Monday, 20 May 2019

The Bookshop From Hell

David Haynes at his best, with a nod in the direction of some of the classic horror fiction I used to read. Good news! It's still being written.




Book description

Horror is what Dan Law enjoys.

He loves to read horror novels as a way to escape from his teaching job, from his loneliness, from the everyday dullness of life in Silver Lake. That’s what Dan lives for.

When a new bookstore opens in town, every visitor receives a free book of their own. A book that tells their own personal story…a story they have to follow to the brutal end.

As Silver Lake’s population descends into violent savagery, Dan finds he is no longer living for horror novels – he’s living inside one.

My review -


An empty shop unit in Silver Lake is fitted out as a bookshop. The elderly owner gives visitors a free gift, a little volume which they become very attached to. They can read ‘their story’ in it, but to other people the book is blank. This is a classic horror story and I found it very enjoyable, but also food for thought. When people’s sense of entitlement is fed and stoked, their inner spitefulness can rise to the surface. I fear we are seeing this in modern day politics. There’s more than that here, though. The worst side of human nature comes to the fore. The disintegration of societal norms is a car crash and gruesome to watch. This isn’t for the faint-hearted but if you enjoy old-fashioned horror there’s a lot in this to make you think. Brilliant!

About the author

David Haynes has been making up stories since he was very young. His first story entitled, "How the Greenhouse Actually Got Smashed, Dad!" got him into trouble and went unpublished. Nevertheless, the stories continued and the desire to write them down grew stronger. 

David now writes stories in the genre he loves the most - the dark, mysterious and delicious world of horror.

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Just a thought -
The problem with books is that they end.”
― Caroline Kepnes

Saturday, 11 May 2019

The Heart's Invisible Furies

John Boyne in brilliant form here, following a character through seventy years of life.


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Book description 

Forced to flee the scandal brewing in her hometown, Catherine Goggin finds herself pregnant and alone, in search of a new life at just sixteen. She knows she has no choice but to believe that the nun she entrusts her child to will find him a better life.
Cyril Avery is not a real Avery, or so his parents are constantly reminding him. Adopted as a baby, he’s never quite felt at home with the family that treats him more as a curious pet than a son. But it is all he has ever known.
And so begins one man’s desperate search to find his place in the world. Unspooling and unseeing, Cyril is a misguided, heart-breaking, heartbroken fool. Buffeted by the harsh winds of circumstance towards the one thing that might save him from himself, but when opportunity knocks, will he have the courage, finally, take it?

My review - 

This tremendous novel tracks the life of Cyril Avery, adopted at his birth just after the war. His adoptive parents are rather distant to him and tell him he’s not a real Avery. We see his life at snapshots of seven years and in school, he finds himself attracted to his best friend and room-mate. Because of the legal and church situation – he lives in Ireland – he keeps all his feeling under wraps and this affects his whole life. His choices, based on what he feels able to do and say, are a result of the times he lives in. It’s a great book, told with a lot of humour but there’s real sadness and regret there too. The characters are brilliantly drawn and I can’t help but feel I’ve met a lot of them. I wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone wanted a really engrossing story.

About the author

John Boyne was born in Ireland in 1971. The winner of three Irish Book Awards, he is the author of eleven novels for adults, five for younger readers and a collection of short stories. The international bestseller The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas was made into a Miramax feature film and has sold more than six million copies worldwide. His novels are published in over fifty languages. He lives in Dublin. 

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Just a thought -

A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading ― William Styron

Friday, 10 May 2019

No More Lies

I love this series by Robert Crouch. I feel really engaged with the characters. This is the fourth in the series.



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Book description

Kent Fisher gets more than he bargained for when Detective Inspector Ashley Goodman enlists his help with a ten year old murder. She’s on a mission and needs a big case to put her career back on track.

And they don’t come much bigger than Miles Birchill, Downland’s wealthiest and most divisive resident.

Not for the first time, Kent has doubts about the case, forcing him to make choices. But who do you trust when everyone has something to hide?

Caught in the middle, he has no alternative but to solve the murder, unaware that his every move is being watched.

My review - 


Another mystery for Environmental Health Officer Kent Fisher. When a body is found buried on his father’s land, Kent feels that someone is trying to fit his father up for murder – and he has plenty of enemies. This book is full of humour and features a female detective I wanted to slap, as well as a dog groomer I wanted to hug. I love a book that affects me so much that I really believe in the characters. As for Kent – I want to pull his socks up for him! This is a brilliant follow-up to the first three books in the series and I’m dying to see how Kent’s private life progresses now.

About the author

Inspired by his love of classic murder mysteries, Robert Crouch wanted to create a fresh and contemporary whodunit to offer readers something familiar but different.
Above all he wanted to show that an ordinary person could solve a murder. Not that there's anything ordinary about Kent Fisher, an environmental health officer with more baggage than an airport carousel.
After reading No Accident, bestselling author, Tamara McKinley, believes ‘Agatha Christie fans will love it.’

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Just a thought -

[I] read books because I love them, not because I think I should read them. 
― Simon Van Booy


Sunday, 5 May 2019

Allie Cresswell

Dear Jane is the final part of the Highbury Trilogy, a back-story and prequel to Jane Austen's Emma. If you've ever read and loved Emma this will enhance it for you.


