Sunday 31 January 2016

Joel Hames

New author to me, Joel Hames writes a Ripping Yarn!

The Art of Staying Dead

My review - 

This story starts with a visit made by lawyers, journalists and others, to a prison facility where the worst criminals are housed. While Sam, our protagonist, is there, a mass break-out occurs in which lives are lost. Sam has a gun pointed directly at him, just before he's lifted away to safety by helicopter. He describes the man, a black man with grey hair, but the authorities deny there ever was such a prisoner. The story takes off from here and leads us into some unexpected places.

I found this story to be a fact paced thriller which will delight the heart of those who love a conspiracy. It may not be, indeed one hopes it is not, entirely credible, but what a ride! A thoroughly enjoyable book.

Sunday 24 January 2016

Guy Portman

Guy always writes something to make you think. A rather different twin story here.


My review -

Twins often grow very close, sharing their own secret language, and Talulah and Taliah are considered by their own mother to be so close as to be two halves of a whole. They are not equal, though. Talulah leads, even walking ahead of her sister, but Taliah is better academically. Their speech continues to be idiosyncratic and they are moved to a special school. While in special education, they come into the orbit of an anarchist student who influences Talulah and, of course, Taliah is drawn along in her wake.

This is compelling stuff. We watch the girls as they grow up and we see Taliah's struggle to become her own person. I found the relationship between the twins with its 'almost mind-reading' closeness utterly convincing. The tension between the girls’ competing and incompatible needs grew as the book progressed and led inexorable to the story’s climax. A great read.

Friday 22 January 2016

Martin Link

Martin Link is a new author to me and this debut novel is a blast. 


My review -

MI5 agent Lucas Norton is alerted to a text message which includes four key words suggesting terrorist communication. Together with colleagues in GCHQ and, eventually, the FBI, Lucas is involved in tracking 48 million dollars of stolen money, obtained from a new, state of the art and allegedly impenetrable van. The team keep a close track on the gang, whoever they are, but at every turn they seem to be sent off on a wild goose chase. I really enjoyed the way the team and the reader were misdirected.

This is an excellent debut novel and it looks as though there’ll be more from this character, Lucas Norton. I, for one, greatly look forward to it. The story sets off at a spanking pace, is exciting and full of unexpected twists. I had a few misgivings about the cover but inside, it’s top notch. 

David Hadley

This is a bit of fun but it'll make you think.

In The Beginning

My review -

In this light-hearted novel, Albert, recently made redundant, takes up a new hobby, urged by his friend, Pete. He buys his own, tiny universe which he sets up in his shed and monitors via his computer. It sounds great. He can add moons, extra planets and, interestingly, people. Poor Albert doesn't realise what he's got himself into.

This book is full of gentle, wistful humour and a good deal of wisdom. Albert, though the creator, and able to manifest himself to the people on his world, is frequently baffled at their stubbornness and idiocy. His own life is baffling to him too. There are some great scenes in the job centre when the simplest thing rapidly runs out of control. He also has to keep his wife sweet, try to understand his friend Pete and avoid Pete's wife Jenny whenever possible. Superficially just a fun read, this gives plenty to ponder on too. Very enjoyable.

Monday 18 January 2016

David Haynes

Horror in a modern setting. I read this all in one evening - splendid stuff!

I Can See You

My review - 

Do you believe in ghosts? Chris is forty years old, the age his own father was when he died, and he begins to see a frightening figure - and not just in his dreams. She starts to appear in real life too and the black voids where her eyes should be seem to want to pull him into oblivion. Is he going mad? We all know that our past can come back to bite us, but can it bite our children – and their children…? A chilling thought.

This is the story of a family haunted down the generations. We watch a man apparently losing his mind. Slowly, gradually, others share the horror. Where did it all go wrong and can Chris do anything to change it? The Cornish coast and the English weather almost become characters in the drama which is played out in this family. It's a gripping book which I read at a single sitting.

Do you believe in ghosts? You might now.

Friday 15 January 2016

David Staniforth

This is David Staniforth's second excursion outside the realm of fantasy - and he's very good at this!

My review - 

This is not your classic amnesia story. A man wakes in a car on a Sheffield street with no memory of who he is or how he got there. In the glove compartment there's a journal, supposedly written by him, Tom. The events it relates mean nothing to him but tell him that he disappears for about a week in January each year. It's almost a double amnesia - in his week out in January he has no memory of the rest of the year. According to the journal, the rest of the year he can't remember what happens in his blank week - or in his first twenty years of life.

This story is a new slant on memory-loss and we suspect some trauma has caused it. Tom is fearful that he will discover that he's a rapist or a murderer and is scared to find out. It's an intriguing page-turner – a mystery which we unfold with Tom. I was glued to this story. I first came to know the author’s work through his fantasy novels but he is proving more than capable of handling the psychological suspense/thriller categories too.
I received a pre-publication copy of this book for review purposes.

Monday 11 January 2016

Russell Cruse

This story is one that grips you. The chat between the characters is funny too. Great stuff.

Head Count

My review - 

A girl dies on a school skiing trip and teacher David Benedict has to cope with the nightmare. Over a short time, two other children from the same school appear to have committed suicide. Local journalist Bec Daley investigates. There's a large cast of teachers, some with considerable problems of their own and, of course, the police become involved. Bec and David begin their own investigations after yet another pupil dies in a suspicious motoring accident.

I found the whole idea interesting and as the story progressed, it became very exciting, especially when Bec and David take a holiday back in the area where the original death occurred. There are several threads in the story and several twists kicked in as I read. I particularly enjoyed the banter between the characters and the author's humorous observations. I found this book very enjoyable indeed.

Sunday 10 January 2016

Katherine Roberts

This is my first Katherine Roberts read and I know it won't be my last. 

I am the Great Horse

My  review - 

I've read a little about the exploits of Alexander the Great, both factual and like this one, fictional. I particularly loved Mary Renault's The Persian Boy which gave me the Alexander legend through the eyes of another character. In I Am The Great Horse, our narrator is the fierce warhorse Bucaphalas. Katherine Roberts makes this story for young adults come alive by her observations of horse body language, and the parallels her great horse draws between human and horse behaviour. For example, the armies gathered to fight one another are, to Bucaphalas, herds. Alexander's hair is, of course, his mane. This could become twee and annoying if overdone but it's really well-judged here and I enjoyed it a great deal.

This book is one I'd have devoured in my teens, yet there I am, fifty years later, absolutely loving it. A good YA book never writes down to its readers and this is very good indeed. The 'voice' of the horse, all the way through, is that of a friend of Alexander's, though a wise, knowing one who often makes wry observation on the strange behaviour of his rider. I heartily recommend this story to those interested in history, whatever their age.