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Laboured

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 19-06-17

The book tells the story of Grace, forced into a loveless marriage to a much older man, Judge Moran. Grace befriends and falls in love with an Indian doctor, Vikram. When she falls pregnant the judge knows the baby is not his and avoiding a potential scandal decides to act decisively but harshly. Soon after childbirth Grace is committed to a mental institution, Our Lady’s Asylum, Knockavanagh and Vikram is forced to leave Ireland and return to Bangalore, India believing that Grace died in childbirth. Grace’s daughter Emma is raised by the judge as his own.

Following the Judge’s death in the 1980’s Emma goes through his paperwork to discover the truth about her mother while at the same time we learn what became of te heartbroken Vikram and his family in India.

It is said that the book spans three decades but actually takes place in two time zones 30 years apart, the 1950’s and the 1980’s. The first half of the book is confusing and hard to follow because of the constant switching between the two time zones and countries and changes in the point of view character.

There was potential for a truly gritty book with a great storyline touching on so many injustices, not least of all forced marriages, racism, homosexuality, class distinction and the incarceration of “fallen” women in asylums. In the end it was all just very shallow. The characters weren’t adequately developed, their predicaments were laboured at a superficial level and I totally lost interest.

Out of respect for my book club persevered to the end but even the ‘shocking twist’ was totally predictable.

Just as good on the reread

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-10-16

Ahead of the film release later this month I decided to reread this book and I thoroughly enjoyed it again. It has all the traits of a Reacher book - fast paced, good storyline, lots of action, drugs and money and full of twists and turns. There are reflections of Reacher’s time as Commander of the 110th and the repercussions of his actions in the present day, including trumped up charges that force Reacher back into the army. However he doesn’t allow this to restrict his investigation into the incarceration of the current commanding officer of 110th, Major Susan Turner or indeed influence his decision to break out of jail with her. Together they follow the trail of espionage and cover ups.

I am unashamedly addicted to Jack Reacher and anxiously await the next book in November - Night School.

Failed to reach expectation

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-10-16

Sabina, a pregnant 38 year old, discovers that she was adopted at birth, so sets out to discover how this came about, who her birth parents were and why these facts were hidden from her. I was expecting a strong emotional story but somehow it failed to reach expectation.

The story is told from the perspective of Sabina, her adoptive mother Megan and her birth mother Lily but none of the characters showed any real depth or expressed strong feeling about the events leading up to the adoption. Although well written and a potentially good storyline, for me it became tedious and cringe worthy. Just not a page turner!

Repercussions of a clandestine love affair

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 20-08-16

I restarted this book a few times before finally ploughing my way to the end. The storyline is set in a small-time Quaker community, divided by religious and racial differences. A clandestine love affair in the past resulted in an innocent black man being lynched and the repercussions of this have simmered over the years. When Judge Corbett Kendall dies, dark secrets from this event are discovered that threaten to rock the delicate balance of racial harmony.

Although I found the writing dull and tedious, the storyline did give me an insight into the Quaker way of life and the lasting complexities of religious and racial issues in communities of the South after the abolishment of slavery.

A relationship transcending race, colour & creed

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 20-08-16

It is quite rare for me to read and enjoy a book that is character rather than plot driven but this one is an exception to the rule. The novel centres on the relationship between Lisbeth, eldest child of white plantation owners and Mattie, her black wet nurse, a relationship that transcends race, colour, creed and age. There are many occasions when their love and respect for each other is obvious and although helpless to change Mattie’s slave status Lisbeth neither views her nor treats her as a slave.

The fact that Mattie is able to wet nurse Lisbeth shows that she has been torn away from her own child, a boy that she only permitted to see weekly. There is a very sad episode where she struggles to breastfeed him because he hasn’t bonded with her. Despite this Mattie doesn’t resent Lisbeth for the enforced separation.

This is a beautifully written book, very easy to read and very difficult to put down. It doesn’t shy away from horrors of slavery but it also tells of the courage and strength of both the leading ladies who ultimately want to escape from an unacceptable lifestyle and enter a world where all humans are treated equally.

