Tag Archives: kindle

The Fourth Monkey by J.D Barker – a review

I picked up a copy of this from Netgalley ages ago and for some reason I kept overlooking it. Until a trip to Newcastle where there was no wifi in my room and I hadn’t updated my kindle recently and this was at the top of the list. Well once I started I couldn’t stop.

The Fourth Monkey is about a killer who sends body parts of his victims to the police to taunt them. First they get an ear, then the eyes following the ‘see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil’ monkeys. Detective Porter has spent 5 years chasing the 4MK (4th Monkey Killer) whilst also dealing with a tragedy in his personal life. Just when he thinks he will have to give up, the police seem to get a big break. So starts a race against time to find the next victim.

This was a really gripping novel, that I felt had that great combination of gruesome murder and humour. I like a serial killer story, and read a lot. Therefore to find one that to me felt a bit different is a real bonus. There were some great one liners in this book that made me chuckle, especially in the interaction of the detectives. The story also includes a diary of the young 4MK and details his relationship with his parents and how his childhood was. Personally I wasn’t as keen on the diary element as I was on the rest of the story, mainly because it makes some very uncomfortable reading. Yet it also gives you an insight into the killers childhood that almost make you feel a bit of sympathy for him.

This is definitely not a book for the feinthearted. There was a scene with a rat which made me squirm. However it is a great read that I would highly recommend if you like a gruesome story with a touch of humour.

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A dark redemption by Stav Sherez – a review

One of the problems I find with a kindle is that I am much less discerning when it comes to buying books. As those who know me can no doubt testify if I visit a bookshop I take my purchasing of books very seriously. Whilst I tend to buy one or two at a time due to my inability to make a decision, I will carefully consider what I’m buying and then they go in the to be read pile in my room ready to be cracked open when the mood takes me.

I have no such problem with kindle buying, I’ll go click happy when I’m browsing Amazon and consequently I have loads of books on there that I buy with the intention of reading and somehow don’t get round to it. This was the case with my latest read, A dark redemption by Stav Sherez. It turns out I actually bought this back in May 2012 and it was only recently rediscovered when I was stocking up my kindle with festival appearance authors.

The book opens with Jack and two of his student friends going on a trip after University. They decide to go to Africa as they want something more interesting than the normal back packing student holiday. Through flashbacks during the book we start to find out happened during this adventure.

Back in the present day Jack Carrigan is a widowed police detective who has a habit of putting his foot in it. He is leading an investigation into the murder of a woman from Uganda whose heart is missing. Geneva Miller has recently been demoted and is given the chance of saving her career by spying on Carrigan and reporting back on his work.

I very much enjoyed this novel which links the atrocities in Uganda with a London based police procedural. The descriptions of both Uganda and London were very atmospheric and I particularly enjoyed the way that some of the history of Uganda was interspersed throughout the story without it feeling like you were being lectured at.

The two main characters were both reasonably likeable and I thought the characters backgrounds were really well entwined throughout but without detracting from the main thread of the novel which can sometimes happen in the first of a series.

I’ve seen Stav Sherez around at the festival but I don’t think I’ve heard him talk before so he is going to be a new one for me. He’s talking in a session titled Keeping it Real about the responsibilities that come with basing stories on events in real life so it will be interesting to hear him speak. It also goes to show that it’s always worth checking what’s already on my kindle in case there are other hidden gems like this one that I might have missed.


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The murder room

Well this week acrimereadersblog has been on tour (that sounds better than admitting to another holiday) and has spent the past few days in Rome. As always a trip away no matter where to or for how long is always a good opportunity for reading, and thanks to the joy of the kindle I have no shortage of books to choose from. My choice for the flight this time being Lynda LaPlante, who it has recently been announced will be attending the festival next year.

With a bit of creative licence the P of Plante also continues the theme of the holiday which turned out to be things beginning with P. We saw Putin, the Pope, a political rally, a police museum and paid preposterous prices.
Of course we covered the usual well known sites. We walked round the Vatican, we saw the Sistine chapel with all the artwork and it’s amazing ceiling (I bet Michelangelo was gutted he couldn’t just have nipped to B&Q for a tin of magnolia) we admired the Coliseum and we forgot to throw coins into the Trevi Fountain.

However alongside the many stunning sites of historic significance we also covered the aforementioned 5 P’s. We caught Putin arriving at the Vatican surrounded by armed police. We waved at Pope Francis as he travelled round in his little popemobile before he made his regular address to the crowds. We then accidently got caught up in a Furza Italia political rally, with lots of flag waving and coloured flares. Of course not understanding any Italian we weren’t aware that had we waited for a bit longer we would actually have seen Berlusconi himself talking to his supporters. We visited the Police museum (otherwise known as the Museum of criminology) which was essentially a storage area for all the torture devices and murder weapons collected by the police force over the past few hundred years. Then to round off our 5Ps we also paid preposterous prices. Two cakes and two coffees cost us 39 euro’s, luckily they were very nice but you’d hope so for that price.

