Saturday, June 17, 2017

Love me not by M. J. Arlidge

Love me not is the seventh book in the DI Helen Grace thrillers series so this review contains ***SPOILERS*** if you have not read the first books in the series.  While you can read this book independently you will get the most enjoyment out of reading the series in order.

Helen's name has been cleared and she is back on the force, but her time in prison has left a mark - on her and her team.  With her boss gone, Helen is covering her own job and trying to manage the team.  Trying to return to normal doesn't seem like it is on the cards, she has trouble sleeping and her apartment feels claustrophobic.  Her only real release is riding her new bike, purchased with compensation money after her wrongful arrest, conviction, and incarceration.  While riding her bike early one morning she is nearly run down by a speeding car on a country rode, and after saving herself from a nasty crash she discovers a body lying in the middle of the road - a victim of foul play.

Helen has no way of knowing that the woman lying in the road is just the first, that the body count will grow in a matter of hours.  What seemed to be a random attack is the first move on the part of a killer with a plan and their accomplice.  Helen and her team are used to dealing with grisly cases of murder, and they know the darker side of human nature, but the killers are working at an accelerated pace and the team is playing a desperate game of catch up to try and figure out who the killer is and what their endgame is.  The clock is ticking and the stakes are high, and before the day is out more victims will fall.

The DI Helen Grace novels are well written and extremely addictive - pulling together the best elements of the crime and thriller genres, while maintaining a brisk pace with short and snappy chapters that seem to read themselves.  I have been a huge fan of the series since the first book was released and await each offering with an eagerness that would be highly embarrassing if my mother wasn't also reading the series and was just as eager to get her hands on the series as I am! 

I have said this before, but in many ways Arlidge is an English James Patterson, writing books that are fast paced, kept lean, and keep you glued to the pages.  Both Arlidge and Patterson pare back on the dense details and let the story drive you forward rather than bogging you down with details that are usually there as set dressing rather than helping the story - in many ways the stories unfold like a television series which is no doubt from Arlidge's background in television. 

Somewhat surprisingly this book was originally advertised as being called Follow my leader, but somewhere along the line it changed to Love me not.  Having read the book I think I have an inkling of why, and Love me not feels like a better fit for the story.  Now comes the wait for the next book in the series!

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Friday, June 16, 2017

The verdict (ebook) by James Patterson and Robert Gold

Working as the Global Head of Security for Tribeca Luxury Hotels means that Jon Roscoe has a mandate to ensure the absolute privacy and security of the guests at the chains luxury hotels all around the world.  Sometimes it's easier said than done, especially when one of the guests residing in the hotel is attending London's Old Bailey every day, charged with the attempted murder of his lover. 

It's all Roscoe can do to keep the press off the hotel grounds, especially one particularly aggressive member of the press who keeps testing his patience at every turn - and it doesn't help that Harvey Rylands is used to getting what he wants, and has no concern for the people who have to clean up after his messes.  With all the stress at work the last thing Roscoe needs is stress at home, but his teenage son Martin seems to have other plans.

The verdict was an exciting read, is a great addition to the Bookshots series, and an excellent companion to Kidnapped which also features Jon Roscoe.  This is the first Bookshots I have read as an ebook, and in some ways it was more exciting and tense than reading the tree book version because it was harder to tell how close to the end I was which naturally helped ramp up the tension!

