Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama

imageFor five days in January 1989, the parents of a seven-year-old Tokyo schoolgirl sat and listened to the demands of their daughter’s kidnapper. They would never learn his identity. They would never see their daughter again.

For the fourteen years that followed, the Japanese public listened to the police’s apologies. They would never forget the botched investigation that became known as ‘Six Four’. They would never forgive the authorities their failure.

For one week in late 2002, the press officer attached to the police department in question confronted an anomaly in the case. He could never imagine what he would uncover. He would never have looked if he’d known what he would find.

I have to admit I love Japanese thrillers but sadly this one didn’t cut it for me.  I gave up at about 18%. It’s a book that you really have to pay attention to.  I tried skimming over the less interesting parts but soon realised that you can’t really do that with this particular story.  The writer knows the workings of police procedures in Japan and goes into a lot of detail.  For me that is the problem, there is just too much detail.  It’s not the kind of detail that keeps you interested but more of the kind that bogs you down.  It makes for very slow, dull  reading.  I know that there is a story in there somewhere it’s just having the patience to get to it.  What I did read gave you crumbs when you wanted a bite.  It didn’t give me enough to get into the story or to get hooked on the characters.

I don’t mind a slow book, one that demands time and attention, but in saying that I do want a plot that gives you something to dive into and get lost in.  Six Four didn’t do that for me.  Too much detail and not enough story line strong enough to hold me was the downfall for me.  Maybe if I read this a few years ago when I had the patience to wade through this kind of book I would have managed to finish it, but time has taught me to not be afraid to put aside books that just don’t do it for me.

ARC received by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Did Not Finish

Crash

Buy: Amazon

Buy: Amazon UK

The Turn by Kim Harrison

imageCan science save us when all else fails?

Trisk and her hated rival, Kalamack, have the same goal: save their species from extinction.

Death comes in the guise of hope when a genetically modified tomato created to feed the world combines with the government’s new tactical virus, giving it an unexpected host and a mode of transport. Plague takes the world, giving the paranormal species an uncomfortable choice to stay hidden and allow humanity to die, or to show themselves in a bid to save them.

Under accusations of scientific misconduct, Trisk and Kal flee across a plague torn United States to convince leaders of the major paranormal species to save their supposedly weaker kin, but not everyone thinks humanity should be saved.

Kal surreptitiously works against her as Trisk fights the prejudices of two societies to prove that not only does humanity have something to offer, but that long-accepted beliefs against women, dark magic, and humanity itself can turn to understanding; that when people are at their worst that the best show their true strength, and that love can hold the world together as a new balance is found. 

 

I have read a few of the Hollow books ages ago and thought that this would be a base to start with reading the series at the beginning .  Not knowing what to expect going in was a bit daunting.  I was lost at the start of the book with the contracts and so on but it picked up and got going with Kal hell bent on destroying Trisk after she cost him his dream job.

Trick worked with a human genetics lab to keep an eye on developments on human genetic advances and tweet them to suit other Interlanders (were’s, vampires, elves and pixies) or just to stop the new genetic material from hurting or killing them. When Trisk develops a new tomato crop that will help end hunger Kal is sent in to confirm her work. Still angry from what  she did to him, Kal decided to change the gene sequence enough to cause illness and to discredit her work, but what he unleashes spells death for millions.

While I found the story interesting and well thought out it did drag out way too long at 450 pages.  Most of the time Trisk, Daniel and Orchid were on the run, endlessly running and running and running.  It was way to drawn out and it took me ages to slog through the middle half of the story.  I skimmed trying to get to the more interesting bits.  I hated Kal, I really did.  He was vile, vain and pure worm like when it came to trying to save his own ass.  Trisk was selfless in her efforts to not only save herself and her research but also to keep Daniel alive and blameless no matter the cost.

A good and well written story but brought down by unnecessary excess plot line of their escape and evading Kal is what brought this book down from a 4 to a 3 star.

ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review

3/5 stars

Crash

Buy: Amazon

Buy: Amazon UK

The Origins of Benjamin Hackett by Gerald M. O’Connor

imageIn the summer of ’96, Benjamin Hackett has come of age, technically. And in the midst of the celebratory hangover, his world is whipped out from under his feet. His parents have finally shared their lifelong secret with him; he’s adopted.

At the age of eighteen, the boy still has some growing up to do, and with the help of JJ, his loquacious consigliore and bodyguard, he embarks on an adventure that’ll put to bed a lifetime of lies.

Over the course of five days, they find themselves caught up in the darker side of Cork. But when they sweep through the misfits blocking their way and finally discover the truth of it…now that’s the greatest shock of all.

