Monday 31 December 2012

The Armpits Are Electric by Ian Turner (a review)

Back in the early 1980's  The City School, Sheffield spawned two legends of Rock - one of those, Pulp, went on to dominate the charts (ish!) and have worldwide fame................................this is NOT there story.

This book covers the entire career, from formation to the split of the mighty Electric Armpits and through to the (very) short lived reformation. It is a humourous look back at the Sheffield of the time and captures those times well.

By all accounts the band were, to say the least, musically challenged, but that actually adds to the charm of the story. Ian Turner, the author was an integral part of the Armpits and these are his memories and his story but he is also a very, very funny writer. So funny in fact that I was getting odd looks from people on the bus as I chuckled my way through it (and I missed my stop too - it really is that good!)

Also, there is a chapter on the Armpit's warm-up act Dave Barker (of  Dave and The Dance Of the 7 Overcoats infamy) which brought back memories of one of the big characters of my schooldays.

All said, this is a wonderful trip down memory lane and one that anybody who was part of the Armpit scene ought to try and get a copy but is also a must read for any who like a good, fun read.

Probably the funniest book I have read this year.

Just hoping Ian will now write a book on the exploits of Dave

Sunday 30 December 2012

Anniversary of the Veil, Beginnings; The Beacon by Vanna Smythe

This is a 21 chapter sample of the Protector, the first book in the Anniversary of the Veil series. So, if you are unsure whether the series is for you, here is you're chance to try it out for a small price.
My review of the entire novel is available on the and pages, and in an earlier blogpost so all I will say is, this has been my fantasy book of the year, from a new author with a wonderful writing style. This book was a pleasure to read in a genre that has tended towards tiredness and sameness of late. If I could have given it more stars I would have done.

Also, this morning I bought the next book in the series, Decision Maker which has just been released. I have been looking forward to reading this ever since I finished Protector. A review will follow later.

And, while I'm here may I take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year

Monday 17 December 2012

The Grass Tattoo by Catriona King (a review)

This is the second book to feature D C I Marc Craig and his team, the first being A Limited Justice.

It begins with a dead body left at the seat of the Irish Parliament, Stormont. The victim is the wife of a Belfast politician and we are led into a trail of fraud, deceit and general nastiness.

As before, the author paints the characters really well, the good guys are good, the bad guys are really despicable but where she really excels is the people in the middle, the 'do-ers' A good part of the latter end  of the book deals with the why of the actions of the criminals and when the reasons are revealed it's really heart-ripping stuff.

Also, the interactions between the team members at C C U are as sharp as in the previous book. You get the feeling that these could be real people and I know I will want to be spending more time with them in the future - this is a series that could run and run.

(And one particular interaction actually had me punching the air in happiness for the characters but I won't say who - that'd spoil the fun for you.)

With A Limited Justice, Cat King was the 'new kid on the block', now, with The Grass Tattoo she's proved she can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best.

Sunday 9 December 2012

Monsters Anonymous by Theresa Derwin (a review)

What a splendid collection this is.

There is a varied selection with everything from a monsters self help group right on through to a haunted sex toy with a ghostly grail story thrown in for good measure. As you would expect from a collection such as this, some stories are stronger than others but that is not saying there are any weak stories here - all are good and well worth the money.

To give you an idea how much I enjoyed this book - I was given a pdf file of this book to review by the author but my kindle died and the file was lost (along with the email that had the link). When I purchased my new kindle the first thing I did was to go on Amazon and buy a fresh copy.

Ms. Derwin has a good story telling style - a very enjoyable collection

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Devil in the Detail by Ed James (a review)

The second of the Scott Cullen mysteries, this story takes place about 6 months after the events in the 1st book, Ghost in the Machine. The story takes place over 2 days and so has a more tight feeling than the previous outing.

The main crux of the story revolves around the search for the killer of a mentally challenged 13 year old girl whose body is found early morning by a woman walking her dogs. The main suspect, local bad boy Jamie Cook, is nowhere to be found. The parents of the dead girl, and several of their friends are members of a newly set up 'church' and this lends a slightly sinister air to proceedings at times. I'll be honest and say I thought I had it all sussed out fairly early on - but I was very wrong!

The story brings back many of the characters from the 1st book as well as introducing more that I hope we have not seen the last of.This is a series that is going from strength to strength and I eagerly await my next visit with the officers of Leith Walk Police Station.

Friday 30 November 2012

Ghost in the Machine

A very well written police procedural novel set in and around Edinburgh that may well lead to comparisons with the likes of Mark Billingham and Ian Rankin and in my opinion those comparisons would be well deserved.

What starts out as a missing person case quickly becomes a hunt for a serial murderer. The trail leads to several dead ends and red herrings. The chief has his eye on a possible promotion and is wanting to close the case quickly, convinced he knows who the guilty party is but DC Scott Cullen isn't as certain. Can he find the killer before the wrong man is arrested and charged? Or is the chief right all along?

Cullen, the star of this story is no high flying detective, just a lowly DC which makes for a refreshing change and as a character he comes across well.

The killer is picking his victims via Schoolbook, a Facebook like online site for meeting people you knew at school, which asks the question "how well do you really know the people you meet on the 'net".

