Category: Mandasue Heller

Save Me by Mandasue Heller

Mandasue Heller Save MeSynopsis: When Ellie Fisher misses her train home one night, she has no idea that being in the right place at the wrong time will change her life forever.

That night she comes across Gareth, a young man about to take his own life, because as far as he’s concerned there is nothing left to live for. Putting her own life in danger Ellie convinces Gareth that there is always something left. Her own life is no bed of roses, she explains, but she always pushes on.

However, good deeds aren’t always repaid the way we want. Has Ellie unwittingly put her life in danger, or is the real danger a lot closer to home?

Kat’s Rating: 4/5

Kat’s Review: I was excited to read the new Mandasue book but have to be honest and say I was surprised at the type of book this turned out to be. It seems like a bit of a departure from the gritty gangland style books she normally produces and leans more towards a psychological thriller. 

Ellie Fisher is introduced to us on her commute to work. She has no idea that her day will change when she attempts to help a young guy named Gareth who is attempting to take his own life. In the meantime she is dealing with her own problems with her husband Matt and her Mother and Sister. The thing that struck me most about this book was that I didn’t actually like any of the characters which is unusual. Ellie seems to be downtrodden and has almost zero backbone. Although I felt sorry for her it seems like she just doesn’t have the strength to be anything other than a doormat. On the other side of the fence we have her seemingly controlling and frankly abysmal husband Matt who I just wanted to smack for most of the book.

That strange sensation aside, what I realised was that in a strange was I was thoroughly enjoying this departure in style. It’s certainly different to her previous stuff but although I disliked the characters I felt the need to keep reading. Although this doesn’t have the edge of your seat type tension running through it there is a dark element which seems to be present almost from the beginning. I read this in one sitting and although initially I was thinking it wasn’t as good as previous stuff, I ended up really enjoying it. I also didn’t quite see the ending and found myself being pleasantly surprised. Overall, different but I think good different.

Run by Mandasue Heller

51PMLe2U9FL._SL250_

Synopsis: After being cheated on by her ex, Leanne Riley is trying her hardest to get her life back on track, which isn’t easy without a job and living in a bedsit surrounded by a junkie and a mad woman.

On a night out with her best friend she meets Jake, a face from her past who has changed beyond all recognition. Jake is charming, handsome and loaded, a far cry from the gawky teenager he used to be. Weary of men, Leanne isn’t easy to please, but Jake tries his best to break through the wall she’s built around herself.

But good looks and money can hide a multitude of sins. Is that good-looking face just a mask? And what’s more, what will it take to make it slip, and who will die in the process . . . ?

Kat’s Rating: 4/5

Kat’s Review: It’s been a while since I have read a Mandasue book and I was looking forward to her latest release. I must confess having finished it I was a little surprised at the change in pace almost, it seemed to me that there was certainly a slightly different theme to her writing compared to other books she has released. That said, this was still a great read and I was certainly engrossed, although admittedly a little surprised.

Leanne Riley lives in a grotty bedsit, has little money, no job, and little prospects. Her life seemed to have taken a downhill turn after catching her bloke cheating on her and losing her job. Her friend Chrissie seems to be the only good and consistent thing in her life. When she goes on a rare night out she bumps into the very handsome Jake who it turns out she knew back at school. Her life suddenly looks a whole lot more interesting with a new man on the scene who is showing interest. Although she is wary of men Jake is literally a Prince Charming and it seems Leanne’s luck has finally changed.

Leanne and Chrissie were great characters and very easy to read, I especially liked their obviously close friendship. Ben and Jake’s friendship seemed a little one sided but I loved Ben and thought he was a real gem of a character. By the halfway mark I could have been mistaking this sort of book for one that fall sin the Romantic Suspense genre, however once past that point it all seems to change…and very quickly.

I won’t say any more as it will inevitably spoil some great threads in the story line, suffice to say I was hooked with the plot and thoroughly enjoyed this latest release. I finished the book in a little over one and a half sittings and realised that although this was a slight departure from her usual style of writing, I really liked it. It almost keeps the work ‘fresh’ and instead of getting a dose of the ‘usual’, you get a variation of the usual which makes for a very refreshing change. Another great read with this new release and one that will no doubt tick the boxes for all her fans.

