Saturday, 15 July 2017

Nothing is as it seems ...

All over the wold, brutal animal attacks are crippling entire cities,  Jackson Oz, a young biologist, watches the escalating events with an increasing sense of dread.  When he witnesses a co-ordinated lion ambush is Africa, the enormity of the impending violence becomes terrifyingly clear.

With the help of ecologist Chloe Tousignant, Oz races to warn world leaders before it's too late.  The attacks are growing in ferocity, cunning, and planning, and so there will be no place left for humans to hide.

 I came to this novel having watched the first season of the TV show of the same name; and I wanted to know what had promoted the development of the show.  I usually find James Patterson’s psychological thrillers to be a bit lightweight compared to Jonathan Kellerman (but I guess that comes down to which author you read first).

I am now quite sure how co-authoring a book works.  Does someone have the idea and the other person write it or do they both write it or is James Patterson’s name on the book to help make it sell?  Not being a fan of JP this book is not really in his favoured genre; and the writing, in places, was different.

I love a good science fiction book and unfortunately this was quite a bit lacking.  I know people’s eyes glaze over when people write books that are science heavy but some science is necessary.  However, here there is no great detail of the concepts behind the occurrence and very little technical jargon was used which begs the question as to how much research was actually done on the subject.

Yes the book is well written with a good pace, yet there is no change in the ‘voice’ of the book between all the various Points of View (‘POV’).  There are also large gaps in the storyline that are not explained and left this reader scratching her head, not to mention the inconsistencies.

The characters were a bit flat with few redeeming qualities and unfortunately JP used the romantic novel standard of insta-love.

I was surprised that part way through the book there was a rather large leap in the story with little or no explanation.  I personally want to know what happened in those intervening years.  All this said this book kept me interested so much so that I would be interested in reading the sequel that will surely follow; and I will be watching the TV series for however long it lasts.

So if you like science fiction (light on the science) and want a nice light entertaining summer read then this is one for you.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Some crimes ate deadly but others are

The body of an attractive festival-goer is discovered on the rocky shoreline at Peveril Point.
Two women go away for the weekend, but only one comes back alive. Was it just the music they were into?  And who was the man the victim met at the festival?

DCI Sophie Allen is back in charge after the emotional upheavals she suffered in 'Deadly Crimes', but is she really in control?  And Detective Constable Rae Gregson joins the team and immediately faces challenged that put her life in peril.

Discover a gripping and detailed mystery that will have you hooked from the start until the stunning twist at the end.

I just loved novel Dark Crimes.  There is just something special about a British procedural novel but as I was reading this I was getting more and more confused as to why the beginning of this novel did not tie in with the ending of the previous novel and why the action seemed to have jumped forward in time.  It was then that I realised I had missed a novel out.  Despite the above my enjoyment of this novel was not affected.

As before the story was well crafted with well researched procedural elements.  The story is well paced and as usual there are lots of twists and turns in this novel that keep the reader intrigued until the end.  It is interesting that the author is not afraid to tackle subjects that are controversial bringing them out into the open to be discussed and examined.

Obviously the focal point of the novel is the crime but without a strong cast of well-developed characters very little could occur.  Although Sophie is the main character this novel stresses the importance of team work when attempting to solve crimes.  These are ordinary people doing a tough job under tough circumstances.  Sophie has just returned following an illness and not only her family but also her team rally around her. 

We also learn more about DS Marsh and are also introduced to another interesting character (I won’t say any more for fear of ruining the plot).

As the characters are being developed with much more of their private life is being revealed (please can we have more of this); so too is the location of these stories.  They are described in such great detail that one feels as though they are walking in their shadows along the same streets.

This author’s books just keep getting better and if you love a crime novel you can’t go too far wrong with this novel.

Thank you Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange of an honest review.

I rated this 4 stars on Netgalley, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

More of a dull disaster

How far would you go to achieve happiness?  What if it meant letting go of everything you'd once believed in?

Piper Allen is looking to spread her wings and unfortunately, her podunk hometown in Missouri is stunting her spiritual growth.  Moving to Dallas to finis up college with her two friends, Stephanie and Nicole, she hopes to challenge herself to reach new heights.  Her bohemian ways allow her to float through relationships frequently and with ease; when there are no strings attached, there is no chance of being hurt.