Rome was a lovely place, although one thing that seemed strange was the lack of seats in coffee shops. It seems that most Italians simply neck their espressos stood at the counter. I don’t think we saw anyone just sitting down leisurely in a coffee shop and reading a book. That did seem a bit sad, the coffee was lovely and therefore its a shame to not be able to enjoy it. Then again maybe different cultures enjoy books in different ways. We certainly saw a lot of bookshops during our visit and so I don’t doubt that the Italians love to read. Maybe they just keep it for travelling, certainly the Italian next to me on the plane was very interested in my kindle and how ‘esoteric’ (his word not mine) the range of books available were. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that mine doesn’t really contain anything but crime novels!

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Fear the worst

I’ve been having a closer look at the programme for the Harrogate Crime Writers Festival today, there are 17 sessions across the three days not including the dinner or the quiz. Having looked through them all, so far I’ve read at least one author from 11 of the sessions. Therefore if the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writers Festival Challenge (TOPCWFC for the purposes of my new readers) is this year to ensure that I read an author from each session then I’m pretty much on track.

However sadly, those of you who have been reading this from the start will know that the initial TOPCWFC was actually to read a book by every author appearing at the festival. By my calculations there are 43 authors (not including those who are chairing or interviewing people) and so far I’ve read a rather paltry 14. I think even by my standards the main challenge is over before its even really begun, somehow I doubt I’ll find the time to read 29 authors in the next eight weeks but never one to shirk a challenge I’ll give it a go.

In order to start properly as I was in town earlier today I decided to pop into Waterstones. I think one of the saddest things over the past few years has been the demise of the bookshop. I’m not one for shopping but put me in a bookshop and I can spend hours browsing round but I fear that sadly I’m in the minority and bookshops are only going to become more scarce. This time I went into my local Waterstones with my copy of the festival programme dutifully annotated to ensure I don’t end up duplicating authors. I figured I’d try and pick up a couple of the books from sessions I’ve not yet completed. That however is where I hit the fundamental flaw when it comes to bookshops, their lack of books.

I understand that bookshops can only stock a limited selection of books due to shelf space but when you go in wanting something specific its very frustrating. Obviously the idea with a bookshop is that you can go in and browse around and then decide what you fancy reading which is good normally. Today however I was to be disappointed. Therefore I can see where the benefits of amazon come into play (and in true bbc style all other good online retailers  this is not an advert for amazon) shopping from the comfort of my own front room and every single book you could possibly want certainly has its advantages.

The problem is, online shopping in itself can be annoying. The endless waiting for delivery and then in my case the knowledge that no matter what size the parcel is, it will still have been intercepted by Hilda next door. That means an extra 30 minutes discussion about the latest parking saga on the street before I can get my hands on my book. Patience has never been one of my strong points and this can certainly test it.

Some of course may say that all this annoyance could be circumnavigated by simply purchasing items for my kindle. I do agree to a point, and a kindle really is one of the best inventions since the creation of BT Vision in my opinion. No luggage limit is likely to allow me to carry the 14 books recently read on my holiday. However I still like to have a proper book to read at home which takes me back round in full circle to having to visit a bookshop.

Luckily in order to continue the TOPCWFC un-interupted I did find one book I wanted in the bookshop, so its time to start some serious reading.


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Small crimes

People are always saying that things have shrunk over the years and on the whole I would agree. For example, last week I was given a wagon wheel. When I was a kid finding a wagon wheel in my lunchbox was like a lottery win (although obviously I wouldn’t have thought that exact thought at the time, as it was pre-lottery) The wheel of chocolate that was a wagon were massive and they were much favoured over the usual non branded chocolate biscuits. This time whilst it was very nice, it just seemed very small, more tonka toy wheel than wagon. You could dunk it in a cup of coffee and I’m sure you wouldn’t have been able to do that years ago.

Monster munch, there’s another micro snack. You can’t bite the toes of a pickled onion foot anymore, the whole thing is only one bite.

Music players have shrunk to Lilliputian standards from the big record players you played vinyl on, to the tiny mp3 players people use now. I saw a man walking down the road listening to a portable cd player the other day and even that looked huge.

Books however, I think are the complete opposite. This week I started reading a book by Carl Hiaasen that a friend lent me. Its an old paperback version and it seems tiny. I know it might just be because the last few books I’ve read have been hardbacks which by necessity are much bigger, but even compared to the paperbacks I’ve bought recently it is really small.