23 people found this helpful

a fest of unnecessary, atrocious brutality

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 19-06-16

I have devoured all the Ben Hope series and to date have thoroughly enjoyed them but I was immensely disappointed by this book which seemed to consist of a fest of unnecessary, atrocious brutality that added nothing to an already weak storyline. There just wasn’t enough content to hold my interest. The repetition of Ben being put into no win situations (his helplessness and lack of action being completely out of character) started to irritate me as the narrative was going nowhere, and what did Hercules and the lion add other than more gratuitous violence? I am not going to say too much about the relationship between Ben and his son, the underpinning of this book, as that wasn’t developed at all which was a further cause for frustration.

To add insult to injury, I got to the end of the book only to discover it was the first of two parts, Devil’s Kingdom, Ben Hope #15 is due out November 2016 and I might give it a miss.

With any luck in Ben Hope #16 Scott Mariani will return to delivering a tense, twisty thriller with a strong but humane hero fighting his way through ‘situations’ in order to right a wrong or maybe the series has run its course.

3 people found this helpful

Best David Baldacci book to date

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 18-06-16

Melvin Mars is a man convicted of the murder of his parents 20 years earlier and is about to be executed when he is given an unexpected reprieve. Another man confesses to the crime.
Why now? Why not 20years ago? Who wants this man freed?

Amos Decker, now on an FBI special task force, and is drawn to this cold case because there are many parallels to his own life; the murder of their families, the tragic loss of their promising footballing careers and someone else stepping forward to confess to the crime. Decker’s curiosity, hyperthymesia and determination to uncover the truth, creates a powerful taut thriller full of twists and turns uncovering racial tension, political intrigue and forbidden love.

I have read all of David Baldacci books, and he creates many series with different main characters but Amos Decker is absolutely my favourite and these novels are going from strength to strength.

A ghostly murder ...

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 23-05-16

Caroline and Lowrie, together with college friends, Eleanor and her husband Ian, Polly and her boyfriend Marcus, return to Lowrie’s hometown (Unst in the Shetland Isles) to attend their "hameferin', a Scottish wedding celebration. After the party, Eleanor disappears into ‘thin air’ and the following morning her body is found, neatly laid out on the beach.

Before her death Eleanor had claimed to have seen the eerie ghost of Peerie Lizzie, a young girl who had died on the shore in the 1920s, and there are indications that the deaths are linked. How can this be?

Willow Reeves, Jimmy Perez and Sandy Wilson are called in to head up the investigation.
There are lots of twists and turns to the story, but the clues are all there if only I could have solved them!

I made the mistake of picking up and reading this book before realising that it is Book 6 of the series, and now I just want to get Books 1-5 and read them in order! That said, this did not spoil my enjoyment of the book as there is enough background to realise that the main character, Detective Perez, is still recovering from the loss of his wife, struggling to make a new life for himself and his stepdaughter and that there is a very caring human side to his character. I am so looking forward to reading the other books in the Shetland series.

How identical are identical twins

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-05-16

Despite the hype, which normally puts me off a book, I was intrigued by the premise of this tense, psychological thriller. Lydia and Kirstie were identical twins, inseparable from the day they were born until six years later when they were separated by death, but can you be sure which twin died and how. The surviving twin is confused. Sometimes she is Lydia, sometimes she is Kirstie and sometimes she is both.

Driven apart by grief and guilt and yet held together by the love of their daughter, Angus and Sarah Moorcroft move to a remote island in the Hebrides, which Angus inherits from his grandmother, in an attempt to rebuild their lives. Sarah’s mental fragility is balanced by the frustration of Angus, but each trying to keep their feelings hidden so as not to rock the boat. Throughout the book we get snippets of what really happened on that fateful night, and it becomes evident that both parents have something to hide.

The weather and environment of this desolate Scottish island are intensely described which underlines the fragile state of the family. Everything precariously balanced but then comes the storm….

Fast paced, action packed adventure

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 21-04-16

Ben Hope is drawn into another fast paced, action packed adventure when he meets Raul Fuentes. Raul expresses his doubts about the apparent suicide of his twin sister, Catalina. Ben own suspicions are raised when he and Raul are followed by professional killers. They later discover that three of Catalina’s fellow scientists have met a suspicious fate. What has happened and why?

The only reason I have awarded this Ben Hope book four stars rather than five was that the ending was not as satisfying as it could have been. The book is still a page turner, offering double crosses, twists and turns at every stage, and a gripping read.