Wednesday 29 May 2013

B J Burton

BJ has written an epic story here, about the little people who dwell in secret on Dartmoor - and what happens to them when they meet a Ranger.  It's full of charm, wonderful characters ... and portents of things to come!

Dartmoor...The Saving Dartmoor...The Saving

My review - 

This is a charming story which capitalises on our persistent mythologies of races of little people; fairies, pixies, leprechauns, ‘the lordly ones who dwell in the hills, in the hollow hills’. The Dini are the remnant of a cursed British tribe, the Votadini, who have dwindled in stature and potency. There have been no baby Dini born for 18 years. The Dini live in secrecy on Dartmoor, scratching a hard life, moving at night, hiding in damp, abandoned mines in the day. One day, Ranger Bob finds that there are more little creatures on the moor than rabbits.

This book is suitable for older children upwards (way upwards!) and weaves Celtic myth and legend into a modern concern for the environment. If you read this book, you’ll meet Merlin of the Arthurian legends, and find with him the great sword of power. There are heart-stopping moments when the Dini, or Gododdin, as they should really be known, are in danger of discovery or death, but the Prince of Wales is asked to help. Can he come to the rescue? You need to read this to find out! There’s a lovely ending to the story but it’s not a conclusion to the whole tale. Fortunately, there’s another book in the series which I shall have to hunt down. I wish we’d had this book when I was a youngster. Still, I’ve made up for it now!

Thursday 23 May 2013

The Ignite Five Star Review Badge

After a little forum banter about review sites awarding badges for people to add to their blogs, Michael Brookes, author, games developer and all round nice bloke, designed the above badge for my blog.  Thanks, Michael.  You make me feel like a real reviewer!

Many review sites actively solicit free copies of books for review and some have a number of reviewers, each with a genre specialism.  I just review the books I choose to read and even in cases where I've seen a preview copy, I buy the book so that I feel I can review it on the same basis as any other reader.  So - I make no claims other than that if the book is here, I've enjoyed reading it enough to want to pass the good news on to other people.

If you've had a book reviewed on this blog, then help yourself to a badge!  If you're able to copy it from here, please do so.  If you want to get one emailed to you, please get in contact.  Go on, make my day!  ;)

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Tim Arnot

Tim Arnot is a new author and has created a believable world.  You most certainly don't need to be a young adult to enjoy it, though the main protagonists are.

Wanted (Flick Carter) Wanted (Flick Carter)

My review -

This is a post-apocalyptic book with a difference.  Most of them concentrate on a devastated world where chaos rules.  Tim Arnot has taken a world which collapsed maybe a couple of hundred years ago and people have adapted.  He creates a Britain in which electricity and technology are forbidden (except to the Kingsmen – an elite law enforcement agency).  Sixteen year old Flick Carter makes flint arrowheads, hunts and helps her dad to run the local inn.  Out hunting, she ‘finds’ a young man, Shea, injured after using forbidden technology.  Her caring for him puts her in danger; he’s already in it up to his neck!  There are those working against the king, to raise a private army.  Flick falls foul of these and her life is forfeit. 

Tim Arnot has created a believable world here and has fabricated the politics to go with it.  I enjoyed the characters, feisty Flick and her younger sister Rosie; the Faringdon Watch and the Kingsmen, in particular, Jessica Dixon.  There are evil characters to get your teeth into too; especially the corrupt and bullying mayor and his weak and venal thugs.  We learn just enough about the mysterious Shea to want to follow his exploits and there are hints that Jessica is more than she initially seems to be.  Flick is a darling!  I really look forward to reading more.

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Michael Brookes

This is the beginning of a new series and it kicks off to a great start.  

