Monday, December 4, 2017

Sins of the father by Fleur Beale

The full title of this book is Sins of the father: The long shadow of a religious cult: A New Zealand story and it is focused on the children and grandchildren of Neville Cooper - the infamous leader of the Gloriavale Christian community in New Zealand.  This community has come under a great deal of scrutiny, particularly in the past few years, as former members of the community talk about what life is like in the closed religious community.  

I have read quite a few books about cults and extreme religious communities because it's important to understand how these groups form and how they control people so you can help friends and family if they fall under the influence of such a group.  I read Daughter of Gloriavale a few months ago, and that was how I learned that this book existed and I was very keen to get my hands on a copy because I was hoping that it would provide more detail and a different perspective on the community.  

Despite looking forward to reading the story of Phil and his family I have to confess to a feeling of disappointment and distance from their story, mainly because it was written by someone else about them - rather than in their own voices.  Don't get me wrong, Fleur Beale has done a great job of bringing their story to life, but it sounds rather clinical and distant and lacks an emotional hold for you to latch onto and get involved in their lives and what happened to them.  Other stories of this type are from the first person perspective, even though some of them use a ghost writer to help them achieve this, and it just adds more weight and humanity to the story.  Having the story unfold in the voice of someone else as a series of events lessens the impact - although there are some very emotional scenes and moments that certainly hit you very hard.

Gloriavale has gone on a charm offensive, opening their doors to film crews who have recorded aspects of their daily lives - creating a vision of a Christian utopia where everyone in the community comes together and thrives.  As this book was published in 2008 it is quite likely that some of their charm offensive is to try and soften the blow of this book unveiling what life can be like for people living in the community.  What comes across quite clearly in Sins of the father and Daughter of Gloriavale is that in the beginning the community was exactly what it presents itself as, a Christian community where everyone works together to provide for the entire community, but both books show how the complete power of their leader Neville Cooper/Hopeful Christian has warped the community and the lives of the people living in it.

This is not the most compelling read, Daughter of Gloriavale does a better job of bringing the personal heartache to life, but it is a glimpse into what the community is like and that the people closest to Neville Cooper are the ones who faced the most pressure to conform.  One of the most telling things about life in the Gloriavale community is that so many of Neville Coopers children and grandchildren have left the community - that speaks volumes about what his family and other members of his community face.

If you are interested in reading more stories from people who have been raised in extreme religious groups or cults then try some of these stories.  Some of the stories are disturbing because of their references to sexual and physical violence towards women and children, so reader beware that there will be some unpleasant (but not gratuitous) reading ahead.  If you would like to read more then try:
  • Daughter of Gloriavale my life in a religious cult by Lilia Tarawa
  • The witness wore red by Rebecca Musser with M. Bridget Cook
  • Stolen innocence by Elissa Wall
  • Parents who kill by Carol Anne Davis
  • The little prisoner: A memoir by Jane Eliott
  • Behind closed doors by Ngaire Thomas
  • Beyond belief: My secret life inside Scientology and my harrowing escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill
  • Banished: Surviving my years in the Westboro Baptist Church by Lauren Drain
  • I fired god by Jocelyn R. Zichterman
  • Behind the Exclusive Brethren by Michael Bachelard

Reviewed by Brilla

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Spare me the truth by C.J. Carver

There's nothing particularly memorable about Dan Forrester, and after watching his son die before his eyes there are parts of his life even he can't remember anymore.  The gaps in his memory aren't really a problem though - he still remembers his wife and their little girl, but the son and brother they once had is forgotten and found only in photographs.  Dan is content with his life, his job as an advanced driving instructor lets him work flexible hours and have some fun, but his carefully structured and settled world is abruptly upended when a woman walks up to him and asks him to come back to his old job - a job he simply can't remember. 


Stella Reavey is used to keeping secrets - she has kept her daughter in the dark about what she really does for a living, and she has managed to keep secrets from her work colleagues too.  When a mission goes wrong, she has no choice but to try and convince Dan to return to the life he once lived, but how do you convince a man you are telling the truth when he doesn't have any memories for you to draw on as proof?  Turning to her daughter Grace is an option, but a GP is a jack-of-all-trades and not a memory specialist.  When Stella dies suddenly Grace is thrust into a world of secrets and lies as she tries to unravel a tangled knot of secrets and coded messages that might have made sense if her mother had had the time to pass on everything she needed to know.


