Monday, October 22, 2018

Flesh and blood by Nigel McCrery

Flesh and blood is the fifth book in the DCI Lapslie series so there are ***SPOILERS*** if you have not read the other books in the series.  You can read this book as a standalone but you may find it confusing without the background from the other books in the series.  I highly recommend reading this series in order.

There is nothing that shakes the confidence of a police officer more than having a defense lawyer make a fool of them on the stand and set their client free, and for DCI Mark Lapslie that is exactly what happens in the case of Alastair Tulley.  Instead of the case being about the rather gruesome evidence of a young boys severed arm found in Tulley's home, it becomes about Lapslie and his medical condition which lead to some unconventional police work.  Licking his wounds and angry about the process, and if he's honest himself, Lapslie throws himself back into his police work with little grace.  He doesn't have to wait long for another boy to go missing and when the evidence leads to a new suspect it seems as though Tulley is in the clear, but something doesn't feel right to Lapslie and his team.

Josie Dallyn may be young, but she is already a dedicated journalist and when she has the chance to uncover more information about a story she doesn't hesitate to follow up and in the process nearly ends up a victim of a serious crime.  Escaping was just the start, because some people may think she is paranoid, but she knows she has stumbled onto a big story, and the more she digs the more she discovers about the links between cases.  Josie is not the only person looking into the disappearances of young boys, and it soon becomes clear that the disappearances aren't random, and that they are not limited to a small area.  Can Josie, Lapslie, and the other researchers connect the dots before it's too late?

This was one of the more interesting and involved storylines for this series and in a way it was a shame that the timeline bounced around so much as I sometimes got distracted or hand to go back and check dates to see where I was in the timeline.  I get that it is a writers technique to move between time periods quickly, but I feel that it let the story down a little as it took away the smoothness and took some of the edge out of the story as it got a little convoluted.  The over all story was amazing and was not what I was expecting, and the ending was pretty great and closed things off nicely without being too neat, and it was a challenge to try and solve the mystery before the end and I have to take my hat off to Nigel McCrery for writing a complex and engrossing story that was utterly believable and terrifying.

The characters are continuing to evolve and now in the fifth novel we see some new and interesting characters that compliment the main people - as well as some interesting developments with existing characters.  You can tell that McCrery has a background of writing for television because the chapters are short and punchy, and the action is well paced to keep you interested without moving so fast that you can't keep up.  This is a compliment as some of the best writers at the moment are using this style and you can't help but draw comparisons to writers such as James Patterson and M.J. Arlidge.  Now I just have to wait for the next book in the series!

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

Thursday, October 18, 2018

There's a baddie running through this book by Shelly Unwin; illustrated by Vivienne To

There's a baddie running through this book.
Turn the pages, have a look!
There he goes, did you see?
Sound your siren, chase with me.

There's a baddie running through this book is a fast paced book that cries out to be shared with a group of children or one-on-one.  The main character is a racoon who oozes charm and cheek, racing through the book stealing things as they go.  The other characters join in the chase to try and stop the racoon, not an easy thing when you are quick and nimble - but maybe one last step is a step too far for this slippery little character.

There are loads of concepts here to enjoy with anthropomorphic characters that young children will recognise and connect with, along with some great language to help develop vocabularies with little ones.  The book is charming and quirky, and bound to become a firm favourite for younger children who will enjoy the pace and bounce of the story, and older children will enjoy the different characters and enjoy discovering all the little treasures within the illustrations.  

A great ANZAC book with the author living in Australia and the illustrator living in New Zealand.  Hopefully we will see more collaborations from their two artists as they have made an amazing  book.

If you like this book then try:
  • Diary of a wombat by Jackie French; illustrated by Bruce Whatley
  • This book just ate my dog! by Richard Byrne
  • If I had a raptor by George O'Connor
  • Barnaby Bennett by Hannah Rainforth; illustrated by Ali Teo
  • Elephants cannot dance! by Mo Willems
  • Wait! No paint! by Bruce Whately
  • I need my monster by Amanda Noll; illustrated by Howard McWilliam
  • Giggle, giggle, quack by Doreen Cronin; illustrated by Betsy Lewin
  • Cushie Butterfield (she's a little cow) by Colin McNaughton
  • Don't push the button! by Bill Cotter

Reviewed by Brilla

Sunday, October 14, 2018

We don't eat our classmates by Ryan T. Higgins

Penelope Rex was nervous.  It's not every day a little T. rex starts school.

