Friday, 29 July 2011

Book Beginnings On Friday

This week has seen loads of new things added to my pile of books to be read, so I thought I'd share the opening of one of them for this week's Book Beginnings On Friday post. This is a weekly meme hosted at A Few More Pages. To participate, share the opening line or two of the book you're reading and give your impression of that opening.

Time to decide which one of my new additions to my TBR pile to share with you... This week, I think I'll go for 'Die Laughing', by Louis K. Lowy.

" "I couldn't trust my wife, that's why we got a divorce." Sam E. took a drag of his Pall Mall. He blew a heavy smoke cloud into the dark room."

I know that this is a little longer than the openings I usually give you, but I thought it was important as it really sets the tone nicely. The first sentence alone wouldn't have really grabbed me or told me a lot, but what with the dark room and smokey atmosphere, it has really created an air of mystery and intrigue and captured my interest. I can't jump to any great conclusions about the book as a whole just yet, so will reserve judgement until I've read a bit more of it.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

The Undertaker Giveaway Winner!

Over the past week I've been running a giveaway to win a copy of 'The Undertaker' by William Brown. Entries were low, but out of all the comment and e-mail entries, a winner has been chosen! Congratulations to........

Marlena Cassidy! :)

Marlena, you will receive your copy via e-mail from the author himself, so keep checking your inbox!

Thank you to everyone who entered, congratulations and comiserations. Keep checking back for more great giveaways in the future!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Life And Laughing: My Story - Michael McIntyre

Firstly, apologies to any non-UK readers who don't know who Michael McIntyre is! He's an extremely popular English comedian - just look him up on YouTube and there's loads of clips of his performances on there, and I'm sure you'll love him!

Everybody loves a good laugh, and Michael McIntyre is a national treasure. Also, everybody seems to love a good 'celeb' autobiography - these days you only need be in the spotlight for a few months before your rags-to-riches life story adorns every bookshop's shelves. That's why, when I realised that Michael McIntyre hadn't released a story of his life until 'Life and Laughing' was published in October 2010 (with the paperback version coming out at the end of March 2011) I was very surprised...and keen to read it!

This book tells the story of Michael's life, from his birth, right up until he found fame, and with a brief commentary on what has happened since. It has been a life of laughs and love, trials and tribulations, ups and downs, and this book has shown the public a side to Michael which very rarely gets seen.

Being an autobiography, it is written by Michael McIntyre himself, which is very obvious from the style of writing. It is written exactly like he talks, and often I could even visualise him saying the words! He hasn't tried to be fancy or a flouncy well-practised writer, with an extraordinary vocabulary and meticulous grammar, the story edited to within an inch of its life. No; he has managed to put down on paper, quite simply, himself. It is a very honest account, and it's clear that the words have come straight from his mouth - no ghostwriter in sight!

Michael is a comedian - his job is to make people laugh, and by all accounts it isn't forced or put on, he is a naturally funny person. This really comes across in his book, as it's very funny and there are jokes on each and every page. I'm not one for laughing out loud at books, but one of Michael's talents is that he turns ordinary, everyday events into hilarious moments, in a way that just captures life - he does this both on stage and in the book, and it really had me giggling several times at the things he says.

Of course, if you're not a fan of Michael McIntyre or his comedy, firstly what is wrong with you?! And secondly (and more seriously) this book may not be for you as it just oozes with his comedy style.

Once Michael finds his passion for comedy, he gives several examples of his scripts and jokes, to give the reader an idea of the types of material he was coming up with at the time. This is a nice touch, which takes us from simply reading about his life to actively getting involved in it. The reader goes from being an onlooker to an active participant, a member of his audience.

However, before he even gets that far, in the first half of the book he uses some of his jokes to describe events - jokes which he has performed on stage. This only happened two or three times, but as I was reading I was sure I already knew the rest of what he was going to say...until I realised I'd seen him perform them on TV. This isn't a problem and of course he's allowed to pepper his work with his own comedy material, but in a way I felt a bit cheated. Couldn't he have described those events in his own, honest, factual words, rather than lifting them from a performance and making the events into a show? Perhaps I'm being picky, but I thought it was worth mentioning...

