Sunday, 16 October 2016

Is It Her? by Jonathan Hill and Kath Middleton

Is It Her? is a book of two stories by two authors base on one painting.  Since they are based on the same painting, they are similar in that they are based in war-time, but that's where the similarities end.

Jonathan Hill's story is tense and insular.  Set the night before he has to go to war, Cliff's relationships are not quite what they seem. 

Kath Middleton's story is of young love being destroyed by war when Frank's plane gets shot down over Germany.

Of the two, I preferred Kath's as I liked the young boy and his mother.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Black Pine Creek by David Haynes

Scott Draper is a gold miner.  He hasn't mined for 2 years after an incident, but wants back in.  The only site he can get is at Black Pine Creek.  Why did the last prospectors disappear leaving millions of dollars of equipment?  Was it just because they got bored, or did something else happen?

This is a departure from David Haynes' previous books.  It's more of a thriller and less of a full on horror story.  Yes, there's something in the woods, but for me this book was more about the story than the frights.  In fact the "something in the woods" could have been a bear and the story would still be as good.

This is a story more about the characters.  I felt drawn in from the start, even though it might have been a storyline topic I'd less likely pick up if it wasn't from an author I know and love reading.

I found the character of the woods to be as much a character as the human ones.  The descriptions were very clear (unlike the view in the woods) and I could easily picture it in my mind's eye.

Another fantastic book from an author who should be more popular.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

A Creative Crime by Cecilia Peartree

A Creative Crime is the twelfth in the Pitkirtly series.  You'd think the quality would lapse after so long and that there's nothing left to shock the inhabitants of this small Scottish town, but anytime outsiders come to visit, something goes wrong for them and the story unfolds wonderfully.

The council wants a "Pitkirtly Creates" festival but everyone is ambivalent about it, no-one more so than Christopher, who has to organise some of it.  Amarylis is feeling her age a bit, but still manages to poke her nose into someone else's business.

As usual, I get enveloped into the small town (or is Pitkirtly a village?) and like hanging out with them.  The quality of the story does not flag, it's like being at home again.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Who We Were Before by Leah Mercer

Zoe and Edward are heading for divorce.  Their life was destroyed when their toddler was killed two years previously.  They are in Paris for a short break but neither of them want to be there or with each other.  Arriving at the station, they get split up and cannot find each other.  Both assume the other one has dumped the other in a cruel way.

And so we get both sides of what they are doing in Paris and both sides of how they met, fell in love and had a child together.  This is a weaving story of love and loss.

This is not the happiest of stories, but is well written and very enjoyable.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Signal Failure by David Wailing

Emily is heading home on the tube.  It's well past midnight and the train is fairly quiet.  Then it stops and all the lights go out.

This is a short(ish) story that's setting up for a bigger story.  It's quite insular and creepy.  The descriptions of the disused tunnels and rooms are very atmospheric and I felt like I'd been there.

After reading this taster, I'm definitely looking forward to the main course.

Chickens by Julie McLaren

Tony has just been dumped and he feels his life is going nowhere fast.  His colleague suggests he becomes a mentor to a troubled teenager and so Tony embarks on this new phase of his life.  But nobody knows that Tony was in care when he was a youngster, so this is the story of how he copes with trying to be a friend to a boy who doesn't want it and how Tony works through his demons from his childhood.

This is not a particularly happy story.  Tony struggles with connecting with Jordan.  The chickens are the only lightness to his life.  The story is part told in first person and part the emails Tony sends to both his mentoring contact and his ex-girlfriend.  I liked this mix of writing.

This was an easy read, I kept thinking of Tony when I wasn't reading it.  I also thought of Tony after finishing it.

Untouchable by Sibel Hodge

Untouchable is not a happy read.

Maya is the happiest girl alive as she goes to work.  She's absolutely distraught by the time she goes to bed as her boyfriend, Jamie, has committed suicide.  She has no idea why as she thought they were happy.  But we find out Jamie's story and he had the most hideous childhood.

The first part of the book swaps chapters with Maya's now and Jamie's past.  Maya's story is one of getting over bereavement and loss.  Jamie's story is the tale of his horrendous abuse in an orphanage.  The abuse is alluded to, not spelled out, but it's so sad what he and his friends had to go through.  Later on the story is about Maya trying to find out just what happened.

With books like this it seems wrong to say "I enjoyed it", but the storytelling was addictive to read.  I liked the way the story unfolded and the shocks that were given.