It's not easy starting school, especially when you're a T. rex!  Penelope has everything she needs for her first day of school including a special backpack with ponies on it (ponies are delicious), and she has 300 tuna sandwiches for her first school lunch - but she wants to know who her classmates will be (this is very important).  

On her first day she discovers that her classmates are children!  Penelope is surprised at first, but then she eats them - because children are delicious.  Luckily her teacher tells her to spit the children out because you shouldn't eat your classmates.  Penelope tries to make up for her actions, but things go from bad to worse and she starts to feel very lonely.  She tries and tries to be good and make friends - but nothing works until she gets a taste of her own medicine.

This is one of those rare laugh out loud picture books that will appeal to the adults reading the story as much as the children listening.  This book can be shared one-on-one, but would also work well being read to a group.  Penelope is a lovable and slightly tragic character, and children will be able to relate to her very well as starting school can be very challenging for children.  The illustrations are charming, and the ridiculous idea of a T. rex going to school with human children made me smile the whole way through.  

If you like this book then try:
  • If I had a raptor by George O'Connor
  • Elephants cannot dance! by Mo Willems
  • I need my monster by Amanda Noll; illustrated by Howard McWilliam
  • Don't push the button! by Bill Cotter
  • Diary of a wombat by Jackie French; illustrated by Bruce Whatley
  • This book just ate my dog! by Richard Byrne
  • A is for musk ox by Erin Cabatingan & Matthew Myers
  • No T.Rex in the library by Toni Buzzeo; ilustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa
  • Click, clack, moo: Cows that type by Doreen Cronin
  • I am not a worm! by Scott Tulloch
  • Tadpole's promise by Jeanne Willis; illustrated by Tony Ross

Reviewed by Brilla

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Juror no. 3 by James Patterson and Nancy Allen

Ruby Bozarth is a freshly minted lawyer trying to start out in small town Rosedale, Mississippi which is no easy task - especially when she finds herself assigned to represent a man accused of murder.  From the start the odds are stacked against her - she's young, she's female, and most of all the town is sure he's guilty.  The young woman who was murdered was from a well-to-do family a real socialite who was well known and apparently universally loved by all.  The accused is a young black man kicked out of college and returned to town in disgrace.  It's going to be an uphill battle to keep him out of jail because how can a man get a fair trial when everyone knows he did it?

As if one tough case isn't enough, Ruby finds herself fighting another seemingly open and shut case when someone she knows is accused of murder in rather sordid circumstances.  Fighting for someone's life in court is never easy, especially when the accused seems intent on not helping themselves.  As she digs deeper into the case it seems as though everyone is keeping secrets, and the last thing you need as a lawyer is a client keeping secrets - especially when you can't rely on witnesses either.  As the story plays out on the witness stand Ruby learns more about how the dance between prosecution and defence works - and just how dangerous practicing law in the good old state of Mississippi really can be.

It is always interesting to pick up a book by James Patterson with a new co-author as you never know what you are going to get - sometimes it's brilliant, sometimes it good, and sometimes it's not so great.  I wasn't sure what to expect with Juror no. 3 as none of the books I've read by Patterson and Co. before have ventured so much into the courtroom, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was very readable and showed a part of the crime genre that I haven't really found before.  There are times when the legal jargon gets a little annoying, but it's a minuscule part of the story and you can puzzle out what they are referring to from the context - but I guess that makes it more realistic anyway.

There are some great characters here, and in some ways it feels like it might have started as a Booskshots concept because it is two storylines woven together into one story.  Ruby is a great character, as are the people around her, and while this can be read as a standalone it would be nice to reconnect with Ruby and the town, because any town that has old blood like Rosedale is bound to have secrets and scandals that can be explored in a court of law.

If you like this book then try:
  • The shut-in by James Patterson and Duane Swierczynski
  • Heist by James Patterson and Rees Jones
  • Black and Blue by James Patterson and Candice Fox
  • Let's play make-believe by James Patterson and James O. Born
  • Chase by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  • Airport code red by James Patterson and Michael White
  • Eeny meeny by M.J. Arlidge
  • City of the lost by Kelley Armstrong
  • Crimson Lake by Candice Fox
  • What was mine by Helen Klein Ross
  • Good me bad me by Ali Land
  • The edge of normal by Carla Norton

Reviewed by Brilla