Friday 29 May 2015

Lexie Conyngham

Lexie Conyngham is known for her series of historical mysteries about Charles Murray of Letho. He appears in some of these stories but they are much wider ranging.

Thrawn Thoughts and Blithe Bits

My review - 

This is a book of short stories from Scottish author Lexie Conynham – hence the title. Thrawn means perverse or twisted and blithe is joyous or cheerful. Some of these stories certainly have that characteristic slightly twisted, surprise element which characterises good short stories. The author’s longer works are the stories of Charles Murray of Letho, and young landowner who finds himself well placed to solve murder mysteries. As these are set at the beginning of the 1800s there’s a wonderful period element to the settings and people. Many of the short stories here feature Charles Murray and give little snippets to fill in our background. Some stories set in modern times, though, and this variety makes for a great set of short tales.

Lexie Conyngham is a gifted writer and her characters are richly drawn and believable. Here, in addition to the mysteries to be solved by Murray, we have stories about relationships, husband and wife, daughter and father, harassed housewife and special helpers and a rather spooky story which takes place on a Scottish coast road. They all brought me delight and pleasure. If you’ve met Murray of Letho you’ll enjoy these extras snippet. If you haven’t, here’s the ideal introduction.

Wednesday 27 May 2015

Lucas Bale

Lucas Bale's Beyond the Wall series is addictive. I liked the first, I loved the second and I hardly know where to put myself with the third!

A Shroud of Night and Tears

My review -

This third volume in the Beyond the Wall series brings characters from the preceding two together and gives the reader a bigger picture. This is a longer book than its predecessors and a really exciting and meaty read. Lucas Bale doesn’t merely tell you about his settings, he has the ability to take you there. We have followed several groups of people, been let into the politics of the group and their repressive ‘Republic’ and we’ve felt the desire they have to be free. They are all fitted with implants and heavily monitored by security cameras and gunships. It’s all a bit grim.

There are several brilliant revelatory moments in this book. I felt as if I’d been gazing at my navel then suddenly looked up. The author has the ability to change your view of his world in a sentence or two and it happens here more than once. I soon tire of the kind of science fiction which is just one relentless war after another but this is all driven by people. It’s like studying something at a cellular level and I’m left wanting to know what’s going to happen now. This is intelligently conceived and elegantly written science fiction and I’ve found this series getting better with each book.

I received an advance copy for review.

Stuart Ayris

Let your mind go and enjoy this fantasy from the master of  'not-taking-the-rules-of-language-too-seriously'.

Elysian Wonderland

My review - 

This is Stuart Ayris at his Ayrisest. In a wonderland very reminiscent of Lewis Carroll’s own, an apparently sentient campervan takes a stale-relationshipped couple to a convention in a field. They are given a purple drink and meet strange people and creatures. They also meet two children and later discover their own relationship to these two. It’s a fairy-tale type of story about personal relationships and is, as you’d expect from the author, quirky, idiosyncratic and linguistically creative.

I have loved Stuart’s work since I read Tollesbury Time Forever and I know he has a great number of fans who enjoy the off-the-wall relationship he has with the English language and with popular music. Just a word of warning – if you’re a new reader, I wouldn’t advise you to start here as I think many people would find the strangeness a bizarre too far. Read some of his earlier works first and allow yourself to relax into his style. It’s a fun ride!

I received an advance copy for review.

Carl Ashmore

The Time Hunters and the Lost City is the fifth and (allegedly) final part in this fantastic series. If you've read the rest this will not disappoint you.

The Time Hunters and the Lost City

My review - 

If you’ve followed the exploits of Becky, Joe and their Uncle Percy you’ll know what a tangled plot Carl Ashmore is capable of weaving. I started this book wondering if he’d be able to pull it all out of the hat and I can safely say he really did. There are numerous world myths and legends which have crept into this five part tale and it’s the work of a patient and persistent author who has crafted it all into a coherent whole. We begin the story with Sir Walter Raleigh on the brink of his execution and he passes on a secret which finally Becky and her brother unravel. This brings them to the last of the Eden Relics – the Sacred Chalice. Their enemy Emerson Drake and his side-kick Otto Kruger are determined on world domination and look as if they will achieve it.

This is an action-packed adventure and is suitable for all ages from teens upwards. I’ve enjoyed it all and one of the things which makes the series stand out is that it emphasises the power of loyalty, friendship and love. People can be cynical about these but they are the attributes that make our lives worth living. Carl Ashmore’s young people are totally believable and we all wish we’d had an Uncle Percy. The end of the book is the culmination of the series and it’s been a great ride. I heartily recommend it.

I received a copy pre-publication for review purposes.

Saturday 2 May 2015

Neil Grimmett

A thriller set in an ordnance factory - yes, it goes with a bang!


My review -

This thriller is set in a Royal Ordnance factory, where the work is hard and dangerous even when there isn’t somebody up to no good. In the early 1950s an explosion kills five men in suspicious circumstances and Byron, the son of one of those men, born on the day of the explosion, returns thirty years later to try to investigate his father’s death. There are lots of characters but Byron finds it difficult to know who is trustworthy. People high up in the organisation are corrupt and things come to a head when all those involved approach retirement age and want to cash in ‘the hoard’.

This story is really exciting and there are people to cheer and people to hate and a lot who seem to be wavering in between. The author cleverly manipulates the reader’s emotions and there are certainly some surprises on the way. I read this book avidly and I recommend it to anyone who wants a fast paced thriller set in an industry (armaments) which already has its share of moral dilemmas. A great read.

John Marrs

This is the authors' second book and I've tagged is as thriller but it could be classed in several different  genres. It's complex and intriguing. And it all comes together!

Welcome to Wherever You Are

Amazon .com Welcome to Wherever You Are

My review -

I’ll start by saying I didn’t read this book so much as devour it. There are eight main characters and a number of incidental ones but it’s never confusing and I was very soon drawn into their lives. The only thing they seem to have in common is that, as backpackers and travellers, they have all ended up at the same hostel for a time. The narrative occasionally goes back a year or two to search out each person’s back-story and slowly, as we read on, their reasons for being there unfold.

I enjoyed the way the author made me change my views about some of the characters as I came to know more about them. I had got well into the story and wanted to know what would happen to them all but I couldn’t have imagined the actual outcome. I found myself almost rushing to the end to see how they all fared. It’s a book I’d be hard pressed to classify but I thought it was simply sensational and I thoroughly recommend it.