Lucy Davies is energetic and highly motivated, character traits that you would think would be essential for a police officer in one of the most well known police forces in the world - but when she falls foul of her superiors she is forced out of the London Met and forced to make a new start in a smaller less exciting police district.  At least, it was supposed to be smaller and less exciting, and it was until Lucy stumbled across a kidnapping victim who is still alive.  It seems like the perfect case to get her back into her old job at the Met, but first she has to prove herself and help solve the case.  Driven to prove herself, Lucy is also hiding a secret from her colleagues - it appears that the victims have a connection, they are all taking a drug that Lucy herself was taking, and if anyone finds out why she could be off the force for good.  Balancing solving the case with keeping her secret will be a challenge, but there are lives at stake and Lucy will have some tough decisions to make.


Spare me the truth is one of those rare novels that takes different stories and blends them together into a seamless whole before separating them again smoothly and without interruption.  There are few authors who can create stories where you care about the individual characters and hear their stories so clearly, even when the different characters come together into the same space at the same time.  I loved the way we discovered more about the characters, and that they became more rounded as the story moved on - and Carver managed to create characters that feel "right" and familiar, without drifting too far into the cliché. 


I picked this book up from a recommended reads newsletter from my local library, and once it was finished I was a little disappointed because I wanted more - only to discover there is a second book and a third on the way.  Hopefully I can get my hands on book two before Christmas so I have another amazing read to enjoy on the stat holidays!  Carver has managed to create an addictive read that has characters you care about and that would translate very well to the big or small screen.  There is a lot to like here, and nothing that I didn't like which is a rare thing these days.


If you like this book then try:


Reviewed by Brilla

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Manhunt by James Patterson and James O. Born

Detective Michael Bennett is trying to keep his family together, no easy feat when his children are growing up before his eyes - and one of his children is serving time behind bars.  Keeping to family traditions is important for keeping a sense of 'normal' and one tradition he is determined to keep alive is the annual family outing to the Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Everything seems to be going to plan, until a man drives his vehicle into the packed crowd moments before the truck explodes.  In the ensuing panic Bennett keeps his wits about him and tracks the terrorist - but what he finds is not what he expected.

Drawn into the case because he is the only person who has seen the suspect (and because he is who he is), Bennett finds himself working alongside the enigmatic Darya Kuznetsova.  Darya is Russian, which helps immensely when you are dealing with a predominantly Russian speaking community, but she is also keeping secrets.  Determined to solve the case even if it ruffles the feathers of the lead FBI investigator, Bennett goes out on a limb to solve the case - not an easy thing to do when you don't know who to trust and there are multiple players looking for their suspect.

Detective Michael Bennett is one of my favourite characters, and while I was dubious that having Bookshots in the series was a good idea, I have found that they have added to the series without making it overly complicated.   Manhunt is a great addition to the Michael Bennett series, and also a great addition to the Bookshots series - though it may be a little hard to follow if you have not read the other books in the Michael Bennettt series.

If you like this book then try:
  • The end (ebook) by James Patterson and Brendan DuBois
  • The witnesses (ebook) by James Patterson and Brendan DuBois
  • The shut-in by James Patterson and Duane Swierczynski
  • Private Royals by James Patterson and Rees Jones
  • Heist by James Patterson and Rees Jones
  • The pretender (ebook) by James Patterson and Andrew Bourelle
  • Black and Blue by James Patterson and Candice Fox
  • Let's play make-believe by James Patterson and James O. Born
  • Chase by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  • Airport code red by James Patterson and Michael White

Reviewed by Brilla

The glass spare by Lauren DeStefano

Her entire life, Wilhelmina 'Wil' Heidle has known she is a spare child, the girl child her mother desperately wanted and that her father didn't need.  Her oldest brother Owen is going to be King after her father, and her brother Baren was the spare child - which left Wil and her brother Gerdie as the useless spares.  Determined to find her place in the family Wil takes of advantage of the fact she is dark haired and looks nothing like the rest of her family to become the King's spy.  She can leave and enter the palace undetected, and she can defend herself in a fight, which makes her uniquely placed to move through the crowds of the capital running errands for her father or her brother Gerdie - who is also determined to prove that he is not a useless spare by using alchemy to create weapons that add to their fathers power.

