Race to Death By Leigh Russel

Title: Race to Death

Author: Leigh Russell

Publisher: No Exit Press

First Published: September 2014

Blurb:

When a man plummets to his death from a balcony at York races, his wife and brother become suspects in a murder enquiry. Meanwhile Richard is being stalked by a killer issuing death threats. Richard is reluctant to go to the police, for fear his own dark secret will be exposed. Newly promoted Detective Inspector Ian Peterson is investigating the death at the races when a woman’s body is discovered. Shortly after that, Richard is killed. With three murders and no suspect, the investigation seems to be going backwards. Ian is determined to discover who is responsible. (From Goodreads, July 2014).
 

Review:

I received ‘Race to Death’ from Real Readers and asked to provide an honest review. This is the third Leigh Russel novel I have read, and the first DI Ian Peterson novel. I have to admit it was nice to get away from Geraldine Steel, Leigh Russel’s original series, however, the writing style is too similar across all the novels and I am beginning to lose interest in this authors novels.

I enjoy psychological thrillers, and now and again a good murder mystery. However, I like a novel where you are continually guessing who is involved in the deaths, yet this novel I felt you did not get this aspect. There was not enough clues given throughout this book and I felt that I was given information that could not and did not lead me to any answers.

Leigh Russel has fantastic ideas but the writing style is not my ‘cup of tea’. There is just something ‘missing’ and this being the third novel I have read by this author I have to say those who enjoy interesting ideas over more in depth characters and story lines, this may be an author you enjoy. If character development is important then not so much.

This is a personal view, and I am not an avid murder mystery fan. Therefore, I do not have a wide range of authors to compare with in this genre.

For me this is a 2.5 out of 5.

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The Scent of Lemon Leaves By Clara Sanchez

Title: The Scent of Lemon Leaves

Author: Clara Sanchez

First Published: 2010

Publisher: Alma Books

Blurb:

Having left her job and boyfriend, 30-year-old Sandra decides to stay in a village on the Costa Blanca in order to take stock of her life and find a new direction. She befriends Karin and Fredrik, an elderly Norwegian couple, who provide her with stimulating company and take the place of the grandparents she never had. However, when she meets Julián, a former concentration-camp inmate who has just returned to Europe from Argentina, she discovers that all is not what it seems, and finds herself involved in a perilous quest for the truth as well as a powerful account of self-discovery and an exploration of history and redemption. (From Goodreads, 12th May 2014).

Review:

“The Scent of Lemon Leaves’ was a novel I picked up after remembering a friend buying it a couple of years ago at the local book store, and since then it has sat on my Kindle patiently waiting. So I tapped it. It opened and I began reading.

I was surprised how quickly I was sucked into this novel and began to live the life of Sandra. Sandra is a character that many of us recognise – an individual in a ‘time out’ from life, pondering where she will go next. It is a reminder that life does not follow the plan many of us wish for. However, soon Sandra finds herself in a situation that is so peculiar that one must read this book to learn about it. Furthermore, Julian, an elderly survivor of World War II takes a last journey attempting to right the wrongs inflicted against him.

This is a novel that is about understanding why we live our lives, what we grip onto to allow us to continue, what is important enough to live for. In addition, ‘The Scent of Lemon Leaves’ has an air of mystery and an adventure which intertwines human fallibility with human strength. A fantastic novel twisting history, power, loss, youth, and death.

4 out of 5

Emma’s Secret By Steena Holmes

Title: Emma’s Secret (Finding Emma #2)

Author: Steena Holmes

First Published: 25th June 2013

Publisher: Amazon Publishing/Self Published

Blurb: Please click for more, however, be aware this is the second book in the series and therefore this has spoilers

Finding Emma By Steena Holmes

Title: Finding Emma

Author: Steena Holmes

First Published: March 14th 2012

Publisher: Amazon Publishing/Self Published

Blurb:

Megan sees her daughter Emma everywhere. She’s the little girl standing in the supermarket, the child waiting for the swings at the playground, the girl with ice cream dripping down her face. But it’s never Emma.

Emma’s been missing for two years.

Unable to handle the constant heartache of all the false sightings, Megan’s husband threatens to walk away unless Megan can agree to accept Emma is gone. Megan’s life and marriage is crumbling all around her and she realizes she may have to do the thing she dreads most: move on.

