Sunday, 17 May 2015

A Second Chance by Jodi Taylor

The third in the Chronicles of St Mary's series gets even darker.  Whilst these books are mostly light and witty and exciting, people do die and often not in a nice way.

This time, the team visits Troy to see if the wooden horse story is true.  They have to hang around and live there for a while.  This is no Star Trek, though.  They don't have communicators and universal translators, so they have to keep mostly to themselves.

I really enjoy this series of books. I think the concept is a great one and the execution very enjoyable.  So what if there are a few deus ex machinas along the way?

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Losing It by Elizabeth Armstrong

I found it hard to pigeon hole this book into a genre.  On the surface it's a paranormal/supernatural story, but only a little bit.  It starts reading a bit chick-litty, but it's more than that.  There's a bit of violence with the police involved, but it's more of a mystery.  But, for me, overall it was a satisfying story, with possibly a set-up for future stories.

Kate has just moved to London, she's lost her beloved husband in a car accident and is seeing pixies and mice in kilts among other things.  What is real and what is not?

I'm not one for paranormal fantasies, but as this was more about the mystery, I rather enjoyed it.  The supernatural elements were mostly on the edge of the story and sometimes added the comedic element.

Love ... Among the Stars by Nick Spalding

I didn't fancy the third in this series but jumped straight to the fourth as this storyline looked more my thing.  As with the others in this series, the story is told by both Jamie (on his blog) and Laura (in her diary) with the chapters going back and forth.

It seems that tJamie and Laura have been publishing the previous books themselves (we don't need Nick any more haha) and they have just published book number 3, so we follow them as they go through publishing and promoting it.  As ever, things never run smoothly.

My favourite bit was where they were invited to the film premier.  As it happened, things didn't really go as badly as they expected it to.  I also like the recurring character - you'll know who it is when you read it.

This was a very easy book to read.  Yes, it can be crude at times, but I found this to be quite a romantic story.  Jamie and Laura really love each other.  I didn't find it "laugh out loud" but did find it sweet and humerous.

Wordsmith by Nick Spalding

Max Bloom is back and this time he's had a year to hone his powers and he's the most powerful wordsmith in the land, but certainly not the greatest. He's still a teenager (in lurve) and is still immature.

This is a cracking romp and I flew through the story.

I'm unsure of the lower end of the target audience of this as there is some very minor swearing (such as bloody hell) which would make me reluctant to recommend it to my 10 year old nephew, even though I think he'd love the action and adventure. I certainly enjoyed it, the pace was high and it was very exciting.

Gray Redemption by Alan McDermott

Now my review for Book 2 in this series stated I wasn't as impressed with it as I was with the fantastic first book, so I'm glad to say that Tom's back.  But this one is more the search for Tom, rather than about Tom himself.  So did I like it?  Yes, more than book 2.  This time the good guys and the bad guys are after Tom, some of them not even knowing who they are after.

Ii was a bit muddled at the start as to who some of the characters were as it's a long time since I'd read the first two books, but it didn't really matter as the story and the action got going and I was along for the ride.  I did enjoy the Andrew Harvey character and I've since found out he's hopefully getting his own adventures, which is great.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Broken City by D.D. Chant

In the future, life has fallen apart and it's bad out on the streets.  There's no electricity and the people that are left in the city live in their own clans in compounds or apartment blocks.  Deeta is a teenager and has never been outside her block.  Other members of the block go out, but it's dangerous out there.  One day, everyone has to leave and Deeta's life changes.

I enjoyed this YA dystopian story more than I thought I would.  I wanted to know what Deeta would do as she finds out what life can be outside of her safe world.  There's a bit of romance going on and inter-clan violence and politics and some bits I thought were a bit unrealistic, but, on the whole, this was a good book.

Fifteen Days of Summer by Becky Perkins

This is the story of 15 days in 12-year-old Gerald's post-war summer holidays when he finds a caterpillar and forms a bond with it.