Wil is used to being forgotten and overlooked, she is used to proving herself for every single scrap of attention from her father - she is even used to being deadly, but not from a single touch of her hand.  When she is cornered in a fight Wil discovers that she can turn living things into glittering gems with a single touch, and she is horrified when she takes a mans life.  Desperate to keep her secret, Wil takes risks, and when she takes another life she enters a banishment that takes her far from home and the people she loves.  Her one hope is to find someone who can remove the curse, but nothing seems to be going to plan for Wil, and she soon finds herself far from home and caught up in a most unexpected situation.  Wil is used to proving herself, and working hard to prove her worth to her father, and she is slowly coming to realise that there is more to the world than she ever knew.

The glass spare is the first book in a duology, and while I was a bit disappointed because I had picked it up thinking it was a standalone, I am now quite looking forward to the sequel as the story slowly built towards a series of revelations that deserved to be explored over two books.  I can probably guess what some of the story will be in the sequel, I really enjoyed the journey as DeStefano has written the character of Wil with just the right dose of humanity and magic to make her relateable and fantastical.  I have seen some negative reviews about The glass spare, mainly that it was cliché and a romance novel hidden as fantasy - but both of these descriptions are both overly simplistic and basically unfair. 

DeStefano has taken an old story, King Midas and his golden touch, and spun it into a new tale that was well crafted and a brilliant escape from the real world.  You should definitely read this story for yourself and make up your own mind - don't let the critics put you off because you'll be the one that misses out!  Now comes the wait for the sequel, hopefully it won't be too far away.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Absolute zero by James Patterson and Ed Chatterton

Cody Thurston lives and works in a pub in East London, happy to live a simple life and leave his past in the past.  When he sends a group of trouble makers on their way one night he has no idea how badly that is going to come back and bite him where it hurts.  Rather than making everyone safer he finds himself on the run accused of crimes he didn't commit.

For Nate Miller Thurston is dealt with through a neat frame up, but he has underestimated Thurston.  A former special forces soldier, Thurston is resourceful and highly skilled - not to mention thirsty for revenge.  Miller can run, but he can't hide, and Thurston is determined to see his mission through.  Miller is used to getting his own way and coming out on top, but sometimes it's not the biggest bad in town that wins - it's the hero no one sees coming.  If Thurston can pull off this mission of a life time he will save lives and stop a flood of illicit drugs hitting the market, but first he has to survive everything Miller can throw at him.

Absolute zero is a thrill ride and a great addition to the Bookshots range - especially for readers who enjoy books that are more at the thriller end of the spectrum rather than the crime end.  Patterson and Chatterton have created a great character in Cody Thurston and I was hooked on the story from the start, wondering where the story could possibly lead next.  Hopefully there are more books from this combination of authors because I am hooked on their character development and fast paced plotting!  Best read in one sitting so you don't miss a second of the action and the twists and turns.

If you like this book then try:

  • The end (ebook) by James Patterson and Brendan DuBois
  • The witnesses (ebook) by James Patterson and Brendan DuBois
  • The shut-in by James Patterson and Duane Swierczynski
  • Private Royals by James Patterson and Rees Jones
  • Heist by James Patterson and Rees Jones
  • The pretender (ebook) by James Patterson and Andrew Bourelle
  • Black and Blue by James Patterson and Candice Fox
  • Let's play make-believe by James Patterson and James O. Born
  • Chase by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  • Airport code red by James Patterson and Michael White

Reviewed by Brilla

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Into the bright unknown by Rae Carson

Into the bright unknown is book three in the Gold Seer trilogy and while you can read it as a stand alone novel I highly recommend reading book one, Walk on Earth a stranger, and Like a river glorious first.  This review contains ***SPOILERS*** if you have not read the first books in the series.

