Thursday, 7 November 2019

A Long Way from Home

This Private Investigator story by Brian Caves is totally gripping. Set in Georgia in the early 1960s, it's a memorable story.



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Book description

Set in Southern Georgia during President Kennedy's term in office, this novel centres around an ex Chicago homicide detective, Tom Bale, who is struggling to come to terms with his past. Six years ago, his wife was killed in a hit-and-run, the driver never found. Bale has slowly crawled his way back up from an alcoholic slide into depression and one day receives a phone call that turns his world upside down. He owes a debt to a friend and cannot refuse.

Bale travels a 1000 miles south to the sleepy town of Paradise Creek, Georgia, to find a missing girl. He is immediately at odds in a racially divided town where strangers are not welcome and secrets are kept hidden.

His investigations take him deep into the swamps to find the missing girl. She has been beaten, raped, left for dead. Bale delves further into the case and finds himself immersed in a web of corruption and lies that lead back to events spanning 15 years. Court trials have been manipulated, other girls have gone missing, never found, and innocent people have lost their lives. And it's down to Bale to stop history from repeating itself, even if it costs him his life.


My review - 


What a powerful novel this is, set in the early 1960s in the small town of Paradise Creek, Georgia. It stands against the background of the Civil Rights speeches of Martin Luther King, who stirred up the demand for equality amongst the black Americans. This, naturally, threatened the perceived superiority of the whites, who enjoyed wielding the power and the money. I found it a gripping read. Tom Bale is an incoming PI from Chicago who is searching for a missing black girl. It’s a real story of small town corruption, covered up by those with something to lose. It’s horrifying, exciting and a very good read.

About the author

Engineering, sales, marketing and operations, business consultancy, project management, procurement management. Ageing rock god with a three-piece blues/rock/funk band. And writer. Always a musician, always a writer.

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Just a thought

You want to remember that while you're judging the book, the book is also judging you 
― Stephen King

Thursday, 31 October 2019

The Lost Ones

This is the first book I've read by Anita Frank and it's a quality read for this time of year.


Amazon UK link

Amazon US Link

Book description

Some houses are never at peace.
England, 1917
Reeling from the death of her fiancĂ©, Stella Marcham welcomes the opportunity to stay with her pregnant sister, Madeleine, at her imposing country mansion, Greyswick – but she arrives to discover a house of unease and her sister gripped by fear and suspicion.
Before long, strange incidents begin to trouble Stella – sobbing in the night, little footsteps on the stairs – and as events escalate, she finds herself drawn to the tragic history of the house.
Aided by a wounded war veteran, Stella sets about uncovering Greyswick’s dark and terrible secrets – secrets the dead whisper from the other side…
My review 
One of the best ghost stories I’ve ever read and how fitting that it’s due for publication on Halloween. Stella a VAD in the first world war, loses her fiancĂ©. In fact he dies in the field hospital where she was stationed. She’s deemed to be unstable, even months after his death and her return to her parents’ home. She visits her pregnant sister, now staying at her in-laws’ residence, taking her strange little maid Annie.

Something awful had happened in that house. Little by little, we discover the possibilities then finally the reality. The tension mounts and little incidents from Stella Annie’s past become more important. I found this occasionally almost claustrophobic in its intensity and beautifully written. I’d recommend this book wholeheartedly.


About the author

Born in Shropshire, Anita studied English and American History at the University of East Anglia. She now lives in Berkshire with her husband and three children.

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Just a thought
Never put off till tomorrow the book you can read today ― Holbrook Jackson


Monday, 28 October 2019

Maureen's (Not So Great) British Cake Off

Another in the Maureen series, but you can read it as a stand-alone. It's short but funny. How do they keep getting better?


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Book description

The smash hit comedy character returns in a brand new novella.

Maureen finally has her new garden and she sees the perfect chance to show it off by hosting a cake-baking contest for her friends.

Unfortunately, the guests (both invited and uninvited) seem determined not to allow the event to pass smoothly…

My review 

I’m a great fan of Maureen’s and in my opinion these stories are getting better each time. Mo has a new gardener and the place has never looked so good. It seems a shame to waste it. She decides to hold a garden party to include a baking contest. Picture the tent, the steely gaze of Paul Hollywood, the critical but kind observations of Pru Leith. Well, it’s nothing like that. A pleasant dream becomes a nightmare and her friends Louisa and Tim, surprisingly, still help her out of her self-inflicted problems. Read it – it’s a laugh.

Author details

Jonathan Hill is an author from Manchester, UK.