When Megan takes a photo of a little girl with an elderly couple at the town fair, she believes it to be her missing daughter. Unable to let go, she sets in motion a sequence of events that could destroy both families lives. (From Goodreads, 25th May 2014)

Review:
‘Finding Emma’ is a novel that struck me. It has reminded me of other novels, which unfortunately I cannot remember the name of, however, although I found this novel predictable it was still highly enjoyable. The book was well written and portrayed human emotions fantastically. This is a novel, along with it’s sequel ‘Emma’s Secret’ which I would recommend to individuals who want a quick read that is not overly complicated but has a gripping element, whilst also having a human element that makes the novel seem so believable.
A series to enjoy, especially this summer!
3.5 out of 5

The Shock of the Fall By Nathan Filer

Title: The Shock of the Fall

Author: Nathan Filer

First Published: May 8th 2013

Publisher: Harper Collins

Blurb:

‘I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.’ (From Goodreads, 25th May 2014)

Review:

‘The Shock of the Fall’ is a novel that is best to go into without knowing much about it, so I am going to keep this review short and sweet. ‘The Shock of the Fall’ is Nathan Filer’s debut novel and takes on the complexities of describing the world through the eyes of an individual with mental health problems. This novel interweaves the past and present to build a picture, a movie, a story of one families life. This is a novel that is elegantly written and captures real people. Nathan Filer makes you feel for his characters and understands humans more than most, no wonder this novel won Costa Book of the Year 2013.

This is a novel I highly recommend.

4.5 out of 5

A Novel Death By Judi Culbertson

Title: A Novel Death

Author: Judi Culbertson

First Published: 1st June 2011

Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

Blurb:

Like many other used booksellers, Delhi Laine, proprieter of Secondhand Prose, dreams of making the Great Find–if not a Shakespearean Folio, then at least a fragment of an Emily Dickinson or Edgar Allen Poe manuscript. But after receiving a very rare and valuable children’s book into her collection, she finds out such treasures can come at a terrible cost–the suspicious death of one colleague and another left for dead days later. (From Goodreads, 12th May 2014).

Review:

‘A Novel Death’ is one of those novels that has sat on my Kindle for ages due to being overlooked and put off due to more popular and raved about books. However, I am glad that I put this novel on my 2014 TBR and eventually started reading it! For all book lovers, I’m sure you will agree reading a book that is about books and set in a book shop is always good!

In ‘A Novel Death’ we have a collection of second hand book dealers who competitively attempt to uncover that ‘Great Find’ which will first provide them with riches and also respect from others in the business. However, such finds bring about a whole other side, a murderous side. And so we are pulled into a confusing, page turning thriller with a strange sight into what one would imagine to be a safe business. This is a thriller that goes away from the typical formula, and therefore is a breath of fresh air.

I would recommend this novel to those that are new to reading thrillers, for book lovers and for those who like a more gentle thriller that isn’t from the view point of a detective or police officer. ‘A Novel Death’ may not be the most suspenseful or complicated murder mystery out there however, it was still an excellent book and a very fast and enjoyable story line that kept me from putting the book down!

4 out of 5

The Medea Complex By Rachel Florence Roberts

Title: The Medea Complex

Author: Rachel Florence Roberts

First Published: 31st October 2013

Publisher: CreateSpace

Blurb:

1885. Anne Stanbury – Committed to a lunatic asylum, having been deemed insane and therefore unfit to stand trial for the crime of which she is indicted. But is all as it seems?

Edgar Stanbury – the grieving husband and father who is torn between helping his confined wife recover her sanity, and seeking revenge on the woman who ruined his life.

Dr George Savage – the well respected psychiatrist, and chief medical officer of Bethlem Royal Hospital. Ultimately, he holds Anne’s future wholly in his hands.

The Medea Complex tells the story of a misunderstood woman suffering from insanity in an era when mental illnesses’ were all too often misdiagnosed and mistreated. A deep and riveting psychological thriller set within an historical context, packed full of twists and turns, The Medea Complex explores the nature of the human psyche: what possesses us, drives us, and how love, passion, and hope for the future can drive us to insanity. (From Goodreads, 12th May 2014)

Review:

A novel based on true events within Bethlem Royal Hospital in the 17th century, sounds really interesting in my opinion and therefore I was really happy to see this book on the Amazon Prime Kindle Lending Library. And for that I am grateful, because I would have been disappointed if I had paid to read this  novel. Harsh? Maybe. Maybe not.

We are flung in right at the beginning with Anne waking up unaware of where she is and quickly we are taken into her world within the psychiatric ward, or solitary confinement in which she begins her stay at Bethlem Royal Hospital. Anne is confined because she killed her own son, however she cannot remember this or the fact that she had a son. The narrator switches to include Anne’s husband, father, her psychiatrist and others. I personally enjoy novels with changing narrators however I felt this novel would have benefited from only two or three maximum narrators, this is a personal opinion. Further, the novel started off intriguing to me then quickly just fell apart, with the story losing focus and flow.

There is very little I can say without giving away the story line, but there is so much more that could have been done with this novel in my opinion and it feel short of my expectations.

This is not a novel that I recommend unfortunately. I say unfortunately because I saw so much potential, especially near the beginning, the beginning was excellent, but as I said above it just lost focus and drive for me by the second half.