Despite having the odds stacked against her, Leah Westfall has travelled from her home in Georgia all the way to California.  It was a journey that started with the murder of her parents, and she has seen both hardship and joy on her journey.  Since she settled in the town of Glory she has even dared to dream of a safe future for herself and the circle of close friends who know her secret - that she can sense the presence of gold and even call it to her.  It is a secret that she keeps closely guarded, but her uncle Hiram knew, and because he coveted it so much he brought Leah to the attention of James Henry Hardwick. 

Hardwick is a wealthy man, used to getting what he wants, and he is willing to play dirty to get what he wants.  Leah was able to make a deal with him that would see Glory with its own town charter, keeping it safe from claim jumpers and people who wanted to take over the town - but Hardwick is yet to deliver.  When news arrives that property belonging to the Joyner family has arrived in San Francisco and that it must be collected or it will be sold, Leah and her friends head to San Francisco to reclaim the property and try and get their town charter. 

When they arrive in San Francisco they find things are not what they expected.  Becky Joyner is unable to reclaim her property because in the eyes of the law it belongs to her husband, and since he is dead the only choice they have is to try and buy it at auction - but Becky is stubborn and refuses to pay for her own property, so they decide to take some risk instead.  Becky is not the only one who is disappointed, Leah and the rest of her party are also disappointed as it seems that Hardwick has a stranglehold on San Francisco that is blocking all their hopes and dreams.  With all their futures on the line Leah must find the strength and courage to fight for what she believes in - at a time when a woman is property, and the law favours the rich and powerful.

Into the bright unknown is a very satisfying end to the Gold seer trilogy.  From the start Carson has woven her own magic, using all her skills as a writer to take a time in history and add a subtle layer of magic that is totally believable.  It is too easy to forget that women were treated as property for centuries, and that people of colour were once treated as second class citizens and slaves.  I found the historical setting fascinating and very sympathetic to the time - you can see the research involved when you read the acknowledgements and recommended books across the series.  I was a little worried that the ending of the series would be a fizzle or a cop out, but Carson has brought the series to an end in a believable way that sits well with her attention to the rest of the series.

I started reading this series because I had read Carson's previous series, and I wasn't sure if I would like it because it seems like a historical series rather than a fantasy series, but I loved it from the start and I'm very glad I gave it a chance.  This is an excellent series and this final book was a challenge to review because I didn't want to spoil the surprises and sweet moments that make it such a great read.  Here's hoping there are more series from Carson in the future - whether they are complete fantasy or set in our own world/past they are sure to delight and engage readers of all ages.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A scandal in Battersea by Mercedes Lackey

A scandal in Battersea is the twelfth book in the Elemental masters series and while it can be read as a stand alone novel it is best enjoyed when you read the series in order - or if you at least read A study in sable first.

Christmas is rapidly approaching and it is an exciting time for Sarah and Nan and their young charge Suki - especially when they have the patronage of Lord Alderscroft.  When you have all the benefits of wealth and power it is a simple thing to make a child happy, especially when you can spoil them with treats and open their eyes with wonder.  It is also a serious time however, for there is always some danger threatening the people of London, and when you are able to communicate with spirits or read minds there is always a part to play in defending their city for Sarah and Nan.  They are not alone though as they are surrounded by psychics and elemental masters who understand the world around them and know how to protect them and guide them.  Sarah and Nan are happy to play their part, and when they are asked to help search institutions for the Gifted who have been labelled mad they have no idea that they are going to stumble across a threat to London that could destroy them all.

Someone is seeking Power, and they have found a book that seems to promise exactly that.  Alexandre Harcourt is a young man of some means who is determined to make a life for himself - one that has Power and wealth.  His desires for Power have been thwarted by having to live within his means, his finances carefully controlled by a trust fund that he must jump through hoops to access, but now he has found a Power that may change all that.  His greed for more may cost more than he can bear though, as the Power he calls demands sacrifice, and it will not be satisfied with scraps or small offerings, and what it demands could expose Alexandre to the White Lodge that protects London.  With each new demand Alexandre realises that he is rapidly getting in over his head, but it may be too late to stop - and it may be too late to save London if Sarah, Nan, and their allies can't untangle what is happening to the young women they are finding wandering the streets as empty shells.