As a first novel this was a highly enjoyable and accomplished effort. The next of the Scott Cullen novels "Devil in the Detail" is high on my 'to read pile

Price of Justice by Alan Brenham (a review)

This book begins in a really dark place with the lead character, Detective Jason Scarsdale alone, in his car, contemplating blowing his brains out.
It is only five weeks since his wife was killed in an automobile accident and he blames himself. All that really saves him is his five year old daughter Shannon. She needs her daddy to help her get through these troubling times and he needs her too.Some of the conversations they have, early on in the story really tug at the heartstrings.
The main bulk of the story revolves around Scarsdale and his partner Sean Harris trying to convict a pedophile and break the ring he is a part of. Someone in the police department seems to be leaking information to the suspect so he always seems one step ahead. Can they crack the case before Scarsdale is removed from duty?
Helping them is Dani Mueller, a police crime analyst but she has a secret that could threaten the case and lose Dani her job.
The characters of Jason and Dani are really well written. They both have a sadness in their life - Jason, the loss of his wife and Dani the brutal abuse and murder of her young daughter. They meet through work and although Shannon instantly falls for Dani (as only a young child can) it is to the authors credit that Jason and Dani are not thrown together as a romantic sidebar to the story. The attraction is there but both are wary, for their own reasons and attraction is really as far as it goes.
Towards the end of the story things really hot up with threats to all and a race to save lives and break the case.
The story ends in a much better place than where it started and, I must say, I cared about the characters enough for that to please me immensely.

Sunday 4 November 2012

Book Links - a request to authors

This is just a request to authors so if any of you reading this agree with me please put the message out there.

Thing is, I get a heck of a lot of posts on my facebook and twitter pages saying books are available as special offers, freebies or just 'there' but the only link is the one to

This leaves me with two options - to stop what I'm doing and go looking for the book myself on amazon or leave it until I've finished and hope I remember.

The U.K. has a large market for ebooks and by not putting a link to I feel authors are missing out on sales.

This is only my opinion, obviously, but I feel it is a valid point that needed to be made.

Sunday 14 October 2012

Lunar by Paul Kane (a review)

Nick Skinner is awoken in the night when his girlfriend attacks him. She is feral and her eyes are somewhat different. She is not the person he was out celebrating with the previous evening.
As he escapes he finds she is not the only feral - the town seems to be full of them.
And also - the clock stopped at one second past midnight, as did all clocks. Most cars will not work but some will. Most guns will not work, but some will.
Nick flees the town in search of fellow survivors and, hopefully, answers.
The answers, when they do come, are very clever indeed, but the clues are drip-fed in such a way that I don't think many people will get there before the big reveal.
So, interesting ideas, plenty of tension and loads of action - another winner from Paul Kane. Surely it is only a matter of time before this man hits the big time.

The Promise by Lauren Hunter (a review)

The Promise is a regency romance tale with more than a hint of the paranormal added to the mix.

The story begins in tragedy as Anthony,the 18 year old son of the Duke of Aldbourne loses Lady Marianne in a freak accident involving a carriage. As lady Marianne dies a daughter, Elizabeth, is born to the Duchess of Wickford.

The story then moves forward 18 years to where Elizabeth meets Anthony at the annual Thornhill Ball. And this is where the fun really begins. There is a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between the pair as they keep crossing paths.
Anthony seems determined to woo Elizabeth but she tries to rebuff his advances, seeing him as a rake. Throughout the story their are minor flashbacks for Elizabeth which she doesn't understand and finds quite disturbing. The tale moves to a thrilling climax that I wasn't expecting but thoroughly enjoyed.

The story is well told and with a sense of the era that leaves me in no doubt that the author both knows her stuff and has done her research well. I will be looking out for more of Lauren Hunter's work.

Tuesday 9 October 2012

The Demon's Head by Richard C White (a review)

This short story is a fantasy world set, Indiana Jones style that packs a hell of a lot into its 21 or so pages.
The hero of the story is a thief, down to his last few silvers who hears talk of a temple and treasure in the nearby swamp and decides to have some of the bounty for himself.
The story has huge possibilities for a follow up and I hope to see much more from this author

I got through this story in one sitting but when I got out of bed just now I decided to have another read over coffee and biscuits, and it's even better second time around. There is a hell of a lot of world building for a short story. This author is surely going to be one to watch.

And it only costs 77p (I think that's a dollar and change in the USA but don't quote me on that)

Monday 8 October 2012

A is for Angelica by Iain Broome (a review)

I met the author at a signing in Waterstones a few weeks ago and decided to give the book a try. And I am really glad I did.

Here's the review;

Gordon, the lead character in this book is a bit of an oddity. He spends all his time either looking after his wife (who has had a stroke) or spying on his neighbours (he keeps notes on all of them in his files).

He comes across at times as a mixture of Adrian Mole and the boy from The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night-time, but for all his quirks he is not a bad person.

The fact that he keeps his bed-ridden wife upstairs and tells nobody she has had a second stroke could be seen as sinister but he truly believes he can look after her alone.

When Gordon befriends the new neighbour, Angelica, things start to become a bit unravelled, eventually Gordon will have to tell someone.

This debut novel by Iain Broome is by turns, comic, tragic and quite touching. I will be looking out for more by Mr. Broome in the future and would highly recommend this book to all

Sunday 9 September 2012

The Diamond Seekers by Coles and Everett (a review)

Five years ago, Phillip Madden, MI5 cryptographer, and his wife and son were involved in a car crash which only Phillip survived.

Move to the present and Madden is now retired and living in Yorkshire tending his garden. When he gets a phone call from someone claiming to be a son he never new he had his previous life catches up with him again.

This is a good, fast paced, twisty-turney spy novel that keeps you guessing right up to the end.
What really impressed me with this novel is that no-one is clear-cut good or bad, all just various shades of grey. The good guys are good but not saintly. Il Principe, the villain of the piece, is nasty but the people around him in his little "kingdom" are all treat well.

It is not always clear who is on which side and I often found myself not trusting anyone and expecting twists that sometimes came and sometimes didn't.

This is the first book I have read by Coles and Everett but it will not be the last.

Saturday 8 September 2012

Dream On by Terry Tyler (a review)

Dream On is the fourth novel from Terry Tyler and well up to her usual standard.

The story revolves around Dave Bentley, his partner Janice, son Harley and his Rock Band Thor. Dave has been thrown out by Janice but there are signs they may be getting back together (which they both want)......then Alison (now calling herself Ariel) Swan, Dave's first love turns up back on the scene!

