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The story starts with someone struggling to write a letter. Each part is told from the character's viewpoint, but it is never confusing, it is quite clear who's voice/story is whose. The three characters the story revolves around are all escaping, in one way or another. Who amongst us hasn't wanted to just leave when everything go too much?I know I have wanted to, but it's not that simple, but for these three it is simple.
My only complaint about this book, is that it left me wanting to know what happened next, but that's what life is about, you make your way through/around obstacles as they appear, and move on to the next challenge.

Fleeing London is the only thing on Marina's mind when she and her toddler son Oscar, board a train heading north. Homeless and desperate to keep her son out of care, it takes her the briefest of moments to decide to seize the chance of a new start, though that choice must send her far away from everything she knows.
Soon Marina encounters Hannah, the owner of a dusty B & B, who loses her heart to Oscar and offers the mother and child a bed. And then there's Liam, a troubled young man with an unopened letter in his pocket, which he fears may contain news of the father he has spent a lifetime trying to shut out.
Each of them has a secret, and something the others need. But when the unthinkable happens, will they find a way through their fears and suspicions to help each other?
Claire Allen's new novel is a suspenseful yet tender story of characters clinging to difficult pasts, surprised into letting go.

This book gripped me right from the start.
The chapters are short and to the point, broken up into different character's viewpoints, although at first it is not 100% clear who the narrator is of each piece, it soon establishes who is narrating which part. Actually the only part I didn't know who was narrating was Rainie's narration, in the early stages, and once you know a little more about her, it becomes obvious why the author has done this. The language throughout is very accessible, the tension is built up very cleverly. I must admit, I did suss "whodunnit" before the end of the book, although I didn't know why. I think there is a very telling part in the story when the reader could pick up the "whodunnit", but it would be easy to miss. (I suppose I'm used to Patricia Cornwell scattering subtle clues as to the identity of the perpetrator of the crime, although in this novel, only one person ends up dead, I'll not give away who or why, you need to read the acknowledgements at the end of the novel, and visit the author's own website. I must say I like the idea.)
Now the bumph!

When someone you love vanishes without a trace, how far would you go to get them back?

For ex-FBI profiler Pierce Quincy, it's the beginning of his worst nightmare: a car abandoned on a desolate stretch of Oregon highway, engine running, purse on the driver's seat. And his estranged wife, Rainie Connner, gone, leaving no clue to her fate.

Did one of the ghosts from her troubled past finally catch up with Rainie? Or could her disappearance be the result of one of the cases they'd been working - a particularly vicious double homicide, or the possible abuse of a deeply disturbed child Rainie took too close to heart? Together with his daughter, FBI agent Kimberly Quincy, Pierce is battling the local authorities, racing against time and frantically searching for answers to all the questions he's been afraid to ask.

One man knows what happened that night. Adopting the alias of a killer from eighty years ago, he has already contacted the press. His terms are clear: he wants money, he wants power, he wants celebrity. And if he doesn't get what he wants, Rainie could be gone for good.

Sometimes, no matter how much you love someone, it's still not enough. As the clock winds down on a terrifying deadline, Pierce plunges headlong into the most desperate hunt of his life, into the shattering search for a killer, a lethal truth, and for the love of his life who may be forever . . . gone.

To visit the author's website

This is a young adult book, but not too young. The storyline develops as the book progresses. It starts off as a simple quest, young comber, Rej, finds someone dying. Goes off to find food for the dying man, when he returns the man is dead. He vows to find the killer and mete out justice. This turns into a journey Above, a risky place for a Comber. The story is told from Rej's point of view and Donna's, a young Abover. The Abovers are under a dictatorship of a sort, living under strict rules, where ownership of anything, even their own bodies, is looked upon as a sin against The Creator. It is this world that Rej enters, not grasping how it works.

The Combers live like spiders amongst endless tunnels linked by rope networks and slippery rock faces. In the beautiful city overhead live the Abiovers. These two worlds should never meet, but then the body of a murdered Abover appears in the combes. A young Comber, Rej, decides to risk his life and go Above to pick up the mysterious trail of the dead man, which will lead him to something far more sinister.

