Posted in formatting, review

How can I put this? – A book review

To be blunt, and polite – this didn’t really appeal to me and it didn’t leave me wanting more! I gave it 2 stars.

I’m a bit confused about this next book review as I was expecting great things. It was recommended to me by the publishing agency after I had reviewed another of its books. It just goes to show that one person’s opinion is simply just that – an opinion. And, in this particular, one that is far removed from my own. 

The book in question is Lie, Lay, Lain by Bryn Greenwood.

LieLayLain_Cover.fh11

Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

Jennifer has a great job and a go-getter fiancé. She’s on track for success, until she witnesses a fatal hit-and-run. Mistaking Jennifer for someone else, the dying victim extracts an impossible promise. Jennifer’s fiancé wants her to forget the whole incident, but when she closes her eyes, she can still see the bloody face of the woman who asked for her help.
Olivia is in a rut. Burdened with caring for her brain-damaged brother and already feeling like a spinster at 27, she’s desperate to escape. In a moment of weakness, she tells a lie that draws an unsuspecting paramedic into her life. As she struggles to expiate the lie, a horrible act of violence will test her resolve to be honest.
Where Jennifer’s promise and Olivia’s lie intersect, their lives begin to unravel.

My thoughts:

Although it sounded promising, this was a real slow burner, which unfortunately fizzled out and left no real impression on me. With each chapter dealing with the two main characters alternately, it was sometimes difficult to see the very tenuous connection between their lives. Frequently I was tempted to give up and not even finish the book. I made a mental note at the point that the story really came to life – it was at 81% (on my Kindle), which was far too late to really make any impact. By then I was bored with the characters.

The two women are poles apart, but attend the same church. There are many scenes at one church or another, but the worshippers are all putting on a show for each other, not wishing for their true lives to be seen and gossiped about by the congregation. It does showcase the hypocrisy of the church-goers and their bigoted views of those outside of their group.

The story does not seem to come to a convincing end either. There is no real closure regarding the fate of the little girl, merely a concession to a debate to improve how the child care system operates.  Olivia is transformed from the stereotypical ugly duckling with low self-esteem to a confident young woman in a happy relationship. However, Jennifer is left reeling from the initial accident, her unfaithful boyfriend, an over-demanding boss and finally the turmoil caused by the missing child.

There is a recurrent issue over the use of the word ‘lying’ versus ‘laying’ which, as the title suggests is a clever way of mixing up the two meanings of the word ‘lie’ and it goes on to debate whether the truth should always be told, regardless of its consequences.

I’m glad I persevered with the story, as it does leave the reader with lots to consider – although whether that is what everyone wants from a work of fiction is entirely subjective.

As with the previous book I read from this publisher, there are far too many formatting issues and mixed up phrases. They implied that the issue is with individual devices last time, and I guess the same will be said this time. However, I hasten to add that I have read many books on my Kindle, downloaded from both Amazon & NetGalley, and have never had these issues in such abundance as with this particular publisher.

I imagine I wont be getting any recommendations from them again!

Posted in books, Brummie, review, success, teaching

‘A few of my favourite things…!’

I’ve just finished  reading a wonderful book by Robert Bailey.

The Professor is easily going to be one of my reading highlights for 2014.

the professor

It’s a legal thriller that will have you enraptured from the very beginning and will keep you enthralled to the very end.

Summary: Tom McMurtrie was a former champion in the courtroom, yet he gave it all up to be a law professor,  having been persuaded  by the Man – the legendary Coach ‘Bear’ Bryant from his footballing days. After 40 years of teaching, Tom is forced to resign his post on the basis of some very dodgy evidence. Having lost his wife a few years before, Tom lacks the strength to fight this injustice and is further hampered by illness, which sees him retreat to his family home, out of the spotlight. He is contacted by a former good friend, whose  family has been killed in a trucking incident. She asks for his help to find out the truth about the accident. He refers the case to one of his students of old – one with whom he has had a stormy relationship. What unfolds then is the discovery of the lengths that greedy businessmen will go to, in order to save their own skin and wealth. Murder, bribery and blackmail ensue as the main witnesses to the accident are killed off or go ‘missing’ and are unable to prove the case for the defence team. Tom’s student flounders in the courtroom, but the professor returns to bring hope to the fledgling lawyer.

Writing: The writing is so strong, hooking the reader in from the outset. The characters are so well drawn, being polar opposites of each other – the good, well-intentioned and hopeful versus the cruel, ruthless and unmerciful. This is a story of good versus evil, the vulnerable underdog seeking redress from the wealthy tycoon.  The reader experiences the full gamut of emotions, empathizing with the defence and despising their uncaring opponents. Outside of the courtroom the relationships between the main characters enable us to understand the decisions they make. Tom’s illness is wearing him down, but his staunchest friends rally round him to show their support. When his faithful dog Musso saves Tom from a rabid bobcat, and in doing loses his own life, Tom realises that he has so much more to do in life and his return to the courtroom is a fitting tribute to his canine buddy.

My thoughts: The author clearly knows how to spin a tale of suspense, his knowledge of the law is evident and is woven into this masterpiece with due diligence and care. This is by far my favourite genre to read and I can’t wait to read the next offering from Mr. Bailey. As for the title of my blog post, let me enlighten you:

Suspense – favourite genre,

Setting – Birmingham, Alabama (as a brummie from the UK, I am always intrigued by the city with the same name across the sea. It never fails to amaze me how different two places with a shared name can be, and it will always fascinate me),

Musso the dog –  his brave death was heartbreaking and, as a devoted dog owner, I’m a sucker for a doggy tale,

Law – one of the most interesting subjects I ever studied and one of my biggest regrets that I didn’t pursue it further (I now get my fix with legal thrillers!!)

