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REVIEW: CURSED BY STEPHEN LEATHER

cursed

Cursed by Stephen Leather

Smashwords (ebook) 2011

125 pages

http://www.stephenleather.com

I downloaded this for free from www.kobo.com. 

BLURB FROM THE COVER

An exciting short story, part of the Jack Nightingale series by bestselling author Stephen Leather – thrillers with an occult twist.

Jack Nightingale – lives in the shadows, fights in the dark.

Ex-cop turned private eye Jack Nightingale is used to dealing with tricky situations. He’s faced down the powers of hell a couple of times, too. In this new short story, he’s called in to help a policeman who’s lying at death’s door. The doctors can’t work out what’s wrong. But the dying man’s colleagues swear blind that he was cursed by a gypsy during the Dale Farm clearance. And Nightingale could be his only hope.

Jack Nightingale is the hero of Stephen Leather’s supernatural detective novels. There are five books in the critically acclaimed series: NIGHTFALL, MIDNIGHT, NIGHTMARE, NIGHTSHADE and LASTNIGHT. 

EXTRACT 

Jack Nightingale figured that he had earned a day off. He’d worked pretty much non-stop over the weekend following a husband who’d told his wife he was attending a sales conference in Somerset when he was in fact giving his secretary a good seeing-to in a five-star spa just outside London. He had plenty of video of the pair together, and a copy of the bill, courtesy of a fifty-pound note he’d slipped to a Slovakian receptionist. It was the perfect surveillance job and since he didn’t have much in the diary he decided to spend Monday getting his MGB serviced and collecting his dry-cleaning, with, hopefully, a few hours in the pub watching SkySports.

REVIEW 

This was my first time reading Stephen Leather.

I thought Cursed was just okay. I’ve read much, much better stories but I’ve read a lot worse. The main issue I had was I felt like Leather had based Cursed a little too much on the premise of Stephen King’s novel Thinner published under the pseudonym, Richard Bachman. Thinner also deals with gypsy curses and a character whose skin hardens into scales. Cursed was well written and easy to read but not really special. I do like the bled of crime and the supernatural although John Connolly is far superior. I may read a full length novel about Jack Nightingale though because Cursed got me interested in the character. I didn’t hate Cursed or love it. I just felt so-so. 

RATING

2 STAR RATING

 
 

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REVIEW: LETTERS TO MY DAUGHTER’S KILLER BY CATH STAINCLIFEE

9781780335704

Letters To My Daughter’s Killer by Cath Staincliffe

Constable & Robinson Ltd (hardback) 2014

232 pages

 www.cathstaincliffe.co.uk 

BLURB FROM THE COVER

Grandmother Ruth Sutton writes to the man she hates more than anyone else on the planet: the man who she believes killed her daughter Lizzie in a brutal attack four years earlier. Ruth’s burden of grief and hatred, has only grown heavier with the passing of time, her avid desire for vengeance ever stronger. In writing to him Ruth hopes to exorcise the corrosive emotions that are destroying her life, to find the truth and with it release and a way forward. Whether she can ever truly forgive him is another matter – but the letters are her last, best hope.

Letters To My Daughter’s Killer exposes the aftermath of violent crime for an ordinary family and explores fundamental questions of crime and punishment. How do we deal with the very human desire for revenge? If we get justice does reconciliation follow? Can we really forgive those who do us the gravest wrong? Could you?  

EXTRACT 

I hate you. My first letter, and that is all I want to say. I hate you. But those three words can barely convey the depth, the breadth, the soaring height of this hatred. Nearly four years, and what has taken me by surprise is that these feelings, of rage and the desire for vengeance, have not diminished but have grown. Time has not healed but stoked the fires. The hatred has been forged into something steely, into a rock so dense and heavy inside that I fear it is killing me too. Crushing me. Taking what is left of my life and leaching the goodness, the joy, the optimism from it. So I am writing to you, in the vain hope, for I think it is vain, that some communication can help me move beyond or around this pit of hate.