Action-packed, tense and brilliantly imagined, Basilisk will draw you into a dark and distrubing world.

I love Tom Holt's books, they are classed as comic fantasy, and are funny, if you like that sort of thing. I've read at least 8 more of his books, they appeal to my tangential sense of humour. This one was no different. The start of the book sets the scene for a "fairy tale" type story, but this is an adults book, so you don't expect it to start with a fairy tale. The reader is introduced to "Snow White" except she isn't what the reader expects, neither are the seven dwarves what the reader expects. In fact, the samurai are portrayed as quite cynical, "teaching" the youngest of their number in a rather warped manner, with the Japanese philosophy that it is good for the development of the character to do all the task allotted to you, without questioning. There are also three pigs, valiantly trying to outwit the big bad wolf, who happens to be called Fang. In there too is the wicked queen, then some children come along and mess the whole thing up. Storylines start to runs differently, nothing is predictable any more, and one of the children is somehow trapped in the whole thing. We find out where when we encounter Igor and his master. The three pigs employ a hit man to rid them of the wolf problem, and things just get a little mad, but funny mad.
Anyway, the bumph from the back;

Once upon a time everything was fine. Humpty Dumpty sat on his wall, Jack and Jill went about their lawful business, the Big Bad Wolf did what big bad wolves do, and the Wicked Queen plotted murder most foul.

Then human hackers caused havoc, shutting down the Wicked Queen's system (Mirrors 3.1) and corrupting her database. Suddenly, everything is not fine at all. And if it's not sorted, no one's going to be living happily ever after.

The book is written in accessible language, the only confusing bit is the odd bit of computer language thrown in, but when it is, the reason is to confuse, so it serves it's purpose.

Well, as the previous suggests, I haven't been reading this for about a week. There was a book I won't blog about, because it annoyed me.
This one however didn't.
A slow start, while I tried to figure out where the story was going, but once the "scene" had been set, the pace picks up nicely. And lets be honest, you don't want the scene setting rushing, or the story seems less substantial.
When I got part way through this one, I decided to see if she has written anything else, and was suprised to see that several people disliked whichever of her books they read that they posted a bad review on Amazon! Saying that, after the slush I had just read, this was a welcome change.

The story is centred around Will Moreland, a psychologist, and starts with his wife saying goodbye to him as he leaves for a reunion at Cornell. It becomes clear that Will did not want to attend the reunion, and has an agenda, we also learn that Will has a brother, at the time it is not made clear that he has a twin brother, (it is later though.) Everyone seems more interested in the whereabouts of Will's brother. Eventually, Will meets the person he has attended the reunion to meet. Their discussion is heated, then Will leaves the reunion.
As the plot weaves we find out more about the brother, and Will. The reason for the title is not clear until over halfway through. If you like books that make you think, and aren't bored by the min character wandering off in their mind, up what seem like wild-goose chases, (they are all relevant.) You'll like this book. It definitely made me think.
Now here's the "spartan" bumph, just enough to intrigue.

Will has a good sex life - with the woman he married. So why then is he increasingly plagued by violent erotic fantasies? He's about to lose his grip when he attends a college reunion and there discovers evidence of a past sexual betrayal, one serious enough that it threatens to overpower the present. Hypnotic and beautifully written, this mesmerising novel explores how painful psychological truths long buried within a family can corrupt the present but, through courage and understanding, lead to healing and renewal.

This is just a little moan about the way authors sometimes get it wrong, by just not checking their facts. It is very off putting when you are reading a book, and a fact you know to be false is stated as truth.
I'm not sure which is most annoying, finding one of these incorrect facts in a fiction book, or in non-fiction.

I'll give some examples, but obviously not the books they are from, of this.

1) The characters in the a book set off from London to the Lake District, a weekend/week away. They drive up the M1 and magically manage to get to the Lake District! I say magically, as the Pennines divide the East and West side of Britain. London is in the South East, the Lake District in the North West. If they travelled as far as they could up the M1 they would still be around 60 miles away from where they were supposed to be. This was early on in the book and made me question stuff the whole way through it. [Fiction, obviously.]

