Friday 27 December 2013

Alex Roddie

Alex Roddie has written a cracking adventure - and Queen Victoria and Prince Albert star!

The Atholl Expedition The Atholl Expedition

My review - 

Alex Roddie has created a tale consisting of a number of stories interwoven. Two of his characters are Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, taking their holidays on the Duke of Atholl’s estate.  This was at the time when the famous rows between the two had died down but there was still some disagreement about certain things – like being home on your birthday! – to provide narrative tension. The Duke has threatened one of his ghillies with the loss of his job and his cottage if he can’t provide the Prince with a famous stag to bring home as a trophy. The ghillie’s son works with his father but yearns to break away. Forbes, a geologist, wants to follow up reports of a glacier in Scotland, but had to cross the Duke of Atholl’s land and the Duke is famously against trespassers. There’s all this and more here and it’s a very interesting read.

I have always admired the author’s approach to descriptive writing. It’s not easy to do without sounding florid but his descriptions of storms, or of the mountains themselves, are studies in the careful choice of words. I love this style and I very much enjoyed the adventure story aspect of this book.

Sunday 22 December 2013

Tim Arnot

This is a longish short story set in the 'post Collapse' times the author has created so well.

Socko's First Case Socko's First Case

My review -

Andy ‘Socko’ Garrett is seventeen and a Kingsman cadet.  It’s his first case and it involves stolen gold and a dead body – and it’s the king’s gold.  Talk about starting at the top!  With his more experienced partner Corporal Barnes, he is given the task of solving the mystery and recovering the gold in time for Boxing Day when it’s to be given to the poor.  Socko started (and lasted less than a day) in the local Watch.  The difference between him and the local watchmen is that he has brains!

This is a great little story set in the time of the author’s full length novel Wanted.  You can read this as a stand-alone though.  I thoroughly enjoy the post-apocalyptic setting when the constraints of minimum technology are in place.  Excellent stuff – and I still want the second novel!

Matt Drzymala

Matt is a new author of short stories.  This will have echoes for everyone who lives in a village.

The Bumpkinton Tales: Bittersweet The Bumpkinton Tales: Bittersweet

My review -

This is the delightful tale of a village and the history of a family.  Venetia remembers her Grandpa Eddie telling her stories about the shop he used to run in the little village of Bumpkinton.  She decides she’d like to go back and run the shop if it’s for sale.  It is and she and her malleable husband Timothy buy it.  The village is packed with wonderful characters and most of them don’t like the idea of ‘townies’ coming in to their village.

I live in a village too, and enjoyed this story which is light hearted and feel-good. The author uses some great turns of phrase - I started highlighting them but then realised there were too many and I’d be wasting good reading time!  I understand there are more books planned in this series.  I shall be looking out for them!

Friday 20 December 2013

Sam Kates

Sam has written horror and short stories but this is a science fiction novel, and very well done indeed.

The Cleansing The Cleansing

My review -

This is an apocalyptic science fiction novel in which a group of about 5,000 people, for reasons we don't find out until later, have engineered the downfall of most of humanity through the dissemination of a deadly virus. The story is told both from the viewpoints of those who are perpetrating this act of genocide and some of those who go through it and in one or two cases, come out weak but alive. The race causing the death of humankind is spread around the world which allows us to see different members of this group and to witness their varying views of what they are doing.

There are huge ramifications to this story and we learn later in the book about the origins of mankind and why this act is deemed necessary. The whole of the story is not resolved as this is Book 1 and we are left, after an exciting chase, with something of a cliff hanger ending. I found this an engaging and gripping read and I really look forward to reading more about this world in what will then be post-apocalyptic times.

I received a pre-publication copy of this book.

Monday 16 December 2013

Various Authors - Anthology

This is the second volume of the KuF Anthology.  I have a story in here but I have reviewed it on the strength of all the rest.  It's very good indeed!

Off the KUF Volume 2 Off the KUF Volume 2

My review - 

I really enjoyed the variety of stories in the first of these anthologies and this one is no different. Some of the authors are already favourites of mine and some are completely new to me. Some had stories in Volume 1, some, again, are new. What I found particularly good was that some authors gave me more of what I already knew and loved while some gave me a different slant, a new genre. The delight of the short story is that you can experiment and some people have – and I love it!

I believe the short story has come into its own with the advent of the ebook and I’m seeing and buying more and more. It’s so easy to dip in and out although I usually just start at the beginning and go right through. This is an excellent way to introduce yourself to new talent. A brilliant read.
Disclaimer – I’m in it! 

Thursday 12 December 2013

Jonathan Hill

A Christmas short story from Jonathan Hill shows us Maureen in her usual fix. Self inflicted!

  International link

My review - 

This is a delicious little seasonal short story full of laughs. I say delicious – it includes sherry and chocolates! The story is full of sharp little observations. Maureen as usual is out to impress someone and digs herself in ever deeper. We all know someone with some of Maureen’s traits. I just hope nobody knows someone with them all! Even the laughs are thought provoking though. Do you try so hard to impress because you’re insecure? Maureen manages to be both faintly ridiculous and yet laudable for the way she tries. On that thought, I’d say read this and start your Christmas with a laugh!