Mini-Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

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My Rating: 2/5

Well my opinion is really divided. I have read all of the books in the Shopaholic series and have enjoyed them all. I thing the biggest winner in the series is the character Becky. She is so loveable yet clueless and she manages to get herself in all sorts of bother.

The other side of the coin for me is when I sat on a plane and decided to watch the film that had been made from the book Confessions of a Shopaholic. The film, albeit not the worst I have seen, wasn’t great either for me. As usual the character I had built in my head was a major disappointment as I saw Isla Fisher trying (and failing) to play the part of Becky Bloomwood. Maybe this has been what lingered in my head the longest as I picked up the latest instalment in the Shopaholic series. Overall I have rated this book lower than I expected to but I suppose every series has its limits.

When we are re-introduced to Becky we see her back to her usual tricks of shopping for ridiculous things that she doesn’t need. We also meet her daughter Minnie who was written reasonably well and had taken on all of her mother’s traits, including screaming mine at regular intervals. We also see Luke her husband busy with his business Brandon Communications. As an ever patient person he tends to ignore a lot of Becky’s strange stories as this is part and parcel of who she is.

I still love the character Becky and think she is incredibly funny and her one-liners that she uses to get herself out of trouble are funny. However, this particular instalment of the series only had that to fall back on, Becky herself. The storyline was the weakest I have seen in a long time, with seemingly no structure at all. The whole plot is centred on Becky planning a surprise party, which considering the title is not what I expected. Yes we do see Minnie and her tantrums along with the addition of Nanny Sue who is a childcare expert. But that is it, literally!

I found myself dragging my heels and wondering when something was going to happen. Sophie Kinsella definitely has the skills as a writer but I am beginning to wonder whether this series has now had its day. I think the film production was what ruined it for me and from looking at other opinions it seems I am not the only one that feels that way. There were some redeeming qualities and that was things we have seen in previous books such as the relationship between Becky and her parents as well as her friendship with Suze and Tarquin.

It only took me a day and a half to read this book but ended up feeling quite disappointed, and felt that I had only finished it out of obligation. I can only hope that Sophie Kinsella either creates a new series or continues with her stand alone novels.

POSTCARD KILLERS BY JAMES PATTERSON

My Rating: 2/5

James Patterson seems to continually disappoint me these days. It’s bad enough that I hated his last two books, but this one is only marginally better. Many people are die hard Patterson fans and until quite recently I would have also put myself in that category. Unfortunately, I am now becoming very cynical when it comes to any book he has co-written.

This particular book I was actually looking forward to due to many reasons. The first is that he has never co-written with author before; and secondly because Lisa Marklund is a successful author in her own right. Once again I have been let down.

The story itself sounded pretty good from the bog standard jacket info. NYPD Detective Jacob Kanon is on a tour of some of the most famous European cities. However, his reasons for the tour are not what you imagine. His daughter Kimmy was brutally murdered along with her fiancé while visiting Rome. Since then other couples have been found murdered in many other cities. There seem to be no connections except for a postcard that is sent to a local newspaper prior to each of the murders. Jacob feels that he has to track the killers down to find himself some peach and the only way to do that is team up with Dessie Larson, a reporter that received a postcard in Stockholm.

The first few chapters are pretty good with non-stop action from the killer and the detectives. Gruesome crime scenes and the police scratching their head is the general theme of the story in the beginning. This book actually had the potential to be really good.

Sadly, both Lisa Marklund and James Patterson got bored around halfway through this book and decided to slow the pace and the storyline at the same time. The story itself was okay, but it seemed to become more lacklustre the further into the book you got. The main character Jacob was not the strongest character I have read, but by no means the worst either. The relationship between Jacob and Dessie was also a bone of contention for me as it was very unbelievable and stilted.

Besides Jacob and Dessie, the only other characters that the reader is drawn to, is that of the killers. The killers were so mentally unbalanced it was laughable. There was nothing like the connection you feel to characters when reading a Cross novel. This is one of the major factors that is turning me rapidly into a Patterson turncoat.

I still pray that when the next Cross novel is released by Mr Patterson alone that I will take back all my words of criticism and be a number one fan again. I think that overall Patterson fans want just that, Patterson and Patterson alone. Leave the co-writing alone for a while!

PRIVATE BY JAMES PATTERSON

My Rating: 2/5

I finished James Patterson’s co-written book `Don’t Blink’ a couple of weeks ago and thought that I would never be able to read a book as bad as that with his name on it. Boy was I was wrong!

First off there are so many plots and sub-plots that you’re constantly thinking “Who”? That’s just the first gripe. The story itself is told in such a manner that it is almost rushed. You never get to connect with any of the characters because they don’t appear for long enough.

Plot wise you would think that a school-girl serial killer and Jack’s best friend being murdered would be enough but clearly not for James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. In addition to this we see Jack’s twin brother in trouble because he owes the Mob $600,000 as well as American Football Referees fixing matches. In my eyes this sort of level of plot detail is far too much for the style of writing many of his fans are used to.

Jack is the main character and all we seem to hear about is his war-torn past. Now don’t get me wrong if it’s relevant to the character and/or story then fine, but this just seemed to come across as rambling at times.

