Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Dean C Moore

This is the second of Dean's books that I've read. I know they won't be for everyone but they're pretty high-tech and they always give me a laugh. 


Setup: Android Assassins

Amazon.com link

My review -

What can I say? The Futurists of the FBI have a strange way of recruiting. Max Chase has been set up and is now a wanted man. Problem is, his wife and son are being pursued too. They are accompanied in their journey to foil an evil genius by another ‘family’ of three androids. These three are made to resemble Chinese domestic workers but have massively useful powers. It looks bad – but it could be worse.

Dean C Moore has a vivid imagination – I’d hate to be in one of his dreams! The story here is long but the action never lets up. It’s set in the near future and there’s the horrible suspicion in the reader’s mind that some of these things could really happen. Not too many, I hope! This is an exciting, action-packed romp with a huge body-count but seasoned with a great deal of humour. I’d love to see a film of this. It’s vivid and thrilling – and probably hugely expensive in special effects!

I received an advance review copy of this book.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Claire Douglas

Claire Douglas seems to home in on the theme of identity. Those of her books that I've read, I've loved.



Last Seen Alive

My review -

Libby and her husband Jamie are offered a house-swap for a week, exchanging their compact flat in Bath for a large, beautifully renovated mansion of a place in Cornwall. Libby deals with the owner only by telephone but an amicable agreement ensues and Libby and James seem to have fallen on their feet. Things don’t add up, though, and the place begins to get creepy. Jamie suffers from food poisoning and when he has to spend the night in hospital the dream holiday falls flat. The mysterious owner then tells them he’s going to stay in London so they can return to their own poky flat.

This is a superb story about identity. It seems to be a pet theme of the author’s and she handles it very deftly. The story develops, taking us away from the picture we had built up and replacing it with another. I found myself not knowing who to like or trust. Another great story from Claire Douglas.

Thanks to Netgalley for a review copy of this book.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Sarah Waters

This wartime story is told in a kind of reverse order. It's not as complicated as it sounds!


The Night Watch

Amazon.com link

My review -

Duncan is in a dead-end job, having been in prison. His sister is seeing a married man. Kay lives a solitary aimless life. Julie and Helen’s relationship is rocky due to Helen’s jealousy. Little bits of their 1947 lives are dropped as hints that something in their past is relevant to their situations now. And then we go back, and a little further back, to see what happened.


This story looks at an existing situation and shows us how the characters got to where they now are. The war is an ever-present horror in the later sections and a haunting wraith in the first. Sarah Waters’ writing is always beautiful and the characters’ dialogue is spot on, bringing them to life. I really love this idea of going back in a story, rather than forward. We are often given hints of a back-story but here we live through those events as they happen – just in reverse order. This fills in a lot of things we didn’t know, but explains the situation in the earlier, 1947 section. It’s an unusual device but it worked very well for me.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Frank Westworth

This author has written novels I've never quite had time to read - but this series of short stories is a great way in to getting to grips with the characters.


First Contract

Amazon.com link

My review -

Meet JJ Stoner. He’s a killer. He’s in the Army. That’s what they do. But Stoner goes beyond… He’s removed from his role and offered another, if he’ll take it. It’s that of a contract killer. Initially things aren’t as straight forward as he might have hoped.


This is a short story but it’s not short on ideas or action. Stoner is a callous killer yet a curiously attractive character. The story is beautifully told and packed with characters and incident. This is the start of a new career for JJ and I enjoyed reading it.

***





My review -

Stretch is a navy man and he falls for the wife of an army man. Not a good mix. He appears to be a womaniser but this particular woman has really got to him. Then she is seriously injured. He meets Stoner, investigator and ruthless eliminator if need be, who gives him an opportunity to – to do what he feels he has to do.

This is the sort of story where you have to face that two wrongs don’t make a right and that you would hate to be in this situation. Really, what would you do? Stoner is an antihero and certainly isn’t a man to emulate – but in the context of the stories, he has his own code and follows it. It makes for very good reading, but not for characters you’d particularly like to meet!

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Heather Burnside

A second Manchester-based series by Heather Burnside and it's off to a great start.


Born Bad

Amazon.com link

My review - 

Adele and her brother Peter are like chalk and cheese. Peter turns to petty crime, which then becomes not so petty, while Adele works for her A levels. She’s hard pressed to do so. Her mother lives on tranquilisers and her alcoholic dad is physically abusive to his wife. The children learn to tread carefully. She can’t understand why her mother puts up with the abusive treatment and humiliation her father hands out.

This is the first of another series set in Manchester, my native city, and it has such a sense of place. It’s a long time since I heard one or two of the words or expressions used here and they nailed the story geographically for me. Heather Burnside is so good at getting into characters’ heads and leaving you understanding their predicament, but I confess, I didn’t expect the turn the story took. I found it very good indeed.


I received a review copy of this from the publisher.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Jean Gill

I asked to review this book because I have a left-handed granddaughter. It's easy to forget how the world is right-hand-centric.



Left Out

Amazon.com link

My review -

Jamie is picked on at school for her clumsiness, which she attributes to being left-handed as nothing she uses is suitable. The only real friend she has is Ryan. He encourages her to research left-handedness and she finds out how many famous people, present and past, have been southpaws. She writes for the school newspaper, as does Ryan, though using a pseudonym. To both their horror, Ryan’s mum takes him away from their school in Wales to her native America but Ryan has hopes of wangling his way back.


This is a great little book which takes issues of bullying and being different, and manages to celebrate some of those differences. It opens the eyes of left and right handers to just how difficult it can be to use ordinary items – a potato peeler, for example – but how many left handers turn out to be extraordinary people. It’s not just a preachy book, though. It’s got some dark themes running under it, and a real page-turning feel to the plot. A very good read.

Too much back-matter for me but that's a personal preference.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

V K McGivney

A great writer of science fiction - one to watch.


Inheritors of the New Kingdom

Amazon.com link

My review -

Richard, writing his doctoral thesis, looks out in the early hours and sees what he can only think is a UFO. An elderly nun has seen it too, as has a local man living rough. The old man’s beaten up, the nun disappears and Richard is determined to find her, feeling that he’s in danger too. His new girlfriend, an old school friend he’s not seen for ten years, becomes involved and reports him missing in his turn.


This story takes on several themes, the largest being First Contact. It also covers the End Times religious sect idea, spiritualism, a little budding romance, and much more. The story is as successful as it is because it has credibility. It’s all too believable which is what makes it such an exciting read. I found myself thinking of the Orson Welles radio adaptation of the HG Wells classic War of the Worlds in the 1930s which was believed by many to be a ‘breaking news’ story and caused widespread panic. This is a considered and well-paced story which evolves towards a very thought-provoking ending. If you enjoy science fiction, I can’t recommend this highly enough. It’s an absolute corker of a tale.