2) In a book I was reading for research purposes, the author states a fact that I know is erroneous. As it is stated differently in several other books on the same subject. More importantly, books written around the time the event took place also state a different fact. [Non fiction]

3) One I have just started to read, and I will NOT be including here. The parents are trying to get their child into a high profile grammar school. (11-16 education for Americans.)
Yet the author has the parents mentioning that their son had a part-time job at a local bakery. As the child in question is still at primary school, and is elsewhere said to be 11, this is wrong. (Children are not allowed to take on part-time work until they are 16 in the UK, other than a paper round, or milk round.) The book is a recent publication, 2007, and written by someone from the UK. So this is a simple case of again, not checking the facts. I will finish it, but as I said, I will be questioning things . [Fiction]

You see my point? Why not check the facts? And how do these inaccuracies get past the proof-readers?

Then I thought it was OK to read on in the book mentioned in point 3.....noooooooooooooooooooooo
What have I found now? Remember the child is still in primary education here in the UK in the story, that puts him at 11 at the very most. The author also has him just having completed his Silver Duke of Edinburgh award, and award that you have to be at least 14 to be considered for. If you don't believe me, check this link out.
Duke of Edinburgh's Award UK
Official site. Programme of activities to provide personal development for young people between the ages of 14 and 25.

It came up first in a web search. How difficult is it to check facts, I'm not even sure if I'm going to read any further now, because if I keep finding things like that it will drive me silly. It was a cheap read from a supermarket, but that aside, the author should not insult the reader's intelligence by so much misinformation.

Not sure how many-th in Patricia Cornwell's books about Kay Scarpetta this is, but like all the others, I couldn't put it down.
Yes, there are deaths, with unexplained evidence, there's the usual psycho lingering around, (well, not Temple Gault, but a psycho, you KNEW what I meant, didn't you?) There's also Lucy behaving in her usual reckless Lucy manner, driving Kay mad, there are things happening to keep Kay and Benton apart, as usual, there's Pete being down-to-earth , and still secretly worshipping the ground Kay walks upon, (after 15 years, why hasn't Kay figured it out, she figures everything else out.) Oh! And this one has a "loony" inside the investigating circle causing mayhem, as there have been in some past novels.
Saying all that, it is fresh, and unexpected.

Florida is full of predators, from the animals who thrive in its humid heat to the humans who stalk the air-conditioned malls, and they all give Dr Kay Scarpetta, now Director of Forensic Science and Medicine at the National Forensic Academy, the oportunity and the menas to do what she does best - persudading the dead to speak to her.

In the icy chill of Boston, Benton Wesley is working on a secret project involving convicted killers, one of whom appears to confess to an even higher number of murders than the authorities had known about. It is a project that gives Scarpetta deep disquiet, as does the behaviour of her niece, Lucy, who is spending too much time drinking and indulging in casual pick-ups in cheap bars.

The Academy is called in to assist in the discovery of a young woman's remains in Massachusetts. She has been tortured, sexually abused, her body tattooed with hand-prints. The same sort of hand-prints Lucy had seen on the flesh of her latest pick-up. Meanwhile Scarpetta and Marino are investigating the disappearance of a family in Florida. A neighbour had appealed to them directly, insisting that the local police were not taking the case seriously. But as they search and find the tell-tale signs of abduction rather than disappearance, they also discover that someone had assumed the identity of the caller, and now she is dead. They've been set up. And it becomes terrifyingly clear that somebody is tracking their every move.

With her unique combination of high-powered story-telling and formidable forensic knowledge. Patricia Cornwell has again created a novel that is intriguing, chilling and forcefully readable.

As usual there are red herrings strewn throughout.

Firstly, I don't know if this book is available in the US. And , yes, it's a "teen" book, but it deals with a subject that affects everyone.