I found this to be a lovely gentle story set in a time that doesn't exist any more.  I'm not of the age to remember these times, but I've heard stories of my mother's childhood running around without a care in the world, out from dusk 'til dawn.  Gerald has a close-knit family, but he doesn't quite fit in with his older siblings.  They have to share not just rooms, but beds when the extended family comes to stay, so he has to find someone he trusts to help care for Gerald as he doesn't want to tell anyone about his new friend.

I think this story is aimed for children, however, I love reading books for any age and this was enjoyable from a grown-up's perspective.  Whenever I put it down I was wondering what would happen to Douglas the caterpillar next.

Even though this is Gerald's story, his family's stories were just as enjoyable and it all came together in the end.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Wanted by Tim Arnot

I'd ignored this book for some time as "post apocalypse dystopian books are not my thing", but once I started reading it, it was a normal story of survival and teenage angst.  Flick meets Shea and even though she's young, sparks fly.  But is that because Shea has been shot down whilst in a flying machine ...  that surely doesn't exist in this post-technological world where old cars are pulled by horses?

Whilst this story is set in times where technology doesn't exist anymore, it's still a story that seems very true in that type of era.  It's now a hard life where every day is a struggle.

I took a chance on this and I'm glad I did as I enjoyed this.  It is obviously the first book in a series, but it was satisfactorily resolved and I don't need to read the next, but I'm sure I'll be tempted to sooner rather than later.

The Gardener of Baghdad by Ahmad Ardalan

Adnan, a bookshop owner in Baghdad finds an old book in his store and starts reading it.  But once he's started, he just can't stop, as it's the story of Ali - the Gardener of Baghdad who disappeared back in the 50s.

I really enjoyed this gentle story.  The book is paced as Adnan reads it. It is a love story across class and religion back in the times when it really did make a difference.

We are taken on a journey through hard times but where love tries to conquer all.  This was an enjoyable read indeed.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

The Black Fox by Gordon Bickerstaff

This is the third story featuring Gavin Shawlens, a biochemist who gets caught up in bad guys plans for world domination in the previous two books.
This installment has him on the run with special forces trained Zoe as he has knowledge that must not get out.  Problem is, Gavin has no idea what this knowledge is so they go on the run whilst trying to find out what this knowledge might be with very few friends.

This is a fast paced thriller with a few deus ex machina twists.  I found it easy reading and I enjoyed the relationship that Zoe and Gavin have now built up.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Top Banana by Kath Middleton

Top Banana is a world away from this authors previous books.  It is a light slightly comedic gentle look at Steve's life from under his mother's thumb via becoming a superhero (of what, we're not sure) ending up a nice young man.

I din't find this a particularly laugh out loud story.  It was more a gently humorous tale.  I read it more with a smile on my face than a chortle on my chops.

I think I preferred the story early on when Steve was working in the grocers rather than when he started coming into his own later on.

The words I use to describe this are gentle and nice.  I felt content after finishing this.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Inquisitor: The Book of Jerrick - Part 1 by G. J. Reilly

Any book about a young boy going off to a special school with a bit of magic will inevitably be compared to Harry Potter.  I've not read the HP books but have seen the films and this is nothing like them.

The young main character, Michael wins a rare scholarship along with a friend from school.  Michael is 12 and I was picturing my nephew who is clever and just turned 13, but Michael seemed older, especially as he has to learn things such as his special powers and also quite serious fighting.  There are two enemies that want to get rid of each other, but which side is good and which side is evil?

Even though I'm not the target audience, I enjoyed this story.  It kept me gripped and interested and entertained.  More importantly, it left me wondering who really was the "hero" of the story. Although titled as Part 1, this is definitely a stand alone with a satisfying conclusion, whilst setting things up for further stories.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Sun Dragon by Michael Brookes

In the near future a spaceship sets off to Mars, its 6 person crew made up of more mature members.  They are all capable of doing each other's jobs.  It is planned to be a long mission there and back. 

The first half of this book is the journey there.  A few things go wrong, but nothing too bad.  This part of the story is interesting enough in a travelling across the universe kind of way.  I liked finding out the "boring" jobs they had to do to keep themselves alive and on track.

