Monday, December 28, 2015

2016 approaching....

New year.
New dreams.
New hopes.
Ends and beginnings.
A leap of faith,

Have a good one.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Mentalist - TV series

I'm a bit of a latecomer to this series, and I only discovered it thanks to a colleague who said, "well, if you like Sherlock, you will like the Mentalist". He was right. I think.

I loved the first episode of season 1. Really enjoyed the second. By the third, I was wondering when and whether the Red John storyline was going to take off.

Friends assure me it will, in a big way. So when I have time to laze around in front of the silver box, I'll give episode 4 a try. Meanwhile, am I the only person in the universe not planning to see the latest Star Wars instalment?


Friday, December 11, 2015

Big Little Lies

I'm on a Liane Moriarty bend. As soon as I finished Big Little Lies, I  immediately purchased What Alice Forgot/ On Kindle, so that I wouldn't have to wait for the delivery.

Big Little Lies is a murder mystery: not only a who- and why-dunnit, but also a who-is-the-victim? Through witness statements, we learn there's been a death at a close-knit primary school, and that the police officers are treating it as murder. But who died? Oh, no, please let it not be her. Nor her. Nor....

While the clever structure and brilliant prose certainly keeps you turning the pages, the ultimate strength of the book lies in the sharp insights into human behaviour. The author is an intelligent observer, and the reader can't help but nod in places.

A tale of bullying in all its shapes and forms.

Addictive.


Thursday, December 03, 2015

Spectre



Not as dark or evil as "Skyfall", not as silly plot-wise as "Quantum of Solace", not as suave as "Casino Royale". But all those negatives add up to a damned good Bond movie. Stunts, touristy locations, humour, a suave hero, and the certainty that all will end well.

The ending ***SPOILER ALERT!!!*** feels as though you should be wondering whether there are any more Bonds in the pipeline. In fact, the whole movie seems a collage of previous Bonds: we have the baddie attacking James and his lady in the train, we have a paper shooting target with Bond's face on it, we have the villain's white cat. Whether homages or lazy writing, they will either delight you in a nostalgic way, or... not.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Husband's Secret

Liane Moriarty is an Australian author, so it's no wonder she became known in New Zealand only once Hollywood expressed an interest in one of her books (Big Little Lies). Some of her books are classified as "light and funny", others as "issues books".

The Husband's Secret is definitely an issues book, sad at times, though it's by no means heavy or depressing. It makes you think. It makes you wonder what you'd do if you were one of the characters. It makes you want to join a book club just to discuss it, and it makes you Google the book to see whether other readers have figured out the symbolism.

Oh, and I did like how the book was not actually about guessing the secret: it was revealed pretty early on.


Monday, November 23, 2015

The Jigsaw Man

The Jigsaw Man by Paul Britton is a fascinating read, provided you have the stomach for the crime scene descriptions. Despite the fact that forensic psychology can obviously never be 100% (what is?), this autobiographical account of how to solve crimes by understanding the criminal is an important addition to any reader of detective stories.

Blurb:
Forensic psychologist Paul Britton asks himself four questions when he is faced with a crime scene: what happened: who is the victim: how was it done, and why? Only when he has the answers to these questions can he address the fifth: who is responsible? An intensely private and unassuming man, Britton has an almost mythic status in the field of crime deduction because of his ability to 'walk through the minds' of those who stalk, abduct, torture, rape and kill other human beings. What he searches for at the scene of a crime are not fingerprints, fibres or blood stains - he looks for the 'mind trace' left behind by those responsible; the psychological characteristics that can help police to identify and understand the nature of the perpetrator. Over the past dozen years he has been at the centre of more than 100 headline-making investigations, from the murder of Jamie Bulger to the abduction of baby Abbie Humphries, the slaying of Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common, the pursuit of the Green Chain rapist and the Heinz baby food extortionist, the notorious Gloucester House of Horror and most recently, the murder of Naomi Smith. Told with humanity and insight, The Jigsaw Man is Paul Britton's absorbing first-hand account of those cases, and of his groundbreaking analysis and treatment of the criminal mind. It combines the heart-stopping tension of the best detective thriller with his unique and profound understanding of the dark side of the human condition.