REVIEW 

I loved Letters To My Daughter’s Killer. I cried several times while reading Staincliffe’s novel. Staincliffe offers us a crime novel with a difference. I loved the structure of Letters To My Daughter’s Killer. As the title suggests, the novel is written in the form of letters from Ruth to the man who murdered her daughter, Lizzie. Letters To My Daughter’s Killer is a different sort of crime novel. Crime novels generally focus on police procedures and deal with the detectives or group of detectives homing in on the killer. Letters To My Daughter’s Killer is a rare type of crime fiction that tells the story of the victim and the victim’s family. Staincliffe reveals fairly early who was charged with Lizzie’s murder. I usually hate it when a write lays all the cards on the table too soon before I can figure out the clues myself. Unusually so, this doesn’t lessen the impact of Letters To My Daughter’s Killer. Letters To My Daughter’s Killer packs an emotional punch. The closing chapters provide shocking revelations. I’ll be thinking about Letters To My Daughter’s Killer for a while. 

RATING

5 STAR RATING

 

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2014 in Cath Staincliffe, Fiction, Novel

 

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REVIEW: FAREWELL SUMMER BY RAY BRADBURY

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Farewell Summer by Ray Bradbury

Harper Voyager (paperback) 2006

167 pages 

www.raybradbury.com

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farewell_Summer

 

BLURB FROM THE COVER

 

In Green Town, Illinois, thirteen-year-old Douglas Spaulding is in the midst of a small civil war; the elderly pitted against the young in an age-old battle.

As the school board’s figure of authority, Mr Calvin C. Quartermain attempts to outwit Douglas and his young cohorts at every turn, while the boys’ antics become ever more daring and mischievous.

But once the shadow of winter draws across Green Town, the boys quickly realise that their enemy is not so much the senior members of their own community, but rather time itself, which is ever ebbing away. 

EXTRACT 

There are those days which seem a taking in of breath which, held, suspends the whole earth in its waiting. Some summers refuse to end.

REVIEW 

Farewell Summer is a sequel to Bradbury’s novel, Dandelion Wine.

I really enjoyed Farewell Summer. Bradbury’s offers a coming-of-age tale with a difference in this short novel. Farewell Summer is rich, vibrant and beautifully written. I felt a big emotional connection to the lives of Douglas and the other characters. As I read, Farewell Summer, I remembered the summers of my childhood and teenage years. They seemed to last for months and days were filled with magic. Bradbury knows how to capture those last fading moments of childhood. 

RATING

4 STAR RATING

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2014 in Fiction, Novel, Ray Bradbury

 

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REVIEW: DEADVILLE BY KATE DANIELS

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Deadville by Kate Daniels

Smashwords (e-book) 2011

375 pages 

http://katedaniels.tumblr.com

www.smashwords.com/profile/view/katedaniels

I downloaded this for free from www.kobo.com. 

BLURB FROM THE COVER 

Florida may be the land of the nearly dead, but Cat Lovelace’s new job as a ghost tour guide is killing her. It may seem like a strange choice of profession, but she has a re-emerging talent for the job. For Cat, the ghost stories aren’t just legend; she often sees the characters walking around. It’s a talent she tries to keep under wraps, lest she become the town’s living, breathing, Magic Eight Ball.

A chance encounter in a graveyard sends Cat into the arms of William Harston, a mysterious business man with a secret. When Will’s dead wife starts haunting her, Cat soon finds out that her boyfriend has some serious baggage.

Choc full of ghosts, vampires, intrigue, small town politics, werewolves, and homicidal Dutch seafood chefs, Deadville is a hilarious romp through the supernatural South. You won’t want to put it down. 

EXTRACT 

‘You’re hired’

‘What? Really?’ I knew better than to look a gift horse in the mouth, or for that matter, a no-nonsense fifty-something southern bell. But I hadn’t prepared for this. At twenty-five, and fresh off a failed stab as a New York actor, I never expected to move home and land a paying gig.

