Tag Archives: bestseller

Secret Smile – Nicci French

26 Feb

Female writers do not need to lean over to chick lit for to create believable female protagonists; you won’t find a male writer doing this. In this case it is not a female writer, nor a male writer, but rather the joint writing skills of married couple Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. Billed as ‘French’s most chilling novel yet,’ Secret Smile has the potential of a thriller, with love and revenge of a romance. So why write it like chick lit?

Miranda Cotton thinks she’s put boyfriend Brendan out of her life for good. But two weeks later, he’s intimately involved with her sister. Soon what began as an embarrassment becomes threatening – then even more terrifying than a girl’s worst nightmare. Because this time Brendan will stop at nothing to be part of Miranda’s life – even if it means taking it from her…

Yes, it does hold some thriller aspects, but I am more concerned with the characterisation. The representation of Miranda depicts a fiercely, independent, level-headed woman. Working as a painter and decorator for her uncle, she owns her own flat and enjoys her own company. She has a settled group of friends and a loving family.

When Brendan reappears and Miranda relays her fears to friends and family, they turn their backs on her, accusing Miranda of jealousy. This for the reader is the first stumbling block. Miranda is not portrayed as the jealous type, so why would those closest to her, believe she is?

Later in the story, even the police treat Miranda with contempt, leaving you rolling your eyes at the poor plotting. The forcefulness of Miranda’s rejection leaves a bitter taste on your tongue – sympathy for her, whilst shocked by French’s audacity to think that this could be viewed as plausible.

Then, in true Bridget Jones style, Miranda, forced to take matters into her own hands, and fed up with the despair and repetitive events in her life starts doing exercise. I half expected French to start telling me Miranda’s weight at the start of each chapter.

The whole idea was for the reader to question Miranda’s sanity. Were Brendan’s actions all in her head? I won’t lie, this did work to an extent, but I feel it could have been better. I will also admit that I enjoyed all the characters; it was the way they interacted that left me confused. The emotion depicted was very real, but it was hard to gauge a sense of place when you are constantly second guessing how the characters will react, and then asking why?

As the story unfolded, Miranda fell into trap after trap and the writing became cliché. Most disappointing, was the ending. I wouldn’t have expected the twist, but it was still decidedly flat. Exactly what I would expect from chick lit, not a thriller.

For a new French reader, this could be an enjoyable read. But for those of us familiar with the work, this feels rushed and not executed to the high standard we have come to expect.

Warner, June 2004, 24.00, 308 pp.            
ISBN 0446533475 


High Noon – Nora Roberts

25 Feb

This is my first Nora Roberts novel. It makes me feel a tiny bit guilty. I have heard so many good reviews, and her sales are a testament to this, but I just never ‘fancied’ it.

Oh how I chuckle now. Well actually i don’t, I just want to throw my coat on and run to the nearest bookstore.

I have said before that I am a sucker for chick lit, but my passion is detective crime.  Now I have the best of both worlds.

A mixture of drama and family life, seedy stalkers and romance. What more could you want?

It is very cleverly written. It is so simple, it could be mistaken for amateur, but  I would never place that tag on this novel.

Just a quick summary; Pheobe MacNamara is a chief hostage negotiator. Excellent at her job, she has managed to upset a male colleague who then assaults her. When little clues that she could be in danger start being left at her property, along with an unknown identity following her, Pheobe has to work out who has the grudge against her and why. Meanwhile she has met Duncan (perfect – true chick lit romantic) who is by her side throughout the investigation.

I probably could try to find fault, but  honestly, I don’t want to. It was, by far, the best bedtime read I have had in a long time.

Piatkus Books (2007)

It’s all clicked into place

18 Nov

I am so excited. Sat eating my bacon and hash brown bap this morning, everything clicked into place.

I have pushed through with my research, trying to abandon my own ideals on publishing. This was a success. It allowed me to look at things that were confusing, and far from what I had ever considered necessary.

Maybe I was naive. Well actually, there is no maybe about it. I was, still am to an extent, but I have realised the most important thing.

My ideals about writing, and publishing, were right. Well for what I want at the very least. I just hadn’t distinguished until now that everybodys needs are different.

What I am now interested in, is what do you want from your writing? Do you just want to say you have been published, or do you want to say you’ve written a bestseller? Or maybe, it’s neither, you just want to write. Let me know your thoughts.

The Pelican Brief – John Grisham

23 Aug

When two Supreme Court Justices are murdered, law student Derby Shaw writes her own speculative brief. Unknowingly, she has come closer to the truth then she dared imagine. Passed onto the wrong hands by her boyfriend, he is shortly a victim of a bomb attack, intended for her.

On the run, Derby meets investigative reporter Gray Grantham. Hidden behind disguises, staying in countless hotels and cities, they must try to stay alive in the hope they can expose the truth.

With more twists and turns than a rollercoaster, this is another great novel by Grisham.

Arrow Publishing 1992


The Firm – John Grisham

23 Aug

Mitch comes from an under privileged background. As a graduate of Harvard, he receives offers from various law firms across America. Finding himself at an interview with a firm he has never heard of, in a town he would never have considered, he is offered a contract beyond his wildest dreams.

Soon, his dream becomes a nightmare. With his office, home and car bugged, it looks as if there is no way out. Realising colleagues have been victims of murder, Mitch fears for not only his, but his family’s safety.

A slow starter, this novel will soon have you hooked, turning each page with expectation.

Random House 1991


Atonement – Ian McEwan

19 Jul

I’m not good with recommendations. Having been made into a film (which I haven’t seen), I was wary of this text. Generally because I always find myself disappointed when told I will enjoy it.

So…it was better than expected. Following the path of Briony from childhood through to old age, with diversions to those who’d been affected by a choice Briony made at a young age; the story explores the relationships we all have with family and friends, when what we have done in our past cannot be forgotten, let alone forgiven.

From the view of someone trying to be a ‘writer’, I found an intriguing need to analyse McEwans choices within this text. You almost feel as if he is taking you on his own journey of exploration; whom he admires in literature, whilst questioning the choices made when putting pen to paper. What drives the need to create a scene, and knowing when to say this doesn’t work.

My only vice with this story; my compelling need to compare it to ‘A Woman of Substance’ written by Barbara Taylor Bradford. Unfortunate as very few texts stay in my conscience as that particular one. However, the similarity’s in terms of following one woman through her life, across the decades, cannot be ignored.

That aside, it is a good read. Certainly worthy of night-time reading. If you should remain unfamiliar with the plot, you will be left guessing. Ultimately wanting more.

My suggestion: At the very least try the first chapter.

First Published 2001.
Published by Vintage 2007.