Monday 30 September 2013

Jim Webster

This prequel will give a flavour of Jim's work to anyone who's been hesitating because  the price his publishers set.  It's the early years of Benor the Cartographer who will probably end up as one of your favourite characters.  He's one of mine!

The Cartographer's Apprentice The Cartographer's Apprentice

My review

This book of short stories acts as a prequel to the tales of the Land of the Three Seas. If you’re a fan of Jim Webster’s work, as I am, you’ll be delighted to read some of the earlier exploits of Benor, a character it’s very easy to become fond of. The other books contain more fantasy in the sense that there is magic and there are strange beasts, more so than you will find here. This gives the flavour though. Speaking of flavours, there’s always a good deal of food involved in these stories!

The longer books are, by ebook standards, pricy, so there may well be people who have held off reading them. Wait no longer! Read this one and dip your toes into the gentle humour and wonderful way with words that characterise this series. Jim Webster manages to write his stories as though they were ancient Greek myth. It’s a wonderful gift!

Thursday 26 September 2013

Darren Sant

Darren Sant writes short stories but I've never managed to catch up with them.  This novella length story pulled me in from the blurb.  It's brilliant!

The Bank Manager and The Bum The Bank Manager and The Bum

My review - 

This is a wonderful novella length story about Giles, the bank manager, his family and the homeless man found by Giles one morning as he unlocks the bank.  The family are coming to terms with some dreadful news and Frank, the bum of the title, together with his dog Rex, are pivotal in the family’s survival.  It’s almost a modern legend and definitely has a mythic quality about it.  I found it beautifully written and a real ‘feel-good’ story.  It’s the first work that I’ve read by Darren Sant and on this evidence, I really must read more!

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Sibel Hodge

This is the first of Sibel's books that I've read.  It's a bit different from her usual style as she writes chick-lit and Romance which don't normally do much for  me!  This is excellent.

The See-Through Leopard The See-Through Leopard

My review - 

Jazz is a teenager whose problems began when her mum was killed in a car accident for which Jazz blames herself. She was also facially scarred and is naturally insecure about this and stubbornly on the defensive. Her dad takes her back to Kenya where he and her mum worked before she was born. She hates it and feels everyone is staring and judging her as a freak. Early on, she finds an orphan leopard and a bond between two motherless creatures is forged. It’s through rearing the young leopard that Jazz finds her purpose and her life comes together. It’s heartening to watch her surmount her personal problems to come to the aid of the wild creatures which are subjected to human greed and poaching.

This Young Adult novel deals sensitively with issues of self-doubt and insecurity all piled on top of the all-purpose teenage angst we’ve all felt. The book’s beautifully written, the characters are believable and I think it’s a great read whatever your age. A proportion of the profits will go to Panthera and other charities dealing with wildlife crime.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Jennifer Hanning

Jennie is an author and drabbler and this is her first published collection.  I hope there will be more!

100 Percent Drabbles 100 Percent Drabbles

My review - 

I love drabbles – 100 word stories - and as someone who enjoys writing as well as reading them, I can appreciate how neatly and elegantly the author fits her stories into the confines of the word limit.  It’s not easy without it sounding chopped down but Jennifer Hanning makes it seem effortless.  She covers a range of genres here and many have an unexpected ending – a real benefit of the drabble form.

The writing is uncluttered and clear and although the temptation (to which I succumbed!) is to read them all at once, I know they will benefit from savouring one or two at a time.  So that’ll be my next project!  Drabbles fit very well into our modern rushed lifestyle and I’m sure this book will appeal to many.  Did I mention that I love drabbles?

Friday 13 September 2013

Julie McLaren

A new author with a fantastic sense of humour.  I look forward to more like this!

The Music of the Spheres The Music of the Spheres

My review - 

This novel, by new author Julie McLaren, tells the story of a God disenchanted with what humanity have done since he gave them free will. He’s an ecologically minded deity and is horrified at out treatment of his planet. In olden times, a plague or two sufficed to call people’s attention to God’s will, but these days there’s always some expert or PR person there to explain it all away. God looks for a new prophet – and finds Nigel Perkins. Nigel is convinced that he is to be abducted by Aliens who will make him their spokesman on Earth. 

This is an extremely well written book which with its quirky sense of humour really appealed to me. I enjoy the author’s style of writing and her take on ufology, modern music and much else besides. God makes his presence known with a fabulous light show which inspires musicians and finally brings him to people’s attention. The ending is brilliant! I heartily recommend this book and I do hope the author has further stories up her sleeve.

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Lynda Wilcox

This is the third of the Verity Long novels - though I first met her in a novella.  I absolutely love this one!