Thursday, November 05, 2015

Operation Genocide: Excerpt



If it looks like an elephant and walks like an elephant, it’s an elephant, thought Captain Trevor Watson.
For some reason, though, the higher powers within the South African Police weren’t buying the wisdom.
He stood at the entrance to the rich man’s garage, the smell of car fumes still tarnishing the night air. He scanned the confined space.
“This exactly how you found it?” he asked Jones.
The pimply constable stood to attention. “Yes, sir.”
To the left side, a Ford Cortina with a teddy bear on the back seat. A silver BMW to the right. An expensive status symbol car for him, a practical one for her, Watson noted. That in itself said something about the dead man. A garden hose extended from the Beemer’s exhaust to the driver’s side window.
They had all the garage doors open now, airing out the interior before proceeding with the investigation.
“Your thoughts, Constable?”
Let the youngster learn on the easy ones.
Jones shrugged. “Looks like a suicide to me.”
“Right.” Did to Watson too, but obviously the brigadier had a different take on it to call him when he wasn’t up on the rotation. Watson knew better than to complain. After last week’s crap-out session, his job was hanging by the proverbial thread, except in his case the thread was thinner than a hair and more brittle than a dry twig from a thorn tree.
Officially, he’d been in the right. A white property owner had the legal right to shoot a black burglar, provided a warning shot had been fired first. The way some policeman worked, they would fire that warning shot themselves when they arrived at the crime scene and found only one spent cartridge. Some policemen, but not him. A week ago, Watson had been called out to a shooting scene: one dead burglar, one shot fired. Only one shot. Instead of fixing up the scene after the fact, he had chosen to obey the letter of the law, arrest the white homeowner for culpable homicide. The result? The guy who shot the burglar without warning got off with a smack on the wrist. Watson, given the history of his employment in the South African Police, came out with excrement stuck to both boots.
Remember whose side you’re on, Watson, the brigadier’s words kept ringing in his ears. One false move. Just one, and you’re finished. I’m watching you.
So. Saturday night, and he’d been pulled out of bed to investigate yet another suicide. Yet another white middle-aged guy whose life of luxury had blown up in his face. Watson remembered the outline of the man’s sprawling mansion, eyed the BMW, tried to understand. No go.
“Word has it he’s some sort of big shot. That right?” Jones swatted at his forearm, brushed off the dead insect. “Bloody mozzies.”
“Far as I know, the victim hasn’t been positively identified yet. Both cars and this residence, though, are registered to a scientist doing classified work for the government. That’s why all sorts of trip wires sounded the alarm the moment the call came in.”
“Live by the sword, die by the sword, hey, Captain?”
Watson waved a mosquito away from his own arm. Shook his head. “It’s not as though the victim…” his memory was still sluggish from the sex marathon he’d had only half an hour before, “this Gordon Pretorius…” He paused, found his train of thought. “Not as though he died of poison, or a bomb explosion, or whatever it is government scientists create in their labs.

(link to the book)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Killer Instinct

Killer Instinct by Joseph Finder is a perfect thriller: fast pace, witty dialogues, original characters. Refreshingly, it doesn't use any formulaic trappings: there's no gore, no ticking bomb, no threat to the human race. There's just a TV salesman who wants to please and protect his wife. And yet you want to stay up all night reading it.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Martian

It's not about the plot. We can all predict the plot from the trailer or even the poster. But it's all about the how: how do you survive, how do you get food, how do you science your way back home.



Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday, October 09, 2015

Interstellar

Interstellar is an interesting movie. Slow but not boring. Unusual but not weird. Long but not lengthy. It looks like yet another space-set movie, and yet it's highly original.

I'm glad I saw it.


Friday, October 02, 2015

Make Me by Lee Child

Started it today. Super excited. Can't possibly blog about anything else.



A quick excerpt to show you why I love Reacher:

(...)
At which point a woman stepped out of the shadows. 

She came toward him with a distinctive burst of energy, two fast paces, eager, like she was pleased to see him. Her body language was all about relief. 

