Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Feather and Claw

Second in Susan Handley's crime series and this has an exotic holiday setting.

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Book description -

On the sun-soaked island of Cyprus, Cat McKenzie should have been enjoying a relaxing holiday. Instead, she finds herself delving deeper and deeper into the death of a fellow guest. With a keen intuition and an inability to walk away from even the smallest of loose ends, she continues to dig, uncovering the way into the world of a ruthless killer. Outside of her jurisdiction, Cat is forced to use all of her wiles to find the murderer and bring them to account; a task made all the more difficult given the cold-hearted killer’s cunning. 
Choice not chance determines human destiny, but away from home, on sunnier shores, people aren’t always what they seem and choices can be ill informed. 

My review - 


Can a detective ever truly take a holiday? Cat and her friend Amy find the body of a fellow holiday maker and Cat’s mind starts ticking. She believes the circumstances indicate murder but she can’t get solid evidence. The story of her search for it takes her into danger. I enjoyed the characters, particularly Cat, who’s annoying enough to feel human rather than some know-it-all or goody-goody. Also her friend Amy who wants a holiday romance which gets in the way of her and Cat’s original plans. The writing is elegant and the atmosphere created becomes tense. A great crime story in an exotic setting.

Author info

Susan Handley grew up in the Midlands and despite a love of literature, and crime fiction in particular, she never dreamt of being able to carve out a career as a published writer. But the desire to write never left her and after years of writing by night she has at last been able to share the results of her efforts. 

Susan now lives in a small village in rural Kent with her husband and three cats. When she’s not indulging in her love of writing crime fiction she loves walking (the hillier the better), bike riding (the flatter the better) and tending her veggie patch. 

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Just a thought - “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”
― Jorge Luis Borges

Monday, 17 December 2018

Fancy Meeting You Here

More anecdotes from the Cumbrian farm of Jim Webster, with added World Heritage Status (and what that means).


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Book description

More tales from a lifetime’s experience of peasant agriculture in the North of England, with sheep, Border Collies, cattle, and many other interesting individuals. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is just one of those things.

My review -

This is the third collection of farmer Jim Webster’s anecdotes about his sheep, cattle and dogs. This one had added information on the Lake District’s World Heritage status. This largely depends upon the work of around 200 small family farms. Small may not always be beautiful but it can be jolly important. If you want to know the different skills needed by a sheep dog and a cow dog, or to hear tales of some of the old time travelling sales persons – read on! This is real life, Jim, but not as I know it.
Author info
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 - Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience; this is the ideal life

The Other Miss Bates

The second book in the Highbury Trilogy, inspired by Jane Austen's 'Emma'


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Book description

Jane Bates has left Highbury to become the companion of the invalid widow Mrs Sealy in Brighton. Life in the new, fashionable seaside resort is exciting indeed. A wide circle of interesting acquaintance and a rich tapestry of new experiences make her new life all Jane had hoped for. 
While Jane’s sister Hetty can be a tiresome conversationalist she proves to be a surprisingly good correspondent and Jane is kept minutely up-to-date with developments in Highbury, particularly the tragic news from Donwell Abbey. 
When the handsome Lieutenant Weston returns to Brighton Jane expects their attachment to pick up where it left off in Highbury the previous Christmas, but the determined Miss Louisa Churchill, newly arrived with her brother and sister-in-law from Enscombe in Yorkshire, seems to have a different plan in mind. 

My review -

This story fills in much of the background detail from the original Jane Austen story, Emma. Like the earlier Mrs Bates of Highbury, it rings true to the original. It treats Miss Austen’s work respectfully and feels and reads as true to the time. The characters we know from the original are not altered but merely expanded and it all feels like part of the story of Emma. This isn’t merely fan fiction but a credible contribution to the backstories of many favourite characters. It’s an enjoyable read for Austen lovers but also makes a great tale on its own behalf. I’ve loved these two books and look forward to a third.