As a rough estimate, I would say that the first third of the book is dedicated to Michael's life as a youngster, and there's a lot to do with members of his family and what they get up to. By the sounds of it they too led very interesting lives, and without doubt it impacted on Michael and the way he grew up and began to see the world, but maybe it would have been nice to have more of his childhood memories. How did he spend his Sunday afternoons? What did he think of his teachers? Did he ever hide his peas under some other food? His family obviously meant the world to him and played and essential part of his life, but he did devote a large portion of this book to them. It should be his story, not theirs.

Furthermore, the third quarter (or so) talks a lot of Michael's struggle to succeed in the comedy world, and of his efforts at the Comedy Store and Jongleurs. I found that this part was - dare I say it - a little boring? It seemed to drag on a bit, but you could argue that this is a good thing. From what Michael says, it is an incredibly difficult thing to succeed in comedy and very few make it to real stardom, so perhaps this section drove home this point. His life was routine and unexciting, dragging on from day to day, and this is reflected in this part of the book. Hmm...maybe it isn't such a bad thing after all, but is actually a very clever, well thought out writing tool!

I did get the impression on several occasions that Michael McIntyre was exaggerating some events. He's a funny man, and I know that his job is to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary, but on occasions I felt he took things too far. I wanted to read about his life and what actually happened, not what could have happened if everyone was exuberant and everything was exaggerated. Again, this didn't happen a lot, but when it did I just felt like he was trying too hard and could have just expressed things as they really happened, honestly, without all the show.

Nevertheless, I feel like I'm picking away at this book and finding faults with it at every turn, and I get the feeling I'm giving you that impression too... However, these are only occasional things I noticed, which only result in me knocking one off the rating. It really is a very honest, captivating read. I said at the beginning that he hadn't tried to be perfect, he had tried to be himself, and that's why I think I can overlook these minor details. Had the book come across like he was a word-perfect author as well as a fantastic entertainer, I think I would have criticised it for not being personal enough. As it is, it's a remarkable personal account.

The first half of the book is very jokey - it's a joke a sentence, or just about. It is very funny to read, but at times I just wanted a bit of seriousness. You know those people who laugh at everything and can never take anything seriously? And after a while you just want to shake them and tell them to not make a joke out of every little thing? That's how I felt once or twice through the first half, but by the second half the tone of the writing had changed completely. It was not such funny, laugh-a-minute type reading, but more serious and important. I guess Michael grew up and realised that life can be tough sometimes... This second, more serious half was actually very touching. As I said, the life of a comedian is far from easy, which Michael really manages to convey. He has experienced dejection and rejection, and I found myself feeling very sorry for him. His writing is very honest and conversational, which draws the reader in, so I went on his difficult journey with him. That's a very difficult thing for even the most successful of writers to do, so I commend him on his ability to convey his feelings! Behind all the gags and showmanship, there are some very endearing moments. If you look behind the performance at the man himself, this is a really touching piece of writing which gives insights into the life of Michael McIntyre which I had never guessed would have happened. Onstage, he is the ever-happy, chubby Chinese man when he smiles...but behind that life hasn't always been easy for him.

I should warn you that there is some occasional swearing, which I felt was a bit unnecessary. In fact, it shocked me a bit at first, as I haven't seen him swear on stage, so I didn't think such profanities could escape from such a nice, posh man's lips! They are few and far between (well, maybe quite common when he tells of his wife going into labour!), but I got used to it. However, I'm not sure I'd be happy about youngsters reading it...perhaps you could censor it when you read it, by blacking out the rude words first, before you give it to your children to read! :P

Also included at intervals in this book are pages of photos from throughout Michael's life, right from one of the first pictures ever taken of him, right until the moment he stood on stage under the spotlight in front of a packed Wembley Stadium. I love the photo parts of autobiographies - in this case there aren't too many pictures, but just enough to illustrate and document his life so far.

