Tuesday 26 March 2013

Mads Sorensen

Mads Sorensen is a new writer to me.  If this stonking thriller is an example of what he can write, I sincerely hope he's working on the next book!

15000 Feet Below

Amazon.com  15000 Feet Below

My review - 

Roy is a geologist for an international oil company and he and his partner Melanie are involved in a huge explosion on a rig. Melanie and most of the others involved are killed. Roy survives … but the explosion was not an accident. Someone’s out to kill him because of what he knows. There’s a complex plot to blow another oil field, this time with a nuclear device, and it will result in a huge human and ecological catastrophe which could escalate into all-out war. Roy and the unlikely hit-woman Sid, try to prevent it. Can they? Do they? I’m not going to tell you!

The plot is so much more substantial than any brief summary can explain. We seem to grasp the motives of the characters involved but we don’t know it all. The roots of the outrageous plot go back to the earliest childhoods of the participants. This is a really meaty story; a long and wonderful read and I enjoyed it very much. The standard of the writing is also commendable. It’s very readable although it deals with some of the day to day technicalities of the oil industry. It’s never dry; it’s always fast moving and exciting. I think this is Mads Sorensen’s first book. I hope he’s writing another!

Monday 25 March 2013

Michael Brookes

This post is a bit of a departure for me.  It features my review of Michael Brookes’ second novel Conversations in the Abyss.  It’s also part of Michael’s Blog Tour in which he has blog-hopped around many writers’ and reviewers’ blogs in the last few weeks.

Michael is an executive producer for a video games company in the day.  He writes mainly in the horror/sci-fi and metaphysical genres and cites Milton’s Paradise Lost as one of his greatest influences.  He always wondered why God didn’t stop The Fall of Man.  He’s a man who likes to think big!

My review -

This is an amazing novel which weaves together a number of strands. We meet The Deathless Man, an entity who has been imprisoned within the walls of a monastery and is visited by a good and a fallen angel.  We meet a group of clerics from Rome who are chasing an ancient document, The Gospel of Lazarus and a newly discovered prophecy, and we follow the preparations made by The Antichrist for The End Times.  It’s an intriguing tale and is very philosophical and metaphysical.  I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like it. 

There’s some wonderful imagery used here and the action of the story is exciting.  There’s also considerable food for thought.  If you’ve read Michael Brookes’ first novel, ‘The Cult of Me’ it will fill in some background on characters you meet here but it’s perfectly possible to appreciate this book on its own merits.  Particularly at the beginning, I found some of this book rather lyrical, poetic, in its descriptions.  I’m assuming there will be more.  I’ll certainly be reading it.

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Rachel Abbott

This is Rachel's long-awaited new thriller.  It's a brilliant read and drew me in and mis-directed me a couple of times.  I enjoy being fooled by a clever author though!

The Back Road

Amazon.com  - The Back Road

My review -

Rachel Abbott’s second thriller tells us the story of two half-sisters, Ellie and Leo, who have survived a difficult childhood.  Ellie and her husband have restored the family home, inherited by Ellie and scene of childhood fears for Leo.  Ellie is receiving phone calls and is being ‘stalked’ and subjected to blackmail.  A young girl has been the victim of a hit and run driver on the Back Road and Ellie is one of the nursing team looking after her.  Several couples and individuals who come together for a housewarming at the newly renovated house are bound together in the aftermath of the accident. 

The story is an exciting and complex one, where past and present echo and reflect one another.  Here and there a mis-direct made me feel I knew what was happening but in a Rachel Abbott story there’s more there than immediately obvious.  This is a tightly written psychological thriller, very nicely paced, and I enjoyed it very much.  My attention was caught and kept by the intrigues of the people in the village.  I wasn’t able to guess the full implications until close to the end.  It seems to me that some of these characters might appear again in further works by Rachel Abbott, as their story and their possibilities haven’t been exhausted.  Here’s hoping!
I received a review copy of this book pre-publication.

Monday 18 March 2013

David Haynes

This is another collection of linked, or themed, short stories set in Victorian London.  I'm really enjoying these, and the antique style of language the author uses.

Ballet of the Bones

Amazon.com Ballet of the Bones

My review - 

Ballet of the bones is the second quartet of Victorian style horror stories by David Haynes. He has caught the rhythm of the formal language very nicely and has capitalised on the obsession with death, bones, decay and human frailty. It’s not necessary to have read the previous book, Mask of the Macabre, but if you have done, you’ll find a few pleasing links between those stories and these.

David Haynes is developing his style well and there are some resounding Victorianesque phrases here that delighted me. With 2 collections of these gruesome tales under his belt, I would like to see him tackle a longer work again. I saw a pre-publication copy of this book and  I think that classic horror fans will love these stories. They are all too nastily believable. 

Sunday 17 March 2013

Darren Humphries

Here's a new, seasonal offering from Darren Humphries for St Patrick's Day.

The Man From U.N.D.E.A.D.'s St Patrick's Day Parade

Amazon.com  The Man from U.N.D.E.A.D.'s St Patrick's Day Parade

My review -

This is another short, seasonal offering from Agent Ward, the man from UNDEAD.  He is dispatched by the agency to County Clare, Ireland, to look into the appearance of a banshee which is thought to have caused the death of an elderly lady .  His arrival at Ard na Mara, a top secret establishment, in an agency helicopter so put me in mind of the opening sequence of Father Ted and it set the scene for the usual clever, witty irony that characterises this series of stories.  Ward gets to grips with the case and finds out why Ireland's mythical creatures are all congregating here - and who is behind it all.