The Elemental masters series is an interesting one, not only because it is set in an historical time that adds a complexity to the stories, but also because it has taken familiar stories and breathed new life into them.  Through this series we have seen characters use a variety of magical creatures and resources to change their fates, and seen characters woven from one story into another to create a complex and thoroughly engrossing world.  A scandal in Battersea is one of the books in the series that seems to divert from the core idea of using fairytales and traditional stories as source material - although you could also argue that as it is the second book that draws on the great Sherlock Holmes and his world that is it still literature based.  

A scandal in Battersea was an enjoyable and thoroughly engrossing novel that I read in a single day because I didn't want to put it down.  This is a solid addition to the series and grows the connections between the different groups/people that have made up this world so far.  It would not be the best book to start if you are reading the series for the first time, but it was comfortable and rewarding to spend time with Nan, Sarah, and their allies once again.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Hunting hour by Margaret Mizushima

Hunting hour is the third book in the Timber Creek K-9 mysteries, and while you can read it as a stand alone this review contains ***SPOILERS*** if you have not already read Killing trail and Stalking ground.  I highly recommend reading the series in order.

Life with a police dog for a partner was never going to be easy for Deputy Mattie Lu Cobb, especially with a smart and dominant dog like Robo, but they have proven themselves time and again.  Earning the respect of her team is important to Mattie, but that respect is sliding into concern because Mattie is not at the top of her game.  Memories buried long ago in her past have been stirred up by her brother reaching out and contacting her, and those memories are making it hard for her to function.  She isn't sleeping well, isn't eating well, and she is distracted enough that it is affecting her working relationship with Robo.  Worst of all, her colleagues have noticed the change and are challenging her about her behaviour and health.

The distraction couldn't have come at a worse time, because a young girl has gone missing from one of the local schools, and the team needs Robo and his nose to find her.  When he does find her, they are too late to save her, and it hits Mattie hard that they have lost another child from their community - and there are aspects of the case that stir up her memories and make it challenging for Mattie to remain objective and focused.  The death is a tragedy for the community, but Mattie is able to keep some professional distance.  When veterinarian Cole Walker reaches out to let her know that one of his daughters is missing it leaves Mattie reeling in shock, and sends her into overdrive to find the kidnapper before the unthinkable happens and the community loses another child.  This case will stretch Mattie to the limit and may push her over the edge.

The Timber Creek K-9 mysteries series has been a delightful surprise, not only for myself but also for my elderly mother.  The characters are relatable and engaging, and the relationships between all the characters bring the series to life and help you feel truly connected to the series.  I picked up the first book in the series because I was wanting books about working dogs and their human partners, and I have continued to read the series because of how well the relationship is portrayed between Mattie and Robo, but also because Mizushima has written characters that you really connect with and care about - and more importantly, with each new book in the series we add more layers and background to each character, which makes them even more familiar and comfortable. 

I did have an inkling quite early one about who the person involved was, but it didn't stop me enjoying the book, and there were quite a few times when I wondered if I had actually figured it out or not!  This is a great series if you like mysteries that have relatable and realistic characters.  Mizushima doesn't try to be too clever, and she has a nice writing style that gives you the bones of the story and enough detail to keep it interesting, without bogging you down with superfluous details.  Hopefully there are many more books in this series to come, although with a small town like Timber Creek there may not be that many more people Mizushima can kill off!

One of the challenges of reviewing this series is that there are little twists and turns that I want other readers to discover for themselves rather than me spoiling them - so a little lighter review than normal but I still highly recommend this series.

If you like this book then try:


Reviewed by Brilla

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Rituals by Kelley Armstrong

Rituals is the fourth and final book in the Cainsville series so this review contains ***SPOILERS*** if you have not read the first books in the series.  This series is best enjoyed in order so read the rest of the series before you read anymore of this review.

Olivia Jones has multiple names and identities - and not all by choice.  For some she is Olivia Taylor-Jones, the daughter of a wealthy family who sadly lost her father but gained a suitably large trust fund.  No one partiocularly special, but also not someone easily forgotten.  For others she is Eden Larsen, the daughter or two serial killers who are serving life sentences in prison.  To those closest to her though, she is simply Liv - something she is determined to cling to, especially when it seems as though everyone wants something from her.  

