Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Sibel Hodge

A very enjoyable read.


Amazon.com link

My review -

Alissa is beautiful, much loved and newly-married to the rich and successful Max. He’s then murdered in his home and she flees to a neighbour after climbing from her bathroom window. DS Carter is part of the team looking into the murder and his superior is convinced that Alissa is innocent and her ex-boyfriend is the killer. Carter, with his own baggage to carry, thinks she’s hiding something.

Part way through this book we realise a truth and this colours everything else. It hinges on a massive co-incidence which I’m happy to swallow in the circumstances. Once Carter gets too close to the truth, he is taken off the case by his superiors for interfering when it’s all solved. They don’t realise that there’s still danger to one of the team. The ending is revelatory and exciting. I really enjoyed this story.

I received a review copy from THE Book Club on Facebook.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Katherine Roberts

A very short read, this, but so different. I finished it and said 'Wow!' and that doesn't often happen!

Empire of the Hare

Amazon.com link

M y review -

This story is short but it socks you between the eyes. Forget what you know of Boudicca, the brave woman defending her people from the might of Rome. This is Fantasy colliding with the Dark Ages and producing something stirring and memorable. Sometimes you read something that makes you really think. This, for me, is one of those stories.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Lynda Wilcox

Another Verity Long mystery is a reason to rejoice. I love the character and this is no exception.

Long Deathly Christmas

Amazon.com link

My review -

Verity and her new husband Jerry are invited to spend Christmas with his siblings and their spouses, at his brother-in-law’s palatial mansion, Thornley Park. She meets her new nephew and niece, Thornley and Cecilia. Verity asks Thornley if she can call him Thor, which delights him as his own name is a real mouthful. During the festivities, the Tremayne Treasure, a miniature painting, goes missing. Verity’s investigative juices spill over and she gets her teeth into another mystery.

I loved all the characters here, and especially the eight year-old Thor. I’d love to think he’ll appear in future stories. He brings out aspects of Verity’s character she didn’t know were there. I had a slight problem with the timeline of one of the characters, but it didn’t impact my enjoyment of this tale. As usual, some of Verity’s thoughts made me laugh aloud. A great story.

Caroline Mitchell

A breathtaking ride here from an author who can really ramp up the tension.


Amazon.com link

My review - 

Rebecca has been snared into what becomes a very dark, psychologically and physically abusive, relationship with Solomon, who seems heaven-sent when he befriends her as her mother is dying. He isn’t all he seems, though, and she is a witness at his trial for murder. When, ten years later, he is released, she thinks she is safe with her husband and child in Wales. She isn’t. Solomon, an IT expert, finds ways to watch her, follow her and make her witness crimes against others. ‘If you go to the police, you will die’. Worse, he makes her choose the victim.

There were times I wanted to shout at Becky not to give in to his demands. How could she let herself be manipulated like that? Yet she had fallen into the initial relationship when at her most vulnerable, and Solomon had appeared to come to save her, to look after her and be kind. By the time she found out what he was really like, she was in too deeply to escape. So many abusive relationships take this course and the resulting story is tense and very gripping. Tension mounts as we know that her closest family will be pulled into the net. The ending is surprising. Absolutely a five star read!

Friday, 16 December 2016

Darren Humphries

A sequel (long awaited by me) to An Orc Not Like Others. 

An Orc Like Balrek


My review -

I absolutely loved An Orc Not Like Others, author Darren Humphries’ first Orc book, and I’m delighted to see this sequel. Balrek was created as a fighting monster – cannon fodder, you might say – but he has more about him than most humans or elves. He is married to a human woman, a spirited creature named Elynore, and together they are City-king and City-queen in a successful and prosperous kingdom. Many of their subjects are also orcs. Balrek is different from the others in that he is super-intelligent and can out-think most of his fellow city rulers – and the elves. In a botched attempt by elves to assassinate him, his beloved Elynore is struck by a dagger. It’s a superficial wound, but the blade delivered a poison. A quartet of characters embark on a classic quest for the antidote – assuming one even exists.