These stories are always a delight, always well written and always warm and gently funny.  I enjoy them a great deal.

Saturday 16 March 2013

Jamie Sinclair

This latest book from Jamie Sinclair is another gripping story.  He's excellent at at plotting!

The Trust

Amazon.com  The Trust

My review - 

This is a complex web of a story which centres on a North West of England hospital trust. An old mental hospital site is being redeveloped and corpses are turning up in quantity. One of the police on the case, and a young woman working for the Trust in the equipment store become involved with one another. They both have issues and back stories which make the relationship a rather dynamic one! Her mother was once a patient at this hospital. Young women in the town have been going missing over a period of a year or more. Police suspect a serial killer. As you can see, there’s a huge amount going on in this story and it’s well handled so that you aren’t sinking into a morass of loose ends but their stories weave in and out of one another in a very engaging way.

Jamie Sinclair has a gift for creating characters you feel involved with. Love or detest them, there’s a lot going on in their lives and you want to know more. I very much enjoyed reading this story. It was well paced and full of intrigue. I did actually guess the identity of the serial killer before the end but I admit I’d had several other candidates in mind before that one and I enjoyed seeing how and why he had turned out that way. The ending was great too. A five star read if ever there was one.

Martin Treanor

Martin's book, The Silver Mist, is one of those that sinks into your psyche and you feel you'll remember it forever.

The Silver Mist

Amazon.com  The Silver Mist

Eve is a young woman with Down’s Syndrome whose family are caught up in the Belfast bombings of 1972. They have very recently lost their father from a cancer of the blood and their mother is in a coma in hospital after being caught in a bus station bombing. Their chain-smoking next door neighbour comes in daily to help the family. Eve is enchanted by the silver mist she sees when she stands by the garden gate looking into the meadow. In this, she meets Esther, a guide, a friend, another self.

The writing has the Northern Irish lilt, even to read, and the descriptions from the mouth of Eve are at once na├»ve and very deep. She is a little repetitious; she needs her routines and routine has been brutally disturbed for her of late. This is a delightful book with a deeper spiritual dimension. It tells us most definitely that there’s more going on in any mind than the rest of us are capable of understanding. It’s an intriguing, engaging and gripping story and I enjoyed it a great deal.

Tuesday 12 March 2013

David Staniforth

This is the first of a new fantasy series by David Staniforth.  There are two books in his Fuel to the Fire series and he is writing a third.  Alloria is a new venture.

Alloria - Labyrinth of Labyrinths

Amazon .com Alloria - Labyrinth of Labyrinths

My review -

This charming fantasy tale is the story of a 10 year old girl named Alloria and her friend Nathan who get lost in a labyrinth between worlds and come out somewhere they don’t expect. They meet a fearsome looking man, become captured by a wizard who drains his power from children and they manage to help Alloria’s adoptive parents who have been attacked and left for dead. There is magic here and strange creatures, some helpful, some vicious. I enjoyed the ‘quest’ style tale and following the story from one world to another. 

David Stanforth has a way with words and some of his descriptions of the worlds his creations inhabit are absorbing and inspiring. He can draw an attractive character who is overwhelmingly ugly, yet his baddies are totally obnoxious. One, Glebester, is so vile I shudder when reading the wonderful descriptions. I’ve always had a soft spot for fantasy and I love the fact that Alloria’s power is described as coming from the love she received growing up. You can feel her caring and the strength she and others draw from it. It brings up the old nature/nurture question as Alloria inherits from one set of parents but is brought up by another. It’s a great concept and I know that the end of the book will not be the end of the series! Great. Bring it on!

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Jim Webster

This is a third book set in Jim's Land of the Three Seas.  It doesn't simply follow on though.  It fills in some of the history and add to the reality and three-dimensional feel of the setting.

The Flames of the City

Amazon .com  The Flames of the City

My review - 

This is Jim Webster’s third book and though it doesn’t carry on from the previous two it is set in the same fantasy world. We follow a young man named Freelor as he takes on a job to cover a winter time when he’s unable to get home, where he is due to marry. There are other sub-plots in this story and if you have read his earlier books, you will recognise the name of the city which falls and is destroyed by fire. One of the subplots concerns a shaman’s amulet worn by Freelor, which grows hot in the presence of the evil god Hkada whose followers are able to summon him. There are exciting battles and some serious temple raiding resulting in a possession by the god Hkada. 

The story is a quest tale with Freelor leaving his usual haunts to undertake a journey to a temple where his friend, the academic Tolshin, hopes to find information about Hkada. It’s a fantasy classic and I particularly like some of Jim Webster’s phrases, for example, the merchant’s expression, “I keep my grandmother freshly washed and presentable, against the possibility of impulse buyers.” And the exchange between the soldier and his superior, “Just got my boots off for the first time for three days.” “Exotic pleasures of the flesh are reserved for officers. Get your boots fastened and get over here!" 

A really good read!