REVIEW 

This was my first time reading Kate Daniels.

I thought, Deadville was great. Daniels offers a well-written, fun supernatural romp. I had a blast reading Deadville. I thought the title was great and fit the tone of the novel perfectly. Deadville is set in the deep south and I usually don’t like fiction set in this part of the USA. Deadville was the exception. I thought the setting was perfect. Cat was a great main character. I loved her name, Cat Lovelace. Cool name. The use of a first person narrator works really well in Deadville. I enjoyed every second of Deadville. Daniels offers a good mix of funny and series moments. Deadville is not a serious novels but isn’t supposed to be. Deadville is what is it says on the tin, fun supernatural junk food. What’s not to enjoy? 

RATING

4 STAR RATING

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2014 in E-book, Fiction, Kate Daniels, Novel

 

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REVIEW: THE SEDUCTION & OTHER STORIES BY JOYCE CAROL OATES

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The Seduction & Other Stories by Joyce Carol Oates

Fawcett Crest Books (paperback), 1975

318 Pages 

www.usfca.edu/jco

BLURB FROM THE COVER

AN AWARD-WINNING LITERARY CAREER

From the star of her writing career, Joyce Carol Oates has earned high literary awards, among them the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and in 1975, the Lotos Club Award of Merit for her novel, Them she won the National Book Award in 1970. Her novel, Do With Me What You Will was a major selection of the Literary Guild of America and The Assassins and Childwold were both Featured Alternates of that book club.

Ms. Oates was a First Prize winner of the O. Henry Awards and her work has been included for many years in the O. Henry Prize Stories. In connection with these awards, she was selected for a Special Award for Continuing Achievement.

Ms. Oates is Professor of English at the University of Windsor.

EXTRACT 

Waking, I am overcome with a sense of dread.

AN AMERICAN ADVENTURE

REVIEW 

This was my first read through of The Seduction and Other Stories, one of JCO’s earliest collections.

I really enjoyed the stories in The Seduction & Other Stories. I thought every tale was enjoyable, well-written and managed to hold their own. Every story was strong and a pleasure to read. Overall, The Seduction & Other Stories is a great little collection.

My top reads were On the Gulf, Passions and Meditations and Notes on Contributors. I loved the setting JCO uses for On the Gulf and could easily image myself there watching events unfold. Passions and Meditations unsettled me. I liked the fact the narrator was unstable and the story had a stalker-feel I liked. I was reminded of Stan by Eminem. You’ll need to listen to the song and read the story to see what I mean. JCO uses an unusual style in Notes on Contributors and offers a dark crime story with a difference.    

RATING

4 STAR RATING

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2014 in Fiction, Joyce Carol Oates, Short Fiction

 

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REVIEW: THE BLUE BOOK BY A L KENNEDY

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The Blue Book by A.L. Kennedy

Jonathan Cape Ltd (hardback) 2011

373 pages 

www.a-l-kennedy.co.uk

BLURB FROM THE COVER

Elizabeth Barber is crossing the Atlantic by liner with her perfectly adequate boyfriend, Derek, who might be planning to propose. In fleeing the UK – temporarily – Elizabeth may also be in flight from her past and the charismatic Arthur, once her partner in what she came to see as a series of crimes. Together they acted as fake mediums, perfecting the arcane skills practised by effective frauds.

Elizabeth finally rejected what once seemed an intoxicating game. Arthur continued his search for the right way to do wrong. He now subsidises free closure for the traumatised and dispossessed by preying on the super-rich. The pair still meet occasionally, for weekends of sexual oblivion, but their affection lacerates as much as it consoles.

She hadn’t, though, expected the other man on the boat. As her voyage progresses, Elizabeth’s past is revealed, codes slowly form and break as communication deepens. It’s time for her to discover who are the true deceivers and who are the truly deceived.