This book is full of humour, dark at times, and lots of great characters. Balrek himself is still fully orc and when it’s necessary to kill, he does so brutally and quickly. Although he is a superior being in many ways, he is still true to his own nature. His wife, Elynore, is brave, feisty and besottedly in love with him, as he is with her. Some of the minor characters are really well drawn too, and I loved the banter, antipathy and later mutual appreciation displayed by gambler and womaniser Dahl and the healer Adriana. Some of the other city rulers face their prejudices about the orc king and there’s plenty of plotting and fighting here. It’s a thought-provoking read. Shrek it ain’t!

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Robert Bryndza

This is my first encounter with Coco Pinchard. She's a force of nature!

My review - 

Coco wants her son to have his heart’s desire on Christmas morning. Don’t we all, but some years there’s a run on the ‘must have’ gift, and it can’t be obtained for love nor money. In the year in question, it’s Thunderbirds’ Tracy Island. I remember – and the time it was the Telly Tubbies! Coco goes through a form of hell to make sure her boy isn’t disappointed.

This novella is full of the sort of visual humour that you’d love to see on the television. It would make a good one-off before Christmas as it’s teeming with great characters, and strange, often silly, situations. It’s a light-hearted look at the things we all remember, even if we didn’t get into them up to our necks, like Coco! 

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Debbie McGowan

This is a novella length Christmas story and a great, uplifting read - without being schmaltzy!

My review -

A young girl has run away from home. Her family's views and her upbringing have led to her preferring to spend December living rough, moving from town to town and sleeping on the freezing streets rather than going back home. Just before Christmas she finds unexpected help.

I love this story, which is superficially simple but contains a lot of depth. Can you - should you - offer money to an apparent vagrant? Will they spend it on drink or drugs? Is it enough to have good intentions? Suppose the girl is under age? George, with help from his partner, Josh, is able to navigate the difficult path and the outcome is a very appealing end to their Christmas, without offering a complete solution. I like to think the majority of people would act with generosity like this. An intelligent story which asks questions and give enough answers to satisfy. Very seasonal and enjoyable!

Friday, 9 December 2016

John Bowen

John is an author who always produces a great story. This is out today and it's no exception.

Death Stalks Kettle Street

Amazon.com link

My review -

Greg suffers from OCD and it rules his life. He becomes involved in a strange situation in which, after people in his street die, apparently accidentally, he is send a 'clue' and receives a phone call with details of the house where the body can be found. With Beth, a local librarian with issues of her own, he tries to discover the murderer.

I enjoyed this story and felt involved in it. I had several different people in my sights but was wrong on each occasion. The plot was threaded through with the crime story Beth was working on in a novel-writing class at the library. It was an unusual idea and edged Beth into taking on the task of finding the murderer. It was great the way two people with their own difficulties managed to support one another. A really good story.

I received a review copy of this book.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Jim Webster

A book of short stories by a 'minor' character.

My review -

This is a great collection of quirky little tales which are a spin-off from a series featuring Benor Dorffingil. Tallis is his friend, landlord, drinking companion and a jobbing poet. There are some lovely phrases used in here, as you would expect from a wordsmith like Tallis, who presents us with his pragmatic take on life. It’s an example of what happens when a minor character takes the reins and gallops off on his own. A great little book.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Jonathan Hill

A lovely, funny seasonal story.

A Christmas Outing


My review -

David is reluctantly dragged to the Christmas markets by his parents. He's invited his friend Jamie and is looking for the opportunity to tell them that Jamie is more than a friend. This story is full of humour. The parents bicker, to David's embarrassment, and the chance to tell them keeps slipping away. The boys' relationship is delightful and the ending gave me a genuine smile. A brilliant little gem of a seasonal story.

Jim Webster

Another story from Benor's youth.

A Bad Penny


My review -

This is another of the short stories from Port Naain, a place in which I can thoroughly believe. Someone's threatening, even killing, people and leaving a coin as an earnest of their intention. Benor foils one of the threats and becomes drawn in.

Lovely characterisation and a real sense of place make these stories favourites with me.