Monday, 2 December 2019

The Penmaker's Wife

This is a bit of a departure for Steve Robinson and I really enjoyed the way my view of a character changed as the story progressed.


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Book description

In Victorian England, a mother is on the run from her past—and the truth about what she did.

Birmingham, 1880. Angelica Chastain has fled from London with her young son, William. She promises him a better life, far away from the terrors they left behind.

Securing a job as a governess, Angelica captures the attention of wealthy widower Stanley Hampton. Soon they marry and the successful future Angelica envisaged for William starts to fall into place.

But the past will not let Angelica go. As the people in her husband’s circle, once captivated by her charm, begin to question her motives, it becomes clear that forgetting where she came from—and who she ran from—is impossible.

When tragedy threatens to expose her and destroy everything she’s built for herself and William, how far will she go to keep her secrets safe? And when does the love for one’s child tip over into dangerous obsession?

Alias Grace meets Peaky Blinders in this tale of obsession, ambition and murder in Victorian England.
 


My review - 

This stand-alone novel from Steve Robinson, hitherto known for his Jefferson Tayte genealogical series, is a real eye opener. I mean I read it with my eyes opening wider as the story progressed. In the Victorian era, Angelica and her small son William really evoked my sympathy at the dramatic opening of the book. She embarks upon a new life which she determines to be all for the good of William. As the story unfolds and the lies begin to turn back on her it becomes very exciting and I really enjoyed it. Some of the twists and turns had a great impact, I felt. It’s a bit of a shocker in places. Strap yourself in for a wild ride.


About the author

Steve Robinson is a London-based crime writer. He was sixteen when his first magazine article was published and he’s been writing ever since. A love for genealogy inspired his first bestselling series, the Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mysteries, and with The Penmaker's Wife he is now expanding his writing to historical crime, another area he is passionate about. He can be contacted via his website, www.steve-robinson.me, or his Facebook page, www.facebook.com/SteveRobinsonAuthor, where you can also keep up to date with his latest news.


Just a thought -

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

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Bone Snow

Another great horror tale from David Haynes.


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Book description

When the snowstorm falls and the power fails, Leo Newman’s humble store acts as shelter
for a desperate group of people, all trapped there waiting for the dawn.

As tensions rise among the teenage kids, neighbors, street thugs and an undercover cop,
Leo barely has time to consider the most harmless and innocent ones. The strangers in his
basement – the young girl and her baby.

From the folk tales of Japanese myths, something insatiable has come to stalk the modern
world. The freezing snow rising inside Leo’s store is far hungrier and deadlier than anything
out in the dark.


My review 

In a down-at-heel area in an American town, where gang culture is rife, a power failure in a snow storm traps a group of people together in a failing store. One of them, a vulnerable-seeming young woman with her baby, is not who she seems.

I found this a really claustrophobic story. There was no way anyone could escape from the others, trapped as they were by the elements and the failure of the store’s electric security shutters. There’s a creeping feeling that things are going bad. People lose their tempers and don’t understand why they feel like this. People die – horribly. I always enjoy the author’s books and it’s often the element of ancient myth that pulls me in tight. This one did. A really creepy chiller of a read.

About the author

David Haynes is a horror fan and has been since he picked up a copy of Salem's Lot by Stephen King.

He loves reading books in the horror genre as well as in other genres but he always comes back to horror.

He writes books in the genre he loves and he hopes the readers enjoy them as much as he enjoyed writing them.

He lives in the UK with his wife, son and dog.

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Just a thought

Books fall open, you fall in ― David McCord

Saturday, 16 November 2019

The Snow Killer

There are some authors who you know will give you a good read. Ross Greenwood is one of those and The Snow Killer's fantastic.


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Book description

‘Fear the north wind. Because no one will hear you scream…’

A family is gunned down in the snow but one of the children survives. Three years on, that child takes revenge and the Snow Killer is born. But then, nothing - no further crimes are committed, and the case goes cold.
Fifty years later, has the urge to kill been reawakened? As murder follows murder, the detective team tasked with solving the crimes struggle with the lack of leads. It’s a race against time and the weather – each time it snows another person dies.
As an exhausted and grizzled DI Barton and his team scrabble to put the pieces of the puzzle together, the killer is hiding in plain sight. Meanwhile, the murders continue…
My review 
Wrap up warm and read this!
Part of the story is in the words of a killer and part is a third person telling of the team trying to solve the murders. It’s only when a cold case of fifty years ago comes to light that detectives start to make connections. This looks like the beginning of a good series. Interesting characters and guess what? The DI is happily married and has kids. It’s a long time since I read a crime or police procedural that didn’t feature a maverick with an alcohol problem. Ross Greenwood doesn’t write clichés. What he has written here is a fast-paced, action-filled puzzle of a story with believable characters and spiced with a lot of humour. I want to meet Barton and Strange again!

About the author

I was born in 1973 in Peterborough and lived there until I was 20, attending The King's School in the city. I then began a rather nomadic existence, living and working all over the country and various parts of the world.

I found myself returning to Peterborough many times over the years, usually when things had gone wrong. It was on one of these occasions that I met my partner about 100 metres from my back door whilst walking a dog. Two children swiftly followed. I'm still a little stunned by the pace of it now.

Fifty Years of Fear book was started a long time ago but parenthood and then after working in sales management all my life, i randomly spent four years as a prison officer. Ironically it was the four a.m. feed which gave me the opportunity to finish the book as unable to get back to sleep I completed it in the early morning hours.

I've now written five further books. My second book, The Boy Inside, was picked up by a publisher, and Lazy Blood is also out. All my books are thought provoking, and told with a sense of humour. Reading the reviews has been great.

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Just a thought

Get books, sit yourself down anywhere, and go to reading them yourself
― Abraham Lincoln

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.


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Book description

Some houses are never at peace.
England, 1917
Reeling from the death of her fiancé, 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 fiancé. 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