 

The day after his 18th birthday Benjamin finds out that he is adopted.  He is shocked but most of all angry for the lie his parents have kept from him all his time.  After seeing the parish priest who arranged the adoption he goes on a quest to find out who is parents are.  This sets him on a path that takes him into the underbelly of Cork and aligning himself with questionable characters to help him get to the truth.  With JJ helping him unquestionably as a friend should, he finds what he is looking for.  Will he keep what he found out to himself or will he blow apart the world of the people who raised him and others around him to satisfy his every building anger?

The opening few pages of the book had me laughing.  The writing and language is great, the local lingo and manners of speaking brought me right back to when I was in Ireland.  Benjamin was right to be angry but the story is a long and winding one that brought him to the truth.  it’s a tall yarn that only the Irish can write and get away with.  It’s not your typical coming of age story.  I loved the first and third part of the story.  The middle third with him and JJ’s goings on in Cork were farfetched. It did add to to the story but I found it dragging a bit in my opinion.  The whole thing with the way they wanted to break into the convent to find out his parentage was just way to out there.

In saying that it was a good read and brought me to 90’s Ireland. I also could tell that this was written by a Corkman even before i realised that the writer is from Cork.  Stories set in the west usually have a certain feel and desolation to them, just as you can can tell a Dublin writer as well.  Having worked for a Corkman you can get some of they lyrical way of the county in this story. It’s a good first novel from Mr. O’Connor

ARC provided by Netgalley for a fair and honest review

3.5  stars

Crash

Buy: Amazon

Buy: Amazon UK

The Magdalen Girls by V.S. Alexander

imageDublin, 1962. Within the gated grounds of the convent of The Sisters of the Holy Redemption lies one of the city’s Magdalen Laundries. Once places of refuge, the laundries have evolved into grim workhouses. Some inmates are “fallen” women—unwed mothers, prostitutes, or petty criminals. Most are ordinary girls whose only sin lies in being too pretty, too independent, or tempting the wrong man. Among them is sixteen-year-old Teagan Tiernan, sent by her family when her beauty provokes a lustful revelation from a young priest.

Teagan soon befriends Nora Craven, a new arrival who thought nothing could be worse than living in a squalid tenement flat. Stripped of their freedom and dignity, the girls are given new names and denied contact with the outside world. The Mother Superior, Sister Anne, who has secrets of her own, inflicts cruel, dehumanizing punishments—but always in the name of love. Finally, Nora and Teagan find an ally in the reclusive Lea, who helps them endure—and plot an escape. But as they will discover, the outside world has dangers too, especially for young women with soiled reputations.

 

Teagan is a naive girl who has done no wrong with the exception of arousing sexual feelings in a parish priest.  While she hadn’t actually done anything it wasn’t enough to stop her father from throwing her into the confines of a convent and the life of drudgery until someone can come and get her out.

Nora is the wild child. Brash and brazen trying anything to get out of her parents house, even if it means getting sexually involved with her boyfriend.

This is a depressing, sad and all to real story of what happened to some women in Ireland back in the day.  The girls in this story, along with Lea, who is a innocent that finds life at the convent good for her, end up broken and downtrodden.  They are sent to the laundries for all sorts of sins, real or imagined.  The nuns in the stories are just as varied as the women who slave away there.  Sister Anne seems to be a hard hearted woman who has it out for Teagan and we just don’t understand why.  Sister Anne has her own dark secrets that has laid buried for quite a while but at they end they break to the surface much to the surprise of some around her.  Father Mark is a weak man driven by lust and his inability to own up to his failings.  I really didn’t like the man at all. Lea was not one of the world, she had religious visions that no one took seriously.  She was serene and enjoyed living at the convent well enough.

There was some small snippets of brief joy in the friendship between Lea, Nora and Teagan but on a whole this was a joyless story as it was a joyless life in the laundries.

Having have lived in Ireland for a few years I had heard stories about the laundries.  I never met a woman who had worked and lived in one but there were enough documentaries and even radio talk shows about them that I knew they were a hell on earth.  Ireland back int the 60’s, when this book was set, was ruled with an iron fist by the Catholic Church and their rule was set in stone.  When a woman was sent to the laundries they didn’t leave unless someone would come for them, sadly quite a few never left.  I always thought it was an unfair system, men got away with doing anything they wanted but the girls or young women were the ones punished for it.  Even if someone did break out of the laundries they were easy to identify and brought back to which ever convent they belonged to. Even if they were released they lived a sad life, often shunned by others, unable to life a proper life. A Pregnant Magdalen was forced to give her baby up at birth so it could be adopted.  Cruel isn’t a strong enough word for what happened to these women.  While the last of the laundries closed only in the mid 90’s the church still has a lot of influence over Ireland now.  Not as much of a strong hold but it still holds sway and even to this day abortion is still illegal in Ireland.