Faust 2.0  Faust 2.0

My review - 

A being, an entity, springs painfully into self-awareness. It inhabits, infests, the internet. It detests humanity and seeks to influence people to greed, murder and acts of total selfishness. It takes the form of an attractive female avatar and promises its victims their deepest desires. There will be a pay-back, but this will be something within their power to give. Some people are on to it, and a group of internet security specialists (and one sad hacker) manage to slow its progress. Why is it doing it, though. What is it? Why are the victims all represented on their eventual arrest, by the same very expensive lawyer, who seems to give them all the same unwanted advice?

I found this an absolutely intriguing concept and loved the name the author gave to the entity – Misty Felice. (Say it to yourself a few times. It’s cryptic but it’s a give-away!) I loved the way the entity was able to twist the desires of inadequate people and make them believe that it, she, could grant them those deepest wishes. Isn’t it what we’d all like? One or two of its victims were greedy people but most were unhappy and needy and I felt for them. Sarah Mitchell is after it though. Can she succeed? The story, though perhaps a little involved to the computer layman, was written believably and the action carried me onwards. The ending, while a satisfying ending to this story, was also a beginning. I look forward to more in this series.

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Lexie Conyngham

This is another in the Murray of Letho series and in my view, it could be the best so far!  

Fellowship with Demons Fellowship with Demons

My review - 

Charles Murray is commissioned by Melville, a high-ranking Scottish nobleman, to look into the family into which his cousin is hoping to marry.  Melville feels there is something shady about them but has no proof.  This is a story of officers, young, marriageable ladies, balls, suppers and concerts at the Assembly Rooms – it all sounds very Jane Austen.  However, Lexie Conyngham puts far more emphasis on the ‘Downstairs’ part of Upstairs/Downstairs than ever Jane Austen did and we meet up with far more violence, murder and assault than was ever hinted at in her genteel writings.  Murray finds what Melville has asked him, but some of the knowledge comes with the realisation that people he loves and respects will be hurt by it too.

Lexie Conyngham’s elegant and intelligent writing comes with a sprinkling of Scottish dialect terms which give it huge charm.  The story here is one of mystery, murder, intrigue and deceit.  I love the way the author combines action and plot line with a thoughtful look at the lives of some otherwise minor characters.  She looks at the effects of dementia on an old and loved servant, and at other issues of mental instability.  It’s a gripping thriller and mystery but is also a great social comment on the times.  I enjoyed reading this very much.  I’m a big fan of the Murray of Letho series and I think this is possibly the best.  (So far – I’m an optimist!)

Monday 13 May 2013

Jonathan Hill

This is the second book of 'mixed genre' tales from Jonathan Hill.  He handles all the stories well.  I enjoyed this so much!

Beyond Eclectic Beyond Eclectic

My review 

I have looked forward to this book for months and although it’s got ten stories in, and runs to around 32,000 words, I devoured it in a day. Ok, it was Sunday and I hadn’t much else to be doing, but it’s a very good read indeed. All these stories give the reader food for thought – sometimes it’s ‘I wonder if that could really happen?’ For lovers of Jonathan Hill’s classic character, Maureen makes her appearance, as disgracefully as ever! There was one point, though, where not until the end of a story, did it click for me that there was a link with another, earlier in the book – that was a real ‘Wow’ moment for me, and I think it was very cleverly done.

The author has an approachable, comfortable writing style which quickly draws you in to each of his stories, be it dark and dangerous, amusing, or outright funny/silly (Yes, Maureen – I’m looking at you!) He has proved here that he can very capably tackle subjects in different genres and tell a good tale in each. Highly recommended!

Sunday 12 May 2013

Andrew Barrett

This is a stand-alone novel featuring some of the characters from The Third Rule trilogy.  I think it's stunningly good.