Author info
Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.
Allie recalls: 'I was about 8 years old. Our teacher asked us to write about a family occasion and I launched into a detailed, harrowing and entirely fictional account of my grandfather's funeral. I think he died very soon after I was born; certainly I have no memory of him and definitely did not attend his funeral, but I got right into the details, making them up as I went along (I decided he had been a Vicar, which I spelled 'Vice'). My teacher obviously considered this outpouring very good bereavement therapy so she allowed me to continue with the story on several subsequent days, and I got out of maths and PE on a few occasions before I was rumbled.'
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Just a thought - A room without books is like a b ody without a soul.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Death in the Lakes

Graham Smith is a new author to me and I'd like to follow this series.


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Bok description -

Detective Beth Young has just joined the Cumbrian major crimes team when a body is found posed in a ritualistic manner – arms spread and graceful wings attached – at a crumbling castle in the hills of the Lake District. 

The entire police force is on red alert. But Beth begins to feel she’s the only one who can follow the disturbing clues left by the twisted killer. Because she doesn’t think like everyone else. To Beth, crimes are puzzles she can solve. Even if real life is a little harder.

As more bodies are discovered in derelict stately homes across the Lake District, Beth knows she’s in a race against time.

But the killer is looking for another victim to add to his collection… Will Beth be able to save her? Or will he get there first?

My review - 


I bought this book as The Silent Dead fairly recently, and as I was reading it, the title changed to Death in the Lakes. To be honest, I prefer the first title. There’s a series of murders here and all by the same bizarre and painful method. They seem to be random. One of the DCs on the case, Beth Young, has an analytical mind and begins to see patterns, but doesn’t yet see her own role in this. Beth is an interesting character, with her scarred face and loner lifestyle. I enjoyed the way she drew out of her fellow officers their own problems and strengthened the team. It’s a fast-paced story, just the way I like them, and a recommended read.

About the author -

Graham Smith is the bestselling author of two explosive crime thrillers in the Jake Boulder series, Watching the Bodies and The Kindred Killers. Watching the Bodies spent over two weeks at number one in the Amazon UK chart and Amazon CA charts. Graham is also the author of the popular DI Harry Evans series and has collections of short stories and novellas. 

He is the proud father of a young son. And as a time served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since 2000 he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland. 


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Just a thought - A room without books is like a body without a soul.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Reprobation

This debut novel knocked my socks off!


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Book description -

Are you one of the elect?

Dr. Helen Hope is a lecturer in eschatology – the study of death, judgement, and the destiny of humankind. She is also a Calvinist nun, her life devoted to atoning for a secret crime.

When a body is found crucified on a Liverpool beach, she forms an unlikely alliance with suspect Mikko Kristensen, lead guitarist in death metal band Total Depravity. Together, they go on the trail of a rogue geneticist who they believe holds the key – not just to the murder, but to something much darker.

Also on the trail is cynical Scouse detective Darren Swift. In his first murder case, he must confront his own lack of faith as a series of horrific crimes drag the city of two cathedrals to the gates of hell.

Science meets religious belief in this gripping murder mystery.

My review - 


This unusual and very enjoyable book takes a look at Calvinist Christianity and its predestination doctrine, and entwines a bit of speculative genetics. The author comes up with a murder mystery very far out of the ordinary. I enjoyed the characters and their interaction, particularly Helen, the nun, and the death metal musician. The writing flows well and it was a joy to get my teeth into the story. It would be good to take some of the characters a bit further. Highly recommended.



About the author -

Catherine Fearns is a writer from Liverpool, UK. Her music journalism has appeared in Pure Grain Audio, Broken Amp and Noisey, and her short fiction and non-fiction in Offshoots, Toasted Cheese, Succubus and Metal Music Studies. She has a degree in History from Oxford University and a Masters from the London School of Economics.
Catherine began her career as a financial analyst, but after having four children she retrained as a breastfeeding counsellor. She is obsessed with heavy metal, and tries to combine it with writing as much as possible.

