hare meander into the world of hardened criminals and ruthless scam artists. They just happen to be just as good as the real criminals are.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Saturday 19 September 2015

Letting You Go by Anouska Knight

It's quite emotional at times and gives quite a few tugs at the heartstrings. At the same time it has its amusing moments, but in general it is a whirlwind of emotional turmoil.

Alex is plagued by an intense sense of guilt, because of Dill. The relationship with her father has broken down completely, and has become both uncomfortable and unbearable. She stays away from home in an attempt to let the situation die down.

She has spent so many years running away from conflict, running away from her feelings and running away from the truth. Now she is forced to confront everything and everyone all at the same time. Her guilt, her shame, the love of her life and most importantly her father.

Knight has spun a tale, which is definitely indicative of how a wisp of smoke can become a raging fire. Gossip is the verbal wildfire of society. It can make, break and ruin a person or a family. What happens in this story is a perfect example of a gossip wildfire. Misconceptions, presumptions and conspiracy theories rattle the foundations of a perfectly good marriage and threaten to tear a family apart.

Knight has also mixed an incredibly important topic of our time in the midst of the family drama and budding romance. The fear of coming out, the fear of acceptance and the intimidating reaction of young peers when it comes to being something other than the norm. It is done in a subtle and even funny way at times, despite that Knight never downplays the seriousness of the situation or how vindictive people can be.

This is a tear-jerker in places, but it is also a fun read.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Harlequin UK and MIRA UK.

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Demon Road by Derek Landy

Derek Landy is also the author of the incredibly popular Skulduggery Pleasant series. His stories, and that includes Demon Road, have a subtle layer of wit running throughout them.

In this new venture Landy introduces a tough teenage girl, who is faced with a certain death sentence and changing her already sealed fate.She learns to accept her inner beauty and outer strength.

Poor Amber, imagine finding out you're not only a monster, but you're also the next full course meal for your parents and their friends. Luckily for her she has someone on the inside on her side, and that person leads her to Milo.

Milo is the dark horse, I hope we get to know him a lot better in a possible sequel. He starts out as the untrustworthy stranger and slowly becomes Amber's new family.

Everyone seems to spend all their time trying to outsmart the boss demon, which tends to end up complicating matters. Amber seems to be particularly talented at making bad situations even worse.

Will we see Glen again in the next book? There was a slight or suggestion that we might not have seen the last of him. I hope so , because he was quite funny.

It is a fast paced supernatural demonic extravaganza with witty dialogues and strong memorable characters. Oh, and kudos to Landry for making a point of calling out the cat-callers of our society.
I received a  free copy of this book via Netgalley.

Buy Demon Road at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read Desolation (Demon Road #2).

Thursday 10 September 2015

Life or Death by Michael Robotham

Robotham manages to draw you in with his strangely compelling main character. As a reader you're not sure whether he is the good or the bad guy.

Is he a criminal intent on revenge and profit or is he a good guy who made the wrong choices?

It is a mystery to everyone one around him, what exactly has kept Audie alive and fighting for the last ten years?

No matter how vicious the fights or how audacious the murder attempts, he just keeps getting back up again for another round.

It doesn't become clear until well into the book why Audie escapes the day before his release and you wonder if it was so easy why didn't he do it sooner?

I enjoyed the kind of abstract way Robotham went about it. The plot really does revolve around just the one person the entire time and everyone else is secondary. It is done in a way that draws you in, You need to know the why, when, who and how.

The suspense is layered and spread in a way that keeps the tension the alive, well and kicking until the end.
I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley.

Tuesday 8 September 2015

First One Missing by Tammy Cohen

I think I figured it out somewhere in the middle of the book. It was something that was said or perhaps just a specific gesture and I suddenly had this whole scenario in my head, but I thought it might be a little outlandish.

I have to give it to Cohen, it was certainly a really interesting plot and ending.

I'm not sure whether Megan's Angels is just a morbid extension of the extreme events. Is it really helping the parents or just making them tread water?

Much like the family liaison officers, who are assigned to each of the families. They are like odd family member nobody wants to see. It is their job to inform the families of new developments or in this case another murder. Of course then the families have to go through the whole events over and over again, which means they can't move on.

Not that you ever really move on from the death of a child, especially when it involves abduction and homicide. In this particular scenario questions of guilt are bounced around and suspicions grow where certain family members are concerned.

To complicate matters Leanne has let her personal life interfere with her professional one. I found her actions quite unprofessional and hard to swallow. Not only does she ignore vital evidence she also crosses the line of ethical behaviour.

Talking about unethical, Cohen really sheds a light on the behaviour of the press and media in these tragic situations. Reporters are willing to blackmail, lie, steal and betray anyone for a good story. They have no respect for the victims or those left behind.

If you're looking for a crime with a bit of a twist then this certainly delivers a big one.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Monday 7 September 2015

The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies

This is a story about the clashes of culture in countries colonized by the British. Native traditions and myths mixed with the stiff upper lip attitude of the British.

I wandered between feeling frustrated about Gwen's apathy, anger at her silence, and feeling sympathy for her plight. I can imagine her fictional story coming quite close to reality for many families living in the colonies.

Dark secrets hidden in the folds of genealogy, secret children abandoned and forgotten or even disposed of in a more permanent manner. All because their skin isn't or wasn't the quite the right shade of colour.

The timid English wife grows with the years. It might be the pain and distress or possibly the guilt she carries with her. Perhaps she toughens up, because she is sick of the lies and the games. Regardless of the why, the fact is somewhere along the line Gwen finally finds a voice.

Jefferies pays tribute to the location and surroundings of her story in the form of beautiful descriptive prose, which makes up for the sometimes disjointed flow.

Overall Jefferies delivers drama, sorrow, anger and guilt, all wrapped up in the marriage and romance of young woman and her husband, who brings a lifetime of baggage with him.
I received a  free copy of this book via NetGalley.

Thursday 3 September 2015

It's got to be Perfect by Haley Hill

What do you if you have totally failed at dating and are still looking for Mr Right? Start your own exclusive dating agency of course.

That is exactly what Ellie Rigby decides to do. Help all those other good-looking singles out there to find their perfect match.

Sounds simple enough, eh? Well it does until Ellie realises just how many of her potential clients are just ever so slightly eccentric and high maintenance. I'm not sure I would be able to find a partner for a macho playboy gynaecologist with a porn-star name either.

Of course the problem with sifting through all those handsome men is that inevitably there will be one of them, who just happens to caught your eye. Not even matchmakers are immune to the charms of Cupid.

It's got to be Perfect is a comedy of errors with a bevy of pretty people with one thing in common, the search for Mr or Mrs Perfect.

Hill doesn't mince her words when it comes to the dialogues, They are refreshing, witty and occasionally slightly on the graphic side.

She has her main character concentrate her efforts on the top ten percent, as opposed to the more normal looking single. Beauty attracts mates and not plain Janes, is the message, which leaves a slightly negative tinge to the otherwise light-hearted story.
I received a copy of this book, courtesy of Mills & Boon and Harlequin UK.