Black by Rose Black by Rose

My review -

In this new stand-alone novel by Andrew Barrett we again meet Scenes of Crime Officer Eddie Collins.  He has stormed out of a crime scene and resigned, and has been recruited to the Major Crimes Unit.  Eddie is his usual self here – irascible, sarcastic, almost permanently angry and yet vulnerable.  He becomes involved in unravelling the deaths of an undercover policeman and his wife and with investigating the murder of one of the local gang members.  There’s unrest in the Crosby gang and there’s a territory fight between them and another local group.  There are sub-plots going on in the background, as you would expect if you’ve read any of the author’s previous work.  The story is sprinkled with clues – it’s up to us to link them together.  As always, Eddie’s heart is in the right place, but acting for someone else’s good results in some heart-breaking scenes.

This is an energetic and exciting novel.  There are some heart-stopping moments here, which I read with a lump in my throat - if you read it you’ll find it hard to forget.  Amongst its other themes, it deals with rape, and its after-effects, and with male domination of women.  Hard topics to read about but as well as food for thought they provide a fast and thrilling story.  The book is at once gruesome and beautiful, containing as it does, violence, tough language, wonderful writing and some very poignant moments.  Amazing contrasts and thrilling highlights make this an utterly absorbing read.

David Haynes

This is a novella length tale which follows nicely from the short stories.  It can be read on its own though.  Thrillingly nasty!

Seance of the Souls  Seance of the Souls

My review - 

In this novella length story, Matthew Napier tells of the deaths of his family.  He and his sister visit a fortune teller and are given a short but very grim reading.  Matthew turns to drink in his despair and the dark alleys and gutters of Victorian London infested by dreary and desperate creatures are very evocatively described.  He comes under the insidious influence of members of a spiritualist church and discovers more about his family than ever he suspected.

The author creates a dismal London and gives us a character who is an evil genius.  If you’ve read his earlier Victorian horror tales, you will recognise this man.  The novella allows us the opportunity to go a little deeper into the main character than the short stories did, and we almost come full circle.  I was struck by the fact that although we are dealing with séances and spiritualism, with the supposed terror and pain of the recently dead, the real evil in this story comes straight from the human soul.  An atmospheric chiller!

Saturday 11 May 2013

Alex Roddie

I've just read the book to which Crowley's Rival (see earlier post) is a prequel.  This is a wonderful idea.  It takes real historical figures, combines them with invented characters, puts them in a situation which might have happened and then stands back for the fireworks!

The Only Genuine Jones

Amazon .com  The Only Genuine Jones

My review - 

This is an imaginary account which is based around a number of real people.  The main character, Owen Glynne Jones (the Only Genuine Jones) was a real person but much of the action of the story is fictional  It has a number of themes, including a rivalry between Jones and Aleister Crowley, the disputes between the traditionalists of mountain climbing (we do it this way because we’ve always done it this way) and the progressives.  The latter were prepared to use shorter-handled, curved ice axes and crampons with forward facing points, which made previously impossible mountains climbable.

The story isn’t all blow-by-blow accounts of accents, however.  There is a good deal of the social history of the times as the book deals with the fact that wealthy gentleman climbers and talented, poorer people were able to climb together in friendship.  The mountains are great levellers. There are dodgy business dealings here, patent-stealing, double-crossing, potential polygamy, murder – and all this, with added mountains!  Alex Roddie’s writing is elegant and accessible and the story reaches a gripping climax.  I found this book enthralling.

Darren Humphries

This spin-off from the Man from U.N.D.E.A.D series is bound to be hugely popular with those of us who love his witty humour and mad plots.

Penny Kilkenny Saves the Day Penny Kilkenny Saves the Day

My review - 

This story is a spin-off from the popular Man from U.N.D.E.A.D series. Penny is the super-efficient and slightly sarcastic assistant to the head of the Agency, but here we see her in uncharacteristic 'off-duty' mode. She has been persuaded to attend a reunion at her school and we meet her schoolmates fresh from their exploits as high achievers and icons in their fields. We also meet her first boyfriend!

This is another very enjoyable UNDEAD romp, with all the action, deaths, monsters and humour you have come to expect from a Darren Humphries book. I always wonder if he can do it again. I've not yet been disappointed