With the Tylwyth Teg and Cwn Annwn both determined to win her over to their side it seems inevitable that someone is going to get hurt - especially with so much at stake.  Determined to stop the past from repeating itself Liv fights to hold onto the relationships that mean the most to her - especially Ricky and Gabriel.  As their final chapter approaches Liv is going to have to make a choice, and if she doesn't make the right one then it could mean the end for either the Tylwyth Teg or the Cwn Annwn.  What Liv doesn't know is that there is another player in town, one who has plans of their own and is determined to stop Liv from making the wrong choice - the wrong choice as far as they are concerned anyway.  The final choice is coming, and if Liv gets it wrong she could lose everything.

Rituals is the final book in the Cainsville series and it was a very satisfying end to what has turned out to be an exceptional series.  There are some delightful twists and turns in this final installment in the series, and one of the most frustrating thing about reviewing this book is trying to give it a good review without spoiling the surprises!  From the start it has been clear that the Cainsville series is a sweeping urban fantasy that takes elements of mythology and shapes them into a series that is both completely engrossing and also believable and grounded (not an easy feat for an urban fantasy with a very healthy dose of the supernatural).  

Kelley Armstrong has created characters that you connect with and care about - even if trying to figure out the pronunciation of some of the Welsh words was a bit of a challenge!   Finding a series that can keep you hooked when each book is more than 400 pages is no simple feat, and while I was satisfied with the ending of the series I feel a little bereft knowing that there won't be another book in the series (that's how well this world was written).  Hopefully there will be more books from Armstrong in a similar vein in the future because it was a very good series and created a nice niche for itself in the urban fantasy genre.


 If you like this book then try:
  • Omens by Kelley Armstrong
  • Visions by Kelley Armstrong
  • Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong
  • Summon the keeper by Tanya Huff
  • Night shifted by Cassie Alexander
  • Eight million gods by Wen Spencer
  • Dark descendant by Jenna Black
  • Moon called by Patricia Briggs
  • Spiders bite by Jennifer Estep
  • Prowlers by Christopher Golden
  • Precinct 13 by Tate Hallaway
  • Dead witch walking by Kim Harrison
  • Blood price by Tanya Huff
  • Kitty and the midnight hour by Carrie Vaughn
  • Children of the night by Mercedes Lackey
  • Alien taste by Wen Spencer
  • Cast in shadow by Michelle Sagara


Reviewed by Brilla

Good me bad me by Ali Land

Annie made the difficult decision to report her mother to the Police, and now she has to live with the consequences.  Her mother is locked up and awaiting trial for the murder of several children, and Annie is living with a new family under a new name.  Milly has the chance for a semi normal life, something she had never had and could never have as Annie, but her new life is far from perfect.  The years spent in her mothers 'loving' care have left Annie with physical and emotional scars that she can't shed as easily as her name, and while Milly is a fresh start there are echoes of Annie that keep getting in the way.  

It doesn't help that her foster father is also a psychologist who has been tasked with helping prepare Milly for trial, which means she spends a lot of time with him - making her foster sister Phoebe jealous and downright nasty.  Despite all her best intentions Milly keeps getting flashes of Annie, and along with Annie flashes of her mother and what really happened in the house she grew up in.  Everyone thinks that Annie was brave to reach out to the Police, and while she has to keep secrets as Milly she also has the chance to build a new life for herself - a new future.  Milly is keeping secrets though, secrets that Annie would approve of - and so would her mother.  As the court case draws nearer, Annie will have to decide if she truly embrace her new life as Milly, or if Annie is here to stay.

Good me bad me popped up on a recommended books list from the library and the blurb was so intriguing that I had to pick it up - mainly because I enjoy reading fiction that challenges you to confront human nature and what people are capable of when they are pushed, and the damage that can be done to people when they are abused / neglected / twisted by their upbringing.  I was not disappointed by Good me bad me, even if it was a slightly unusual writing style that took a little while to settle into.  Once I was settled in and got used to the style I was hooked!

