Friday, 27 December 2013

Alex Roddie

Alex Roddie has written a cracking adventure - and Queen Victoria and Prince Albert star!

The Atholl Expedition

Amazon.com The Atholl Expedition

My review - 

Alex Roddie has created a tale consisting of a number of stories interwoven. Two of his characters are Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, taking their holidays on the Duke of Atholl’s estate.  This was at the time when the famous rows between the two had died down but there was still some disagreement about certain things – like being home on your birthday! – to provide narrative tension. The Duke has threatened one of his ghillies with the loss of his job and his cottage if he can’t provide the Prince with a famous stag to bring home as a trophy. The ghillie’s son works with his father but yearns to break away. Forbes, a geologist, wants to follow up reports of a glacier in Scotland, but had to cross the Duke of Atholl’s land and the Duke is famously against trespassers. There’s all this and more here and it’s a very interesting read.


I have always admired the author’s approach to descriptive writing. It’s not easy to do without sounding florid but his descriptions of storms, or of the mountains themselves, are studies in the careful choice of words. I love this style and I very much enjoyed the adventure story aspect of this book.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Tim Arnot

This is a longish short story set in the 'post Collapse' times the author has created so well.



Socko's First Case

Amazon.com Socko's First Case

My review -

Andy ‘Socko’ Garrett is seventeen and a Kingsman cadet.  It’s his first case and it involves stolen gold and a dead body – and it’s the king’s gold.  Talk about starting at the top!  With his more experienced partner Corporal Barnes, he is given the task of solving the mystery and recovering the gold in time for Boxing Day when it’s to be given to the poor.  Socko started (and lasted less than a day) in the local Watch.  The difference between him and the local watchmen is that he has brains!


This is a great little story set in the time of the author’s full length novel Wanted.  You can read this as a stand-alone though.  I thoroughly enjoy the post-apocalyptic setting when the constraints of minimum technology are in place.  Excellent stuff – and I still want the second novel!

Matt Drzymala

Matt is a new author of short stories.  This will have echoes for everyone who lives in a village.



The Bumpkinton Tales: Bittersweet

Amazon.com The Bumpkinton Tales: Bittersweet

My review -

This is the delightful tale of a village and the history of a family.  Venetia remembers her Grandpa Eddie telling her stories about the shop he used to run in the little village of Bumpkinton.  She decides she’d like to go back and run the shop if it’s for sale.  It is and she and her malleable husband Timothy buy it.  The village is packed with wonderful characters and most of them don’t like the idea of ‘townies’ coming in to their village.


I live in a village too, and enjoyed this story which is light hearted and feel-good. The author uses some great turns of phrase - I started highlighting them but then realised there were too many and I’d be wasting good reading time!  I understand there are more books planned in this series.  I shall be looking out for them!


Friday, 20 December 2013

Sam Kates

Sam has written horror and short stories but this is a science fiction novel, and very well done indeed.


The Cleansing

Amazon.com The Cleansing

My review -

This is an apocalyptic science fiction novel in which a group of about 5,000 people, for reasons we don't find out until later, have engineered the downfall of most of humanity through the dissemination of a deadly virus. The story is told both from the viewpoints of those who are perpetrating this act of genocide and some of those who go through it and in one or two cases, come out weak but alive. The race causing the death of humankind is spread around the world which allows us to see different members of this group and to witness their varying views of what they are doing.

There are huge ramifications to this story and we learn later in the book about the origins of mankind and why this act is deemed necessary. The whole of the story is not resolved as this is Book 1 and we are left, after an exciting chase, with something of a cliff hanger ending. I found this an engaging and gripping read and I really look forward to reading more about this world in what will then be post-apocalyptic times.

I received a pre-publication copy of this book.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Various Authors - Anthology

This is the second volume of the KuF Anthology.  I have a story in here but I have reviewed it on the strength of all the rest.  It's very good indeed!



Off the KUF Volume 2

Amazon.com Off the KUF Volume 2

My review - 

I really enjoyed the variety of stories in the first of these anthologies and this one is no different. Some of the authors are already favourites of mine and some are completely new to me. Some had stories in Volume 1, some, again, are new. What I found particularly good was that some authors gave me more of what I already knew and loved while some gave me a different slant, a new genre. The delight of the short story is that you can experiment and some people have – and I love it!

I believe the short story has come into its own with the advent of the ebook and I’m seeing and buying more and more. It’s so easy to dip in and out although I usually just start at the beginning and go right through. This is an excellent way to introduce yourself to new talent. A brilliant read.
Disclaimer – I’m in it! 

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Jonathan Hill

A Christmas short story from Jonathan Hill shows us Maureen in her usual fix. Self inflicted!


  International link

My review - 

This is a delicious little seasonal short story full of laughs. I say delicious – it includes sherry and chocolates! The story is full of sharp little observations. Maureen as usual is out to impress someone and digs herself in ever deeper. We all know someone with some of Maureen’s traits. I just hope nobody knows someone with them all! Even the laughs are thought provoking though. Do you try so hard to impress because you’re insecure? Maureen manages to be both faintly ridiculous and yet laudable for the way she tries. On that thought, I’d say read this and start your Christmas with a laugh!