2.5 out of 5

Other People By Kelly O’Callan

Title: Other People

Author: Kelly O’Callan

First Published: 7th March 2014

Publisher: Createspace

Blurb:

Painfully shy and socially awkward, Ginny avoids engaging in a world filled with “other people” as best as she can. After a failed suicide attempt, Ginny is diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and begins a journey towards improving her distraught life. In her quest to fit in among other people, Ginny studies the behaviors of her picture-perfect new neighbors, Jim and Nina, and tries her best to mimic their life skills. But, will Ginny’s attempts to be one of the other people help her fit into their world, or send her crashing back deeper into the dark, isolated world she is desperately trying to escape? (From Goodreads, 12th May 2014)

Review:

‘Other People’ is about Ginny and the way her life begins to change after her new neighbor, Jim, finds her during a suicide attempt. In arriving at hospital Ginny begins the process of therapy and is diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.

‘Other People’ is the first fiction novel that I have read about Borderline Personality Disorder and there were both good and bad things in this book. Firstly, this book acknowledged the true complexities and extreme emotions an individual suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder is inflicted with on a daily basis. It highlights what can appear like a simple situation to most people can be devastating for an individual suffering with this disorder.

Another aspect that I enjoyed about this novel is that it had a regular story line that intertwined friendships, relationships, and their complexities and further complexities by bringing in an individual dealing with emotional instability.

However, I was not happy with the fact the psychiatrist in the novel described Ginny as a ‘borderline’. It really feels, to me, that those with Borderline Personality Disorder are ‘borderline’ and ‘borderline’ alone. Further, he describes such individuals in such a diagnostically list like manner, simply explaining ‘borderlines’ alongside diagnostic criteria. Although this is important to understand individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder it just didn’t feel ‘real’ to me.

This novel is the first of what I hope will be many novels that deal with personality disorders and the complexities they add to individuals suffering from them. Further, this novel begins to challenge the idea that individuals with personality disorders cannot get better, a debate that is long running in psychology and psychiatry circles. However, many individuals learn to deal with emotions and begin to lead successful lives.

4 out of 5.

Human Remains By Elizabeth Haynes

Title: Human Remains

Author: Elizabeth Haynes

First Published: 1st January 2013

Publisher: Text Publishing

Blurb:

When Annabel, a police analyst, discovers her neighbour’s decomposing body in the house next door, she’s appalled to think that no one, including herself, noticed that anything was wrong.

Back at work, she feels compelled to investigate, despite her colleagues’ lack of interest, and finds data showing that such cases are common – too common – in her home town. As she’s drawn deeper into the mystery and becomes convinced she’s on the trail of a killer, she also must face her own demons and her own mortality. Would anyone notice if she just disappeared? (From Goodreads, 12th May 2014).

Review:

‘Human Remains’ was a book I really wanted to enjoy, but unfortunately Elizabeth Haynes just didn’t manage to capture the suspense, the creepiness and the terror I felt she managed to capture in ‘Into the Darkest Corner’.

Any readers who fell in love with ‘Into the Darkest Corner’, and I know there are many of us, I cannot suggest you read ‘Human Remains’. ‘Human Remains’ is a very unique idea which is why I kept reading, and why I cannot be too harsh. I must credit Elizabeth Haynes for her ideas as they are fantastic, however, the spark of her first book has faded for me. These sparks emerged near the end of the novel but I really had to push myself to get there, but the ending was worth it. The drama I know Elizabeth Haynes is able to produce reemerged. But it was too little too late for me.

I feel like I am being harsh, but I am being truthful. We find a decomposing body near the beginning of the novel, but more and more begin to be found. But why is this happening? Why does no one notice their neighbors disappearance. Have we reached that point in society where we will not be missed. The theme and the questions posed by this novel are intriguing and are fascinating to think about, and I can imagine that they would be good talking points for book clubs.

So in summary, this is an interesting novel, with fantastic ideas just not pulled off in the most gripping of fashions.

2.5 out of 5

Ten Little Aliens By Stephen Cole

Title: Ten Little Aliens

Author: Stephen Cole

First Published: 2002

Publisher: BBC Books

Blurb:

Deep in the heart of a hollowed-out moon the First Doctor finds a chilling secret: ten alien corpses, frozen in time at the moment of their death. They are the empire’s most wanted terrorists, and their discovery could end a war devastating the galaxy. But is the same force that killed them still lurking in the dark? And what are its plans for the people of Earth? (From Goodreads, 12th May 2014).

Review:

Okay, so I am not too sure how many people who come across this blog like Dr Who, but I do and I was so so happy when my partner bought me all of the 50th anniversary books. One for each doctor so far. This book involves the first doctor and a rather spooky alien adventure.

Being the first Dr Who novel I have ever read I must say I really enjoyed it! However, compared to some of the more recent TV episodes I would describe this novel as rather dark, and not for the faint of heart. Although I have yet to watch the earlier Dr Who shows, however, I have seen clips of William Hartnell as the Doctor and I did feel him on the page.

This is a thrilling adventure for those who like Dr Who and who also enjoy the more alien sci-fi style of Dr Who.

An enjoyable read.

3.5 out of 5