I haven't read all the Bookshots because some of them have not appealed that much, or because I have started reading them and didn't like them that much - but Patterson and Gold seem to have struck gold (no pun intended) with this writing partnership.  I have read all of their Bookshots and thoroughly enjoyed them, and I look forward to each new one in the way that I look forward to the Patterson/Ledwidge outing.  There is a lot to like here and this series is a great way to start your Bookshots journey if you haven't tried one yet!
If you like this book then try:
  • Kidnapped by James Patterson and Robert Gold
  • The hostage by James Patterson and Robert Gold
  • The shut-in by James Patterson and Duane Swierczynski
  • The house husband by James Patterson and Duane Swierczynski
  • Private Royals by James Patterson and Rees Jones
  • Heist by James Patterson and Rees Jones
  • Black and Blue by James Patterson and Candice Fox
  • Chase by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  • Airport code red by James Patterson and Michael White

Reviewed by Brilla

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Murder games by James Patterson and Howard Roughan

Once again a serial killer is stalking the good citizens of New York, and this one is playing a twisted game with a deck of cards.  Each victim has a different method of death and could be mistaken for simple murders or accidental deaths, except for the playing cards that are left on their bodies.  Detective Elizabeth Needham is determined to solve the case and stop the killer - even if that means roping in a civilian to help her solve the case.  Professor Dylan Reinhart is teaching yet another psychology course when Detective Needham crashes his lecture with an offer he can't refuse.

Someone is playing a very deadly game, and they hold all the cards - leaving the cops scratching their heads and wondering what is coming next.  The Mayor is determined to stop the killer in their tracks because his re-election is on the line, but his heavy handed approach and political manipulations aren't going to help catch a disciplined and clever killer.  As Detective Needham digs deeper into the case, Professor Reinhart goes along for the ride, offering advice and insight where he can - but helping the police could put everything he cares about at risk.  As the case heats up the secrets start bubbling to the surface as they race against the clock to stop a cunning and well organised killer who doesn't worried about MOs and sticking to the rules of the police handbook - or the rules of abnormal psychology as lectured by Professor Reinhart.

Murder games is another one of those books that is difficult to review because you constantly risk straying into spoilers - even when you don't mean to!  This is the third book full length novel I have read from Patterson and Roughan and I have come to love their combined style which seems to layer stories within stories, and secrets within secrets to keep you thoroughly hooked to the end and wondering if you have actually solved it before you have solved it.  When you meet Professor Reinhart you think you have him all figured out, but then you discover X, Y, and Z and it makes you realise you don't really know what you think you know.  And then there are the other cliche characters that don't turn out to be such a cliche after all!

Murder games has elements of the classic crime novel, but like their previous outings Patterson and Roughan have delivered a tensely written thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat as the action ramps up and you can't help but wonder if the good guys will win the day or whether they will be too slow and the body count will grow.  This does feel like it could be the start of a new series and I have to say that I would love to see these characters again as they break quite a few stereotypes, and there is a really good chemistry between the characters - not to mention the authors.  There is a lot to like here, and as it is either the start of a new series or a stand alone you don't have to worry about spoilers by reading things out of order!  Best enjoyed when devoured in one sitting (just saying).

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Twelve angry librarians by Miranda James

Twelve angry librarians is the eight book in the Cat in the stack mysteries so this review contains ***SPOILERS*** if you have not read the first seven books in the series.  While you can read this series as standalone books it is best enjoyed read in series order so if you have not read the first books - then you may want to read them first before reading anymore of this review.

The Southern Academic Libraries Association, otherwise known as the SALA, is holding their annual meeting at Athena College.  As Charlie is the interim library director he has to play nicely with the other librarians and welcome them to the college - not an easy ask when one of the visiting librarians is his nemesis from library school.  It is something of a relief to know that Gavin Fong is pretty much universally disliked by his peers, but that doesn't make it any easier to deal with the arrogant man and his petty behaviour.  When one of their first interactions ends in a physical altercation Charlie is both embarrassed and angry, but it also leads to him being a potential suspect when Gavin Fong is murdered.

Charlie is no stranger to murder mysteries, and has even been a suspect before, but never have there been so many viable suspects before.  It seems as though Gavin Fong made enemies in every library he worked in, and over his career he has worked in many many libraries.  It seems that even Charlie's friends and colleagues are not above suspicion as they have all had problems with Gavin.  When a second body is found the tension rises - who could be behind the double murder?  With his reputation on the line Charlie can't help but dig into the mystery, which might just be putting his life in danger.  If all the excitement of the murders wasn't enough, Charlie has some tough decisions to make at home - especially when his daughter announces that she and her husband might be moving out of state after the birth of Charlie's first grandchild.  All this excitement is a lot for Charlie to handle, but luckily he has Diesel by his side!