Then it wasn't. Then it was all about disappointment. She stopped dead, and she said, "Oh." 

She was Asian. But not petite. Five-nine, maybe, or even five-ten. And built to match. Not a bone in sight. No kind of a willowy waif. She was about forty, Reacher guessed, with black hair worn long, with jeans and a T shirt under a short cotton coat. She had lace-up shoes on her feet. 

He said, "Good evening, ma'am." 

She was looking past his shoulder. 

He said, "I'm the only passenger." 

She looked him in the eye. 

He said, "No one else got out of the train. So I guess your friend isn't coming." 

"My friend?" she said. A neutral kind of accent. Regular American. The kind he heard everywhere. 

He said, "Why else would a person be here, except to meet the train? No point in coming otherwise. I guess normally there would be nothing to see at midnight." 

She didn't answer. 

He said, "Don't tell me you've been waiting here since seven o'clock." 

"I didn't know the train was late," she said. "There's no cell signal here. And no one from the railroad, to tell you anything. And I guess the Pony Express is out sick today." 

"He wasn't in my car. Or the next two, either." 

"Who wasn't?" 

"Your friend." 

"You don't know what he looks like." 

"He's a big guy," Reacher said. "That's why you jumped out when you saw me. You thought I was him. For a second, anyway. And there were no big guys in my car. Or the next two." 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Wool - The Silo Trilogy

Wool by Hugh Howey is the first book in the Silo Trilogy. A post-apocalyptic Earth. A subterranean city. An evil IT department. And the most unusual love story.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Mark Billingham's Time of Death

It's good. A vintage Billingham. While a continuation of the Tom Thorne series, if can be read as a stand-alone. So go ahead and read it. :-)

For those who need a blurb:

The Missing
Two schoolgirls are abducted in the small, dying Warwickshire town of Polesford, driving a knife into the heart of the community where police officer Helen Weeks grew up and from which she long ago escaped. But this is a place full of secrets, where dangerous truths lie buried.

The Accused
When it's splashed all over the press that family man Stephen Bates has been arrested, Helen and her partner Tom Thorne head to the flooded town to support Bates' wife - an old school friend of Helen's - who is living under siege with two teenage children and convinced of her husband's innocence.
The Dead
As residents and media bay for Bates' blood, a decomposing body is found. The police believe they have their murderer in custody, but one man believes otherwise. With a girl still missing, Thorne sets himself on a collision course with local police, townsfolk - and a merciless killer.
Tom Thorne returns in a chilling mystery that will keep readers guessing until the final page. Time of Death is Mark Billingham's most timely, atmospheric thriller to date.




Friday, September 04, 2015

Lisa Garnder's series

I'm reading Lisa Gardner all wrong. I started with Catch Me, which is fairly late in the Detective D.D. Warren series. I followed up with other books in this line, mostly reading the more recent ones first, probably because I could get hold of them as audio books and listen to them while communting to work.

When they ran out, I moved onto the Tessa Leoni series. It's only three books, so now I'm on Rainie Conner - again, mostly backwards. I've just finished The Third Victim.

For those of you who'd like more order in their lives, have a look here: http://lisagardner.com/books. But it's not as simple as it looks, for the main characters sometimes appear in other charaters' series as cameos....


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Inside Out


Whether you have kids or not, go see it. That's all I'm going to say about it.

(OK, that's not all I'm going to say about it. I absolutely loved the idea that emotions like Joy, Sadnass and Disgust are living, breathing people. Well, cartoon people, but you get the idea. I loved how every person has a dominant emotion, and, weeks later, I hope mine is not Disgust.)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation

Back when, I enjoyed Mission Impossible 1. Part 2 and 3 were so forgettable, I can't even remember whether I've seen them. Something about a warehouse exploding in one of them, maybe? The one with climbing the tall building Spiderman-style, on the other hand, was way cool.

The latest instalment, Rogue Nation, is a curious mix of enjoyable and forgettable. I remember I enjoyed it very much when I saw it two weeks ago. Yet I struggle to remember the plot. Vienna and the Opera House. Free diving. Something like that.