Texas rancher, Moye McKenzie, is a no nonsense, good ol' boy, who doesn't play games where matters of the heart are concerned.  When this straight-shooter walks into Piper's life, sparks fly and tempers flare.  Wanting to give her the life she deserves, Moye has to show her that getting hurt can happen whether you're holding onto the reins or not.

If she could just let go, Piper might be surprised to find she's someone's dream girl.

Although this is not my favourite genre of novel I am quite partial to a good romance especially if it has an original well-written story and lovable characters.

Unfortunately this novel is not at all original and uses cliché after cliché.  In fact one could be reading any number of other books it was that formulaic.  That said it made for a quick read and I did finish this novel.  There was a sort of insta-love although the main character had cried off love and as regards the intrigue part of the novel I guessed that straight away; and there was the inevitable happy ending

The characters were reasonably well written but the angst of girls going off to college was something that grated on this reader’s nerves.  None of the three girls really had anything going for them and, unfortunately, this reader did not relate to or like any of them.

The pace of the novel was OK but there were some elements that did not jell well.  I did not feel any real connection to the novel or any of the characters but I did not hate it.  It was a short novel of young adult love and I must say I was glad when it was all over.  But don’t let my experience of this novel spoil yours if this is what you like to read.

Thanks go to Netgalley for providing me with the opportunity to provide an honest review in exchange for a copy of the novel.

I rated this one star on Goodreads, 2 stars on Amazon and Netgalley.

Descendants of an old trade route

'She crossed over to the shelf where her father kept the dragon vase.  He had placed it there when they first arrived in Venice.  She took it down carefully, feeling it cool and comforting under her shaking fingers.'

Venice 1441: Maria and her brother Daniele arrive in the birthplace of their father, Niccolo dei Conti.  An Italian merchant who had travelled far and wide, Niccolo has brought spices from India, lengths of silk and damask from the lands east of India and porcelain; a vase of pure white, its surface decorated with a cobalt blue dragon, the Chinese symbol of good fortune.

Maria settles in her new home, watching the magnificent and bustling city come to life each morning from her bedroom window.  But while her father is away travelling, she soon finds herself and Daniele in terrible danger.  She must protect her brother at whatever cost, and she must guard the delicate vase.

London 2015:  Single mother Miranda is struggling to make ends meet and build a new life for her and daughter Georgie.  When Miranda meets the charming but mysterious Charles. she is intrigued. Could he be her second chance at love?  And why is he so fascinated by the old vase sitting on her hall table ...

This is a wondrous historical novel that is well researched.  This is a multi-generational tale with multiple time lines yet the main pivotal character is a Ming Vase, much revered by past generations yet loathed by the current generation.

I personally loved the interplay between the two main stories, one told in back story and one told in the current/future time line.  Each timeline had different issues in the past there was trouble, in the present/future there is tension and mystery.  Both stories include the journey of the vase from its origins in China to its current location.

The novel was written in the third person, as though we were an observer to all the action.  The description of historic events was fairly precise and although the characters were well researched and reasonably well written it was difficult to form an emotional bond with them.  I thought that the modern day characters were unaware of the value of the vase, not least its historical value but also its monetary value until it was potentially too late although it caused some exciting intrigue for a while.

One lovely aspect was that Miranda followed the journey of the vase and ended up in Venice.  The description of Venice was spot on and it felt as though the story had come full circle and yet it felt a bit empty.

If you like a bit of fact with your historical fiction then this novel, with its family saga elements and intrigue, may well be up your street.

Thank you Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I rated it 5 stars on Netgalley, 4 stars on Amazon and Goodreads.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

It is not what you think ...

The first female president of the United States is summoned to an emergency briefing.  Deep in the jungle of Peru, a black, skittering mass devours an American tourist party whole.

FBI agent Mike Rich investigates a fatal plane crash in Minneapolis and makes a gruesome discovery.

Unusual seismic patterns register in an Indian earthquake lab confounding the scientists there.

The Chinese government "accidentally" drops a nuclear bomb in an isolated region of its own country.

And all of these events are connected.

As panic begins to sweep the globe, a mysterious package from South America arrives at Melanie Guyer's Washington laboratory.  The unusual egg inside begins to crack.  Something is spreading ...

The world is on the brink of an apocalyptic disaster.  A virulent ancient species of spiders, long dormant, is now very much awake.  But this is only the beginning of our end ...