I love the Cat in the stack mysteries - partly because I am a librarian myself and there is some wonderful in jokes, but also because I love cats and have had the pleasure of owning a Maine Coon myself and Diesel reminds me a lot of her (not to mention the everyday cat antics that he gets up to).  The in jokes step up a notch in this addition to the series because of the references to the librarians meeting (we have conferences like this in New Zealand) and because you just don't expect librarians to be so political and troublesome - unless you happen to be one!  Charlie has continued to grow on me as a character, and with each novel the legend of Charlie, his family, his boarders, his friends, and his town continues to grow.  I know that Miranda James is a pseudonym and that 'she' writes other series, but there is a very selfish part of me that wishes all 'her' time was devoted to the town of Athena, Mississippi! 

A very enjoyable read, and a good addition to the series.  We are obviously heading towards some changes for Charlie and I look forward to the continued character development as Charlie is starting to feel like a colleague I have worked with for years.  I highly recommend this series for anyone who loves a good murder mystery, or for anyone who likes a good read about libraries, or anyone who enjoys stories about the human animal bond that have strong character development.  A fine addition to the Cat in the stacks mysteries (fondly known as Charlie and Diesel in our house).

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Bang by Barry Lyga

When Sebastian was four years old he picked up his father's gun and pulled the trigger - killing his infant sister Lola in the process.  It was a single moment that changed the course of his family's life, and ten years later he can still see the pity and disgust on people's faces because of what happened.  His life has found a rhythm over the years, a rhythm that flows around his friend Evan during the day at school, and the comfortable distance with his mother at home - living two separate lives in the same house.  It has gone of for years, and could go on for many more years if not for the little voice in his head whispering that it is almost time.  A gun changed the path of his life, and the little voice is whispering and preparing him for when a gun ends it.

With Evan away for yet another summer the voice is getting louder - until a chance meeting that will change the course of Sebastian's entire summer.  Aneesa is new to the neighbourhood, someone who doesn't know his past and what happened, someone he can relax around without worrying about those looks.  Her family is a breath of normality, a family life that he never quite had because of the gun and the death, and his own family falling apart.  Aneesa doesn't expect anything of him, Sebastian can be himself, and it is a liberating thing.  Best of all, being with Aneesa quiets the voice in his head, makes him think that their can be a future for him after all.

Bang is an amazing book, not just because it tackles two very emotive topics with style and grace (suicide and the Muslim community), but also because Barry Lyga has once again created a book that is perfectly balanced with a beginning that sucks you in, a middle that keeps you hooked, and an ending that leaves you saying "wow".  Right up until the end I didn't know what was going to happen with Sebastian, whether he would commit suicide or not, and by the last page I realised I didn't feel let down either way - if he lived it wasn't 'happily ever after' and if he died then it wasn't a 'predictable ending' either.  Lyga has taken a young man and allowed you to see inside his head and his heart as he goes through the motions of living a life he no longer wants to live, and you get to experience some of the pain and anguish along with him.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Kidnapped by James Patterson and Robert Gold

Jon Roscoe has been in Chicago for the trial of Matteo Ginevra, who was faced criminal charges for the deaths of two construction workers.  It seemed like he was going to get his just desserts, but then another witness recanted their testimony and the case was dismissed - leaving Roscoe with a bitter taste in his mouth and the determination to see Ginevra brought to justice. 