Oh, yeah. The aeroplane scene at the beginning was excellent.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

China Rich Girlfriend

I'm really enjoying "China Rich Girlfriend" by Kevin Kwan. It's like intelligent chic lit set inside the world of "Dallas" or "Dynasty", except the players are Chinese (from the Mainland, Hong Kong, or Singapore) and more than just a little crazy.

Huge diamonds? Check. Apartments with individualised car elevators? You got it. Herm├Ęs designer bags worth a hundred thousand dollars apiece? Yep. Add mystery and intrigue,a nd you have a book that's diffucult to put down.


Saturday, August 08, 2015

Revisiting Agatha Christie



Ghastly covers books had in those days. The plot is good though, like all Agathas. This one I haven't read as often as my favourites, but it's well worth a re-read.

From the blurb: "When a house party gathers at Gull’s Point,the seaside home of an elderly widow, earlier events come to a dramatic head. As Superintendent Battle discovers, it is all part of a carefullylaid plan—for murder."

Monday, August 03, 2015

Wayward Pines Continued

Right. I've now watched 7 episodes and I'm hooked. 2 and 4 gave me nightmares. At one point (taught by the likes of Lost and Game of Thrones) I was so concerned about a character's wellbeing that I had to look up spoilers.

Very Lost-ish.
Very Twin Peakish.
Eureka gone wrong, but in a right way.

Watch it.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Wayward Pines TV series


OK, so I'm a bit of a latecomer to this. I loved the trailer. The first episode left me undecided, but inclining towards taking a further look. The second episode gave me nightmares (literally) but I'm keen to see episode 3.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Girl On The Train

Bought it. Read it. Loved it.

It's addictive. Depressing at times. You won't love the protagonist. And yet you won't be able to put it down.



Friday, July 03, 2015

The Titanic Murders by Max Allan Collins

I had to double-check this one was fiction. It read like a fictionalised account of a true story. The writing style was a little archaic at times (probably to fit in with the time period), but I'm really glad I read it.

Oh, and by "read" it, I mean listened to it. I love audio books.

From the blurb:

When a passenger is found dead inside a locked cabin aboard the opulent Titanic, it’s a crime worthy of “the Thinking Machine,” the popular fictional investigator who solves mysteries using formidable logic. So who better to crack this real-life case than author Jacques Futrelle, the man behind America’s favorite detective?
On board for a romantic getaway with his wife, Futrelle agrees to conduct a stealth inquiry. The list of suspects on the Titanic’s first-class deck is long and includes the brightest lights from high society, each with no shortage of dark secrets. As the mammoth ship speeds across the Atlantic toward its doom, Futrelle races to uncover which passenger has a secret worth killing for—before the murderer strikes again.
Set in the days leading up to the luxury liner’s tragic sinking, this historical thriller is a dazzling blend of fact and fiction that will enthrall readers with page-turning revelations and Titanic lore.




Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Farm by Tom Rob Smith

The Farm by Tom Rob Smith takes place in Scandinavia, but don't think Jo Nesbo or Stieg Larsson. Think Gone Girl. Think Before I Go To Sleep.

It's a fast psychological thriller, with an underlying note of nostalgia, a hint of the mystical, and an aftertaste of the lyrical. It's unusual. It's fun.

Blurb:
If you refuse to believe me, I will no longer consider you my son.

Daniel believed that his parents were enjoying a peaceful retirement on a remote farm in Sweden. But with a single phone call, everything changes. 

Your mother...she's not well, his father tells him. She's been imagining things - terrible, terrible things. She's had a psychotic breakdown, and been committed to a mental hospital. 

Before Daniel can board a plane to Sweden, his mother calls: Everything that man has told you is a lie. I'm not mad... I need the police... Meet me at Heathrow.

Caught between his parents, and unsure of who to believe or trust, Daniel becomes his mother's unwilling judge and jury as she tells him an urgent tale of secrets, of lies, of a crime and a conspiracy that implicates his own father.


Monday, June 22, 2015

South Africa in the news

With South Africa so much in the news lately, what with Oscar Pistorius and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, it's a good time to plug OPERATION: GENOCIDE, a truly South African thriller.