The band, Ariel and her friend all enter a tv contest to find new talent (similar but different from the X-Factor) and there is also an appearance on the Jremy Kyle show which was highly entertaining. Throw in the early days of MySpace and Facebook and you have a winning combination.

Good characterisation, place settings that feel real and the promise of a sequel - all left me very happy indeed

And They All Lived Happily Ever After by Crystal Connor (a review)

This first short story collection from Spectrum Trilogy author Crystal Connor is a winner from the get go.
The book starts off with The Lazarus Antidote, set after the Zombie Apocalypse as scientists are trying to find a cure, but tracking the doctors and scientists down is The Dragon. This is a very atmospheric tale that draws you in and doesn't let go.
Best Friends Forever is sinister and twisty fun.
The Christmas Wish has a different take on Santa and naughty children that I found really enjoyable.
Amber's New Friend is (possibly) the best ghost story I have ever read - a really well told tale
With this collection Crystal Connor takes another step towards getting the recognition she deserves as a teller of wonderous tales. There are more stories than those mentioned above (14 in total), the above are just a taster and the book finishes with "Notes From The Author" where Ms. Connor talks a little about the stories and, for me, this insight just adds to the depth of the stories.

Monday 20 August 2012

A Limited Justice by Catriona King (a review)

A Limited Justice

A man murdered outside his shop in Belfast, A WPC drowned and possibly raped found in the River Bann.

Two cases with apparently no links in this gripping first case for DCI Marc Craig. When the murderer strikes closer to home, with an attempt on a fellow police officer it becomes a race to find the killer before more bodies turn up.

This first novel by former police forensic medical examiner Catriona King is a tightly written, fast paced novel that reveals just enough along the way to keep you guessing until the unexpected reveal.

The characters of Marc Craig and his team, both police and civilian, are believable and have a depth to them that other authors don't always capture. Each character comes across as an individual, each with something different to bring to the team. I am hoping there will be many more stories to follow this one as the tale leaves us with unfinished business with some team members.

As for the murderer - as the story unfolds and you get to the reasons behind the crimes committed, you may get to thinking "what would I do under the same circumstances" and you may be surprised at the answer you come up with.

As a novel - a fantastic achievement. As a first novel - even more so. There is a new star on the scene and a brightly shining one at that.

Belfast needs its' own detective - and in DCI Marc Craig it now has one

Wednesday 15 August 2012

RIP Harry Harrison

Woke up today to the news that author Harry Harrison has passed away at the age of 87. Mr Harrison was the author that moved my reading from Dr Who novelisations to Science Fiction as a much younger man.
I first came to his work via 2000AD comic who ran a comic strip based on The Stainless Steel Rat and ,later, further adventures of  "Slippery" Jim diGriz (the aforementioned Rat).
For bringing me to mainstream sci fi I will always be grateful.

Rest In Peace Harry Harrison and thanks for the stories

Song of the Shaman by Robert Franks (a review)

This book is the third in the Glass Apple series and takes place a bout 18 months after book 2.

Anna is still missing in time and Jason, Kylie and Jason's friend the librarian Ant travel back to early America, hoping to find her (although Ant doesn't really want to).

Gobswhistle and Etain remain in the here and now with another new character, the American Emma who is missing her husband and son.

For me, the sections with Gobswhistle et al were the highlight of this book as they seemed to be followed by carnage, chaos, destruction and general mayhem but in a mostly comical way.

The threat of The Medb is still there and there is a nice twist at the end that sets both story strands up nicely for book four, and for me book four cannot come soon enough.

An excellent addition to an excellent series. If you haven't dipped into the world of The Glass Apple yet I can highly recommend it.

Wednesday 1 August 2012

The Coffee Shop by Lauren Hunter (a review)

A very cleverly told tale of boy meets girl with a supernatural twist.

Derrick meets Annie when he visits a different coffee shop to usual. They get on like a house on fire but's all a dream.

On waking, he leaves his apartment and due to a traffic problem he visits the coffee shop he dreamt of last night and his dream comes to pass....and that's when things start to get really interesting.

In the dream Derrick and Annie were together for 5 months but when he makes small adjustments to events the future he has is not the future of the dream. As Derrick tries to change things back there is a lot of to-ing and fro-ing which can get a tad confusing at times but all comes together later on.
I felt that this story could become a film very easily and hope it does.

I found this to be a very enjoyable read and not easy to put down. Highly recommeneded

Monday 30 July 2012

King's Champion by Cas Peace (a review)

This book carries straight on from part 1 of the Artesans of Albia series, King's Envoy and as such you need to read King's Envoy first to really appreciate what is going on.

We start with the companions in a mad chase away from the dungeons where Major Sullyan has been held captive and during the healing process the Major needs it is found that she will be unable to cross the veils and return to her home realm of Albia.

She makes the decision to offer her help to The Heirarch, the ruler of the realm of Andaryon, in his battle against Lord Rykan, the man who held Sullyan captive. The biggest problem is that women in Andaryan are very much looked down on and the men hold all the power. If Sullyan is to be accepted she has a lot to prove and due to her injuries sustained at the hands of Rykan she may not even survive to the final battle.

Once again, with this second book, Cas Peace shows herself to be a wonderfully gifted storyteller. Her descriptive skills allow you to live the book, not just read it and her battle tactics are as well written as it gets.

But it is with the characters that Ms. Peace really excels. As before Major Sullyan is one of the best and most believable female leads in fantasy fiction but all the characters are really well drawn. Lord Rykan is possibly one of the nastiest, most evil and hateful 'bad guys' yet and his general, Sonten is just plain despicable.

This is a book/series you can get lost in for hours, if not days but be warned, this is an author with the ability to tear at the heartstrings and leave you drained of emotion. This book will move you like possibly no other of its kind.

I predict great things for Cas Peace.