Scouting for Murder Scouting for Murder

My review - 

This is the third in the Verity Long series of crime stories, though I first met the character in the novella A Novel Way to Die. I knew I wanted to read more and have been working my way through them. I think this is my favourite. The hapless Verity is once again early on the murder scene and feels compelled to try to find out who the culprit was. She is not involved with the police (except for a given value of ‘involved’) and her on-off relationship with Inspector Jerry Farish makes me want to slap her into seeing how good he is. If she doesn’t want him, I’ll have him!

The story is a gentle murder mystery, you might say, and a great read. As suggested by the title, Verity is helping out at a Brownie Camp after having found one of the scout leaders shot in the throat with an arrow. Her involvement puts her own life in danger but it takes more than that to deter her. If you’ve read and enjoyed the others in the series, as I have, you really must read this. It’s excellent.

Saturday 7 September 2013

Simon Jenner

Simon Jenner is another new author to me but one whose books I will be following in the future.

Ethan Justice - Origins Ethan Justice - Origins

My review -

This book begins with a dissolute 32 year old man with the bland name of John Smith, being taken to task by his parents and best friend for wasting his life and talents.  He has a good Oxford degree and is working as a junior clerk.  His parents own his flat.  He becomes involved with Savannah Jones (Smith and Jones eh!) in tracking down a murderer, helped and hindered by two special agents. 

There’s a huge amount of action in here and quite a lot of dark humour.  The interplay of characters is very good and the villain of the piece, a rogue ex-SAS operative, is creepy and uncomfortable in the extreme.  I was very much engaged with the story and the people Simon Jenner has created and I know I shall read more of this series.  Highly recommended!

Thursday 5 September 2013

Nigel Bird

I've read some of Nigel's work before, much of being dark, gritty and tough.  This is a new departure for him, a sort of male-view romantic comedy.  I'm not a rom-com reader but I read this on a recommendation and I'd have missed a treat if I hadn't!

How to Choose a Sweetheart How to Choose a Sweetheart

My review - 

I have read a number of books by Nigel Bird and this is a complete departure from his usual dark and gritty style. I love it! Max, the young man who is trying to find a girlfriend after a break up with his previous lady, goes to great lengths and some subterfuge, to become a part of her life and that of her 6 year old daughter. Will he dare come out with the truth? Can he base the relationship on a lie? We also follow the fortunes of his old flame as she finds happiness with another man. One of the most touching characters though, is the piano teacher, Mr Evans. 

The book is full of beautifully drawn characters, and their interplay is subtle but believable. The written style is chatty, friendly - a true story teller air about it. Earlier reviews mention errors but I found this very good. It's obviously been worked on since publication. It's a thoroughly enjoyable feel-good book which I had recommenced to me and which I heartily recommend in my turn.

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Michael Brookes

This is another book of short stories from Michael.  I enjoyed An Odd Quartet but this is better.  He's refined his ideas and his writing style.  This stuff is very good. 

An Odder Quintet An Odder Quintet

My review -

This group of five stories is sure to enhance Michael Brookes' reputation as a short story teller. I found them all intriguing concepts. The author has an interesting mind! In the first story, a convicted murderer is offered the opportunity to take part in an experiment in which time passes very differently for him. There's a story about the Fates, or Norns, who have always interested me. A dead man is apparently able to email his grieving wife. The story I got least from, thought I think that's down to my own interests rather than the skill of the storyteller, was the fourth, involving the group of soldiers. My favourite was the last. I'd love to have gone into that more deeply. I feel it is a story with immense potential.

I really enjoy the author's imagination and love his full length novels. Nevertheless, I hope he will continue to write these gripping short stories.

Monday 2 September 2013

Lynda Wilcox

This is the second in the Verity Long series.  I love this character.  Long may she knock back the Merlot - although I'm a Shiraz girl myself!

Organised Murder Organised Murder

My review - 

Verity Long, author’s research assistant, once again finds a corpse and becomes drawn in (due largely to her nosey nature!) to investigating. Her old love comes back into her life which complicates things with her current boyfriend, the Police Inspector in charge of the case. She also becomes involved with a motley group of would-be thespians, acting as prompt at their rehearsals in order to continue with her sleuthing.

Lynda Wilcox has created a wonderful character in Verity. She’s intelligent, thorough and no doubt a damned nuisance! She enjoys good food and a glass or several of Merlot. The humour is dry, witty and not at all forced. Much of it comes from the author’s choice of language and I love that kind of book. I imagine it’s classed as ‘cosy mystery’ although being hanged in a church isn’t my idea of cosiness! It’s miles from some of the hard, gritty and true-to-life gangland murder stories I enjoy but there’s room in my life for both. I’ve really enjoyed these books and look forward to reading the next. This was a great read!