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Book description

The final instalment of the Highbury trilogy, Dear Jane recounts events hinted at but never actually described in Jane Austen’s Emma; the formative childhood years of Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill, their meeting in Weymouth and the agony of their secret engagement.
Orphaned Jane seems likely to be brought up in parochial Highbury until adoption by her papa’s old friend Colonel Campbell opens to her all the excitement and opportunities of London. Frank Weston is also transplanted from Highbury, adopted as heir to the wealthy Churchills and taken to their drear and inhospitable Yorkshire estate. Readers of Emma will be familiar with the conclusion of Jane and Frank’s story, but Dear Jane pulls back the veil which Jane Austen drew over its remainder.


My review -


This is the third in the Highbury trilogy. It meshes well with Emma, the book on which its characters are based. The author gives us a credible background that goes deeper than the original book and I’ve enjoyed them all. It’s good to see the final melding where people and events we know from Emma are brought into play. If you enjoy Jane Austen, or other books set in this period, you won’t be disappointed. Highly recommended – but read the other two first.

About the author


Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Jim Webster

This is fantasy that holds a mirror up to our own word, and isn't very different. If you love character-driven stories, they're all here.


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Book description

More of the wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard. Discover the damage done by the Bucolic poets, wonder at the commode of Falan Birling, and read the tales better not told. We have squid wrestling, lady writers, and occasions when it probably wasn't Tallis's fault. He even asks the great question, who are the innocent anyway?

My review - 


The book begins with the perils of being a painter’s apprentice. Someone has to rearrange the sitters’ hair, add the artful blossoms and dust away the crumbs from their snacks.
Several young men are sent to liberate valuable artefacts that are later sold for the upkeep of an asylum for the poor. Should things be black and white, right and wrong, or is it all about nuances, checks and balances?
We touch on fire-fighting, lady writers, solstice celebrations and more. Port Naain. All human life is there, and it’s documented with humour and acute observation.

About the author

Jim Webster is probably fifty something, his tastes in music are eclectic, and his dress sense is rarely discussed in polite society. In spite of this he has a wife and three daughters.
He has managed to make a living from a mixture of agriculture, consultancy, and freelance writing. Previously he has restricted himself to writing about agricultural and rural issues but including enough Ancient Military history to maintain his own sanity. But seemingly he has felt it necessary to branch out into writing SF and fantasy novels. 
He lives in South Cumbria.

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Just a thought 
The love of books is among the choicest gifts of the gods.
― Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Monday, 29 April 2019

Lexie Conyngham

The latest in the Murray of Letho series is just as exciting and unfathomable as the earlier books. Although this is number 11 in a series, I think they all stand well alone.


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Book description

A violent double murder in a lonely, empty house. 
Not the kind of mystery that Charles Murray and his old friend Blair expect to find when they are trapped in snowbound Aberdeen. Tangled with dangerous whisky smugglers and an unexplained local illness, the solution is far from clear – and does it involve a missing box of human bones? 
This is the eleventh book in the Murray of Letho series.

My review -

Charles Murray and his friend Blair are ashore at Aberdeen after terrible storms throughout which Murray was dreadfully seasick. While they are there, they find themselves in the midst of a murder investigation or two. A local doctor has died of typhus too, and people are going down with some kind of poisoning. There is a big cast, all well fleshed-out, and there’s no shortage of possible killers. As always, Murray unpicks the plot – I never get there before him! A lovely period story with a great deal going on. This series has been a favourite with me for a long time.

About the author

Author of three historical crime fiction series: Murray of Letho, Hippolyta Napier, and Orkneyinga Murders, Lexie lives in North-East Scotland and after some years of trying the traditional methods (with absolute and complete lack of success) she was persuaded to test her limited technical skills with e-books. When she isn't writing (that would be Sundays) she teaches, knits, gardens, drinks wine or whisky, and sits looking thoughtful while random facts wander around her head. 

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Just a thought
In books I have traveled, not only to other worlds, but into my own.
― Anna Quindlen

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Murder by Request

A new 'cosy' series from Lynda Wilcox, featuring a lady vicar you'd want on your side in times of trouble.


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Book description 

Meet Agnes Merryweather, the cat-rescuing, crime solving vicar of St Octavia’s church in the heart of the English Cotswolds. She has a lot on her plate, trying to organise the annual fĂȘte and keep all the participants happy ­- yet the ladies of the Women’s Institute are in a jangle over jam, the local dancing teacher demands to perform in the church, and all is far from sweetness and light.

Add in an absconder from the nearby open prison, and a murdered car salesman, and Agnes is up to her neck in trouble.

Can she solve all her problems and catch a killer before coming face to face with the bishop at the fĂȘte’s opening ceremony?

My review - 

Agnes Merryweather is a vicar in a small village. She has a body and an absconded villain on her hands. To add to that, the village fete seems to be going down the pan. This story is gentle, funny but edged with danger. I love the image of the rural community with its embattled vicar. The village fete problems rang very true too! It’s bursting with characters and is a snapshot of English village life. This is a lovely read and the ‘stained glass window’ cover image is just brilliant. It’s the start of a series and I look forward to more. Great stuff.

About the author

My first piece of published writing was a poem in the school magazine. In my twenties I wrote Pantomime scripts for Amateur Dramatic groups and comedy scripts for radio. Now I write fantasy stories for older children (10-13) and funny cozy mysteries for adults.

I live in a small town in England, in an untidy house with four ageing computers and my (equally ageing but very supportive) husband. I enjoy pottering in the garden where I grow brambles, bindweed and nettles along with roses and lillies. I also appear to very good at growing slugs! They certainly feed well on everything but the brambles and weeds.

Most of all, I love writing - it gets me out of doing the housework - and I also read a lot and enjoy good food and wine.

So, there you have it. I write, I read, I drink red wine - but not, necessarily, in that order!

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Just a thought 

Thank God for books and music and things I can think about.
― Daniel Keyes