When he arrives at the airport for his flight back to the United Kingdom for Christmas, he saves the life of a young woman - who turns out to be someone in desperate need of help.  He also stumbles across a vaguely familiar face, a young woman with her family who is travelling back home to the United Kingdom for Christmas as well.  When Roscoe finds a note asking for help his loathing for Ginevra turns into something deeper.  Roscoe is determined to help, but he is about to enter a very tangled web of lies, deceit and hidden enemies. 

Kidnapped is another excellent addition to the Bookshots series.  It is a well executed novel that manages to keep you hooked until the end and the big reveal of what has been going on.  Roscoe is an interesting character, with a wealth of backstory and a temper that would surely have gotten him in trouble in his past life as a police man.  I really enjoyed the suspense of the story, and the blended storylines that divided my attention but also kept the tension really high as I tried to figure out what was actually happening.  The ending was satisfying and well received - and hopefully this is not the last we have seen of Jon Roscoe.

If you like this book then try:
  • The hostage by James Patterson and Robert Gold
  • The shut-in by James Patterson and Duane Swierczynski
  • The house husband by James Patterson and Duane Swierczynski
  • Private Royals by James Patterson and Rees Jones
  • Heist by James Patterson and Rees Jones
  • Black and Blue by James Patterson and Candice Fox
  • Chase by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  • Airport code red by James Patterson and Michael White

Reviewed by Brilla

Sunday, May 14, 2017

A court of wings and ruin by Sarah J. Maas

A court of wings and ruin is the third book in the A court of thorns and roses trilogy and you really need to read the series in order so do not read any more of this review as there are ***SPOILERS*** if you have not read the first books in the series.

After everything she has been through, and everything she has faced, it is the return to the Spring Court that nearly undoes her.  After finding her mate and finding peace with her 'family' to return to the stifling and controlling world of the Spring Court is almost more than she can bear, especially when Tamlin and his infamous temper have done such an impressive job of reminding her why she fled from him - her old bedroom destroyed beyond recognition.  She has to walk a careful line, appearing to be his love, but in reality working quietly against him.  It is a dangerous game to play, and one that she must play at all times so that she doesn't give away her duplicity - but if she can discover the plans of the King of Hybern it will be worth the risks. 

When she finally has to shed the illusion Feyre does so in her usual discreet and quiet way - striking a blow to Tamlin and his enemies that can not be ignored.  In freeing herself Feyre exposes some carefully kept secrets, and discovers just how dangerous the world can be for a fae female in some of the Courts.  When she fainlly makes it back to Rhys and the rest of their family she discovers that they have also been busy, seeking out secrets and searching for hints about what the King of Hybern is planning.  It is a time of planning for war, but it is also a time of Feyre trying to heal the rift with her sisters - turned into fae by the King Of Hybern against their will, and hiding secrets of their own.  Nesta is a force of rage and discontent, while Elaine has withdrawn and refuses to connect with the world.  While her heart breaks for the stated of her family Feyre can't let it distract her from the war that is coming.

With the enemy at their door it is time for the fae to leave their petty squabbles behind and join forces, but centuries of distrust and shifting lines of alliance have left them ill prepared to work together - and with the shattered trust that they have left behind them it might be impossible for Rhys and Feyre to forge an alliance in time.  As secrets are revealed war is inevitable, and every member of her new family has a part to play in the war that is coming.  War means choosing a side - and making sacrifices.  While Rhys and Feyre attempt to unit the Courts, the rest of their family tries to find other solutions - but will they find them in time?

I have loved this series - partly because it is so richly imagined, but also because Sarah J. Maas has written a series for teenagers that doesn't talk down to them or treat them like children.  Amazing themes have been explored through this series, themes that young people need to know about - but also that they experience anyway so why not acknowledge it and give them a series they can sink their teeth into?  I will add that this is a series for older and/or mature teens as some of the themes and violence will be unsettling for younger or less mature readers, but this is a series that deserves pride of place in the teenagers section (although there are a large number of adults, myself included, who have devoured and enjoyed this series). 