Thursday 26 July 2012

PDF's - a small post.

just a quick word to let people know that I can now accept PDF's for reviews (got a bb playbook and it sawesome

Sunday 22 July 2012

Review thoughts

I know I went through this back in March but I do feel it is worth going over again.

I recieved a tweet this morning asking if I charged for the reviews I do, so anyone wanting reviews - this one is for you.

I cannot and will not accept payment for the reviews I do. This just doesn't feel right to me. If someone says "I'd like to have you review my book and here's £xx" it would stop me from feeling like I have given an honest review. I would always be wondering if people thought the book was, for instance, a 3* book that had bought an extra *.

I review because I love reading - that's the bottom line. If I read a book and really enjoy it the review is just my way of saying "have a look at this.

Now, here's an idea - if you ask me to review for you and you like the review, go do something good. Next time you pass a charity box chuck a £/Euro/Dollar etc in or do something to help a literacy group in your area, something like that.

So, in short, No - I don't charge for book reviews (although if a publisher wanted to employ me as a reviewer, that's a different kettle of cupcakes!).

If you like what I do tell others - it really is a good feeling when you get a tweet or an email saying "You reviewed a book for person x and person x has reccommended you"

Saturday 21 July 2012

King's Envoy by Cas Peace (a review)

This book, the first in a series, is the fiction debut of Cas Peace but you wouldn't know that - the writing and descriptive ability of Ms. Peace are those of an accomplished author.
 The story is set in a land of 5 realms, all different and all seperate but the main setting here are the 4th and 5th realms of Albia and Andaryon.
 At the start we meet Journeyman Artesan Taran Elijah. In an effort to increase his knowledge and further his Artesan abilities he crosses over from Albia to Andaryon but while there he stumbles on a plot (although he is unaware of just what it is). He barely escapes back to Albia with his life, and carrying an artefact.
 Taran and his apprentice Cal try to send the artefact back but are unable to so go to the military for help - and this is where an already good book really picks up!
 At the Manor, where the army are based we meet the characters of Bulldog, Robin and Major Sullyan - characters so well fleshed out you feel like you know them personally. The interaction between all the characters comes across really well and sits comfortably with the reader. Major Sullyan is, in my opinion, one of the best female characters in fantasy fiction today.
 The nasty characters also come across as exactly what they are - the plots, machinations and general downright nastiness all hold up well.
 The magic system is an interesting and clever one but also believable.
 The book ends on a cliffhanger that will leave you aching for book 2 (King's Envoy - available soon).
So, short version - a beautifully told tale with characters you will want to go adventuring with again. An amazing talent with a lot of promise for the future. I will be following the career of Ms. Peace with interest.

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Paladins of Shannara by Terry Brooks (a review) and going back to The Four Lands

First off, my review of Paladin's of Shannara: Allanon's Quest -

How did Terry Brooks manage to fit this much story into so few pages?
This book covers the story of Allanon the Druid's quest to find someone of the Shannara bloodline and is set in the time just before and leading up to Mr. Brook's first novel Sword of Shannara.
In and of itself the story is well told and an enjoyable short read but as a prelude to the original story it is oh so much more.
Worth every penny.

Which got me remembering where all the magic of fantasy fiction started for me. As a youngster, way back in the distant past of the early eighties I remember going to the library and seeing the cover of Sword of Shannara (a boy, a man and a dwarf with a cauldron in the foreground if I remember rightly) and being totally enthralled. I just had to know the story behind it.
I also remember the disappointment of not being able to finish it (it was pretty terrible if i recall correctly). Still to this day I have not managed to get to the end of it.

For some reason as soon as the next book in the series (Elfstones of Shannara) came to my attention I whipped it up and to this day it remains one of my favourite fantasy books of all time. It was probably because Mr Brooks had stopped retelling Lord of the Rings and was now doing his own stuff. The characters in this book and the place names all seemed to have a proper sense of the magical and the storytelling was all I wanted and more.
This was followed by another favourite (Wishsong <I'll drop the "of Shannara" now - I'm sure you get the drift>) - another trip into another part of The Four Lands and more wonderfulness.

After a while Mr. Brooks started a new series with the title Heritage of Shannara comprising of 4 books - Scions of , Druid of and Elf Queen of - which I loved, and Talismans of, which I never finished.

More series followed but much as I loved the lands and peoples of these books I've struggled to get into the books. Now though, having read the 40 page short story that serves, more or less, as an extra 1st chapter to Sword  of Shannara I feel the urge to return to The Four Lands again, to visit the Silver River, to stand in the shadow of  the Druid's Keep at Paranor, to be once again entranced by the people and places with the odd names. After 30 years, maybe it's time to finish Sword and move on through the series, time to put on the old travelling gear and head on down to Shady Vale..........
I may be a while ;D

Sunday 8 July 2012

Perchance to Dream by Peter Lukes (a review)

An enthralling mix of science fiction and fantasy with a touch of horror and romance thrown into the mix. This book draws heavily on the ideas of The Matrix and Inception but is not a clone by any means.
The story starts with Officer Manuel Corr of the Boston Police Sub-Net Division starting his shift. He travels in what is though to be the dreamworld but officers have been going under and not coming back.
It turns out all is not as it seems, there is a lot of corruption and mis-trust. Not everybody is what or who they seem.
The story, the first part of a series, reads well and keeps you on edge right to the end. When Officer Corr first steps into the dreamworld there is a sense of wonder that rarely lifts.
Take a chance on this book - it really is all that and more.