Monday, 1 August 2016

The Redemption Trials by Julie McLaren

Wayne is at his desk at the admissions hall to Hell.  Lottie enters and Wayne's life - or neverending death - is not the same again.  While he tries to get her to a better place, preferably not here, he finds out that it's not just her that's in the wrong place, but many others.  But Wayne doesn't car about them as he's maybe falling in love a little.

I expected this to be a bit more zany from the description, but it was more of a gentle road trip story.  The humour is subtle and I quickly grew to like Wayne's un-heroicness. He wants to do good by Lottie, but is a bit of a wuss.

I enjoyed this story as it was a little different to most things I've read.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Shave My Spider by Tony James Slater

Tony's been on his biggest adventure yet.  It was probably his most researched and planned one too.  But ............. well, Tony.  The problem Tony gets with any of his escapades and adventures can be summed up in one word.  Tony.  Just as well his lovely, sensible wife Roo was on hand to keep him slightly under control.  But when her back is turned ......

Tony's books are rambling tomes of often mundane daily life stuff.  But it's not the daily life a Westerner like me would want to consider.  They pack in an awful lot into their days, but often it's because they haven't got enough money to get to where things would be a lot easier.

I won't go into detail of all the places they stayed, but I know I wouldn't like to do China, but Mongolia sounded just wonderful (apart from the hard saddles).  Tony managed to describe the nothingness of the Mongolian Desert and the warmth of the people living there in a way that I'd love to see it.  Well, apart from the toilet arrangement, and the border control, and the local transport.  Hmm.  Perhaps it's better that someone else lives it and writes about it for me.

And the great thing about Tony's books - they come with photos.  Well apart from the one on his Mongolia page after he's been in the river !!

This book is a lot longer than his previous ones, which are pretty long themselves, but it's never a chore reading them.  And with 6 countries, you could think of this as 6 books in one.

The Pitkirtly Triangle by Cecilia Peartree

We're back in Pitkirtly for the 11th time (12th if you include the Mysterious Pitkirtlycoach tour).  Something's not quite right this time.  Amarylis has caught a cold - but she never gets a cold.

This time the gang have to solve the problems between the tea shops and the new garage.  Why are people dying (apart from they are new to the village) and why does Amarylis keep getting attacked.  

I keep saying it, but I love theses stories.  The variations on a theme vary slightly, but they always seem fresh and are always a joy to read.

The Church of Virtual Saints by Michael Brookes

This follows on from Faust 2.0.  The two characters at the end of that one are incarcerated.  Dan in normal prison, Sarah in a top secret one.  Morton, the lawyer (or evil mastermind) needs to use them.

The Church in the title is an on-line one and Sarah gets dragged into it.  Dan is released from prison on the proviso that he'll help Morton get into The Church to see what they are up to.  In this story Dan was the better character for me.

This was a bit heavy on the technical side of things and I'm not sure I liked the "fighting" bits of the book, but it was a decent read and I expect I shall read the next book if there is one.  This book ends satisfactorily but lends itself to further adventures.

Monday, 2 May 2016

The Woman with the Golden Sex Spatula by David Hadley

Hmmmm.  Now this is a book that would be on its own shelf in my virtual bookcase.  I have no idea why I read it (apart from I liked a previous book by this author).  It starts off with a plot device that I hate - naming places and characters after their characters (such as Norbert Trouser-Quandry and Miss Givings in places such as Little Frigging and Lower Crotchstaine Woods.)

If this book has one innuendo or one double entendre, it is in each sentence rather than each chapter.  There is a sex scene on every other page.  It is certainly not for anyone with delicate sensibilities.  However in saying all that, I got hooked. This could have been the plot for a cosy mystery.  Once I got used to all the rumpy pumpy (and there was an awful lot) I kept reading.  I did try to find a phrase other than "kept reading" for the last sentence, but all the ones I could think of could have two meanings.  As everything in this book seemed to have.

Would I recommend this book to others?  I cannot think of anyone I would.  But I enjoyed it and suggest if you want something a little more brash than usual, this might be it.

Cleaver Square by Daniel Campbell and Sean Campbell

A boy's body is found in the marshes.  DCI Morton is on the case, but he just cannot find out who this young lad is.  Nobody is reported missing and all the evidence just doesn't add up. Charlie moves into his new foster home, he's been traumatised by recent events and seems to have turned into himself.  Morton's home life is going down the pan.  How do these threads get together and resolve?

This was a cracking story.  We got information as Morton got it.  I was wondering about what was happening as the story progressed.  The story was weaved quite well.