Who doesn't love a scary story about our favourite scary thing, spiders, which happened, in this case, to be carnivorous!  I know this premise ma y sound ridiculous but this author makes it work.  The right amount of initial tension reals the reader in and then the story explodes in more ways than one.

Initially there were a lot of elements that were seemingly unrelated, and strangely confusing, with a large cast of characters.  However once the various stories linked up, and the characters substantially reduced, the reader is taken on a rip roaring ride.

There were parts of the book that got a bit long winded and bogged down by technical details but otherwise this is a rather unique scary story.  The writing is what saw me through the down times together with the interesting characters and their various Points of View (‘POV’).

The characters are realistic and relateable and cover a diverse section of society from the US President to experts and the FBI.  The reactions of the ‘common people’ were often times stupid and mistake laden.  In one instance a main character did not pay nearly enough attention to the area in question.  The writing also begs the question ‘how would you react in this situation?’

I can appreciate that the wide range of characters involved in this novel enhances the scope of the problem but there seems to be a few too many main characters and it is just not possible to really get under their skin.  It is this reader’s hope that more of their characters will be revealed in later books (the story was too open ended for this to be a stand-alone novel).

There seems to be an emergence of spider related phenomena throughout the world and this ancient species appears not just to be hatching here or there but everywhere (that emphasises the scope of the problem).  What could come across as implausible is not as the author keeps us grounded not merely on the human reaction side but also on the natural side – these emerging ancient spiders have a long life cycle (which is extremely plausible – consider the corpse plant that flowers once every 100 years).

Somehow a zombie apocalypse seems a bit too far-fetched, yet a spider apocalypse seams all too real and relateable.

The story was left open ended and it is this reader’s fervent hope that there will be a sequel as there were a load of unanswered questions.

The Hatching is this author's debut novel and this reader looks forward to seeing not only how this series, but also how this writer develops n the future.  If you want a fairly realistic horror story that has just the right amount of tension and makes your skin creep, by an author who can stand shoulder to shoulder with Dean Koontz, Michael Crichton or even Stephen King then do yourself a favour and read this one, you can't go far wrong.

Thank you Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

I also rated this on Amazon (4 stars) and Goodreads (4 stars).

All part of life's rich tapestry

This Decade-Spanning Novel of Family and Faith Will Delight
Now in her eighties, Perla Phillips has carried a secret since she was eighteen years old.  When she sees her granddaughter, Ella, struggling for perfection, she decades to share her secret to show that God can use even the biggest mistakes for good.  But before she can reveal what happened during that summer sixty years ago, she has a debilitating stroke.

Carrying a secret of her own, Ella arrives back in Wise, West Virginia, to help her aunt Sadie care for Perla.  Both know the woman wanted to tell them something, but she's now locked in silence.  Together they begin looking into the past, but they may learn more than they expected.

Will they have the courage t share their hearts?  Or will the truth reman buried forever?

I did not realise that a) this was the third book in the series; and that b) it was a religiously themed book.  If I had known either I would have avoided this book like the plague.  But then I would have missed out on a good read.

Although this is the third in a series it is a stand-alone and this reader had not read the previous novels which did not really matter.

Unlike other religiously based books the religion did not seem false but rather an integral part of the lives of the characters involved.  These characters were well developed and in its own way unique and the reader definitely roots for each of the characters.  Each character has secrets and troubles that they need to overcome and the reader feels as though they are experiencing journey with Ella and Pearl.  Indeed the challenges faced by these two characters are ones that many of us have experienced in our lives at some time (and for some of us this included questioning our faith, and how our dreams and actions align with God’s plan for us).

Equally the town within which they live is believable.  I live in the UK and have never been to the US and despite not having read the other novels, the author describes a small rural town that the reader immediately falls in love with (a la Little House on the Prarie-esque yet a modern take).  In this town everybody knows everybody else – and family is central to everything.

That said this is a stand-alone novel sure if one were to read them all there would be more depth to the story.  The plot moved along at a nice steady pace.

Overall this is a nice heart-warming gentle novel with some but not loads of drama.  The reader becomes invested in the characters, making you want to read to the very end.  If you love these types of books with a perfectly plotted story line, then I would highly recommend this one for you

Thank you Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I rated this 3 stars on Amazon and 2 stars on Goodreads