It's about a 16 year old girl, Tessa, who has been battling with cancer for 4 years. The cancer is getting worse, and she only has a short length of time left. (It's an agressive leukemia that she has.)
In the time Tessa has left she has a list of things she wants to do. The first on her list is "sex", she enlists her friend, Zoey, to help her with her list. As Tessa gets through the list she gets more and more ill, her Dad learns of the list and tries to help her, after a disastrous "list day" where she said to yes to everything she was asked to do.
Tessa is very angry about her cancer at one point, and takes risks. She takes "magic mushrooms" as she rightly thinks she will never have chance to do risky things if she doesn't do it right now. Her family cope with it as best they can.
She takes life by the horns, as much as she can until the cancer takes over her body completely. Then she still tries to be mistress of her own destiny, she walks out of the hospital, and gets a taxi home, when the consultant wants her to stay put and talk it over with her Dad.
The climax of the book, although predictable in one way, Tessa dies, (but then you know that is what the book is about when you pick it up,) it is hugely moving. I will admit, the last 20-30 pages had me in tears. The ending is not sloppy, but it is very moving. You feel sympathy for Tessa, but not in a sycophantic way, rather in the way she seems to be coping so very well.

The only other thing I would recommend is, if you want to read this book, unless you are a very slow reader, borrow it from your local library, as the accessiblity of the language, and the subject matter make the novel very difficult to put down. I read it in one and half days, and that wasn't sitting reading soildly.

I was recommended to read this author when I asked who wrote in a similar style to Jasper Fforde and Tom Holt.
As I am not a film "buff" I can only guess that many of the allusions in the book are film allusions. I did recognise one or two, and Rankin was quite blatant about them.
This book is a sequel, and I haven't read the previous one, but it made a lot of sense, so I would say it isn't imperative to have read the previous book.
The blurb from the back of the book probably tells you better what the story is about than I can.

Things are not going well in Toy City. There have been outbreaks of STC - Spontaneous Toy Combustion - and strange signs and portents in the Heavens. Many believe the End Times, a Toy City Apocalypse, will soon come to pass. But can this possibly be true, or is there a simpler explanation, - an alien invasion, for instance?
With the body count rising and the forces of law and order baffled, Tot City needs heroes - Eddie Bear, Toy City Private Eye, and his sidekick, Jack.
But their adventure, fraught with thrill, spills, danger, excitement and rather too much alcohol, will take them far from Toy City into a world beyond even their wildest imaginings. This world.

Our courageous twosome face their biggest challenger yet: not only saving toykind, but the world of mankind too.

Which should keep them both out of the pub for a while.

You might wonder why I didn't read the book this is a sequel to first. Simple, this was 99p, special offer, and I didn't notice that it was a sequel. I will probably read some more of Robert Rankin's books, in the future, as it was quite enjoyable, and an easy read.

I like Deborah Moggach's writing, her themes vary, but every book I have read of hers has been "un-put-downable". This one is no different.
It is set in the midst of the first world war, but the war is just "background" really.
Ralph and his mother run a lodging house in London, they are aided by Winnie, a country girl who has come to London to find work. In 1916 Mr Clay, Ralph's father is killed in action. The story picks up from there, until this point they are only just managing to make ends meet.

Eithne Clay is an alluring wife and mother whose husband is away fighting in the trenches. She runs a shabby boarding house in Southwark where her lodgers, like herself, lead lives of barely respectable desperation. The War casts a long shadow over ordinary lives; times are hard while men are away being slaughtered. Food is short and old certainties are breaking up around them. Eithne's adolescent son Ralph tries to be the man of the house, while the homely young maid, Winnie, barely manages to keep it all together.

The along come Neville Turk, the butcher, a handsome bull of a man, who falls for Eithne and throws her life into turmoil. He woos her with choice cuts, and soon the erotic voltage of their affair wakes up the house like the newly installed electricity. Ralph's jealousy of this interloper grows out of control, while Winnie's strange liaison with Alwyne Flyte, the blind lodger, has startling consequences. Meanwhile, in this house of whispers and secrets, the butcher has plans of his own, which lead to a tragic and dramatic climax. This sensual, tantalising and very often funny novel by a great storyteller throws an uncanny light on the tragicomedy of life on the home front.

To be honest the blurb could make you think that this novel is a bit slushy, or "lightweight", but it isn't. The characters are well developed, as you find, omissions are deliberate, which just add to the story. I wasn't expecting the climax of the novel at all, and it was certainly fitting. I won't tell you what it was, as that will spoil it for you if you decide to read this novel.

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