Saturday, 27 April 2013

Book Review: Dying Fall by Ruth Galloway

Dying FallDying Fall by Elly Griffiths
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've always been a fan of Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway books. To me they are the perfect combination of murder mystery with a sprinkling of lovey-dovey stuff. I think the characters play a large part in this as by and large, I love Ruth Galloway. I think she's funny, clever, brave, and I love the fact that she doesn't see it. Sometimes, she can bang on about her weight too much, but I'll overlook that for such a strong female lead.
Cathbad and Nelson are also great characters. I love the spiritual side of Elly Griffiths' books, it stops them from becoming bog standard police procedural. Cathbad's actions in this book made him one of the central characters and it's nice to see his view on the world.
Nelson is still as stoic as ever. Spending a week with his family provides a lot of the comedy, and the tension as Ruth, Kate and Cathbad come to dinner.
It was nice to have a change of scenery and head to Blackpool and Lytham, although I did miss Cloughie. But I think the new location improved the story line. Nelson wasn't the one running the police investigation so we got to see him and Ruth in a new light.
I also enjoyed the fact that, in quite a traditional way, there were only a few suspects and each new piece of evidence sent you to one, or another. I didn't guess the murderer, but then, the Ruth Galloway books are different for me. I enjoy the ride rather than race to finish. Talking of endings, the last books have always had the same ending, Ruth gets herself in trouble, someone (normally Nelson), saves the day. It was good to have a different ending and I'm not a parent, but the way Griffiths' describes Ruth's emotions was incredible.
Without giving too much away, the archaeology aspects of this case are also really interesting too for any history buff.
Overall, the only thing I had a major problem with is the title. It kind of gave away the ending a bit and wasn't really linked to anything else. I think 'The Unquiet Grave' would have been much better!

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Friday, 19 April 2013

Book Review: Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

Casino Royale (James Bond, #1)Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought it best that my first foray into the written word of James Bond be Casino Royale, seeing as it's the first and one of the books for World Book Night 2013. I've seen the recent film version starring Daniel Craig (not the David Niven spoof) so I had a vague idea of the plot and certain characters.
The character of James Bond isn't always what you expect. He views women as sex objects, or something that 'gets in the way' which the film has used but softened to a degree. Bond has also put a deposit down on a Morris Minor, which is so un-Bond-like that I had a bit of a giggle at that.
Ian Fleming is a great writer. By the end of the novel I felt like I knew the characters, and he explains the card game very well. I had no problem following the game and the tension as Bond and Le Chiffre played was brilliant. I felt myself clenching my hands as the stakes grew.
Overall, a brilliant read and I can't believe it took me so long to read it! I can't wait to get onto the next.

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Sunday, 14 April 2013

Book Review: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, #1)Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Okay, deep breath everybody, because I have been saving up this rant for quite a while now.
I love vampire stories, I watched every single episode of Buffy and Angel and have read copious amounts of vampire fiction (however I feel I should mention that I have not read and have no desire to read the Twilight series).
There are some proper die hard fans of the Sookie Stackhouse series, and I'd seen trailers for True Blood and thought it looked good. Maybe I shouldn't have had any expectations going into this, but I was expecting an edgy, gory book, filled with sexy vampires, lots of action and tension. What I got was a massive let down.
For a start, Sookie, although nice must have some kind of personality disorder (on top of her little gift) because she can't make up her mind and her reactions and emotions are all over the place. One minute she's in love with Bill, the next minute she hates him. There seems to be no flow of thoughts through her head that are connected. It's more off again, on again than Ross and Rachel and at least both of those characters were likable. She also gets angry at her friends without good reason. For example, Andrea wants her to babysit the kids, but doesn't want the vampire there. Having been to 'Fangtasia' (awful name by the way), she must understand why Andrea thinks vampires are horrible and instead of storming off in a huff, she should have talked to her.
The conglomeration of other vampires we meet vary in style and substance. We meet Viking Eric, with his long blonde hair (I liked the fact that vampires couldn't change their hair once they'd been turned) who seems a bit unrealistic, but hey, he's a vampire and Long Shadow, a Native American vampire. I thought that was a fantastic idea, maybe he should have his own prequel.
The actual plot running alongside all the vampire goingson is that girls are getting murdered for being associated with vampires. The murder mystery side is good and to be honest that was the thing that kept me going to the end of the book. In fact, I added a star back on when I found out who it was because I didn't see it coming.
I also have an issue with the style of writing as a whole, it seemed so clunky and disorganised, and did we really have to know what Sookie was wearing all the time? In fact, most of the residents of Bon Temps seemed to have a fashion issue.
I told you this would be a rant! On the subject of fashion (sort of), my one rule when reading vampire fiction is that no matter how good the vampire is, he still has to be sexy (which is why I refuse to read Twilight, vampires don't glitter). I get that Bill is a good vampire and doesn't kill people anymore. I'm not expecting to walk around in leather, but there was one line that made me laugh out loud and I don't think it was supposed to. Bill and Sookie were just about to 'get it on' and he 'toed off his sandals'! Haha! I mean seriously men wearing sandals is never a good thing, ever, and vampires should definitely not be wearing them!
So as I was reaching a third of the way through I wondered why people wanted to read this book, why they kept coming back, why on earth it was a bestseller. I thought, it must be the sex. Having read some reviews of the series True Blood I know that it features a lot and gathered that they had adapted that from the book. So, the first sex scene arrived and it was dreadful, as Sookie would say 'gosh darn awful'. There was no fizzle, no excitement, no chemistry between the two. And they seem to have sex at the most awkward of times. One moment their chatting, or arguing, or she's crying and then they're at it. At one point Sookie says something about Bill's 'personality' and I wonder if she's actually met him because he doesn't seem to have any.
Another reviewer said that Dead Until Dark is like a supernatural soap opera, and I definitely agree with that. Everything seems overly heightened, characters and dialogue are over the top and they even have the names to match. It's quite ironic that the vampires (who are called Bill, Liam, Eric, Pam...) seem to have the most boring names, yet they're supposed to be the interesting people.
Overall, this book started out a guilty pleasure and just turned guilty as I read on. I may read another, but I think I'll check out the series as I've heard it's good and much better than the books!

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Monday, 8 April 2013

Book Review: Nineteen Eighty by David Peace

Nineteen EightyNineteen Eighty by David Peace
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm a massive fan of David Peace, I love his writing style, the rush. I always feel like I am completely absorbed in the story and the characters when I'm reading it.
I'd read both of the preceding books and I'd seen all of the superb Channel 4 TV series, so I had a good idea of what would happen. Maybe this was my downfall, because there was less anticipation, I knew what to expect and generally where the story would be going.
I love how David Peace writes, like you're in the character's head, hearing their thoughts. The tension is impeccable and the dialogue zips along a break neck speed.
I can't wait for the fourth and final installment!

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