Sunday 28 December 2014

Cecilia Peartree

This is the fourth in the series. They get better when you know the characters and their foibles. Excellent stuff.

My review - 

Every now and again an author creates a character capable of carrying a whole series. Amaryllis Peebles is such a character, but that’s not to say that the rest of the cast are two-dimensional. Amaryllis, recently retired from her high-powered job in national security - basically, she was a spy – finds so much going on in little Pitkirtly that she’s never bored. She is the woman many of us would like to be. She’s intelligent, resourceful, unconventional, and she doesn’t give a toss if her hair’s sticking up!

In this episode, three secretive siblings start up an unusual dating agency, and, this being Pirkirtly, even those happily paired up go along to see what’s happening. This story continues in the same vein as earlier ones – there's a body but it's not gorily displayed, and a good deal of wit and charm in the writing. These books are very enjoyable – I shall continue with them.

Monday 8 December 2014

Jonathan Hill

Maureen's back! I am one of many people who love the Maureen series of books. They are superficially silly but always contains nuggets of observation of the human condition. This is the best yet, in my opinion.

Maureen's Christmas Carol Maureen's Christmas Carol

My review -

Widow Maureen Banks is preparing to spend Christmas Day on her own in the company of chocolates, sherry and a few favourite films, in spite of a plea from her pal Louisa to join her and a few friends for lunch. On Christmas Eve, Maureen sees her late husband Roy telling her not to spend Christmas alone. He tells her she'll receive a warning from three spirits There's some of the usual silly slapstick we're used to from Maureen but this is also edgy and surreal in places. I really enjoyed spotting references to the Dickens original in this version.

Although this stands perfectly well as a story in its own right, I've enjoyed watching the Maureen series progress as the author's writing style has evolved. I feel it's very assured and has, like a good sherry, matured. I also loved the fact that, from Maureen and Louisa's rivalry there has emerged, by the end of this book, a spirit of cooperation. Look out, 2015 - they're in this together!

Saturday 6 December 2014

Martin Roy Smith

This author is new to me but I read this novella in a couple of evenings and really enjoyed it.

Amazon .com Eden

My review -

Adam is an archaeologist serving as a captain in the American army in Iraq. A dust storm has cleared some previously unknown ruins in the desert and he and a few colleagues are sent to investigate it. The information he finds changes his view of the origins of the human species.

This story takes a path perhaps familiar to some readers of this genre. Did we evolve as other creatures did or were we 'helped' in any way? I loved the way that various creation myths were invoked, some of which I was familiar with already. Towards the end the story took a turn which I hadn't expected. This isn't a long read but it's fluent and persuasive. I enjoyed it very much.

Friday 5 December 2014


This is a first novel but I found it very accomplished. It's not what you think!

The Magician in the Attic The Magician in the Attic

My review - 

If a young magician learning from an older mentor sounds like a Potter knock-off, you couldn’t be further from the truth. This isn’t wizardry, it’s magic as in card-tricks, disappearances, sleight of hand and escapology. Alex is given the gift of magic lessons from his mother but his teacher isn’t the person she thinks it is. He’s directed up to the top of the building and meets a man who shows him that as well as remarkable equipment, the best magician needs a stage presence and a well-structured show. He doesn’t know why this man is teaching him. We don’t find out right until the end.

This story kept me interested right the way through. I thought the insight into stage magic was a great part of the story and I loved the character of Alex. He knew he was good but he was often unsure of the motives of Francis Curlew, his teacher. So was I! Now that I know the ending I eagerly anticipate the next episode. I think it will be darker. A very good read.