Overall, despite what it may seem, I actually really enjoyed Michael McIntyre's autobiography. I am a huge fan of his, so enjoyed finding out how he made it to where he is today. It may not be perfect (which could lead me to believe that it had been put together pretty swiftly - if they had taken more time over the book's production maybe more of those little niggles could have been ironed out) but it's a really open account and I thank Michael for being so honest. If you are also a fan of his, I would recommend you read this as it won't take long to read (it's only 384 pages long) but will show you the man beneath the bouffant hair.

At the time of writing, you can purchase a hardback copy for £10, a paperback copy for £4.49, or a Kindle copy for £3.99, all from Amazon. Audiobook versions are also available from Amazon at around the £10 mark.

Summary: Meet the man behind the man drawer! (The man drawer features in one of his most popular and well-known routines - look it up if you don't know it as it's brilliant!)
Rating: 4/5

DON'T FORGET! Today is your last chance to enter 'The Undertaker' giveaway! It closes at 6pm UK time tonight so get your entries in quick!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Book Beginnings On Friday

Happy Friday everyone! :) It's Book Beginnings On Friday time, which is a weekly meme hosted at A Few More Pages. Share the first line or two of whatever you're reading, and give your impression based on just that opening. Then link it back and take a look at what everyone else is reading too!

This week I haven't started anything new (how bad is that?!) but I have received a copy of 'Coffee At Little Angels' by Nadine Rose Larter, which I will be starting soon. So, I thought I'd share the opening so we know what we're getting ourselves into! Here it is:

"I went jogging on the morning that I died."

How's that for a grabber?! This opening has a kind of 'The Lovely Bones'-esque feel to it, as straight away we find out that the narrator is no longer with us. Jogging is such a routine, everyday thing that straight away I want to know what happened in between, between jogging and dying. I think this is a brilliant opening, and seriously cannot wait to find out what went so wrong, and to read what story this late narrator has to tell from the grave.

Let me know what you think!

Also, just a quick reminder, you may remember that a few weeks ago I shared the opening of 'The Undertaker' by William F. Brown for my Book Beginnings on Friday post. I know that most of you loved that opening, (and the whole book turned out to be really good, as you can read in my review) so now I'm giving you a chance to win a copy! It's a really good read, so if you liked what you saw before, click here to see the competition and enter! It's open until Wednesday 27/07/2011, so make sure you get in before then!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The Undertaker Giveaway!

We're halfway through the week already, so to celebrate it's competition time!

Courtesy of the author, I'm giving away one copy of 'The Undertaker' by William Brown. It's a great, exciting story and if you're interested in reading more about it you can read my review here.

Please be aware that as this is an ebook it is only available in electronic formats! Make sure you're happy with this before you enter :)

To enter, leave a comment below saying whether you would prefer a Kindle mobi format or an EPUB format if you win, along with an e-mail address so I can contact the lucky winner! If you're not comfortable with leaving your e-mail address in a comment, I will accept e-mail entries as well so send me a message and I'll add your name to the hat!

This giveaway is open internationally. You have from now until next Wednesday (27/07/2011) at 6pm (UK time!) to enter, at which point I will pull a name from the hat at random.

Good luck!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The Undertaker - William F. Brown

Peter Talbott is a widower, who one day after work finds himself with a .45 pistol pointing in his face. It turns out that somebody has been buried under Pete's name - as well as his late wife's...and they're not the only ones. Suddenly, filled with outrage, Pete finds himself thrown from being an ordinary software engineer to being involved in theft, corruption, death, and some downright dodgy dealings. 'The Undertaker' will take you along with Pete on a journey of discovery, into a world of crime that he never thought possible.

Peter is a genuinely nice character. The whole thing is written from his point of view, which makes it really easy to feel close to him. He's clearly just an ordinary guy, stumbling across and getting involved in some pretty extraordinary stuff, so the fact that he has his flaws (such as struggling to get over his wife's death and move on to carry on the rest of his life) makes it all more realistic. He has nothing to lose by following his instincts, and in the way in which Pete feels scared and incredulous, yet compelled to investigate has been conveyed well and believably by Brown.

During his escapades, Pete meets and befriends Sandy, a younger girl who is also involved in the drama. Sandy is an equally likeable character, as she adds a youthful, feminine edge to the story and softens Pete up a bit! She's very feisty, but I personally wouldn't get along with her if she was real, as she's a bit too clingy for my liking! Nevertheless, I like the innocent edge she brings to the proceedings, whilst proving to be rather unexpected at the same time too!