Friday, June 12, 2015

What's on my to-read pile?

On my physical to-read pile, in other words, the books I've actually bought paper copies of, you will find the following:
The girl on the train
Lost And Found
Love is....
When To Rob A Bank




(Hope I get time to read them soon!)

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 into a Billion Dollar Business

Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 into a Billion Dollar Business by Barbara Corcoran is a humorous biography of a woman who had 9 siblings and always got peanut butter with grape jelly sandwiches for lunch. I loved the author’s voice, and while I’m too risk-averse to ever start my own business, I couldn’t put the book down.

Blurb:

The inspiring true story of Shark Tank star --and her best advice for anyone starting a business. After failing at twenty-two jobs, Barbara Corcoran borrowed $1,000 from a boyfriend, quit her job as a diner waitress, and started a tiny real estate office in New York City. Using the unconventional lessons she learned from her homemaker mom, she gradually built it into a $6 billion dollar business. Now Barbara's even more famous for the no-nonsense wisdom she offers to entrepreneurs on Shark Tank, ABC's hit reality TV show.


Thursday, June 04, 2015

An interview with Sarah Hilary

Last year Sarah Hilary burst onto the scene with SOMEONE ELSE'S SKIN, which introduced police detective Marnie Rome. more


Monday, May 25, 2015

A conference for writers

Not only romance writers, lots of thriller and general information, not to mention networking!


Monday, May 18, 2015

She’s Not Invisible

She’s Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick is a curious book for young adults. 

On the surface, it’s a thriller-mystery. Dig deeper and it’s about a blind heroine making it in the world ruled by sight. Dig some more, and it’s a philosophical treaty about the nature of coincidence and patterns. I found that the blurb, which talked about a raven and dried mice, didn’t do the book justice.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Double Vision by Colby Marshall

Double Vision by Colby Marshall is a much-awaited 2nd Dr Jenna Ramey novel - she of the superpower that allows her to see things in true colour: lies flash a different hue in her mind to the tint that words of familial love assume.

The pace was awesome, the characters real, the theme a delightful concoction of colours and numbers. Serial killers are always fascinating and super-scary, so this book won't disappoint.

If you've read Color Blind, you already have Double Vision on your bedside table. If you haven't discovered Colby Marshall yet, go buy both.



Sunday, May 03, 2015

Fat by Rob Grant

Rob Grant (of the Rob Grant and Doug Naylor (or their collaborative name, Grant Naylor) of the Red Dwarf series) - I saw his name on the cover, and I just had to read the book. It was called "Fat", and I honestly didn't know what to expect: a book on computers? a diet manual? SF? humour?

I've read it, loved it.

Still don't qote know how to describe it.

It's a novel.
Skillfully written.
Full of wise observations.
The hyperboles will make you smile.
Some characters will make you cry.
It's both contemporary and speculative fiction.
The theme is our society's obsession with body image.

Enough to make you pick it up?
I hope so.


Monday, April 27, 2015

Sherlock, the TV series

Unlike most people I know, I've not been blown away by the recent Sherlock Holmes movie - movies? I think there's been a sequel? I mean, I liked the first one well enough, just, well, one was enough.

Not so with the TV series. I thought I'd hate the fact that it's modernised, and that it's not true to the plot of the original stories. Instead, I find myself addicted. Just as well I'm late onto the train and several seasons behind: I have several episodes to look forward to.

10/10 for the acting, 10/10 for the dialogues, 10/10 for casting.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Dear Daughter

Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little is... well, it's definitely different. Partly murder mystery, partly a celebrity magazine, partly a juvenile version of Bridget Jones's diary (not that Bridget Jones is not already juvenile), this is nevertheless a gripping read.

What I enjoyed:

  • the unusual premise (daughter unsure whether she did or did not murder her mother)
  • the writing voice
  • the short chapters
  • the fast pace
  • the unpredictability
  • the unobtrusive sprinkling of Native Americans
  • the unusual setting
What I wasn't crazy about:
  • the excessive swearing
  • the unsympathetic heroine
  • the ending
I think it's a book everybody should read.