In addition to the plot and character problems there is the believable factor. I am fully aware that any fiction novel, especially one with James Patterson as co-writer, will have a certain element of things that are slightly outside the normal realms of life. However, this book really went overboard with the mention of a crime lab owned by Private that is better than the FBI has?!? There are also a number of scenes where Jack randomly turns up at the home of one of the leading figures of the Mob un-announced. I think there was too much of this type of scene which took it from being over the top to laughable.

There are very brief moments where we see Jack’s love life come to the forefront. Unfortunately for the ladies in question it is so brief that they probably weren’t even aware of it. The story felt rushed, incomplete and totally ridiculous.

All in all I was AGAIN disappointed with a James Patterson book. I still debate in my own mind whether the reason is because JP doesn’t contribute to the co-written books that much, or whether I am just tiring of his work. I think it must be the former as recently he has produced a reasonable offering with Worst Case featuring Michael Bennett. Like a fool I have pre-ordered his next book due Postcard Killers which is a co-written book due for release early September 2010. I am pinning my hopes on this particular one a little more as Lisa Marklund is the co-writer and as I understand it, has not co-written with JP before.

Hard Girls by Martina Cole

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My Rating: 2/5

Martina Cole has been writing since 1992 and has produced some fantastic crime novels. Some of her work has been turned into TV Dramas and her most recent book turned TV Programme was The Take which attracted over 600,000 viewers in the first episode. Martina Cole Books have always been popular and many of them have reached number 1 in the Bestseller lists. I have read each and every book she has ever written and have been a fan for many years. However, in recent years I felt like she was losing that something special that she had in the first few books she produced. I was, like other fans, waiting with baited breath for her latest book that brings back characters that appeared in `Ladykiller’ and `Broken’.

DCI Kate Burrows is living with Patrick Kelly. Patrick is a former criminal that has changed his life after settling with Kate and going on the `straight’ to a certain degree. Kate is no longer working as a DCI full time but is still a consultant and is drafted in when a new case arises. When working girls are found murdered and brutally tortured, Kate realises that this is a little too close to home where Patrick is concerned. He may be on the straight and narrow but when working girls start turning up dead in houses that he rents out the case becomes incredibly personal. Subsequently Kate and Patrick separate after Kate has doubts about Pat’s involvement. The more time that passes, and the more girls that turn up. Each girl seems to be in a worse state than the last. DCI Annie Carr is the lead on the new case and Kate joins her in the bid to find the killer before they murder more of the working girls.

I am so undecided about this book. This took me a whole week to read, whereas normally I would read a Martina Cole book over a couple of days. I found myself constantly putting it down and reading something else (never a good sign). The characters seem to have changed completely since the last time we met them. Admittedly Kate and Patrick are both much older now but Kate Burrows ended up being a character I really didn’t like that much. The story itself was okay, that’s it just okay. There were no great drama’s or surprises in store and the killer is pretty obvious quite early on in the book. I also found that the storyline was much like Martina’s last book in that there is so much repetitiveness it makes me bored of reading it again…and again…..and again! The crime scenes seemed to be almost skipped over and there didn’t seem to de any depth to any storyline, whether it is a violent one or a murder that had happened.

Overall it wasn’t bad but I just found that it wasn’t a gripping enough read, the characters nowhere near as good as they used to be and her style of writing has changed. I was really hoping that her new book would be back to her `old style’ types where you literally couldn’t put the book down. Unfortunately it wasn’t and I find myself wondering whether Martina Cole has lost her touch. I am disappointed that somebody that in her heyday produced books that I couldn’t wait to read, has now produced something that makes me think I won’t bother with the new releases she brings out in the future. I will save my pennies for authors that I really love, and will probably wait until her new books are on special offer somewhere.

8TH CONFESSION (WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB #8)

My Rating: 2/5

My Review – James Patterson has been writing a series of books which are part of the ‘Women’s Murder Club’ series. They involve four women who have all featured heavily in previous books. They are Lindsay, Cindy, Yuki and Claire.

The story for the 8th Confession focuses on two main threads. The first is a murder of a “saintly” homeless man and Cindy who is a journalist finds her senses telling her to keep on at this, and she is convinced there is a story there. The other thread features the serial murders of the rich society movers and shakers in the strangest manner. It appears they have all been killed by a snake bite. Lindsay and her partner Rich Conklin need to investigate the murders to find who is behind these strange killings. Yuki meanwhile is juggling her job as an attorney and falling for what she thinks is the man of her dreams.

I read this book just as quickly as other James Patterson books and found the pace pretty good but think that is down to the writing style as opposed to anything else. However I have to say I still felt that it was still a disappointment. The plot just didn’t seem to be there. It seemed to lack any substance and the four main characters that have featured in this series seem to have all changed personalities. What I loved about this series of books is that with each book you read you learn a little more about each of them. With this book, not only was the storyline lacking but so were the characters of the four women that we fans have come to know and love.

Usually the girls are brought together and fight together. This time round, you get glimpses of them all and only Lindsay and Cindy really stands out as being part of the plot line. Yuki and Claire barely get a mention. I am beginning to wonder if James Patterson has lost his touch with this series or if he is churning them out far too quickly?