emmaloui.se

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. - Jane Austen

Review: Jana DeLeon – Louisiana Longshot

Posted on

20140129-204559.jpgFortune Redding is for all intents and purposes an international super-spy, jetting off on missions all around the world. But when her cover is blown on a mission in the middle east, and it looks like the leak was from within her own office, she has to get way off the radar before she gets herself killed.

Luckily for her, her boss has a relative who has just passed away, with a niece about Fortune’s age. The niece was supposed to be spending the summer in the dead lady’s house, but is now whisked away for a holiday in Europe while Fortune takes her place. I mean, what could happen in a sleepy town like Sinful, Louisiana, right? And so Fortune Redding becomes Sandy Sue Morrow.

But you can probably tell that Sinful is not as quiet as ‘Sandy’ had hoped. When on her first day she manages to get the back up of the local Sheriff’s Deputy, and then have her newly inherited dog dig up a human bone from the bayou running through the backyard, having only just had time for a coffee, she realises that she’s going to find it hard staying out of trouble.

My favourite part of this book was that it wasn’t full of the usual characters, and didn’t follow the usual plot lines that you would expect. I mean, we get the tension between Sandy and the deputy throughout the book, but it doesn’t turn out how you would expect. And Sandy’s new friends are not the usual young ladies that you’d get in other books, in fact, they turn out to be two crazy old ladies, who may or may not know more than they are letting on, but they certainly appear to run the small town version of the mafia, aka the ‘Sinful Ladies’.

So who does the bone belong to, and why do Ida and Gertie seem so anxious to protect their friend Marie? And can Fortune stay under the radar when she seems to be attracting trouble like bees on honey?

I really loved this book, another good southern mystery with a kick-ass female lead. The only annoying thing is that this is another kindle book that I downloaded for free that turns out to be the first in a series, making me want to spend all my money on the rest. I’ll be restrained for now, but I can’t guarantee that it will last for long!

5/5

Review: Nicola May – Star Fish

Posted on

Nicola May - Star Fish

I’ve read a few other Nicola May books before and I’ve had a bit of a mixed bag really, loving a couple of them, and not really getting along with the others. This is the last one that I had left to read on my Kindle, so I was curious to see which camp this one fell in.

My first impression was that the characters were rather stereotypical, a rather plain looking woman who doesn’t rate herself very highly, with a gorgeous gay best friend with whom she shares everything. I was also immediately distanced from feeling a connection with the main character (Amy) by her fondness for astrology, and soon realising the the entire basis of the book was around star signs. I don’t believe in all that mumbo jumbo, so it kind of put me off.

The plot of the book felt to me kind of similar to the plot of another Nicola May book, Working it Out. A woman doesn’t know where she’s going with a certain area of her life (jobs/love), so she decides that rather than making an intelligent decision, she should just try a bit of everything. Whereas in Working it Out it was a different job every month for a year, in this book it was to try dating a man from each different star sign. What could go wrong, right?

As I mentioned before, I just couldn’t form any kind of bond with Amy, she’s a very impulsive person, which manifests itself in her seeming to try to sleep with every guy she meets. She’s also extremely gullible, thinking she’s fallen for a guy and lending him £6k without any questions for a charity ball he is supposedly organising. But alas, when she turns up for the ball, it isn’t there and he’s swanned off to Australia with all her money.

I probably should have guessed from the title of the book, but the star signs thing actually really started to annoy me by the middle to end of the book. Things like Amy blaming the failure of a date on the fact that the guy was the wrong star sign, rather than the fact that she got wasted before going go-karting and crashed spectacularly through all the other competitors and into a wall.

The ending of the book (which I won’t spoil in case you do actually want to read it), was disappointing to me, although nothing that I didn’t expect after the other 90% of the book. You can probably guess that Amy chooses a guy and lives happily ever after, but in my opinion, she chose the definite wrong guy, although probably the one that she deserves.

Apart from the lack of connection to the characters, I found that the plot jumped about quite wildly, like the author had thought of a list of ideas and was trying her best to fit them all in to the story, which meant that areas which could probably have had a lot more time spent on them to make the story feel more rich and complete and less scattered. And while I like my ‘chick-lit’ books, I don’t like the assumption that all women just want to read about the characters sleeping with everyone in sight, but maybe I’m just a little old-fashioned.