A few of my favourite things all wrapped up in a superb novel, definitely one to watch.

Thank you Robert Bailey.

Posted in books, fun, review

Catching up ….

As promised, here I am again, so soon after my last review. I chose to read the next book because there was quite a lot said about it in one of my writing groups. Whilst I admit to sometimes being quite stubborn and determined to choose my own books, I felt it was about time that I strayed from my usual path and tried something a little different for a change. Well, this was definitely different – and not in a bad way – at all. In fact it was a most entertaining read, I’m glad to hear that there are many other offerings by this author as she has a very original and amusing style of writing.

The next book under review is The secret world of Juniper Grace by Livia Ellis. (I gave this 4 stars)

juniper grace

In the real world, Juniper Grace is a shy English professor by day and the author of steamy novels by night. Her unfortunate love life compels her to weave her fantasies into her stories, using friends, neighbours and former partners as her protagonists. When a new guy moves in next door, the shy writer watches him in secret as he jogs through the neighbourhood and wanders naked around his home and garden. Seeing how she is clearly smitten by this newcomer, her friends seek to unite the pair, and use her upcoming birthday party to set things in motion. Meanwhile, in her latest piece of writing, Juniper uses her own name for the main female character, a supposedly meek and uninteresting governess, who is seduced by her employer and enjoys a raunchy and explicit relationship with him and his manservant.

The comparisons with her own life are easy to see, yet the differences are just as evident, particularly on the relationship front. Juniper, the professor, has clearly morphed into the governess, and ramps up the sexy shenanigans to compensate for her own lack-lustre love life. Her fantasies are constantly interrupted by her friends, who are trying to instigate a  meeting between Juniper and the new guy.Their hapless efforts are both embarrassing and amusing, you can feel Juniper cringing awkwardly when she realises the full extent of their enterprise. Yet her self-consciousness and discomfort are set aside when it appears that he has understood the joke and is as keen to get to know her as she is to know him. Finally, her life is imitating her own art and we see the real Juniper about to embark in her own true life fantasy.

As the prelude to what promises to be an engaging and witty series, this first story is bang on the money. The ‘story within a story’ element shows great skill on the part of the author and the two plots run alongside each other effortlessly. A fun read that was over far too quickly, much more is expected …. please!

Posted in books, review

Variety is good …..especially in books!

I  haven’t posted any  book reviews for a while, simply because I haven’t been reading as much as usual. Yes, guilty as charged – I have neglected my reading list in favour of new projects, destined to make me rich (ha, I should be so lucky!) Anyway, I have since seen the error of my ways and have returned to the sunny spot in the garden, armed with my kindle and within easy reach of the teapot. Normal service has been resumed – and it feels good.

Anxious to make up for lost time, I embarked on a mission to make a proper dent in my ‘to be read’ list, as I have already added more books, so it was time to redress the balance. I was very methodical and refused to be tempted by those new additions, I scrolled back through the list to find a couple that would have been wearing a thin coating of dust, had they been traditional physical books.

The first one under review is: Poison Pill by Glenn Kaplan (I gave this 3 stars)

POISONPILL

Viktor Volkov is a user, he uses anyone  to get want he wants and is not averse to using bribery, blackmail and even murder if necessary. A Russian oligarch, he seeks approval and acceptance from those in power, but wants more – always more. This time he is behind a takeover bid for a pharmaceutical company, Percival & Baxter, in search of a chemical compound to further increase his wealth. His methods are more than unethical, as he ‘arranges’ for one of the company’s current best-selling products to be poisoned and thus causing deaths and fear amongst both  the general public and the shareholders. As a result, the stock tumbles and allows him to bid for the company at a heavily reduced price.  However, the deal is being fronted by the ex-husband of the current CEO, himself a victim of blackmail and reluctant to sink to the depths required by the power-crazed Volkov. This leads to cracks appearing in the bid process, which are discovered eventually by the technical team at the company, but not before Volkov’s own daughter turns against him. She has witnessed his dealings many times, but when he forces his will on her life, she is beyond enraged and sets out to destroy him herself. 

The story has all the ingredients of a great mystery, although maybe it could be too predictable in its stereotypes. There is plenty of animosity on all sides, but Volkov’s mistake lies in his own belief that he has full control of the situation. When he interferes in his daughter’s life and takes the decision to terminate her pregnancy against her will, he unwittingly seals his own fate. As a young woman of immense wealth, accustomed to consorting with people in authority, she is able to dismantle his empire with the help of a fellow rich kid, Peter, who just happens to be the son of the CEO and the blackmailed frontman. Peter is seduced into helping her, his typical teenage lifestyle has been filled with video games and computers, giving him the skills to hack into his mother’s company and get evidence to incriminate Volkov. His only concern is to clear his father of any blame.

All in all, the plot has many interesting and unexpected elements, it flows quickly and creates plenty of suspense. At times, it does seem a little far-fetched and the findings made by Peter come a little too easily. However, it’s a fascinating story of good versus evil and shows how fragile the familial ties can be when stretched to the limit.

If you like a good mystery, suspense and revenge, then this is definitely worth a read.

My next review will follow immediately, I meant what I said about making up for lost time! Read on, please 🙂