The second half is what happens when they get there and the consequences of what happened.  This then turned into a tense journey.  I liked this half even better than the first.  I didn't expect what happened to happen.  I don't read much sci-fi, this this was a great story.  I was very much gripped with wanting to just keep on reading and hoping for "my" ending to happen.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

The Butterfly Effect by Julie McLaren

This is a very tense psychological thriller.  Amy wakes up in a strange locked room after being kidnapped.  She recounts what led to her being there from her happy life to being stalked and losing her family and friends.

I read this in just two sittings, I just didn't want to put it down as I followed Any into her spiral of despair and how she planned to get out of it.  The story is told in Amy's first person, so we are introduced to her past life as she recalls it.  To me this made the story very insular and claustrophobic and kept me wanting to know more.

I'd say this is a good read, but it made me feel creeped out.  Just what a good psychological thriller should do.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Can I Kiss Her Yet?: A True Tale of Love, Marriage... and Camels by Tony James Slater

This book does exactly what it says on the cover.  It is the tale of Tony and Roo's wedding.  Now that might sound a bit soppy ..... but once you find out what Tony wears, well you can never unknow that.

If you haven't read any of TJS's books yet, first off why haven't you?  Second, you might not "get" this one.  Having read the first 3 books, this one might seem a bit soft.  There's not an awful lot of danger from dangerous creatures, situations, actions.  Well not compared to the others.  But knowing Tony and Roo more than I know some of my own friends and family (well that's what it feels like now) it was nice to read about them doing things that normal people do.  Kind of.

Once good thing about these books being a person's real life, is that you can look them up on Facebook and see the pictures (His family are not afraid to show the worst pictures of Tony)  And another good thing about this being real life is that we still have Asia to look forward to.

In summary, this is not quite the most exciting of the 4 books, but it is still a 5 star read.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Only the Innocent by Rachel Abbott

Only the Innocent is Rachel Abbott's first book and it's hard to tell.  This is a great story which weaves itself round a few central characters.  Lord Hugo Fletcher is murdered and Detective Chief Inspector Tom Douglas is brought in to investigate.  Whilst on the surface this is a police procedural, it's more of a tale of the people close to Hugo and why he wasn't the wonderful person his public persona was.

At 471 pages this was a big chunk of a book and took me quite a time to read.  On the whole I didn't think it dragged, though.

I couldn't even guess whodunnit right until the end

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Imperfect Strangers by David Staniforth

Keith works as a night security guard at an office.  Sally has caught his eye and shown him kindness by smiling at him.  Keith thinks the next step is love.  Sally doesn't want to know.  At first.

This story is told in both first person perspective, so we get Keith's version in his head and Sally's version to the same thing.  As a story-telling method this is very effective for this story as we understand just how non-normal Keith is.

Some people reviewed that they read this in one sitting.  I actually put this book down to read another half way through as I found Keith's character to be one of the creepiest I've read.  He made me feel a bit grubby.  But I knew I'd go back to him.  I thought this story was an uncomfortable one as I'm the sort of person who wouldn't like to be nasty to anyone.  I sit through boring conversations so as not to be rude.  After reading this, I think I'll try to get out of things a bit more just in case I become a Sally.

I didn't particularly like Sally in this story.  I didn't really like anyone.  But I don't need to like characters to like a story and as a whole, this was a great story.  The tension built up, slowly at first with hints here and there.  I read the end at my lunch break and was late back as that bit was certainly unputdownable.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Interrogating Anna Faversham

Anna Faversham prefers living in the past with smugglers and highwaymen.

How do you strike the balance between writing something you want to write and writing something that people want to read, in terms of the compromises you make, if any?

I write what I’d like to read myself. There’s a quotation with over 12,000 likes on Goodreads and it is “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” Toni Morrison.

‘One Dark Night’ fell into my head one sleepless night and I began what has now become an absorbing hobby. I joined an online writing site and I received the discipline of criticism. That soon made me aware that I needed to pay attention to other readers unless I just wanted piles of papers stacked away in a cupboard or a rarely opened laptop folder labelled ‘books I have written’!

What excites, attracts or appeals to you about the genre(s) you write in.