I like to think, in my romantic view of the world, that it is all because paper and ink is affordable now. In Georgian times they used to put a pineapple in the middle of their table to prove their wealth. Now we all want to show off our wealth by buying bigger books.

I suspect though that as with so many things, it’s just about greed. People want more for less, more clothes at less money, 300 channels on their tv, triple whopper double bacon burgers, and now to top it all off bigger books.

Of course there is a third argument, that this may just be a ploy by Amazon to sell their kindles. The bigger the books get, the more we are all going to hate carrying them around, hence the more e-books will sell. That would seem a clever bit of marketing! Luckily the smallness of the book isn’t affecting my enjoyment of Carl Hiaasen, although I won’t be buying any wagon wheels in the near future.

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The Cutting Room by Jilliane Hoffman – a review

This was one of the books I treated myself too at Harrogate, so it was a nice change to read a hardback book for once, and as much as I do love my kindle you can’t beat the feel of a proper book.

In this story women are being brutally killed which heralds the return of serial killer and death row dweller Bill Bantling who we’ve met in Jilliane Hoffman’s previous books. This book felt almost like two separate stories. There was the rich ‘boy about town’ who is accused of murder, and then the development of the Bill Bantling and CJ Townsend story. Bill apparently knows members of the the snuff club that is linked to the murder and offers this knowledge in return for being moved to a different prison.

I’ve read Jilliane Hoffman’s previous books and enjoyed them, and this was no exception. Her books are always nerve wracking, and she has an ability to build suspense that makes them a real page turner. Some scenes such as one which leads to a room in a basement make you want to scream at the characters to stop being so stupid!

If I’m honest though this book was not quite as good as the previous ones and it felt very much that it was a stepping stone to bring back CJ and to bridge a gap to the next proper novel. The new character of Daria seemed a bit one dimensional and from the start I felt she was more of a plot device rather than a new main protagonist.

Although there was a lot of back story included in the Cutting Room, I imagine it would have been tricky to read without having read the previous books as there was a lot of referencing of the previous stories. I quite like a series of books though, as sometimes it is good to follow a character through the years and you feel almost rewarded for the effort and investment put into reading.

The ending was a little bit unsatisfying, not to mention in part slightly unbelievable, which may be why I felt that it was a stopgap to the next book. Although having just been onto Jilliane Hoffman’s website she describes the Cutting Room as the third and final instalment of the CJ/Cupid ‘Thrillogy’ so I’m obviously wrong. In which case dare I say it, the ending was actually very unsatisfying.

Lets hope she changes her mind and we can actually look forward to the return of the clown masked killer!

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Elephants can remember

Unfortunately the blog has been a bit quiet recently, mainly due to work getting in the way, if only I could read for a living! The reviews might be a bit behind but it doesn’t mean the reading is not still happening and the kindle has been getting a good work out as I’ve spent a lot of time travelling recently.

So has my credit card mind you in order to keep up with my demand for kindle books. If only there was a kindle lending library. The card work out is only going to get worse though as I’m off to Hong Kong for two weeks in October so a 15 hour flight is going to need a lot of books. Hopefully some more authors will have been announced for the 2013 festival by then, otherwise all suggestions of books will be gratefully received.

One of my recent non-work trips was down to Colchester to see some friends which was a lovely couple of days. It was great to spend a day being a lady who lunches whilst catching up with an old friend (I even got to feed an elephant!)

My friend’s have a 5 year old girl who nearly enjoyed the day at the zoo as much as me. Spending so much time with a little person was fun (despite the constant stream of conversation from the moment she woke up) it also showed just how much we take for granted.

Reading is completely second nature to most people, you don’t think about it, it just happens (apparently its just like riding a bike, although anyone who has seen me attempting to ride a bike this past year would disagree if they managed to stop laughing long enough) But to a five year old its a completely new experience.

Like all good parents around the world my friends (who are both keen readers themselves) are constantly making the little girl spell out words and ‘put it all together then’ from the litter bin to the sign for the giant ants. It was like one long game to her, but of course had a more serious side of teaching her to read.

It made me realise that reading is just like any other skill, it needs practice and the more you practice the better you get. Equally though to want to learn a skill it has to be something you enjoy. I love reading, I also love books in general and when I can’t read such as on the walk to work I listen to audio books. I’m lucky in that despite my hatred of trains, it gives me lots of time to read and probably explains why I’m quite a fast reader. It does mean though that a two week holiday with a 15 hour flight at each end is going to need a lot of books to keep me occupied!

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