Respect by Mandasue Heller

228x346

My Rating 4/5

 Synopsis: Chantelle has everything going against her. She’s a good student who only wants to pass her exams and find a way out of the sink estate in Manchester where she grew up. But now her feckless mother has taken off for Spain with her latest boyfriend and she’s single-handedly raising her tearaway nine-year-old brother Leon. She thinks her worst problem is the debt collectors at the door. But Leon has made some new friends: teenage gang members who have given him a mobile phone a knife – and some drugs to hide in her flat. A part-time job seems to be the answer to Chantelle’s prayers. But the violence is about to come home to her -with a vengeance. And the only person who’s offering any help seems to be just as bad as the people she’s trying to escape from . . .

My Review: As always I was chomping at the bit to get the new Mandasue Heller book and was very pleased when my prayers were answered, and a preview copy landed on my doorstep. I had read the synopsis and was looking forward to getting stuck into another gritty crime book and I wasn’t disappointed! Chantelle and her brother Leon live with their sad excuse for a mother on one of the estates in Manchester. It took me only a matter of pages to adore the studious and sensible young girl, and lead character Chantelle. Her brother Leon is on the edge in terms of friends and the sort of people he hangs around with and trouble is lurking from the early pages.

One thing that struck me as different is that this book doesn’t go from standard crime to real dirty, gritty, crime (if you know what I mean). I got the real sense of a story that maybe isn’t that far from some people’s real life situations. Here are two young kids, being raised by a woman that isn’t fit to be a mother; and trying their best to make it work. When Chantelle’s mum does a bunk with her latest bloke, Chantelle has no other choice than to lie about her age and find part time work. At this point in the book we see the threat of danger slowly creep up.

Chantelle soon realises that things with Leon are getting out of hand and isn’t sure what to do. In addition to that she has no idea that she herself will bring danger to their door. Chantelle and Leon take centre stage in this latest book along with a few additional characters such as one of Chantelle’s acquaintances Anton. Although this didn’t have the same feel as some of MH’s other books there was something a little bit refreshing about it. I know, I know, I’m not the best at explaining but that’s the best I can say right now. Her favourite title of mine was Lost Angel and I’m afraid it still takes the title but this was still a first class read and one that I loved from start to finish. As always I was sad to finish this book and am even sadder I have to wait a whole year for another of her instalments.

Broke by Mandasue Heller

download

My Rating: 4/5

I have mentioned in previous reviews that although I consider myself a fan, I don’t LOVE every MH book I read. Having said that her last book Lost Angel was absolutely brilliant. With that in my mind I was really looking forward to reading the new release Broke. The story centres on Amy who at a young age and with a baby on the way marries Mark. Within the first two chapters I had the urge to slap Amy around the face and ask her what she was playing at. The character Mark is an absolute idiot and one that I loathed from the very beginning. A few years later and with another child in tow Amy and Mark find themselves stuck in the doldrums. When Mark loses his job and his gambling gets out of hand he makes the major mistake of borrowing money from the local loan shark Lenny Yates.

From that point on the story takes a rather sinister and dark turn. Lenny Yates decides that Amy can pay off Mark’s debts his way. For fear of giving plot spoilers I don’t want to divulge any more of the story, but hence to say things are not particularly nice for Amy and her children. As Amy’s world takes a turn for the worse, her situation spirals and becomes almost unbelievable. The one thing I would say is that Mandasue touches on many subjects that are hard to deal with. Although Amy’s situation made me feel sympathetic towards her, I also felt irritated by her as a character. The fact that her life is all about Mark and nobody else grated on me, and at times it seemed like her children came second although at the end this seemed to have done a 360 degree turn? That was my only real bugbear about the book.

Other than that, the story drew me in and I went through quite a few emotions from pure rage at reading what characters were doing to sheer irritation at how stupid they can be! I managed to read this in just under 4 hours which is a record even by my standards. It’s certainly written in a way that makes you want to keep reading. Although I really liked this book her previous book Lost Angel was outstanding. That and the fact that Amy irritated me so much means it’s only a 4/5 read from me, but still a great read. Can’t wait for the next one.

Lost Angel by Mandasue Heller

326x500

My Rating: 5/5

I have read all of Mandasue Heller’s books and would definitely consider myself a fan. Having said that I haven’t loved every book, it almost seems like I either love it or just don’t like it at all. Her last book The Driver I seemed to struggle with

but the previous book Two-Faced I loved. With all that in mind I was excited to read her new book but apprehensive to see whether I would like it. Many people over the last few years have compared her to the likes of Martina Cole and this book just proves that she is in my opinion better than Martina Cole.

