Saturday 24 October 2015

Will Once

This genre is a new departure for the author. He's very good at it!

My review - 

I've always loved fantasy but as I've grown older I tend away from the orcs and elves and swords stuff and have begun to prefer books whose fantasy takes a different form. Here, the little world portrayed begins with a Law. The people learn it, chant it and know it's for their own good. Supposedly. Young Kori, who lives at the edge, knows there's something wrong. The world is out of balance. It's broken. She has a special gift, the Knowing. Bit by bit, the workings of this world trickle through to us. It's a long but exciting story. The people of this world obey the laws and barricade themselves in at night because to be outside in the Dark is to fall prey to the Terrors. Eventually, Kori dares to open a shutter and sees one.

This tale, which asks questions of authority, of the law and of those who try to keep us in our places 'for our own good' is so far up my street that it's banging on the doorknocker. It's a well told and meaty story and is evidently going to have at least a sequel. Highly recommended.

I received an advance copy for review.

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Julie McLaren

A mystery to be solved and a mind to untangle - a fascinating story.

The Art of Forgetting

My review -

Judy, though only in her 60s, becomes aware that she's losing her memory. Not the simple misplaced purse but whole sections of the day she can't remember – finding herself out dog-walking and unaware of how to get home. Her daughters Laura and Kelly find a respite place for her and it rapidly becomes apparent that she can no longer cope. While clearing her house, Laura finds part of an A4 pad on which her mother has started writing about her youth, with special reference to a mystery disappearance. Laura's own life begins to echo some aspects of her mother's. Things come to a head with a family wedding.

This is a super mystery story but it's also a detailed and affectionate look at a mother's failing mind. The day to day difference between a good day and a day when things go completely haywire is well observed. Judy is sometimes irrational or anxious which makes Laura's exploration of her past very difficult. We finally discover the truth about the past but it wasn't as simple as Judy, or her daughter, believed. A splendid story, highly recommended.

I received an advance copy for review.

Sam Kates

Just three stories here on a single theme - but different genres. A great read.

Strange Shores

My review -

This little book will give you an evening of pleasure – and you can’t say that about everything you buy! The three stories tell of people’s reactions to the loss of a loved one. In the first, Strange Shores, a teacher who has lost his wife to cancer, find a way that he believes he will reach her again. In Alfonso’s Looking Glass a young man who has lost his wife has spent three years wrapped in grief. His grandfather’s looking glass offers joy or despair. He finds a way to utilise this for his own happiness. Finally, A Matter of Perspective thrusts us into a grim, post-apocalyptic world where those few survivors live on the edge.

These three stories are very different in genre but are tied into a thoroughly satisfying whole by the overarching theme. I really enjoyed them.

Thursday 8 October 2015

Nick Wastnage

A great story which makes you think.

Night Running

My review -

Kate is still grieving for the loss of one of her twin daughters to cancer, a circumstance which destroyed the dregs of an ailing marriage. She meets Mark who comes to make shelves for her new cottage. He has experienced the loss of his partner Emma’s young son in a house-fire for which Emma blames him because he slipped out for a few minutes to the shops and that was when the fire broke out. Then children die in fires up and down the country – wherever Mark is. He knows he is in the frame. Can Emma believe him?

The story touches on guilt, family rivalry – Kate’s sister is a detective working on the cases – friendship, loyalty and love. Kate’s husband reappears to insist on taking his daughter out at weekends and also, to Kate’s horror, refusing to allow her to be alone in Mark’s care. It’s an interesting study in why people fall apart and what helps to pull them back together to remake their lives. I enjoyed this story which is a thriller with a psychological edge. Highly recommended.

I received an advance copy of this book for review purposes.

Wednesday 7 October 2015

Heather Burnside

This is Book 2 in a trilogy and, though I enjoyed Book 1, this is even better.

My review -

I enjoyed Slur, the first book in this series, not least because it is set in the part of Manchester where I was born. The action in A Gangster’s Grip takes place four years later and the girls have matured considerably. Rita and her husband Yansis return from his native Greece for a protracted stay in Manchester for a reason we discover later. She finds things at home are not as cosy as she’d come to believe from letters and phone calls. Her sister Jenny is visibly pregnant to a dodgy and bullying partner. When Rita and her friend Julie try to help Jenny to get her life back, they find she isn’t the only person under this man’s influence.

The characters here are believable and I wanted things to work out well for Rita, Julie and their families. It’s easy for the reader to become involved in this story and there’s plenty of action and excitement. I was drawn into it and read it quickly and I eagerly await Part Three of the trilogy.

I received an advance copy for review.

Monday 5 October 2015

Cecilia Peartree

This is the fifth in the series and I'm enjoying them more each time. Coming back to Pitkirtly is like visiting old friends.

Frozen in Crime

My review -

This is the fifth in the Pitkirtly Mysteries series and is a rather claustrophobic adventure in which Pitkirtly is cut off by snow for the Christmas and New Year period. There is a robbery at the jeweller's and the local police force is seriously hampered by the weather. All my favourite characters were there and the remarkable Amaryllis Peebles, donning her pink PI bulletproof vest, decides to take on the jewel robbery, when it's discovered that the most expensive item on the list turns out to be a fake.

This is another great little story in which, although there are murders and bodies, the reader is never subjected to gratuitous violence. This series is full of quirky characters and is delightfully written. I’m pleased to see that I have several more to read. A bit of a mystery wrapped in a wonderful gentle wit is just what I enjoy.

Sunday 4 October 2015

Angie Smith

This is the second in a series. I enjoyed the first very much but awarded it four stars. This one is an absolute winner - but you'd need to read the first.

My review -

After the nail-biter ending of Book 1 we pick up exactly where we left off – which I won’t elaborate on for fear of spoiling Book 1 for anyone yet to read it. Barnes and Woods end up on two opposing sides but still working together. They have a method of leaving coded messages – which Woods needs help to decode. My opinion of various of the characters shifted as I read and because Angie Smith can juggle so many threads and can breathe life into such a lot of characters, I was sucked into it as into quicksand. I couldn’t have got out until the end!

As the title implies, we discover secrets about some of our characters, including Maria Barnes. She must be one of my favourite characters in modern literature. She and Woods go deeper into the secrets of the Intelligence Service and turn up some nasty things crawling under there. There’s such a lot happening in this book that to pick on one aspect is to ignore others. It becomes very exciting towards the end. I can’t describe it – you need to read it!

I received an advance copy for review purposes.