There are two more Morton stories and since I've really enjoyed the first two, I'm sure the next will just get better.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Toxic Minds by Gordon Bickerstaff

This is the fourth in the Gavin Shawlens series, but Gavin takes a back seat in this one.  Alexa is a leading scientist in the fracking industry - which means she has many enemies.  This story is about her fall from grace and her family falling apart.

I found the first part of this book a bit lacking.  I wasn't too interested in what was happening to Alexa's daughter, even though this was a main storyline.  But after a third of the story I got more interested and read the rest in one sitting as it turned into more of a thriller than a family saga.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Boo by David Haynes

Clowns, or clownz - fun circus characters or evil monsters?  There's no doubt which type this book is about, the nasty, evil, serial killing type.

Maldon wants to smile again.  His smile was taken away when he was a child when he saw his parents get murdered by a clown.  The voices in his head say he needs to take other people's smiles away from them.

This is a creepy story (as usual from this author) with a mystery as to how the various characters' lives cross.  There are hideous murders, but told with a hint, rather than the gory detail, which for me makes it more hideous.  It's often not what's said, just hinted towards that makes this story all the more tense.

My favourite character is Stan the retired greyhound.  He wants to be brave for Ben, his owner, but doesn't know how to.

Yet another fantastic story from this author who has switched his horror from Victorian macabre to modern fears.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Tuesday Falling by S Williams

This is a story of revenge and tunnels.  Tuesday is a killer, but she kills those who deserve it.

A favourite reviewer said this is a roller coaster ride, so I started it, and didn't want to finish it.  There may be a high body count and some ingenious ways to die, but I found the journey fascinating.  Both where Tuesday's come from and the actual underground passages she takes.  Below the streets of London is a maze of tunnels and conduits.  How it hasn't fallen down amazes me.

It may only be mid-February, but this is one of my books of the year.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

I Can See You by David Haynes

Since Chris' father died when he was a boy, Chris has been haunted by nightmares.  But now it is coming to a head and his son is getting nightmares too.  He needs to go back to Cornwall and exorcise the demons from his and his father's past.

This is another creepy story by this author.  Things can be meandering along and then the tension is ramped up.  The author's descriptions are extremely compelling and I was biting my nails at times.

Thinking back on this now, I can feel the greyness and dampness of Cornwall.  Which to me shows what a great storyteller David Haynes is.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Void by David Staniforth

A bloke wakes up in a car on a cold street.  What is he doing there  Who is he?
And so our story starts.  We quickly find out that the man's name is (probably) Tom as he finds a journal in the glove box with a note to Tom.

It seems that every January Tom disappears from his life with his girlfriend Penny for a week.  He has no recollection of this week.  He also has no recollection of his first 20 or so years.  The journey he is now on is to work out why this happens.

This was quite a different book.  It was quite claustrophobic in the narrowness of the story.  We only find out what Tom finds out about his "normal" life as it happens.  We live through what he goes through in his week "away" with him.  As things unfold, we are with Tom all the way.

I really enjoyed this, I was always wondering where it was going.  Not knowing what a book is about is a great joy.

Monday, 11 January 2016

How Not to Self-Publish by Rosen Trevithick

First off, I'm not and will never be an author.  Second off, this is a very funny book that is not just for authors.

Yes, this is a very instructive book for would-be self-publishers, but it's a lot more about what not to do and how not to offend readers.

The book is set out into mini chapters based on potential scenarios, such as "A Reader Notices a Typo", "Your Wallet Hears Erotica Calling", "Your Quote About Dog Turds Goes Viral" and "Another Author Plagiarises Your Zombie Heptathlon".  There then follows guidance on how to manage these scenarios.

Since the book is set out in mini chapters it is easy to just read one or two when you have a few minutes.  I read this book in 3 goes as it was "just one more", "OK just another".  I found it to be very light and funny and quite adult in places.

If you've liked any of this author's more comedic stories, you'll like this, even if you are like me and prefer reading to writing.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Killer Colada by Sibel Hodge

This is the second in this author's Danger Cove mysteries.  It seems there are many authors writing about life in the town of Danger Cove.  This author's characters are centred around the Smugglers' Tavern which Hope inherited in the first book.  She is getting into her new life as bar owner and also her new love life with a cute Brit called Harvey.

As with any cozy mystery, there's a death.  And as the first story, the police decide who the killer is based on the minimum of evidence.  So Hope and her best friends, Ruby and Vernon, have to solve the murder mystery themselves.

This is quite a light easy to read story, but a bit heavy on the healthy fitness, new age lifestyle.  As a couch addict, I felt it was a little rammed down my throat.   It didn't take away from the story too much though.  

Having read 2 stories set in this world, I expect I will look at the others as it's a nice town (apart from the murders)