I really enjoyed this story, as it was full of excitement and action, including an explosion, a car chase and a run-in with a gang of youths. It was fast-paced and compelling to read, and several times found myself holding my breath with my heart in my mouth, waiting to see what would happen! It was very intriguing to try and figure out what was really going on, and the fact that the final outcome was plausible in real life is both scary and exciting!

As I say, the story is full of action and this does include some violence. However, it isn't graphic and I doubt anyone could get offended by it. I felt that when it came to the violence, it seemed to be more about the action, and getting across who was pulling which moves or who was firing at who (much like in a film), and less about getting bogged down with grisly, gory, graphic details. As a reader, I neither want nor need to know the painfully drawn out, intricate details of anyone's injuries, so Brown has scored highly in this department by tackling it with respect and care.

The plot itself, although it was a really good one, was a little simple at times. There weren't lots of layers and sub-plots all going on at once, which is something I don't come across too often in books these days. There was nothing overly detailed or complex about it, but this isn't a bad thing! It meant that 'The Undertaker' was a light read, which is sometimes nice if you just want a bit of escapism. If you're the type that prefers intricately entwined plots, then you may feel that this could have benefitted from sub-plot or two extra, to give it more depth. Otherwise, this is a lovely light read.

Around two thirds of the way through, I found that the action waned a bit, and in a lot of other books I would complain that it was dull and that the story dragged. Not in this case! On reflection, this story is so full of excitement, action and intrigue that it was actually nice to have a let up, and to let the dust settle. Far from being dull, the story still kept my interest as the relationship between Pete and Sandy developed. It was during this section that they really got to know each other, and started working as a team, which was a pleasure to read as I had been willing it to happen the whole time! To quote Hannibal Smith, I love it when a plan comes together...!

The only other niggle that I found was that there was Pete and Sandy, a couple of other essential characters, and quite a few others who we never actually meet. It's these last, distant characters, who we only know by name, that I found hard to get my head around. They all have American Italian names, which I found fairly similar to each other - and as there was nothing else that we could use to remind ourselves which name went with which persona, mostly blended into one. I know that it's a feature of the mafia type organisations and underhand groups in America, but it would have been nice to have a few different names in there, to differentiate between them. Either that, or make sure you concentrate when new characters are introduced!

Overall, I did really enjoy this book. It was very entertaining and exciting, but if you're looking for a book with a deep philosophical meaning, this might not be for you. I can thoroughly recommend it if you want a light yet action packed read with loveable characters you can relate to, and a good old fashioned crime story to get your heart going!

William F. Brown has previously published two other suspense novels, as well as having penned four award-
winning screenplays. This book, 'The Undertaker' is an ebook and so is only available in electronic formats. A Kindle copy can currently be purchased from Amazon for the bargain price of £2.14, and I think this book is totally worth it!

Many thanks to Mr. Brown for providing a copy for me to review. :)

**From tomorrow (20/07/2011) up to and including next Wednesday (27/07/2011) I will be running a giveaway to win a copy of this ebook here on my blog. It's well worth entering so come back if you're interested!**
Summary: An enjoyable, exciting book if you want a light, quick story
Rating: 4/5

Friday, 15 July 2011

Book Beginnings On Friday

This Book Beginnings On Friday meme is hosted over at A Few More Pages. The idea is to share the first line or two of the book you're reading, and to give your first impression, based on that opening. Then head over and see what everyone else is reading!

I've just finished one book and am just about to start another, so this really is my first impression! Rather than being retrospective, I'm reading these lines for the first time with you! The book I'm about to start is called 'Brightwing', and it's written by Sullivan Lee. So, let's crack open that cover together and see what we find...

"It was a shame about the hooker."

Ooooh I think this is a great opening! It throws up so many questions, that straight away I want answering. What happened to the hooker? I presume she died, but why, how and by whom? I like the way that from this sentence alone, we can't tell whether it's sincere or sarcastic - if the narrator is sincere, why couldn't anything be done? Or if they're sarcastic, what kind of person would be so blasé and disrespectful to not care what happened to this person, especially using a term like 'hooker' rather than 'poor young girl' or something more sympathetic. My money's on the latter, sarcastic option, but I'm looking forward to reading on and finding out whether I'm wrong or right!