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Tangled Ties to a Manatee (by Kalen Cap) - a review

A book with as many view points as this takes a bit of getting used to - but not much. This is a very confidently written story covering several plot strands - a criminal scam, an enviromental centre used as a scapegoat, the undercover detective trying to decide if the centre is a cult  threat ....... and the manatee of the title, pregnant in a zoo.
The characters are very well written (even the manatee) but where, in my eyes, this author really deserves praise is in the characters of Jerry and Caroline, two "developmently challenged" young people. Jerry is really the main lead for the story and he is portrayed in such a way that you really care about him and his life. Kalen Cap really catches the behaviour and interaction between Jerry and Caroline (and the other young people in the home) in an accurate and believable way. I came away from this book with a big smile and a feeling I'd just spent time with friends.
As I said at the beginning, this book, with its' many multiple view points may seem a bit hard to follow at first but as the characters meet, paths cross and the story unfolds you hardly notice and the story flows smoothly to a satisfying end.
Kalen Cap - definately one to watch.

Saturday 30 June 2012

Dangerous Temptation Preview (by Catrina Barton) - a review

First things first, please take note that this book is a preview of a book that will be published in full at a later date.
The story tells of two young people, Kaitlin Sinclair in America and Cadmon in Indonesia.
Kaitlin is living with her father's friend due to her mother having died and her father serving in the armed forces. She comes across as quite a "strong willed" young woman, but quite a likeable character.
Cadmon becomes the leader of his people after the death of the former leader. He is also a shapeshifter with the ability to take the form of a tiger.
The paths of the two lead characters cross when Kaitlin has to go to Indonesia and it is easy to see the potential chemistry early on.
Although this is a Young Adult book, don't make the mistake of thinking "oh, it's just another Twilight" - it is so much more than that.
The author has very good descriptive skills and this comes over especially well in the Indonesian section.
For me the complete version of this book cannot come out soon enough.

Dear Crossing (by Marjorie Doering) - A Review

A brilliant start to what has the potential to be one of the next big series.

The story starts with a high profile and horrific murder. The lead character, police officer Ray Schiller starts the story having spent the night in jail for brawling. On release he is straight on the case. His chief would rather be rid of him but Ray is the best they've got.
Throughout the book we meet a mix of chracters from High Flying Exec's to Small Town Folk and they are all a good fit for the story. Each possible suspect could be the murderer.
The author does a good job of making all the characters, and situations they find themselves in realistic and puts in two twists - one at the end which leads things towards the second book, and, more importantly, one in the middle that hits like a train and changes lots of things for everyone.
In Ray Schiller we have a leading character who doesn't hold back and who, due to being separated from his wife and children, is not in a good place in his life, but comes across as a generally good guy and a hell of a good cop.
I am looking forward to the next in this series and also to reading this book again.

Wednesday 20 June 2012

The Other Side by Terry Tyler (a review)

I was unsure about this book before I started reading (thought it might be a bit chick-lit ish) but I'm glad I tried it, as I enjoyed it greatly.
 The story starts with four different characters (Katya, Cathy, Alexa and Sandy) each having a chapter which sets out where they are in their life now and the choices and repercussions that have led them to this point. The following chapters then go backwards through the timeline of their lives to life changing decisions.
 This is a story of 'what if' - what if you'd treated this person differently, what if you'd gone left instead of right etc - and works really well. All the characters were believable (so much so that I really felt like banging their heads together at times) and all their seperate stories are different enough that you don't forget who is who). A very clever story indeed and well told.
 It is not just a story for ladies, it is a story for all - so, ladies, pass it on to the man in your life when you've finished it.

Monday 18 June 2012

Allegiance by Derek Blass (a review)

Derek Blass came to my notice with the excellent Enemy in Blue. Allegiance, in my opinion, is even better.

The action in this book begins about four and a half years after the events of Enemy in Blue and straight away you know that the events of that book have affected the characters and continue to do so.

Cruz Marquez, the lawyer, is now providing aid to mexicans attempting to cross the border and it is while he is doing this that he is captured by an "army" trying to stop the flow of immigrants.
I could go on but spoilers would ruin your reading experience!

Allegiance is, among other things, a story of consequences and that, for me, is where this author really excells. The events of Enemy in Blue hang heavy over the characters and the spectre of Sgt Shaver too. Some authors don't do this realistically but Mr Blass does it well.

This book is gritty, violent and, at times unbearably tense. The action starts early on and doesn't really let up much all through.

I compared his last book to the books of John Grisham. With Allegiance I feel Grisham will be looking on with envy.

This author gets better by the book and I'm looking forward to reading more.

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Hounded - a review (and never judge a book by it's cover art)

First off a review of Hounded by Kevin Hearne (1st book in the Iron Druid series

Take a slice of Harry Dresden, add a pinch of Buffy/Angel, throw in some Sookie Stackhouse and you have a recipe for success.
Atticus, the 2100 year old druid (who only looks to be about 21 - don't worry, the explanation makes sense) runs a Pagan/Mysticism shop in Tempe, Arizona. He has a sword that Aenghus Og, of the Irish Pantheon wants - and he's coming to get it!
There are plenty of mystical and mythical creature in the pages of this book - Gods and Goddessess, witches, a Vampire and Werewolf legal team - and they all fit well within the story. There's always something going on but it doesn't feel rushed or overbusy. I am looking forward to reading more books in this series.

Oh, yes, and there is Oberon the Irish Wolfhound, Atticus' pet - possibly the greatest dog character ever written and an excellent comic foil at times.

NEVER judge a book by it's cover art

Up till the last few days I've never really given this old maxim much thought but then.............
Being a regular bookshop visitor I've seen the first three books in the Iron Druid series quite a few times but never bothered with them because I Really Do Not Like The Cover! If it hadn't been for accidentally reading a review of the books I may never have picked them up - and that would have been my loss. The guy on the front, who looked a bit surfer dude-ish (and no insult intended to surfer dudes!) just made me think it would be another book aimed at the twilight types (again, no insult intended, just not my "thing") so I ignored it and moved on to other things.