Johnny Conroy is a young lad who is typically enjoying life and when he meets Ruth Hynes he takes his chances. What he doesn’t account for is that the infamous hard man Frankie Hynes daughter will fall pregnant. Before he knows it he is part of the Hynes lives and is married with a baby on the way.

The first portion of the book is like Mandasue’s early books and was absolutely brilliant. We meet Ruth and her parents Frankie and Rita. Johnny, for all his faults, is a great character and before long you can’t help feeling sorry for his sudden immersion into Frankie Hyne’s business and his gloomy marriage to Ruth.

The book moves on over the years and in total we see Johnny’s life over twenty years. There was something easy to read about the way it was written and we see enough of what goes on in blocks of time, to make you feel like you are moving in time along with the family.

Johnny’s daughter Angel comes along and becomes the light of Johnny’s life and all the time he is constantly progressing and improving the family business. Along the way we see Johnny’s friend Dave and Ruth’s cousin Lisa integrate themselves into the story making for some extra added story threads. Before long the book moves us into Angel’s younger years before finally arriving at her teenage years where she becomes involved with one of Johnny’s workers Ryan.

That in itself causes major problems and before long it seems like they have all come full circle. The book had me reading well into the night and when I finally got to the climax of the story well into the early hours I was blown away.

The book itself was what I would describe as old school Mandasue and was so easy and enjoyable to read. What I didn’t account for was the shocking twist at the end that had me reading on in disbelief. I can honestly say that this is one of her best and is an absolute corker of a read. All those Mandasue Heller fans will certainly not be disappointed as we see her make a return to her brilliant skills as an absolutely exceptional writer. This one is certainly a book you will want to get your hands on as soon as it’s released and I for one recommend it highly.

The Driver by Mandasue Heller

226x346

My Rating: 3/5

The Grange Estate is known locally as a `rough estate’ and Joe Weeks has just moved in. Joe is laid back but is quite eager to make friends with his neighbours. He meets Carl and Cheryl and before long he is one of them. With their regular parties and weed smoking, Joe fits in a treat.

 Eddie Quinn also lives on the estate and is known as the hardest man around town. He is also living from his reputation which is one that you don’t wish to cross. When Joe is asked if he wants to work as Eddie’s driver he jumps at the opportunity. Joe soon runs into Katya who is a very frightened prostitute who is trapped as a practical slave and wants nothing more than to escape from Eddie. Joe soon gets drawn into a dangerous life surrounded by death, drugs and prostitutes.

Well first off I have to say I was shocked at the small offering that arrived when the book turned up. I am used to receiving a Mandasue Heller book that is a hefty offering as opposed to this slimmed down version. I picked up the book hoping that this one was better than her last book as I wasn’t that impressed with it. Initially the first few chapters seemed to be going well. We get introduced to Joe and get to know the goings on of all the people who live on the estate. Joe as a character isn’t the strongest Mandasue Heller has ever written but he was a likeable guy.

We also see the bad guy Eddie who again I didn’t think was that strong a character. Yes he seemingly had the right ingredients, the build, the attitude and the hard man look about him. Unfortunately that was all he had! Around the halfway mark I was beginning to wonder when the gritty storyline would jump in but sadly it didn’t materialise. The book wasn’t an awful read by any means it just wasn’t particularly strong or memorable.

The last portion of the book saw a rise in tempo slightly but it had an air of `unfinished business’ about it. In actual fact this was how I felt about 90% of the book. You felt like you got to know the people involved but beyond that, nothing. I have read all of Martina Cole’s books and felt bitterly disappointed that her more recent stuff was nowhere near as good as her original works. Sadly, it seems that Mandasue Heller is suffering the same fate. The storyline felt very lacklustre and had no real oomph in it. In addition to this, nothing that drastic or meaningful happened. I can tell from the writing style that Mandasue Heller still has a great writing style, but sadly the plot and characters are seriously lacking her usual standards.

I was bitterly disappointed with this and was hoping that we would see a return to her previously wonderful writing. Although the writing is there, it seems that nothing else is there with it. If I am being honest I wouldn’t recommend this particular book of hers and would say try her earlier works which were brilliant. I can still live in hope that she will return with a vengeance with her next book.