This book would make a very interesting movie or televised drama, mainly because each of the characters have such a strong presence in the book - everyone has secrets and everyone has things that come out as the story progresses.  There is so much going on that at times it feels like the story moves at breakneck pace, and then just when you need it things slow down again (a rather nifty writing trick that keeps you hooked into the story).  Once I finished I gave the book to my mother to read and she also thoroughly enjoyed reading the book too - and while we have similar tastes when it comes to crime it is unusual to find a book we both like as much as we both liked Good me bad me.  It will be interesting to see if Land is able to write more books of this caliber.

If you like this book then try:


Reviewed by Brilla

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The dolls by James Patterson and Kecia Bal

Lana Wallace, an investigative reporter, has just moved from Chicago to Boston.  It's a change of location and a change of focus, as she moves from being a crime reporter to a business reporter.  It's not so easy to leave her previous career behind though, as a breaking story has everyone on their toes - two wealthy business men have been found murdered and there is no sign of the murderer.

Drawn into investigating the case, Lana soon discovers that there is much more to the story than meets the eye.  As she digs deeper she discovers the world of dolls, incredibly life like robots that will do anything their owners tell them to - and it appears that their owners purchased them for one main reason, sexual pleasure.  Can Lana use her skills as a reporter to get to the bottom of the case - before it's too late?

This is another intriguing and expertly written Bookshot that I had to read in one sitting because I did not want to put it down.  While the idea of a 'sex bot' is somewhat cliché in the science fiction genre, recent leaps in AI have shown just how lifelike robots can be now, and how open they are to abuse already.  There are some interesting moral topics raised in this story too - like do you have to be human to have human rights?

A great read, and hopefully there are more Bookshots from Patterson and Bal as they have a seamless style and a good grasp of what makes you connect with, and care about the characters.  This is no cliché riddled, corny science fiction novella - it is a tensely written thriller that could have come from the headlines, and makes you wonder if just because they could, should they have?

If you like this book then try:
  • Private Royals by James Patterson and Rees Jones
  • 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
  • Let's play make-believe by James Patterson and James O. Born
  • The house husband by James Patterson and Duane Swierczynski
  • The witnesses by James Patterson and Brendan DuBois
  • The end by James Patterson and Brendan DuBois
  • After the end by James Patterson and Brendan DuBois

Reviewed by Brilla

I know a secret by Tess Gerritsen

I know a secret is the twelfth book in the Rizzoli and Isles series, and while you can read it as a stand alone novel, you will enjoy the book more if you read the series in order.  This review contains ***SPOILERS*** about the series, so if you have not read the other books in the series I suggest you do before reading anymore of this review.

Holly has just attended the funeral of one of the children who rode the bus with her after school on the way to their after school care programme.  Her death was a tragedy, she fell asleep and died in a fire, her husband overseas on one of his many business trips.  It's a tragedy for her family, but people die in accidents everyday.  When another one of the children who rode that same bus is also found dead, this time obviously murdered, Holly starts to wonder and worry about what might be happening.  Holly is keeping secrets, and she is very good at keeping them - but she may not be able to hide from the past.

Detectives Rizzoli and Frost are used to some pretty gruesome murder scenes, but the death of Cassandra Coyle is not only gruesome but also bizarre.  The body has clearly been mutilated post mortem, but there are no obvious signs of murder.  Even with the body in the hands of medical examiner Doctor Maura Isles, there is no clear cause of death - until Isles makes a startling discovery.  Shortly after the death of Cassandra Coyle, they discover another body, obviously the victim of the same killer.  As they become more involved in the case it becomes clear that there is more than just two victims, and that they are dealing with a very clever killer.  As they struggle to find the killer, Rizzoli and Isles are also distracted by personal lives that seem determined to drive them crazy.

Each time I hear that there is a new book in the Rizzoli and Isles series I can't help but wonder what thrill ride Tess Gerritsen is going to take us on next, and what twisted little devious route she will take to get there.  Some books in the series have been outstanding and memorable, some have been more mediocre - in the case of I know a secret I have to unfortunately put it at the mediocre end of the scale, mostly because I guessed quite a few of the large plot points before they were revealed.  Don't get me wrong, this is not a bad book, I just found it more predictable that it should be.