And this got me thinking of another plus thing for the Kindle/ e-reader, which is this;
When you pick up a book with an illustration of one of the main characters on the front, each time you see the cover a part of you may  unconciously think "this is what the lead guy or whoever looks like". Even though you may have your own idea of how they look a part of you will be guided by what the cover artist thinks they look like.
With Kindle/e-readers you only see the cover the once so the characters you see in your minds' eye as you read are more likely to be your own personal interpretation of the authors' vision.
And that for me is a massive plus point.

On a last point with Hounded (as mentioned above) the author has created, in Oberon the Irish Wolfhound one of the great animal characters in modern fiction. Kevin Hearne goes up there with Dean Koontz and Crystal Connor as one of the best authors of Dog characters around.

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Diary of a Part Time Ghost by Vered Ehsani (a review)

I was offered the chance to review the follow up to this book so thought I'd best read this one first. What follows is the review I posted on Amazon and Goodreads

Ash is disappointed when his Great Aunt, gives him an old book for his birthday - but it turns out to be more important than he'd ever expected!
This entertaining YA novel starts a series (the follow on book - Where Shadows Dance - is available now) that has a lot of promise for young and old readers alike. Ash finds he can use the book to travel, ghostlike, into the past and finds himself back around the time of the Boston Tea Party. I don't want to give anything away so I'll just say the action is more or less non-stop with a few twists along the way.
The main 'bad guy' is a nasty piece of work but also, slightly vague. I'm sure we will find out more about him in future volumes.
All in all a very solid start to a series, well written with mainly good characterisation and some clever ideas.
I will be following this series with interest.

Just a small point - although I have been offered free copies for review I generally prefer to buy them, both so I don't feel obligated to give a good review to a bad book (which I don't do - if I don't like a book doesn't mean everyone else will dislike it too - I just don't review it) and also to help support authors. That's just me though, I'd be interested to hear other opinions.

Monday 14 May 2012

Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace (a review)

Boy (Jason Priestley) meets Girl (The One?) briefly as he helps her into a taxi with her bags. As she disappears he realises he is left holding a disposable camera.
Jason's flatmate Dev convinces him the only way to find her is to get the photo's developed and hope for a clue or two. When Jason and Dev pick up the prints they find something they never expected to see..........

This first novel by Danny Wallace is a cracking read which I got through in a weekend - just because I really didn't want to put it down. At first I didn't like the lead character, Jason, but as the book went on I found myself warming to him.
 The secondary characters (Dev, Zoe - Jason's boss, Sarah - his ex girlfriend and many others) all bring their own thing to the story, while the band that feature in the book (The Kicks) deserve to be real.
 The story is full of lows and highs and even one moment that had me hoping and hoping that everything would be alright. There were also times when I felt like giving Jason a good shake but by the end of the book I felt like I was leaving friends behind.
 This is a book I feel I will come back to again and would recommend to fans of Notting Hill, One Day and the likes but also to anyone who likes a good story well told.
 The perfect holiday book.

Monday 23 April 2012

Into The Mist: Silver Hand by Steve Finegan (a review) and general thoughts on YA books

I'm starting off this post with a review of a quite excellent Young Adult novel -
Into The Mist: Silver Hand by Steve Finegan

A rivetting read that bodes well for the series.
Gage, a young boy with a form of epilepsy, moves to a new town with his family where he meets his new neighbour Ellie, who seems to be guided by the spirit of the Brynmoor Witch, a woman who lived in the area in years past.
The Brynmoor Witch had a cottage in the woods, an area local townspeople generally won't go near (the exceptions being Ellie and local bully boy/ badboy Alex). Ellie seems to recognise that Gage is different and when she takes him up to the woods an epileptic episode seems to take him to another place.
Throughout the rest of the story we are transported between the two worlds, both perilous in their own way.
In this world Gage has to cope with his medical condition, his family and starting a new school, complete with bullies. In the other world, Elfryth, Gage takes on the persona of Mabon Silverhand, a character from Welsh Myth, who is all that stands in the way of Arawn and his allies taking over the land. In Elfryth we meet several characters from the myths (Merlyn, King Bran etc)and also Corvus, the crowman who Gage has been drawing as a comic book in his sketchpad.
The stories of Gage and Mabon are both intertwined and both told well. You get a slightly different style and tone of storytelling for each character which I found to be very effective. The story builds to a climax that ends with a cliffhanger that left me stunned and aching to get my hands on the next book in the series.
A really, really good book - just don't let the YA tag put you off - I'm 45 and I loved this book.


Over the past year or so I have read several Young Adult books and as a general rule they have been of a very good standard. I guess this is because books for young people aren't as deep and heavy going as some books aimed at the older reader. With younger people I guess you have to hit the ground running and keep going till you pass the finishing line on the last page.
Well, you know what? Sometimes I just want to jump into the story and enjoy it without having to remember dynastys, timelines, characters who haven't been in the story for the last 5 books etc.
Don't get me wrong, I like the heavygoing stuff as well but sometimes.................

Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is give YA authors a chance - you just might find you've been missing out on something.

Monday 9 April 2012

Earth Girl by Janet Edwards (Review)

First things first, this review is from an uncorrected proof copy - the book will be available to buy in the shops on August 16th.
 The year is 2788 and thanks to the use of portals mankind has now moved out to the stars.
 Unfortunately, due to a problem with the immune system, a small percentage of humans are only able to survive on Earth. Portalling off planet would mean death unless they can be sent straight back to Earth and hospitalised. These people, know as "handicapped or apes" (amongst other things) are seen as an underclass.
 Our heroine in this book, Jarra, is one of these "apes" but she is determined to prove she is eqqual to, if not better than, the off-worlders (or "exo"s). To this end, she enrolls on a Pre-History Foundation Course with University Asgard which is based at dig sites around Planet Earth. By not having to leave Earth for the course Jarra believes she can hide her handicap and pass off as normal to her classmates.
 Jarra invents a backstory for herself as Jarra Military Kid (JMK) but is often nearly caught out, until she gets some shock news and actually starts to believe her JMK persona and life is real.
This is a really well thought out story, with believable science that doesn't require you to have a phd in astrophysics. The idea of the old cities of Earth being abandoned as people headed for the stars makes sense. We only get to see the New York site but that is so well described and atmospheric that, especially when the team move from the fringe site to New York Main, the city/ ruins almost becomes a character itself.
 Each off system has its' own character traits which makes for an interesting student group and maybe Jarra is not the only one with a secret!
This book will appeal to people who like things like the Hunger Games series but also to a wider audience and, in my opinion, it has massive potential for being made into a movie (I really want to see New York Main and the solar storm on the big screen).
 Another, final, plus for me - the book ties up neatly at the end. There may be more from Jarra, Earth Girl, but if there isn't, there are no real loose threads left dangling.
A 5* book from a promising new author