1/5

Review: A.R. Wise – 314

Posted on

20140109-195949.jpgI hadn’t really intended on reading this book, but I forgot to take Harry Potter to work with me today, so I downloaded a free kindle book to kill the time before work and my lunch break. I didn’t think I’d finish it, but I think it was only 200 pages, so it was gone in no time.

About 3 pages into the book, I actually contemplated stopping immediately, because what I was reading was so disturbing that it was making me feel physically sick. It’s 1996 and a young boy looks to be having some psychotic episode, saying that something bad is going to happen at 3.14pm. And when 3.14 arrives, the boy goes mad, threatening to kill himself with a blade unless his dad gets in the bath. Which isn’t too bad, until he says that the Skeleton Man says that he needs to pour boiling water over his dad, and some kids start bringing boiling water up from the kitchen. Every time his dad tries to get closer to the boy, he digs the blade further into his own neck, leaving his dad with no choice.

Wow, all very disturbing. But I thought I’d carry on and see where it went from there. The book keeps flipping back between the happenings on March 14th 1996 (3.14 in American date format) and the 9th March 2012 (almost 16 years later). The 1996 parts were all as disturbing as each other, but the 2012 part seemed more like the kind of book I usually read, revolving around a woman named Alma, her on-and-off boyfriend Paul and his friend Jacker, and two strangers that Alma has just met, Stephen and Rachel.

As we get further through the book, it looks like the weird Skeleton Man from 1996 is slowly taking body parts from each of his victims, but why? And who is he looking for?

The journey in 2012 leads our characters back to Widowsfield (the town where Alma was in 1996 when this green fog hit), in the hopes that she can remember what happened to finally lay it to rest. But why is the entire town fenced off and patrolled by security? And who has un-boarded up the town, and why?

Things get very, very strange at the end, with 1996 turning even more grotesque (if that’s even possible), and 2012 taking a turn for the decidedly creepy. The end of the book was left on a massive cliffhanger, and I now know that it’s the first part in a trilogy. The second and third parts cost £2.50 each to download on Amazon, but I’m not sure I want to pay that much if the books are as skin-crawling as this one, which was at least free. I think I’ll let this settle in for a while before I decide. And I’ll definitely read the blurb of books that I pick from Kindle next time, to try and avoid books as horrifying as this, I think I may have nightmares!

2/5

Review: Jane Costello – All The Single Ladies

Posted on

Jane Costello - All the Single LadiesThis book was read in Kindle format over many quick lunch breaks at work, usually during the 20 minutes it takes me to eat my lunch before I’m back at work again. As you can probably tell from the title, it’s typical chick-lit, but I can’t seem to help myself.

Samantha Brook’s boyfriend Jamie has just decided that he’s booked a one way flight to South America, leaving their relationship behind because he needs some space. His flight doesn’t leave for a good few months, and Sam’s friends convince her that she can try to win him back before he goes.

Once she gets over the initial moping and crying and leaving sobbing messages on his answerphone stage, she concocts a plan to make him jealous by joining an online dating website and parading the dates around in front of him in the hopes of him seeing what he’s missing. But things never turn out right in these books, and predictably, Sam ends up falling for one of the decoy-blokes. So when Jamie decides that he can’t go to South America after all, what will Sam do? And when Jamie drops a bombshell on her which turns her world upside down, does she even want to be with him anymore?

All the while, Sam is also dealing with an adopted sister who’s trying to get in contact with her real parents, and an alcoholic best friend who just doesn’t realise it, and doesn’t appreciate it being pointed out to her. But in the end, Sam was always going to do things her way, with a result that I definitely didn’t expect, and which was definitely not a stereotypical chick-lit ending.

I liked the book, but I didn’t feel any compulsion to keep reading it, or like I was missing out when I was reading my other ‘proper books’ and leaving my kindle neglected. I’d probably give Costello’s other books a try, as I loved the writing, I just didn’t gel with the plot.

3-5

Review: Nicola May – Better Together

Posted on

Nicola May - Better TogetherI was quite disappointed with this book. I couldn’t relate to the main character, she seemed very flighty and changed her mind way too many times for my liking. Everything in the book seemed too ‘convenient’; Jess would change her mind, and everything would instantly fall into place to make everything perfect for her.

I also found the dialogue quite stilted, I don’t know if it was just because I was reading a kindle copy rather than a paper copy, but it didn’t seem to flow naturally, and I often had to stop half way through a conversation to go back and figure out who was actually speaking.