His work isn't confined to one genre, but he has already published a number of gay literary fiction books to high critical acclaim. His debut novel 'FAG', a hard-hitting story set in an English boarding school in the 1930s, was named as the overall winner in the Self-Published and Small Press 2014 Book Awards.

He has also penned the hit comedy series of Maureen books, in addition to numerous short stories and 100-word drabbles. Jonathan firmly believes that writing should not only entertain but also enhance and change the way readers view the world.

When he's not writing and working as a pharmacist, he enjoys painting, photography and going to the theatre.

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Just a thought 

When we are collecting books, we are collecting happiness ― Vincent Starrett




Sunday, 20 October 2019

Savage Children

Third in a cracking Thriller/Adventure/Crime series by Peter Boland. The characters just spark off one another.

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Book description 

Children are disappearing from London parks. Caught on CCTV, they go in but never come out again…

Days after each disappearance, the distraught parents receive a hand-drawn picture of their child as an angel. A sign they’ll never see them again. The police have no clues or leads. All they have is a nickname for the abductor – the Archangel.
When Savage’s neighbour’s ten-year-old son Callum becomes a victim, he vows to find him, and catch this Archangel. Savage has his headstrong friend Tannaz to help him. This time it’s going to take more than her brilliant computer skills to find the truth. They’ll have to enlist the help of some new friends – and some old enemies.

As more children go missing, Savage realises the Archangel is a formidable adversary. Clever, elusive and terrifying. Savage also has the police on his back, watching his every move. The deeper Savage becomes involved, the more he realises all is not what it seems…



My review - 

Savage and his side-kick, the computer-whiz Tannaz, are on the search for someone kidnapping children. None have been returned and there are real fears for their lives. They become involved because the lad who lives next door to Savage is abducted. Police arrest him under suspicion as he often played football with the lad after school. This is a great story – Savage’s SAS training means he doesn’t back down even with a gang, and Tannaz is an expert hacker. She finds evidence but they can’t pass it to the police as she shouldn’t have it! It’s a rollicking good crime story and very exciting. I love this series.

About the author

After studying to be an architect, Pete realised he wasn't very good at it. He liked designing buildings he just couldn't make them stand up, which is a bit of a handicap in an industry that likes to keep things upright. So he switched to advertising, writing ads for everything from cruise lines to zombie video games.

After becoming disillusioned with working in ad agencies, he switched to writing thriller novels (or was it because he just wanted to work at home in his pyjamas?). He soon realised there's no magic formula. You just have to put one word in front of the other (and keep doing that for about a year). It also helps if you can resist the lure of surfing, playing Nintendo Switch with his son, watching America's Next Top Model with his daughter and drinking beer in a garden chair.


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Just a thought 

A book read by a thousand different people is a thousand different books
― Andrei Tarkovsky

Saturday, 19 October 2019

The Scent of Guilt

Second in the DI Bliss series, this one really kept me turning the pages.


Amazon UK link

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Book description

Twelve years after he left Peterborough under a cloud, DI Bliss returns to the city and the major crimes team. Having spent years policing organised crime, Bliss is plunged straight into the heart of a serial murder investigation.
Meanwhile, Penny Chandler has been promoted to DS and has been working in
London on the Met’s sexual crimes team. But when two rapes are reported on her old patch in Peterborough, Chandler volunteers to interview the victims.
Chandler joins the hunt for the attacker and soon notices a possible link between the rapes and Bliss’s murder investigation. Could the same man be responsible?
Just as both cases seem to stall, a call comes in from an ex-policeman who knows of unsolved cases in the USA with a similar MO. Bliss finds himself travelling to California to hunt for a killer whose reach may have stretched further than anyone could possibly imagine.
But in order to catch the murderer, Bliss must discover the killer’s motive. A motive which should have remained buried in the past…
My review -
This is the second book featuring DI Jimmy Bliss. His sidekick from the first book, DS Penny Chandler, is on secondment but returns to pursue her own case. Naturally, they end up working together and it involves a trip to the States. The link is that the victims report a strong and vile body odour from their attacker. The characters are believable and the banter between them is good. The tension was well built and the red herrings had me fooled. A very enjoyable read.
About the author
Tony J Forder is the author of the critically acclaimed and best-selling crime thriller series featuring detectives Jimmy Bliss and Penny Chandler. The first four books, Bad to the Bone, The Scent of Guilt, If Fear Wins, and The Reach of Shadows, were followed by The Death of Justice on 9 September 2019.

Tony's dark, psychological crime thriller, Degrees of Darkness, featuring ex-detective Frank Rogers, was also published by Bloodhound Books. This is a stand-alone novel, and delves into the mind of a serial-killer.