Tuesday 3 April 2012

Never say never

Over the last few weeks I have been asked to read and review (or consider reviewing) a heck of a lot of books but an e-mail on Sunday night really caught my eye.
The main question was "do you review children's picture books?". Now, I am 45 years old and haven't read a children's picture book for many, many years but it was free to download so I thought "what's to lose?" and downloaded it - and do you know what, I'm really glad I did.
Here's my review

Dog Wants To Be Famous by C M Dixon

I read this book this morning after a night shift and must say it really hit the spot for me. I get the idea that of the two characters (Dog and Cat) Cat is the one with the brains.
This will be a great starter book for small children as I think they will be enthralled by the characters.
The illustrations were very good but pictures are not a Kindle's strongest point (although the Kindle fire will no doubt improve that aspect of the book.
So - a pleasant, humourous, enjoyable bedtime story (or anytime story really) for small children and characters that we will hopefully see more of.

Anyway, the purpose of this blogpost is just for me to say don't always stick to your comfort zone for reading (well, obviously you can if you want) because you never know what you might be missing out on.

As I said earlier, I have a lot of books to review read and I've also just downloaded the complete Harry Potter kindle set, so, as you can imagine my to read pile is getting a bit precarious - thankfully the majority are on Kindle though. I'll stick more reviews and comments up on here as I get to them.

Currently reading a pre-publicaton review copy of Earth Girl by Janet Edwards - this could well be the next big thing for the Hunger Games crowd. Review to follow when I've finished it but so far it is very, very good

Saturday 24 March 2012

Answer to a question

Earlier this week I was asked a question on Twitter that got me thinking.
The question was with reference to my offer to review books - "Is there a cost for getting a book reviewed". My first thought was the obvious "no no no no no!"
I don't believe there is any place for "bought" reviews, because, let's be honest that's how it would seem to be. If I were to review a book and was paid for it and gave it 5 stars it could be taken that I have given 5 stars BECAUSE I was paid to do the review.
On the other hand, if someone were to pay me £x and I gave a poor review (let's say 2 stars), the author could easily turn round and say "hold on, I paid you £x to do this review, I want more stars than that"
So, my answer, as I said is NO! there is no cost for a review (bought reviews, like bought votes in an election, is wrong in my opinion). did get me thinking.
I cannot and will not charge for reviews but if you are appreciative of what I and other reviewers do, maybe you can do something "nice" for someone else, maybe put a donation in a charity box or something like that or try and support your local literacy support group. I guess what I'm trying to say is treat it like Karma - when you do something good, something good happens.
I hope this makes some kind of sense - please feel free to comment your opinions

Two Graves - A Review

A well paced Serial Killer novel with a Mafia side story thrown in - what's not to love?
I found this to be an interesting take on the serial killer genre as you get to see how the killer develops in his confidence as the story progresses. The killings get more gruesome as the bodies mount up. The characters in the Kesle Police Department are believable and all are given their own bit of background which keeps the story ticking along.
There were also a few moments which made me think "never saw that coming".
I know there is at least one more book to come featuring the Kesle PD, and I hope there will be more than that.
I don't read a lot of serial killer type fiction but this was a story that promised to be a bit different and lived up to that promise.

Sunday 18 March 2012

Protector (Anniversary of the Veil book 1) by Vanna Smythe - A Review


1000 years ago The Veil was formed that separated two realms and now, as the Anniversary approaches a sacrifice will need to be made to reinforce The Veil.
Princess Issiyanna (Issi) is the Beacon, one of the people needed to reinforce The Veil and a group of Keepers cross The Veil to abduct her and lead her to her purpose.
Kiyarran (Kae) has wanted to be a Protector all his life. He is a young man with powers that have not been seen for many many years. He is determined to rescue Issi.
That this is a first novel by Vanna Smythe is quite astounding. She not only tells a wonderful story with characters you can't help but care about, she also brings her world to life. The developing relationship between Issi and Kae is brought on steadily and at a pace that fits well with the story - when they are happy, you are happy for them, when things are going wrong you ache for them to be ok.
The secondary characters also bring something to the story. The Priests, who are the main power in Issi and Kae's world are mainly devious types with only their best interests at heart and their 'asassain branch' The Pure Ones are a particularly evil creation.
This book has certainly left me wanting more and I look forward to the next installment eagerly.
I had hopes for this book from the offset but I could never have hoped it would be this good.

Vanna Smythe is a stunning talent with a voice and storytelling ability that promises lots. I see a promising future for this author and I will be following her career closely.