The only positive thing I can find for this book is that it wasn’t completely stereotypical chick-lit, things went wrong (and quite badly wrong) for Jess, and she didn’t get the happy-ever-after that I expected her to get.

After enjoying the last couple of Nicola May books so much, I was not impressed with this one at all. I’ve got a few different books to read now (a couple more ‘Goodreads-First Reads’ books and a World Book Night book given to me by my cousin), so hopefully a step away from the chick-lit genre will feel good for a while.

2/5

Review: Nicola May – The School Gates

Posted on

Nicola May - The School GatesAfter the success of the last Nicola May book, I decided to download her other three books from Amazon, they were all less than £1.50 on Kindle so I figured it was a bit of a bargain! The first one I read was this, The School Gates.

My first impression was that there were too many characters, but I think that was because before the first chapter had started, you were introduced to each of the families one at a time. I didn’t think I’d be able to keep up with so many names, but after a while they seemed to sink in. I did feel closer to some of the characters than others though, and a few of the characters were quite stereotypical; like the gay flight attendant and the young Polish au-pair.

But once I had learned the characters, I became more interested in the storyline than I initially thought I would be, but I felt it was lacking a little something. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was, but I think I may have had my expectations set higher because of how much I enjoyed the last book. One of the things I’m not keen on is the amount of ‘cheating’ that seems to go on in the book, but always with a ‘justification’, it doesn’t really sit with my morals so it tends to lessen my enjoyment of the book when it’s added in so freely. Regardless, I did enjoy that it was a very quick read which made me smile with the happy endings all round.

4-5

Review: Louise Douglas – Missing You

Posted on

Louise Douglas - Missing YouThis is beginning to become a bit of a habit, another book bought on Kindle because it was cheap. It feels kind of like I’m cheating on my books, but I made a new year’s resolution to stop buying more physical books because I have absolutely no space left in my room for any more books, I’ve had to start putting them in boxes to make room.

Regardless, this book was actually pretty surprising. From the title, I was expecting it to be all soppiness and moping, but it was actually pretty surprising in places.

Sean has just found out his wife is having an affair and has been kicked out of the home in Swindon where he has lived in for the last 14 years, leaving behind his young daughter and having nowhere to go. His friend tells him about one of her friends who has a room to let.

Which brings him to Fen, a quiet, timid lady with a young son affected by Cerebral Palsy. She has kept herself to herself since Connor was born and although she has lived in Bath for quite some time, she only has a handful of friends. She has a secret to hide which has haunted her since she was a teenager and she lives on edge, waiting for something to come back and find her.

But although they don’t recognise it at first, maybe Sean and Fen are exactly what each other needs. There are a few patches where it looks like things just won’t work out, like when Sean goes back to visit his soon-to-be ex-wife Belle without telling Fen where he is going, leaving her to travel back to her hometown in Wales on her own when her sister’s newborn baby is admitted to hospital with suspected meningitis, scared that the baby might not make it, and terrified about returning to the place where she left behind all the things that have been haunting her.

But gradually, Fen opens up to Sean about all the terrible things from her past, and he helps her to heal. We come to quite a predictable ending, but because the book has so many twists and turns, it doesn’t feel like the entire book has been predictable, even though we know it has been leading up to this moment.

The book kept me hooked for the duration, and the writing style was very easy – it seemed like a very natural story to tell which I think helped to keep the pace of the story going. I have another book by Louise Douglas called The Love of My Life, which I may have to try soon.

4-5

Review: Hilary Boyd – Thursdays in the Park

Posted on

Hilary Boyd - Thursdays in the Park

This book was an impulse buy after I got a free kindle book credit from Amazon. It was a very limited selection available so I decided this one was the best of the bunch. I actually quite enjoyed it, it was a very easy read.

The book was about a woman named Jeanie, stuck in a loveless marriage and coming up to retirement age, when her husband decides that he wants to move from North London to Somerset. Without consulting Jeanie or listening to her protestations, he puts the house on the market, buys a new house in the country and tries to persuade Jeanie to sell her shop too.

While all this is going on, Jeanie meets a man called Ray in the park where she takes her granddaughter, and she ends up torn between loyalty to her controlling husband (who doesn’t appear to love her anymore) and her own happiness. The book becomes a bit predictable, from about half way through the book you know exactly what is going to happen, but I didn’t really mind because the book was well written and you feel so connected to Jeanie. My only criticism of the book was that time seemed to be irrelevant, sometimes entire months were skipped and it was a little hard to keep up with where we were.

4-5