This series was described as a trilogy when I picked it up, and while the story arc is closed at the end of A court of wings and ruin, Maas has promised more stories from the land of Prythian so this is not the last we have seen of this world.  There are some amazing moments in the story, including some that had me going "no, no, no", and there are some moments that are brutal because they are so realistic but this was an amazing ride and Maas is fast becoming a leading voice in young adult and cross over fiction - she has characters with strong voices and incredible worlds, and hopefully she is writing for many years to come!

If you like this book then try:

  • A court of thorns and roses by Sarah J. Maas
  • A court of mist and fury by Sarah J. Maas
  • Arrows of the queen by Mercedes Lackey
  • Long may she reign by Rhiannon Thomas
  • Throne of glass by Sarah J. Maas
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore
  • Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst
  • The Fire rose by Mercedes Lackey
  • Reserved for the cat by Mercedes Lackey

Reviewed by Brilla

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Nowhere man by Greg Hurwitz

The Nowhere man is the sequel to Orphan X, and while you can read the books independently there are ***SPOILERS*** in this review if you have not read the first book.  I highly recommend reading the books in order for the ultimate reading experience.

Evan managed to survive his scrape with the remains of the Orphan programme - but not without adding a few more mental and physical scars.  It wasn't enough to put him off helping people however, and with a well practiced moves his operation moves from one anonymous phone service to another.  Returning to his life and ways may seem foolish, but his network of safeguards and props have kept him (mostly) safe until now, and there is no reason to think that things won't keep running smoothly as long as he is careful. 

All the planning in the world can't protect him when he is caught off guard and taken down by a team that is fully prepared to take him down.  When he wakes up, he is puzzled to discover that he has been placed in a luxurious room that has been turned into a gilded cage.  The man holding him knows exactly what he wants from Evan, and even though he thinks he has the upper hand, he has no idea who he is really dealing with.  With a deadline looming Evan makes it his mission to escape so he can continue with his latest rescue mission, but Evan has never come across someone like Rene before - and Rene has never come across someone like Evan either.  Evan is determined to escape, but Rene is just as determined to get what he wants, and he doesn't care who pays the price.

I loved Orphan X when I read it earlier this year, and I was a little nervous about picking up The Nowhere man because sometimes the first book in a series is amazing, and then the rest of the series fizzles - I needn't have bothered because book two was another thrill ride that I had to read in one sitting.  Greg Hurwitz has found a well balanced writing style that keeps the tension and action moving at a fast pace, while remembering that there are people involved and that readers tend to lose interest when your characters are poorly written. 

I would compare the Orphan X series to a lot of the James Patterson novels - mainly because Hurwitz writes the series with short, sharp chapters that are highly focused on the story and the characters.  Evan is far from perfect, which makes him more relateable, and it is all too easy to feel the emotions he feels at different points in the books.  The 'villains' are also very well written, not James Bond or Alex Rider villains that are too bad or twisted to believed, but rather villains that are the products of their lives and (dare I say it) somewhat sympathetic villains because they were the result of their own upbringings and failures.

A great series, and hopefully there are many more books to come as the ending of The Nowhere man promises many good things to come.

If you like this book then try:
  • The killing kind by Chris Holm
  • Breaking Creed by Alex Kava
  • The Postcard killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund
  • The basement: A novel  by Stephen Leather
  • City of the lost by Kelley Armstrong
  • Eeny meeny by M.J. Arlidge
  • Truth or die by James Patterson and Howard Roughan
  • Dead secret by Ava McCarthy
  • Never never by James Patterson and Candice Fox
  • Darkly dreaming Dexter by Jeffry P. Lindsay
  • Kiss the girls by James Patterson
  • Kill me if you can by James Patterson and Marshall Kamp

Reviewed by Brilla

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The shut-in by James Patterson and Duane Swierczynski

Tricia Celano has a medical condition that basically means she is allergic to sunlight - so her daylight hours are spent holed up in her studio apartment.  Because of a fear of wandering at night she also doesn't go out at night, so she has become a shut-in over the past few years.  Everything she needs she can order online, and to get her fix of people time she uses her small drone to explore the world beyond her apartment. 