It’s not an easy book or a happy one for that matter but the story is one based in truth, a hard one as well.

ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review

4/5 stars

Crash

 

Buy: Amazon

Buy: Amazon UK

 

Commander in Chief by Katy Evans

imageWe fell in love during the campaign.
The stakes were high.
Reputations could have been ruined.
Scandal hovered over us like a cloud.
Now the man I love is the President of the United States of America.
And its not my vote he is after.
He wants it all.
My heart. My body. My soul.
He wants me by his side.
In the White House.
Normalcy will be gone from my life, privacy forgotten.
I am only twenty three. I just wanted to play a part in history. But it seems like history wasn’t done with me. The part where I lost my heart to Matthew Hamilton? It was only the beginning. 

 

I should have have known by how I felt about the first book that I shouldn’t have bothered with this one. Did I listen to my inner voice, no. Call me a glutton for punishment.

This book was just as bad, if not worse, than the first one. Charlotte was just as vomit inducing. ” Mr. President…… He’s so God like…… You can see the power rippling under his shirt across his powerful chest….. He wants me!…… But think of the American people and how we would affect them.”  Just repeat those snippets ad nauseum and you have the book in a nutshell, oh and it’s 3/4 sex. No real plot or story to speak of, just tidbits of things to add as a bit of filler inbetween all the sex. Plus the excessive overload of patriotism. Now there is nothing wrong with sex or patriotism but in the right context and in proportion. We know that Matt and Charlotte love their country but come on, give it a rest. It’s the lack of plot that bothered me. The story was one dimensional, there wasn’t anything that was good about it. The characters were one dimensional, the whole thing just was flat, repetitive and boring. Charlotte annoyed the hell out of me. She acted more like a tittering,insecure, hormonal  15 year old girl than a woman in her 20’s

I’ve learned my lesson and will not be buying anymore books by this writer.

1 star

Crash

 

Steele City Blues by Karen Greco

imageBlood Ops leader Dr. O is chained in the bowels of Steele City, the state’s maximum security prison, and the clock is ticking for Nina and Frankie to bust him out.

Now that supernatural creatures are out of the closet, Providence is descending into an apocalyptic wasteland. With the abrupt shut down Blood Ops, Nina and Frankie are forced to rely on questionable allies to battle Leila, a powerful witch/vampire hybrid hell bent on creating an indestructible supernatural army. She also happens to be Nina’s mom.

Alliances are tested and relationships fractured as Nina and her band of supernatural crime fighting misfits are pushed to the breaking point.

Steele City Blues, the third book in the Hell’s Belle urban fantasy series, is high-octane, action-packed, cinematic story by Karen Greco that fans of The Hollows and the Cassandra Palmer series will love. Join the adventure!

 

Nina and Frankie have their hands full trying to Dr.O from Steele City prison without the sudden appearance from Nina’s grandfather. They make a failed attempt at breaking into Steele City and instead of breaking Dr. O out they find out some horrifying things that are going on behind the prisons door. Not only do they have a monumental task of getting back into the prison to free those in there but they also have a deadline that will impact everyone.

This series gets better with each book! While I love Nina and Frankie I really enjoyed Casper more this time around. He’s sassy, powerful and just a funny guy to have around. The interaction of the characters is deeper and there are way more secrets that unfolded as well.

I love this series and hope that there are more books to come but the way it ended leaves me thinking it is the end but who knows. This is not a stand alone book, you have to have read the first two books to understand what is going on in this one.

ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

4/5 stars

Crash

Book guilt

We have all had some sort of book guilt at one point or another.  We either have too many books to pick from, some that languish on the TBR pile forever or books that pushed aside for either  a very long series that can’t be put down to old favourites that get re-read too many times to count.

I am guilty of it.  I have more books that I will probably ever get to read, especially at a rate of 150-200 a year. Just the books on my kindle right now would keep me occupied for at least 3.5 to 4 years, that is if I don’t add any more to it.  I have books that are at the bottom of a virtual TBR pile since I first got a Kindle 6 years ago.  So many free reads when I first got my Kindle, I gorged on free books when I came across something even remotely interesting.  I would get it for a rainy day when funds would be tight and congratulated myself on being frugal.  Now that frugality has gone out the window.  Places like Goodreads, Litsy and other social  media book sites along with book blogs overwhelm me now with so many recommendations that I end up with more books that time!  They are also great places to make new book friends and to connect with like minded individuals.  I have made many good book friends through social media and don’t regret the friends I have made, just the amount of books I have hoarded.

So in order to scale the mountain of books I am going to let go of the guilt and cut back on the buying ( Yes I do hear the howls of laughter out there.) It’s either that or be buried under a pile of books or get clumped on top of the head by a falling kindle…… although there are worse ways to go huh?