It does feel as though Gerritsen has taken the chance to tie off some loose ends with I know a secret, and taken the chance to open up some new opportunities for the characters.  This is a great series, and while this book was not one of the strongest ones in the series it was a solid read and adds to the world view for the series.  Here's hoping the next book in the series is a stronger addition to the series and a little less predictable - that said though, considering the amount of crime I read it is not surprising that I saw some of it coming!

If you like this book then try:
  • The surgeon by Tess Gerritsen
  • The apprentice by Tess Gerritsen
  • The silent girl by Tess Gerritsen
  • Last to die by Tess Gerritsen
  • Without trace by Simon Booker
  • The postcard killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund
  • Regina's song by David and Leigh Eddings
  • Look behind you by Sibel Hodge
  • Kill switch by Neal Baer & Jonathan Greene
  • The girl in the ice by Robert Bryndza
  • Eeny meeny by M.J. Arlidge
  • Now you see her by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  • Vodka doesn't freeze by Leah Giarratano
  • Dead secret by Ava McCarthy
  • One step too far by Tina Seskis
  • I've got you under my skin by Mary Higgins Clark
  • The survivors club by Lisa Gardner
  • The edge of normal by Carla Norton
  • Eeny meeny by M.J. Arlidge

Reviewed by Brilla

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Suspect by Robert Crais

Nine months ago LAPD police officer Scott James is sitting in his patrol car with his partner Stephanie, nothing on their minds except enjoying one of their last patrols together before Scott joins LAPD's Metro Division.  The night is quiet and relatively monotonous until a Bentley sedan (way too fancy for the neighborhood they are in) sales quietly into the intersection by their squad car - and straight into an ambush.  In just a few moments the car is hit by a hail of bullets, the people in the car are dead, and Scott is desperately trying to reach help as Stephanie slowly bleeds out on the pavement.  

Flash forward nine months and while his physical injuries are on the mend Scott is still dealing with the trauma of losing his partner, and trying to repair the gaping holes in his memory of that night.  No longer fit for service on the front lines he refuses a medical discharge and finds himself within the ranks of the K-9 handlers, a highly sought after position and his presence is resented by some inside the team and out.  Scott may have managed to stay in the game for now, but staying in the game for the long term means finding a way to work with a canine partner and passing the high bar set by his new commanding officer Sergeant Leland.  Everything he wants to do, everything he wants to become depends on what Leland thinks he can and can not do.

Being offered his first dog is the first step to becoming a real K-9 officer, but he is not drawn towards the well trained and eager dog he is offered - he is instead drawn to German shepherd that has almost as many issues as he does.  Maggie was trained as a marine corp dog and she did her job with energy and enthusiasm, detecting IEDs and explosives, and protecting her pack.  When her unit was ambushed Maggie was injured and no longer fit for service, and her new path led her to the police and Scott.  Scott may not be her pack, but over time she starts to understand this man who is injured like she is, and when he goes in pursuit of the people who hurt him and killed his partner she is right by his side and ready to do what she was trained to do.

After reading a few books about working dogs and police dogs over the past year, particularly in the past few weeks, I went on a bit of a book bender and ordered all the books my local library had that seemed to be about working dog partnerships.  Suspect was one of the ones that I picked up and actually got into (some of the others were trying to be too cute or missed the point), and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Scott and Maggie.  The experiences of both of them were traumatic, and there is a certain amount of poetry in the fact they found each other, and that they were able to help each other heal enough that they could work together.  At the end of the book the author fully acknowledges that he took some artistic licence with his portrayal of PTSD in both man and dog, but that doesn't take away from the fact that this is a book that portrays the working relationship between police officer and police dog very well.

If you like this book then try:

  • Breaking Creed by Alex Kava
  • Silent Creed by Alex Kava
  • Stalking ground by Margaret Mizushima
  • Without trace by Simon Booker
  • Crimson Lake by Candice Fox
  • I've got you under my skin by Mary Higgins Clark
  • City of fear by Alafair Burke
  • Murder past due by Miranda James
  • Vodka doesn't freeze by Leah Giarratano
  • I, Michael Bennett by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  • Kill switch by Neal Baer & Jonathan Greene
  • Kill me if you can by James Patterson and Marshall Karp

Reviewed by Brilla