Saturday 19 July 2014

Julie McLaren

This is the third book of Julie's that I've read and I love her style. Each time she has changed genre. This, to me, is the true strength of indie books.

Chickens Chickens

My review -

Tony's girlfriend has just left him, telling him that he's socially inept. He is left in charge of her three rescued ex-battery hens. He decided to fill the hollow in his life by offering to join a mentoring scheme and befriending Justin, a young man in care. We begin to see parallels between Tony's and Justin's lives and watch as Justin takes himself rapidly off the rails. One aspect I particularly enjoyed was Tony's emails to his ex in which he tells her the highs and lows of his relationship with Justin. He saves them all to a file because she has told him that if he contacts her she'll just change her email account. It’s like having an invisible person in the story.

I loved the interplay of characters here. Tony has his eye on the girl who runs the mentoring courses. As the story progresses he gets his life together and learns social skills and this is wonderfully observed and recorded. I read this book in just a couple of days because the characters came alive for me and I felt I needed to know the outcome. This is a great story and quite different from the author's previous work. I do love to see versatility in an author and Julie McLaren demonstrates it brilliantly.

Friday 18 July 2014

M T McGuire

This is the final part of a trilogy. It's Book 4. That probably tells you rather a lot!

Looking for Trouble

Amazon .com Looking for Trouble

My review -

We left The Pan of Hamgee in dire straights at the end of Book 3. One of his friends is in desperate need of medical attention. Without it he's a gonner. This book guides us through the complexities of the politics of K'Barth and the Underground and Resistance movements working for freedom from the Grongolian oppressors. We find that not all Grongolians are wicked.
Ruth is due to marry the dreadful Lord Vernon who intends to become the new Architrave. Can The Pan rescue her and come into his own destiny? I'm not going to tell you but it's an exciting and bumpy ride.

The author has created a world here that we want to believe in and characters we variously detest, admire or even love. It's dotted with danger, humour, horror and romance. It’s oozing with charm but it’s not a sweet, chintzy charm. It’s charm with a side order of sarcasm and drizzled with attitude. You can't help but be drawn in. I loved every moment.

Monday 14 July 2014

David Haynes

A great collection of classic Victorian style tales.

A Gathering of Ghosts A Gathering of Ghosts

My review - 

This is a collection of Victorian style ghost stories written by David Haynes who has made a name for himself through writing these atmospheric period pieces. The stories here are all of a reasonable length so they can set a scene and create characters. They seem to me each to be long enough for a fire-side tale in the great story-telling tradition. They deal with the Victorians’ obsession with death and their fascination with science through which they attempted to explain some of the deeper superstitions which puzzled the Victorian mind. I had three particular favourites here – The Last Waltz, the Speaking Tube and The Ghost Train. What they have in common is that they appear to take a scientific approach but fail to find an explanation other than the supernatural.

Mr Haynes tells a good tale. I wonder if he can sleep at night? If you’ve read his work before you’ll know what to expect and you won’t be disappointed.

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Michael Murray

This is a compelling and thoroughly engaging read. Highly recommended.

Amazon. com Magnificent Britain

My review -

Warning! This book is seriously addictive! Sir Maurice Brearley, founder and sponsor of the Magnificent Britain gardening competition, is a man with secrets. Biographer Nigel Lush has been commissioned to tell Sir Maurice's life story. He, too, has secrets. Lady Brearley insists, together with the publisher, that the biography must show what a wonderful man her husband is, but Lush receives a letter from someone whose dying father has a different story to tell. The old man says he knows Brearley from their time fighting together in World War One. Lush wants to add a postscript to his book but is unable to tell what he now believes is the true story. 
Later, we read the personal testament of Sir Maurice, hidden until after his death, which tells his version of their relationship and the story behind his honourable discharge with crippling injuries. Will the true story ever be told? Not if Lady Brearley's MI5 brother can help it.

This book is convincingly told and brilliantly manipulates the beliefs of the reader. We are told of cowardice under fire, punishable by execution if confirmed. We read of sexual entrapment to prevent a homosexual writer from telling what he knows. The story moves back and forth from the late 1960s to the First World War to the 1930s and finally to the early years of this century and very believably sets the historic scene with its class divisions and the illegal status of homosexuals in those days. It's a most compelling story and a great study of the complex trap we set for ourselves with lies and deceit, even if originally well-intentioned. An excellent read and thoroughly recommended.