I’m one of those people who is interested in more than my head can carry and therefore I’m not sure I can stick to one genre. I love the idea of time travel. The very thought of being able to go back and see how people really lived appeals, as does the concept of what might have happened if just a few actions were changed. So ‘Hide in Time’ was the second book I wrote but the first I published. I was not very interested in history at school but now I love it.
I reckon that love, in its many forms, drives so much of what goes on in the world so romance is, thus far, my main genre.

Do you have a box, drawer, folder etc where you keep thoughts and ideas for future stories? Such as names you have come across, bits of dialogue, ideas, characters - even if you have no idea when you might use them?

I started writing many years ago, long before I seriously thought of publishing a book, and so I have an entire drawer of a big filing cabinet stuffed with folders for such things as plot ideas and characters. If I live and write until I am one hundred, I’ll not be able to use them all.

I remember driving along the shoreline and seeing a huge moon. My husband was doing the driving so I was free to grab a notebook and scribble down a description of one of the most fabulous moons I’ve ever seen. I was writing ‘One Dark Night’ at the time and so the post-it note was plonked into the A4 book I keep for each book and now it appears in the book as “A paper-lace moon, the size of a dinner plate, hung in the pink-flecked eastern sky.” The description doesn’t do it justice.

How do you manage plot bunnies (ideas that invade your mind that aren’t usually helpful to the story you’re writing but breed

Plot bunnies breed so mine are stuffed in a cage at the bottom of whatever I’m writing and occasionally I get around to taking a look at them if I’m wondering how to shape the next chapter. Then the poor leftover bunnies get transferred to that big filing cabinet – just in case!

How much of you is in your characters?

Some of my characters are inspired by real people, often historical characters. I refer to them as the coathangers! I wrap them in colourful coats and then they probably hardly resemble the original person at all. One of the reasons is because bits of me, or the me I would be in certain situations, creep into characters. Not telling you which bits!

Which of your characters is the you that you’d most like to be? Or be with?

Fortunately, I’m happy being myself, so that is not a problem and quite frankly, I’m not at all sure I’d like to live in the nineteenth century. But your question about who I would like to be with is going to set me thinking for years to come. My initial answer has to be that I quite like my heroes and my heroines would be good company too. I could more easily answer a question of who I would not like to be with.

Do you become so wrapped up in your writing that your spouse wonders if they're married to you or one of your characters?

I have so much going on in my life that writing has to be compartmentalised. I’m definitely me when my husband is around otherwise he’d start taking notes for a visit to the doctor.

What type of book do you like reading? Is it the same genre as you write?

I enjoy a good crime thriller and a historical crime thriller is often top of the list for me. I had thought that I couldn’t write anything other than romance but the sequel to ‘One Dark Night’ is currently more crime thriller than romance.
I’m not sure I know enough about modern day crime to write in that genre – practical research could prove unwise.

What is on your near horizon?

I’m a third of the way through the first draft of a sequel to ‘One Dark Night’. Then I want to write another time travel story which is sitting patiently waiting. Then I want to write about the… better stop there as I have a long queue. If anyone could donate some time to me, I’d use it for writing.

Where can we find you for more information?

There’s a little bit more info on There’s also a contact page where you can email me.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Beneath The Boards by David Haynes

David Haynes is the master of the macabre, but this time his scary story is set in the present.  Jim is recovering from a violent attack, but his problems are just starting.

If I could have read this from behind a cushion, I'm sure I would have.  I found this to be a very creepy story.  As I spiralled into Jim's madness, I felt myself physically tensing up, only relaxing my shoulders at the end of a chapter.  David Haynes writes his stories effectively without too much waffle, yet building up all the information you need.  The terrors are implied which makes them all too real without the need for graphic gore.  Scretch will stick in my mind for some time.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Love, death and tea by Will Once

Patti told me to try this book.  I'd not noticed this author, but as soon as I read the blurb, I had to try it.  And I'm so glad I listened to Patti.

I've recently been reading a lot of zombie / plague stories.  I've not read one from a pacifist zombie point of view before.  

This book was a delight to read.  It's hard to explain the plot, but everything, no matter how silly it might have been, just slotted into place and was believable in its surreality.