Wednesday 29 October 2014

Cecilia Peartree

This is the second in the series. I'm trying to read them in order!

Reunited in Death - Pitkirtly 2 Reunited in Death - Pitkirtly 2

My review -

Who'd have thought researching your family history could be dangerous? Jemima Stevenson, a nice little old lady, organises a Homecoming Day in Pitkirtly and the bodies start piling up. Amaryllis is looking after three young Tibetans and everyone's looking for a mud-coloured man. It could only happen in Pitkirtly.

This second book set in a Scottish village benefits from the fact that the characters are now familiar friends. I love the strong and sassy Amaryllis, the supportive but self-effacing Christopher, the solid, dependable (but maybe a bit dodgy?) Dave and the dotty and surprising Jemima. I also very much enjoyed the humour again. There are some luscious phrases - I particularly enjoyed Amaryllis's 'expiatory attack of niceness'. This is a series that's so easy to sink yourself into. I've started the next!

Monday 27 October 2014

Martin Cosgrove

This is the sequel to The Destiny of Ethan King. It can be read as a stand-alone but you'll miss subtleties if you do. 

Kara Kara

My review -

As a child, Kara Reyne is aware of having the memories of someone else – a man. As she grows she becomes aware that she has a special power and she meets a group of others, people who are outlawed, who also have banned powers. It’s her destiny to bring Universal Matter to the world. Her earlier incarnation, Ethan King, found it but it’s now hidden. It will bring down those who have an economic strangle-hold on a failing and increasingly brutal world. People are falling prey to lung and breathing problems and anyone exhibiting supernatural powers in public is put in a detention camp and left to rot. This has a huge impact upon Kara’s own childhood.

This is a story full of action, of good people and bad people who are not always all they seem. Kara is a classic case of someone who has destiny thrust upon her. I really enjoyed the scenes of people using their powers. It’s not easy to describe someone bending the laws of nature yet the author did this superbly in The Destiny of Ethan King too. Martin Cosgrove’s writing can take you to places as different as run-down inner cities and beautiful, unspoilt woodland. The characters are well drawn and three dimensional and I enjoyed and became really wrapped up in the story. A jolly good read.

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Cecilia Peartree

This is the first of a series I've been meaning to read for some time. On the strength of this I can see myself working through them!

Crime in the Community Crime in the Community

My review -

Amaryllis Peebles is, at 40, a retired spy. She comes to live in Pitkirtly and muscles in on PLIF –the Pitkirtly Local Improvement Forum. The members of the committee have treated this as an informal drinking and social group, meeting as they do in a local pub. Amaryllis proposes that they do up the local village hall which is in a state of decrepitude, so that they, and other village groups, have a better meeting place. Naturally, as a new broom, her clean sweeping is resented. Christopher Wilson, chair of the group, seems particularly uncomfortable about actually improving the village.

This story takes a sassy woman with an uncommon range of skills and drops her into a serene (on the surface) little village and the results are fun and frantic. I loved the characters – living in a village community myself I recognised several types! The writing was witty and most enjoyable to read. As this is the first of a series, I can see I have more treats in store!

Wednesday 15 October 2014

E M Foner

E M Foner is a new author to me, and as an American, his work is better known over there than here. It deserves to be read everywhere!

Date Night on Union Station

Amazon .com  Date Night on Union Station

My review - 

Date Night on Union Station is a comedy sci-fi story which I enjoyed very much. Union Station is run by benign artificial intelligences and Kelly Franks is the earth’s top diplomat, later promoted to acting ambassador, though the pay doesn’t reflect the job. She’s given a gift of 5 sessions with a dating agency. The agency is also operated by the artificial intelligence.

This isn’t a sort of holding your sides comedy but a streak of humour runs throughout it and it very much appealed to me. The characters are strong and you must look out for the scheming, manipulative little flower sellers. I loved them! The ending was satisfying and there’s a sequel which I must get around to reading. I want to know what happens to the people I enjoyed spending time with.

Tuesday 14 October 2014

Wendy Percival

This is the first of the Esme Quentin mysteries. Typically, I read it second but I don't think it matters. They are each excellent stand-alone stories which just happen to have the same main character in common.

Blood-Tied Blood-Tied

My review -

This is the first of Wendy Percival’s Esme Quentin genealogical tales. I read the second one recently which stands alone very well but I thought it would make sense to read the first now. It’s a mystery, has touches of thriller but mainly it explores what it is to be ‘family’. Esme’s sister Liz is in hospital, in a coma. It could be because of an accident but it’s possibly as a result of an attack as she was seen arguing with someone shortly beforehand. Her niece, Gemma, is not particularly pleased when Esme starts to investigate.

I enjoyed the characters in this story and began to care about them. Without giving the story away, I especially like Polly, the elderly lady who seemed careless of her own assets and happy to see them disposed of at a snip of a price. Esme wants to help her but finds out far more about her own and Polly’s families as she does so. It’s a great story, well researched and it never dragged for a moment. 

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Wendy Percival

Wendy is a new writer to me but I'll be reading more of her work after this.

The Indelible Stain The Indelible Stain

My review -

This is the second book in the Esme Quentin mysteries, genealogical conundrums which Esme picks apart. I confess that I haven’t read the first and no doubt it would have added depth to Esme’s character if I had, but the book stands as a complete story and I felt nothing was lacking. Esme arrives at a coastal town to help an old friend to catalogue some documents and the moment she arrives she finds a woman on the beach at the foot of the cliffs, dying. She utters her two final words to Esme and the puzzle begins. Esme’s researches lead her back in time several generations to Sarah Baker, a young girl transported in a convict ship to Australia.

This is quite a complex story involving two lines of a family tree and going back to another country. However, it’s so well told that it’s not difficult to follow. I love the kind of mystery which sends me barking up the wrong tree a couple of times and this is just such a story. It was well written and I was totally engaged throughout. An excellent read.

Monday 6 October 2014

Natasha Holme

This is a Goodreads group read at the time of writing. I needed that nudge to get me reading it and it's totally compulsive reading.

Amazon .com Lesbian Crushes

My review -

I doubt I would have picked up this book had it not been a suggested group read. It really didn’t seem to have anything in it to interest me. Once I started, I was unable to stop reading it. The first part of the book, dealing with sexuality and its discovery while the writer was at university, took me back to my own university days. They offered the maximum of temptation and the maximum of opportunity. We see the author’s self-doubt, the attempts at chatting up fellow students of both sexes, and fumbling explorations. It made me aware of something I knew on an intellectual level – that we are all the same whether straight or gay. We are all looking for love and for someone to love in return.

I found the second part of the book, although it was heavily dependent upon the feelings in the first, a bit less of a compelling read. I’m a bit of a foodie and I couldn’t relate to the binge eating and attempts to purge the body afterwards. I found it really interesting that, although the author made herself a strict timetable of days when she ate absolutely nothing and interspersed them with the occasional day when she was ‘allowed’ food, she would dread the food days because she knew she would binge.

The book was simply and grippingly written, coming as it does in the form of a diary. Things were not dwelt upon or fluffed out for effect. The starkness was in many cases the strength of the writing. This is a book which will lead you to understanding.