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Just a thought - If you're cold, buy a book. You'll still be cold but you'll have a book.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Homicide in Herne Hill

This is the fourth in this cosy crime series by Alice Castle and I'm rather addicted to them!


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Book description -

Beth Haldane, SE21’s premier – and only – single mum amateur sleuth, is really pleased to find a new friend at the school gates, in the shape of irrepressibly bouncy Nina. As well as a way with words, Nina has a puzzle she wants Beth to solve, centred on the solicitor’s office where Nina works in Herne Hill.

But as the mystery thickens, threatening to drag in not just Nina and her boss, but the yummy mummies of Dulwich, too, Beth is about to find out just how far some people will go to keep up appearances. 

Join Beth in this fourth instalment in the London Murder Mystery series for her toughest case yet.

My Review - 


This is the fourth book (though they would all work alone) in a series by Alice CJust a thought -astle. The writing is funny and perspicacious, including remarks on keeping up with the yummy mummies and the problems of rearing a ten year-old boy in modern times. There’s tension between Beth and her current boy-friend (or is he yet?) Harry, the police officer and this heightens her self-doubt about snooping. Yet again she finds a body. Yet again, you know she’s too nosy but you’d be the same! I love this series. Highly recommended for cosy crime lovers.



About the author - 

Before turning to crime, Alice Castle had a long career as a feature writer on national newspapers including the Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Alice grew up in south London and, after a brief stint in Brussels (where her first novel, Hot Chocolate, is set) she is back where she belongs, dreaming up adventures for her heroine, amateur detective and single mum Beth Haldane. Alice is married with two children, two stepchildren and two cats. Find out more about her London Murder Mystery series on her website, www.alicecastleauthor.com. Death in Dulwich was published in September 2017 by Crooked Cat Books and was #1 in the Amazon Satire/Detective charts in the UK, US, Canada, France, Spain and Germany. The Girl in the Gallery came out in December 2017 and the third in the series, Calamity in Camberwell, will be published on 13th August 2018. Homicide in Herne Hill will follow in autumn 2018, with more books in the pipeline.

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Just a thought  - 'I find television very educating. Whenever somebody turns on the set, I go into another room and read.' Goucho Marx

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Cyber Sisters

A collaboration between Kelly Clayton and Grant Collins gives me slight shivers. It really happens to some people.


Amazon UK link

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Book description -

Do you know who you’re talking to online?

Marianne Sinclair has it all. She’s rich, well-connected, and smart. Or is she? 

For Marianne has been scammed online. When she meets others in the same position, Marianne’s secret fears become reality, as her past threatens to poison her future. 

Who can you trust?

Four women are victims of cybercrime, and one is left on the brink of destruction.

They’ve taken everything, even your self-respect. Do you fall down, or fight back?

My review - 


Bang up to date, this book warns us of the dangers lurking within the internet. A group of women have fallen for online scams and meet at a night class dealing with internet security. These characters are wonderfully drawn. One is worldly-wise and is cross with herself for falling for a scam. Others’ downfall was a kind heart, but they’ve all lost money. Some more than that. The authors have made our little inner fears into a cracking story where people find their past creeping in to affect the present. It’s superb, exciting and ultimately satisfying.

About the authors -

Kelly Clayton is originally from Scotland but has lived in the Channel Island of Jersey for most of her life. An avid reader, Kelly has been writing for as long as she can remember but decided to get serious a few years back. The reason why is a story in itself and there is a TV clip that can be accessed through Kelly's Facebook page that explains what lay behind her motivation to get that first book published.

Kelly's first novel, Blood In The Sand, was published in 2015, Blood Ties came out in November 2016 and Blood On The Rock was released in October 2017. The three books are part of The Jack Le Claire Mystery series, mainly set in Jersey but venturing to other locations as well. They can be read as part of the series or as stand-alones.

Kelly is working on a fourth Le Claire book, which is due to be published in 2018 . Grant Collins is her husband. 

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Just a thought - You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. 
C S Lewis