When she catches sight of a murder through the lens of her drone, Amelia, it is just the beginning of a dangerous game of cat and mouse.  Tricia is used to observing the world from a distance, but this time someone is looking back at Amelia and understands what the little drone means.  As the game of cat and mouse escalates, Tricia has to figure out how to stop the killer from adding her to their list - especially when the Police don't believe pretty much anything she has to say.

Bookshots have a wide variety of books in the series - some tie in with other full novel series, while others are stand alone novellas.  The shut-in is a stand alone novella which means you can dive in with no background and enjoy with no strings attached!  

I have read quite a few Bookshots, and this is the second one I have read by these two authors and they have a real zing when writing together.  Patterson is always a sharp writer, but pairing with Swierczynski adds a darker and more twisted edge that makes them delicious little dark treats to enjoy!

If you like this book then try:
  • The house husband by James Patterson and Duane Swierczynski
  • Private Royals by James Patterson and Rees Jones
  • Zoo 2 by James Patterson and Max DiLallo
  • The hostage by James Patterson and Robert Gold
  • Black and Blue by James Patterson and Candice Fox
  • Chase by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  • Airport code red by James Patterson and Michael White
  • Level 26: Dark origins by Anthony E. Zuiker & Duane Swierczynski

Reviewed by Brilla

Friday, April 21, 2017

Pegasus in flight by Anne McCaffrey

Pegasus in flight is the second book in the Talents of Earth series, and while you can read it as a stand alone book you will enjoy it more if you have read To ride Pegasus as this review contains some ***SPOILERS*** about the first book.

The world is crowded, and the sprawling city of Jerhatten is no exception.  The poor are crowded into massive Linears, buildings that soar high into the sky, full of tiny apartments where the residents have all the basics of life but very little hope.  Because of the over crowding there is a strict population law, each couple is allowed one child only, any other children are automatically classes as illegal citizens.  The residents of the Linears flout the law and continue to have child after child, raising them in secret and teaching them to distrust any authority.  In a world where every building soars into the sky the Centre of Parapsychic Talents of the North American Coast, set on it's sprawling grounds is a carefully guarded secret sanctuary for parapsychics registered with the centre.

The only hope for the future of Earth is the space station that is being built, a launching point for space ships taking colonists to new worlds.  It is a project that must be completed - no matter what the cost.  The fates are about to intervene in the destiny of the Talents of Earth once again, because a young boy paralysed in an accident has an amazing Talent - both in terms of the strength of his mind, and because he is both a powerful telepath and powerful telekinetic.  At the same time as the Centre searches for him, another youngster is showing her Talent in the Linears.  Although they don't know it yet both of them are in danger, and so is every parapsychic on Earth, because sometimes it doesn't pay to be the best at what you do.

Pegasus in flight is an enjoyable and thoroughly engaging sequel for To ride Pegasus, partly because of the change in focus and partly because it has a more traditional chapter structure than it's predecessor.  The change between the two books shows the amount of change and polish in Anne McCaffrey's novels over the years, and her ability to write characters that you really care about.  This is my favourite book in the series, and it was finished way too quickly!  Although I have read the book before it was a book that I got lost in almost straight way, and even though I knew what was going to happen I didn't care because I enjoyed the repeat journey so much.

Talents of Earth series:
To ride Pegasus
Pegasus in flight
Pegasus in space

Tower and the hive series:
The Rowan
Damia's children
Lyon's pride
The tower and the hive

If you like this book then try:
  • The crystal singer by Anne McCaffrey
  • The ship who sang by Anne McCaffrey
  • Decision at Doona by Anne McCaffrey
  • Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
  • Alien taste by Wen Spencer
  • Sassinak by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Moon

Reviewed by Brilla