What do you think? :)

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Bleed For Me - Michael Robotham

Ray Hegarty lies dead in his daughter Sienna's bedroom. Sienna is found covered in his blood, but although she denies any wrongdoing, all the evidence is stacked against her. Professor Joe O'Loughlin is a psychologist who is given the task of writing a psychological report of Sienna, but as his daughter Charlie is Sienna's best friend, there are worries that his personal involvement is clouding his judgement. However, he's the only person who believes Sienna is innocent, so can he help her? Or is he barking up the wrong tree?

This is a gripping, exciting story which combines abuse, lies, secrecy, racism and corruption, which will keep your attention til the very end.

This was the first book I'd read by Michael Robotham (in fact, it was the first time I'd heard of him!) and I have been thoroughly impressed. Robotham is obviously a very talented writer, who is able to put together a detailed plot which maintains its momentum throughout.

There are quite a few characters in the book, but they are all very clearly described and well-developed. The story is written in the first person, through the eyes of Professor Joe O'Loughlin. He is very likeable and believable, and he seems like a very caring bloke. Nevertheless, I did find him a little hard to visualise, as he seemed relatively young yet he had Parkinson's and sometimes had a mindset which seemed older than his years. I'm not saying young people don't get Parkinson's, as I know that sadly they can, but I just thought some aspects of Joe's character were juxtapositioned with some others.

Furthermore, Joe is a professor of psychology, who likes spending as much time as possible with his daughters. That's it, not a former police officer, not a regular crime fighter, just a professor of psychology. He may have friends and acquaintances in the police force, but how he managed to get so involved in a criminal investigation is beyond me. I'm sure that in real life he wouldn't be able to have so much contact with the chief suspect, and he somehow always managed to go places and find out information which I don't think he should have been allowed. Some may call it artistic licence on Robotham's part - I call it stretching reality.

On to other matters... There are several sub-stories to this plot and all are interlinked - the fun comes in by trying to figure out how. I often find that sub-plots within crime novels can either seem unnecessary, or very complicated and confusing. Luckily, this was not the case in 'Bleed For Me'! It'll make your brain work as you try to figure out how everything's linked, but it won't be in a bad way like you're trying to figure out what's going on.

Above I mentioned some of the themes contained in the book, and there's no doubt about it that they're very mature themes. I will warn you that the abuse I mentioned is child abuse, but it has all been handled very sensitively. There are no graphic descriptions, and nothing is really described in any great detail, so it shouldn't be offensive or upsetting to most people. I think it must have been difficult for Robotham to tackle so many hard-hitting themes in one book, but he has managed well. I would even go as far as saying a teenager could read this book: of course, it depends on the maturity of the specific child, but as long as they are mature enough understand what these themes are about and that they're totally wrong, they shouldn't find this book shocking or offensive at all.

Having said that, I do remember one sad bit...but I am quite a softie! I found it quite upsetting and nearly cried, but it's just part of my personality that I hate reading and watching things like that as they really upset me (I'm trying not to give too much away, but if you're worried about what it might be and want more details please send me a message and I'll spill the beans!). However, if any of you are real tough nuts you'll probably just think I'm being daft...the rest of the book really is quite sensitively handled!

Along a similar vein, Robotham's writing style is very easy to read, and you won't find yourself struggling with any technical or detailed language. The Professor's a psychologist, there's a police investigation going on, and parts are set in the middle of a court room, but there is very little specific jargon relating to any of these which could fly straight over the heads of the uninformed. I have virtually no real-life knowledge of any of these professions or processes, but I still followed the story easily and could clearly understand what was happening...quite a feat of achievement!

In fact, Robotham has a very easy to read style. In this book he has created tension, happiness, sadness, anger, curiosity and much, much more. The story is very gripping and draws you in from the start - and it'll keep you interested right til the end. In addition, what I like about Robotham's style is his sharp wit. This isn't a laugh out loud, funny book, but every so often he just puts in a little one-liner or quip which had me giggle and smile to myself. It's a superb way of lightening up what could otherwise be quite a tense book, and is a very personal, original way of doing so.