Friday, April 03, 2015

The Stranger by Harlan Coben

I really like Harlan Coben writes. He makes you care about the characters, both the major and the minor ones. He keeps the pace pitch-perfect. And his observations about society and families are spot-on. No wonder this book was difficult to put down.

In the minus column, I do think this novel is ever so slightly guilty of self-plagiarism, the way it smacks of Just One Look with a pinch of Hold Tight. Still, if you have to repeat story lines, those two novels are so good, they're definitely worthy of the honour.



Friday, March 27, 2015

How far would you go to protect your family?

Would you agree to endanger people you don't know? Would you burn files that could expose evil? Would you confess to a crime you did not commit?

Buy the Kindle version of Operation Genocide and save 84%.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Terry Pratchett on Writing

·         There's no such thing as writer's block. That was invented by people in California who couldn't write. ~ Terry Pratchett

·         For an author, the nice characters aren't much fun. What you want are the screwed up characters. You know, the characters that are constantly wondering if what they are doing is the right thing, characters that are not only screwed up but are self-tapping screws. They're doing it for themselves. ~ Terry Pratchett

·         Too many people want to have written~ Terry Pratchett




Ode to Multiple Universes

I do have worlds enough and time
to spare an hour to find a rhyme
to take a week to pen an article
a day to find a rhyme for 'particle'.
In many worlds my time is free
to spend ten minutes over tea
And steal the time from some far moon
so words can take all afternoon,
Away beyond the speed of light
I'll write a novel in one night.
Aeons beckon, if I want 'em...
...but I can't have em', 'cos of Quantum.

-- Terry Pratchett

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Maybury Place = Wisteria Lane?

Maybury Place (by New Zealand novelist, Keitha Smith) is what you get when you take Desperate Housewives and make the series into a book set in New Zealand. Mystery, memorable characters you will love or hate (but mostly love), everyday life in the face of extraordinary events. Have you ever felt like peeking into your neighbour’s lives? You can, within the pages of Maybury Place. You’ll find you’re probably living right next door to Lisa, or Joan, or Karen. Enjoy!


From the blurb:
Maybury Place. Tranquil, safe, neighbourly. Until new residents move in to Number Seven and shatter the peace.

Within hours of their arrival four-year old Matthew Fleming has vanished. When the residents rally to search for the young boy they find their new neighbours hostile and uncaring about Matthew’s fate. Events escalate when strange characters start visiting Number Seven, the police are seen calling and one of their homes is robbed. Suspicions grow, causing the original neighbours to unite, determined to defend Maybury Place from unsavoury elements.

But is everything quite as it seems? Are the new inhabitants as bad as everyone fears? And has the prior tranquillity of Maybury Place merely masked hidden secrets? Little does the group know that banding together will provide the catalyst for change, lead to revelations and even bring a chance of love.



Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lisa Gardner is a bit like Yvonne Walus, right?

Lisa Gardner writes thrillers as herself and romances as Alicia Scott. I love her already! She can be funny (see her Writing Day), she can be heart-breaking (and that’s the thrillers, not the romances). Her dialogues rock. Her characters are so real I feel I know them personally, even if they are tertiary ones like Miss Patsy from Live To Tell. And her plots keep you glued to the pages way, way, way past bedtime.

I’m listening to one of her thrillers in the car this week. In the morning, I can’t wait for my daily commute to work. Weekend tomorrow. Drat.




Thursday, February 19, 2015

Operation Genocide - a timeless thriller

An inhuman agenda… 

Annette Pretorius lives a life of privilege, but when her husband is murdered, she discovers a shattering secret: he’d been commissioned by the government to develop a lethal virus. 

A clandestine organization… 

The murder came with a warning to Annette from a secretive organization: keep our secrets or you too will die. Captain Trevor Watson, Annette’s former boyfriend, is appointed to lead the investigation. Watson’s loyalty is tested as the evidence stacks against his high school sweetheart. 

And the killing isn’t over yet… 

When the investigation points in a terrifying direction, Annette and Watson face a wrenching choice: protect those they love or sacrifice all to save innocents from extermination.