Scream Blue Murder was published in November 2017, and received praise from many, including fellow authors Mason Cross, Matt Hilton and Anita Waller. A sequel, Cold Winter Sun, was released in November 2018.

Tony is now a full-time writer and lives with his wife in Peterborough, UK.
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Just a thought

The library is like a candy store where everything is free ― Jamie Ford,


Thursday, 10 October 2019

The Grace Year

My first novel from Kim Liggett, The Grace Year, is a thundering good read.



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Book description

No one speaks of the grace year.
It's forbidden.
We're told we have the power to lure grown men from their beds, make boys lose their minds, and drive the wives mad with jealousy. That's why we're banished for our sixteenth year, to release our magic into the wild before we're allowed to return to civilization.
But I don't feel powerful.
I don't feel magical.

Tierney James lives in an isolated village where girls are banished at sixteen to the northern forest to brave the wilderness - and each other - for a year. They must rid themselves of their dangerous magic before returning purified and ready to marry - if they're lucky.

It is forbidden to speak of the grace year, but even so every girl knows that the coming year will change them - if they survive it...

The Grace Year is The Handmaid's Tale meets Lord of the Flies - a page-turning feminist dystopia about a young woman trapped in an oppressive society, fighting to take control of her own life.


My review


I absolutely love this book. I can see people drawing comparisons with Golding’s Lord of the Flies but the boys were cast up on their island by accident. In The Grace Year, all girls in their teens spend a year as a deliberately isolated group in order to ‘rid them of their magic’. There are poachers in the vicinity to pick off those girls who don’t make it back – often a high number. I enjoyed the way the women were portrayed, both before and after the Grace Year in question. It wasn’t simply the way they were downtrodden, but the underlying conspiracy of women and their hidden strengths. It was easy to engage with the characters, to take sides and to root for those you fell in love with. Tierney, the star of the book, is determined to be herself. The way she does it is exciting and marvellous. I became totally absorbed in this world and I highly recommend the book.

Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read it before publication.

About the author

Kim Liggett, originally from the rural midwest, moved to New York City to pursue a career in the arts. She's the author of Blood and Salt, Heart of Ash, The Last Harvest (Bram Stoker Award Winner), The Unfortunates, and The Grace Year. Kim spends her free time studying tarot and scouring Manhattan for rare vials of perfume and the perfect egg white cocktail.

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Just a thought

You want to remember that while you're judging the book, the book is also judging you 
― Stephen King,



Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Fiona and the Whale

This book by Hannah Lynn is a delight to read. 


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Amazon US link

Book description

With her life on the rocks, it is going to take a whale sized miracle to keep her afloat.

Event planner Fiona Reeves did not have her husband's sudden departure on her schedule. However, she’s certain that it's only a hiccup and he'll be back in no time, begging for forgiveness. Fortunately there’s a distraction of mammoth proportions swimming in the River Thames. 
Absorbed by the story of Martha the sperm whale, Fiona attempts to carry on life as usual as she awaits her husband's return. However, nothing can prepare her for the dramatic turn of events that throw her life into ever greater turmoil. The road ahead has many paths and for Fiona it’s time to sink or swim.

My review -
This is the story of a woman in denial about the fact that her husband has left her. She’s convinced that, so long as she keeps on as normal, running her business, he’ll return. When a whale is stranded in the Thames, her priorities change completely. This was a book in which there was plenty of action, not all good, but I couldn’t help turning the pages to find out what happened. The whole book is very satisfying and I enjoyed it a great deal.

About the author

Hannah Lynn is an award-winning novelist. Publishing her first book, Amendments - a dark, dystopian speculative fiction novel, in 2015, she has since gone on to write The Afterlife of Walter Augustus - a contemporary fiction novel with a supernatural twist - which won the 2018 Kindle Storyteller Award and the delightfully funny and poignant Peas and Carrots series.

While she freely moves between genres, her novels are recognisable for their character driven stories and wonderfully vivid description.

She is currently working on a YA Vampire series and a reimaging of a classic Greek myth.

Born in 1984, Hannah grew up in the Cotswolds, UK. After graduating from university, she spent ten years as a teacher of physics, first in the UK and then around Asia. It was during this time, inspired by the imaginations of the young people she taught, she began writing short stories for children, and later adult fiction. Now as a teacher, writer, wife and mother, she is currently living in the Austrian Alps.


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Just a thought

Books and doors are the same thing. You open them, and you go through into another world ― Jeanette Winterson