I strongly recommend this to fantasy lovers but also to those who like a story well told

Monday 12 March 2012

Enemy in Blue by Derek Blass (a review) and what's next

I don't often read Thrillers - fantasy is more my thing really, but for once I'm really glad I did. This first novel from Debut author Derek Blass really hits all the right buttons.
We start off with a raid on a latino families home that goes to hell when one of the occupants is shot by the Police Seargent (Shaver - a particularly despicable person). The raid is being filmed by a tv station for a police documentary type show.
What follows, for the first part of the book, is a high octane chase for possession of the video - Shaver and various others want it so they can bury it, the good guys have it and want justice. The really good thing for me here was that the author was not afraid to kill characters off which serves to keep you on tenterhooks as you know no-one is safe or guaranteed to reach the end.
The second half of the book deals with the trial, and here the pace slows down a little, although it is no less suspenseful. Personally, I would put this up with the likes of John Grisham and Harlan Coben and I believe that with the right kind of push this could be a massive bestseller.
All in all a wonderfully exciting debut from an author I will be keeping an eye out for.
And at the time of writing this review it only costs 77p ($0.99) - you can't get much better value for money than that.

Next for me is a book I have been looking forward to for a few weeks now (since I first heard about it) - Protector (Anniversary of the Veil book1) by another first time author - Vanna Smythe. More on that when I post my review, probably later this week.

Monday 5 March 2012

Nightingale by David Farland

I really enjoyed this book. Didn't think I would at first (it sounded a bit "Twilight meets Glee") but on starting it I was, thankfully proved wrong.
The action starts from the get-go and never really lets up till the very last word.
The "Nightingale" of the title is Bron, a 16 year old in care after being abandoned as a baby. He is moved from home to home never really settling. On being moved on from his latest home, he is passed into the care of Olivia who finds that, like herself, Bron is a member of a race of people with special powers who are the next step up the genetic ladder from humans (Super-humans if you like).
There are two types of these "super-humans", one good, one bad and the bad guys want Bron on their side and will stop at nothing to achieve their goals.
The ideas Mr Farland has here are very clever and the story-telling is top notch. I believe there are 3 more books after this in he series and I for one will be waiting eagerly for the next one.
Highly recommended

(Also - I think this would make a brilliant film or tv show - just saying!)

Sunday 19 February 2012

Book Review - Banshee in the Well by Robin Lovejoy

What a wonderful way to start your career as a writer. This story tells of a young boy who finds a girl in the well on his farm. The girl turns out to be a 13th century banshee who needs to find a way to get her magic back and return from our time to hers. The relationship between the two main characters is really well written as is the way Sathra, the banshee sees modern things which she has obviously never seen before. The story has paintballers, treasure hunters and a rock band (with a Simon Cowell type character who is only in the background) and goes from scene to scene fluently.
I have worked with young people in a library enviroment so I feel confident enough to say they would lap this up but so would adults.
All said, this being a first novel is quite astounding. The author writes with a style and confidence that others can only wish for. I look forward to reading more from Robin Lovejoy and heartily reccomend this book

Saturday 18 February 2012

Book Review - Wet Linda by Paul Parducci

This book "Wet Linda" is the first novel by Paul Paducci - and on this showing there's a promising future ahead for him.
The story tells of a body-conscious teen girl who moves,with her family to a new home in California. She doesn't fit in with the local "pool-crowd" so goes to the local community pool where she comes under the influence of an evil water demon (the eponymous Wet Linda) who uses her to wreak her vengeance.
It is a very well told story which is not afraid to be graphic in it's nastiness. It had me holding my breath at times, proper edge of the seat stuff.
If you like your horror gritty, this one is worth a go so try it out.
And no vampires or zombies - another plus point.

Monday 6 February 2012


Once again, this March there will be a volume off G R R Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire (ASIF) published in the UK and due to the size of the hardback edition it will be sold in two parts. This obviously means paying out for two paperbacks and I am not impressed. I know some booksellers will do deals of some kind but that is not the point.
The same thing happened before with book 3 in the series and with the first volume of Brandon Sanderson's quite marvelous (in my opinion) Stormlight Archive - The Way Of Kings. My gripe is that on visiting Sheffield Space Centre (and if you haven't visited there you really should) I have found 1 volume editions of ASIF 3 and The Way of Kings printed and published in America which were of good quality (both paper and cover) and, more importently, of about the same price as a uk paperback.
So my question is, if the US publishers can do it, why can't the UK publishers.

On a seperate note - Being Human started back again on BBC3 last night (Sunday Feb 5th) and it was marvelous. Looks like the series is going to keep on getting stronger even without 3 of the main cast. Good Times.

Tuesday 24 January 2012

The Caulbearer - Young Tierney by LeeJohn

This is a review I wrote for a book I read over the christmas/ new year period - 2012 is promising to be a really good year for reading.

The Caulbearer: Young Tierney is a promising first novel from an up and coming voice in the thriller genre.
The story focuses on the Caulbearer bloodline and the last of that bloodline - John Tierney! Tierney dreams and sees events before they happen. MI5 agent Roscoff has Tierney under surveillance but he is not the only one.
Others want to dispose of Tierney for their own reasons, and to top it all off there is a dark cult and murder aplenty.
The story is in the style of Dan Brown (but, in my opinion, better) with good character and a good sense of place. The pace of the novel keeps up right to the end, with just enough twists and red herrings along the way. And when I say "right up to the end" I do mean the very last full stop.
This novel would, in my opinion, make a good movie too.
LeeJohn - a definite name to watch. Be there at the beginning.

Another beltingly good book from Crystal Connor

This is my review for Artificial Light the second book in the Spectrum series :

With The Darkness author Crystal Connor introduced us to Atremisia, a woman of science and Inanna, a woman of powerful magic. With Artificial Light these characters are back but take more of a back seat to new (equally strong) characters who propel the story along to a stunning climax that sets everything up for what promises to be a rollercoaster final book in the series. The story strands cover magic, fantasy, science and police procedural and each part is believable and well written.
Not to give too much away, the science part involves the "transitioning" of memories at the point of death into newborns and the chapters that cover these children are some of the best and, at times, heart-wrenching scenes I have read - EVER!!
With The Darkness Crystal Connor was seen as a promising new arrival on the scene, with Artificial Light she becomes the real deal, a definite star of the future. (And she still writes better dog characters the Dean Koontz)