What’s more, is the book itself – a fiction which may not always be lying – deceiving the reader? Offering illusions and false trails, magical numbers and redemptive humour, this is a novel about what happens when we are misled and when we are true: an extraordinarily intricate and intimate journey into our minds and hearts undertaken by a writer of great gifts – a maker of wonders. 

EXTRACT 

But here this is, the book you’re reading.

Obviously.

Your book – it’s started now, it’s touched and opened, held. You could, if you wanted, heft it, wonder if it weighs more than a pigeon, or a plimsoll, or quite probably rather less than a wholemeal loaf. It offers you these possibilities.

REVIEW 

I enjoyed The Blue Book. I thought Kennedy’s novel, Everything You Need was superior. In contrast, The Blue Book was just okay. I enjoyed the premise Kennedy offered with Beth meeting her old flame and fellow con artist on board a cruise ship when she is with her new lover. Kennedy’s creates great atmosphere in The Blue Book with the storm providing an unstable, interesting back-drop for the dysfunctional life. I liked the fact Beth and Arthur made a living as con artist. This provided an interesting context for events in The Blue Book. I found the structure confusing at time as Kennedy moves back and forth in time and in and out of first, second and third person. This complex structure doesn’t work as well as it could have. The ending shocked me. I wanted to like The Blue Book a lot more but it’s too much of a mishmash of things that work and things that didn’t work. 

RATING

3 STAR RATING

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2014 in A L Kennedy, Fiction, Library, Novel

 

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REVIEW: OZ THE COMPLETE COLLECTION VOLUME 3 BY L. FRANK BAUM

oz 3

Oz The Complete Collection Volume 3

Simon & Schuster (Paperback), 2013

720 Pages 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Patchwork_Girl_of_Oz

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tik-Tok_of_Oz

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Scarecrow_of_Oz 

BLURB FROM THE COVER 

The seventh, eighth, and ninth titles of the iconic Oz series, now in one collection!

In The Patchwork Girl of Oz, the Munchkins Unc Nunkie and Ojo the Unlucky call on the Crooked Magician, who introduces them to his latest creation: a living girl made out of patchwork quilts and cotton stuffing. But when an accident leaves beloved Unc Nunkie a motionless statue, it is up to Ojo to save him. Can the mighty Wizard of Oz help?

In Tik-Tok of Oz, Betsy Bobbin and her loyal mule, Hank, wash up on the shores of an unknown fairyland during a storm. There they meet the clockwork man Tik-Tok and find themselves trapped in a battle with the king of the Nomes.

In The Scarecrow of Oz, Captain Bill and Trot journey to Oz and, with the help of the Scarecrow, overthrow the cruel King Krewl of Jinxland, who has been busy gathering an army for an invasion of Oz. Will they be able to stop the invasion? 

EXTRACT 

‘Where’s the butter, Unc Nunkie?’ asked Ojo.

Unc looked out of the window and stroked his long beard. Then he turned to the Munchkin boy and shook his head.

THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ

REVIEW 

THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ

This was my first read-through of The Patchwork Girl of Oz. I really enjoyed it. I liked the new characters though Scraps was a bit annoying with her constant singing. It was nice to see the return of familiar faces. Dorothy is not as much of a brat this time.

TIK-TOK OF OZ

This was my read-through of Tik-Tok of Oz. I thought it was very good. I liked to read about the Nome king again and his futile attempts to conquer other nations. He’s sort of a laughable buffoon. I liked the Queen of Ooogaboo. Her belief she could conquer the whole of Oz made her as amusing as the Nome King.

THE SCARECROW OF OZ

This was my first read-through of The Scarecrow of Oz. I really enjoyed this tale. Baum introduces some interesting new characters. I liked getting to revisit some old ones including Button-Bright, the Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

 

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2014 in Fiction, L. Frank Baum, Novel

 

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