Lastly, the chapters are mostly quite short, and if not at least they're separated into shorter passages. Not exactly James Patterson short, but short enough that if you need to stop reading (although why would you want to?!) you should be able to do so within a couple of pages.

Overall, this is a really good book which has done British crime writers great credit. This book was only published at the end of last year, so hasn't been out all that long, but I really hope it becomes more popular and that Michael Robotham makes a bigger name for himself, as he really deserves it. 'Bleed For Me' isn't perfect, but it makes for great reading and will keep you glued to your seat. Enjoy!

A paperback copy of 'Bleed For Me' can currently be bought for £3.98 from Amazon or The Book People, and a Kindle copy will set you back £3.99.

Summary: An excellent read which deserves recognition!
Rating: 5/5

Friday, 8 July 2011

Book Beginnings on Friday

Yay it's Friday! And you know what this means... It's time for another book beginning! This meme is hosted over at A Few More Pages. The idea is that you give the first line or two of the book you're reading, and your opinion based on just that opening.

So, this week I started reading 'Nemesis' by Jo Nesbo. So far it's a great book! But, before I get carried away, here's the opening:

"I'm going to die. And it makes no sense. That wasn't the plan, not my plan, anyway."
Wow! There's nothing like throwing the reader right into the thick of things! I love that whoever this person is had some kind of plan or mission, which has somehow taken a drastic turn and he/she now knows they're going to die. It seems that someone else might have planned to kill this narrator, and so I couldn't wait to find out why, how, and who they were. I also love the element of humour in it, that someone could plan to die!

I think this is a brilliant opening, and I can assure you that the rest of this chapter (which is only a page long) and the whole of the next are just as exciting!

I can't wait to finish this book and review it, so look out for the rest of my verdict!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Three Seconds - Anders Roslund & Börge Hellström


Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström are a Swedish crime writing duo who are relatively new to the writing scene, their first book 'Odjuret' (which translates as 'The Beast' in English) being published in 2004. They have published five books in total so far, most recently 'Three Seconds' in 2009. Their books have already become popular, as they've been translated into several other languages including English and German, and they have received much recognition for their work, such as being included on the New York Times list of Notable Crime Fiction for 2009.

Roslund has worked for many years as a news reporter and journalist in Sweden for 'Rapport News'. His writing partner, Hellström, is an ex-criminal who has turned his life around and now works on trying to prevent crime, as well as helping to rehabilitate young offenders and drug addicts. It is this remarkable combination which means their writing really works, as they are able to combine realistic knowledge of cultural attitudes and life inside a prison to create gripping, intriguing storylines.

---The Plot---

Piet Hoffman is an undercover intelligence worker, just about to make one of the biggest breakthroughs with the Polish mafia in Sweden's history. The only problem is that he has to go to prison to complete it - and once he's in there, he's on his own. What's more, not even his family knows of his secret life.

Meanwhile, a drug-related murder takes place, and DI Ewert Grens starts investigating but hits dead ends at every turn. Clutching at straws, he finds a link between Piet Hoffman and the murder, and pushes to find out how everything links together. But what he discovers is like nothing he ever imagined, and involves decisions and actions he thought he'd never have to make...

---The Verdict: Pick Up Or Put Down?---

Pick up! All in all, this book is excellently written and very enjoyable. It is the type of book that is very enjoyable as I think everyone will find something within it that they will enjoy.

Ewert Grens is a very likeable character: quirky, elderly, determined, driven, yet sensitive as he is still grieving over the loss of his wife. Personally, I can relate to him as he is very focused and hard-working and will not stop until he finds the answers he is looking for, which immediately earns him respect. However, he isn't infallible as the transition he makes whilst dealing with his grief is both touching and endearing.

Piet Hoffman is the type of character who I think we, as readers, are supposed to warm to and like, but I found him a little difficult to understand. As Grens himself muses at one point, when Hoffman has a wife and children who he loves with all his heart, how can he even consider lying to them, let alone risk losing everything? His choices seem a little far-fetched and badly thought out for me, but even still I guess it all makes for a good story.

At first the book may seem a little hard to get into. I found that in the beginning it was difficult to follow who was who (not helped by the fact that they all had fairly similar Swedish names which was a little confusing!), because as that point the goings-on were all still a little shady. However, stick with it as it won't be long until all becomes clear and it's easier to get a grip on who all the characters are.

Having said that, although you may grow to understand and remember who all the characters are and what their roles are, at times I found it quite difficult to follow who was on which side (i.e. who was supporting Hoffman and who wasn't). There was one character in particular who seemed to change his mind several times within each conversation! This became a bit frustrating but I tended to lose concentration on what he was saying in the end!

The story was very well developed and was fast-paced (sometimes maybe too much so? The characters seemed to fit an awful lot of rushing about into each day...) but you certainly won't be left bored. However, once Grens makes That Decision (you'll know it when you get there) I think the next part of the story drags on a bit and could be cut down a lot. Nevertheless, it certainly showed his persistence!

This book is very exciting and captivating, and you'll find yourself getting drawn into it to see what happens. It's not a mystery and there's not a lot of guesswork to be done, but it's still so intriguing to see how things are going to unfold. Will Hoffman complete his task? Will Grens solve the murder? Will the truth ever come out? These questions will keep those pages turning!

A large part of the story is set inside a prison, which is something I am fascinated in. I visited a prison last year and chatted with some of the prisoners, which was one of the strangest yet most interesting experiences I've ever had, so reading the descriptions of what life behind bars is like from Hellström (who also had first hand experience) just brought the whole story to life. I can't imagine spending years of my life passing time in a tiny room, without my family and fearing for my life, but thanks to Hellström the book gives insight into what it's like and how prisoners cope.

I mentioned that the beginning of the book is a little hard to follow and found myself skimming a lot of it until I got to grips with who everyone was. Well, this is the type of book that once you get into it you wish you'd paid more attention in the beginning! So, I urge you - although you might not feel like it, it's a good idea to concentrate on what goes on in the beginning as then the rest of the story will unfold more easily for you.

The fast pace of this book would make it perfect for a movie, and it seems like Roslund and Hellström wrote it with this in mind. It's full of action, intrigue, violence (although nothing too graphic or horrible), but still with a couple of touching and loving moments. I really hope they make a film out of it as it would work really well - they've even left it open so a sequel could work well too. As I said right in the beginning, there is something that everyone will like!

---Final Thoughts---

My review of this book comes to you with my wholehearted recommendation. There may have been a few niggles for me, but they will probably be ironed out of their writing as the pair complete more books. I have to detract a point off my rating because occasionally it was a little hard to follow who people were and what they were thinking, but overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable book. The characters were great and the plot was compelling, so much so that my mum even commented that it's the best book she's read in a long time! I'll definitely be looking out for some of their other books and I think you should too! :)

You can currently purchase a copy for £4.46 from Amazon, or £6.39 from The Book People.

Summary: Fast paced and action packed, everything a book needs!
Rating: 4/5

Friday, 1 July 2011

Book Beginnings on Friday

Wow, is it Friday already? Where has this week gone?! What with an assignment due in, several nice outings and a birthday, it's been a pretty busy week and I've hardly had any time to read at all. :( I haven't even finished last week's Patricia Cornwell book, but I have managed to start a new e-book, 'The Undertaker', by William F. Brown (review to come).

This Book Beginnings on Friday meme is hosted by A Few More Pages. The idea is that you give the first line of the book you're reading, and your opinion based on just that opening.

So, 'The Undertaker' has a prologue, and I'll give you the first line from that:

"We decided to put it all down on paper in case they came after us again"

Now I love this opening, as it immediately caught my attention. This line is on a page of its own, before the rest of the prologue, so it makes a real statement and it isn't the kind of thing that you can miss or gloss over. At this stage, we don't know who the 'We' or the 'they' are yet, but to know that someone is in danger right from the start I find really exciting. I'm already scared of whoever 'they' are!

I'm looking forward to ploughing into the rest of this book during the week ahead, so look out for the review coming soon!