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Nicola Palmer

Nicola Palmer writes stories for children and they are always worth reading whatever your age.


The Christmas Project

Amazon.com The Christmas Project


This is the second Christmas story by Nicola Palmer that I've enjoyed. She is able to write a story for children which can encapsulate the excitement of the season but give it an entirely different slant. Billy's family are affected by the unseasonably early snow (September!) as his Dad, a builder, is out of work. Billy meets their strange new neighbours. As the story unfolds we find out more about the neighbours and what happened almost a year ago to Granddad.

Nicola Palmer doesn't write down to her young audience which is no doubt why her stories have a much wider appeal. She has a lovely and deceptively simple style of writing which makes her stories a delighted to read.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Writing in tandem?


I am far too sporting to review a book I have partly written but I thought it might be useful to talk about how it works when two people write one book.  For drabble novices, I will explain that a drabble is a complete story told in exactly 100 words.  This form of flash fiction is becoming popular and there are now numerous practitioners of the Dark Art!  Jonathan Hill was the first to have his published in the daily Indie Book Bargains newsletter.  This summer I had a idea for a drabble and submitted it a little sheepishly.  After this the ideas came like hailstones!  Hard and heavy!  

We have been asked how we managed to write a book together.  Did we do half each?  Did we decide beforehand who would write what?  Initially it was Jonathan's book; a sequel to his 100 One Hundred Word Tales.  We developed the habit of trying our drabbles out on one another.  This regular exchange of stories - sometimes several in a day - led us to come up with the idea of sharing a book.  To do this successfully you have to like one another's work and of course, to get on well with one another.  After an initial period of diffidently pointing out errors or failings to each other, we soon felt able to be perfectly open and honest when a drabble didn't work.   This 'shared book' idea only works when you trust one another.

It can't be looked at as a means to fill a book more quickly!  Because we were frank when we knew a story wasn't up to snuff, we discarded a good many.  Things you might have used if you were putting together a collection of your own work were scrutinised through another person's eyes and sometimes found wanting.  Only those which made us both say 'Yes!' made it into the final selection.

I know that some people manage to write a whole novel as a team.  I have no idea how that works!  You'd have to do some serious planning and maybe divvy up the chapters.  

Will we do it again?  Who knows?  We each have something different on the horizon now but prepare for a Drabbly Advent!

If you haven't seen it yet - here's the book's blurb - 

The world of drabbles awaits you! 

A drabble tells a story in precisely 100 words, and this book is packed with drabbles that will move, shock and entertain. 

'Beyond 100 Drabbles' features 120 new miniature works, written by two of today’s most formidable drabblers. Jonathan Hill and Kath Middleton showcase some of their finest drabbles here, resulting in a collection that demonstrates the indisputable power of this popular flash fiction form. 

The authors cover a plethora of genres and even take the drabble one step further by interacting in a series of ‘challenge drabbles’. 

The stories are ideal for reading back to back, or individually in spare moments. The question is, can you stop at just one?

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Beverley Carter

This is a longer mystery by Beverley Carter. I loved the way the story created a web of intrigue - then unravelled it!



Swallowfields

Amazon.com Swallowfields

My review - 

A young woman, Hannah, inherits a house from her aunt and moves in with her two daughters.  We learn about her aunt, her mother, her step father, but mostly about the family who lived in that house earlier.  Her uncle was a strange man with a murky past.  There was a tragedy in the house – we find out about that as the tension mounts.  Through a complex network of deceit and lies, we find out how one person covering up to protect another can create a web of intrigue which throws a veil of obscurity over a child’s life.  It’s wonderful to be there as lifting that veil unfolds a new future for Hannah.


This is longer than Beverley Carter’s earlier novellas and therefore has the possibility for delving deeper into the characters’ lives.  There were still areas I would have liked more detail on – I’m just a nosy person!  The author has a lovely accessible writing style and always uses it to tell a great story.  This is a really good mystery tale and I enjoyed reading it very much!

Interview!

This is an interview between fellow drabbler Jonathan Hill and his soon-to-be contributor - Ignite. 


Beyond 100 Drabbles, my second drabble book, is to be published on Saturday 23rd November. The keener eyed amongst you will notice another name on the front cover alongside my own. What? You’ve not seen the front cover? If that’s the case, please see exhibit A below. And while you’re there, please take a look at exhibit C, a photo of Kath Middleton, the 'other name' on the cover!

Exhibit A
Exhibit C

(If you’re scratching your head about exhibit B, it had to be removed at the last minute as it was deemed to be too shocking for public viewing.)

Jonathan: So, without further ado, Kath, please introduce yourself.

Silence

Jonathan: Kath? Kath? Sorry about this, readers. Kath’s just finishing her slice of cake.

Kath: Sorry, Magnus. I’m ready now. I’m Kath. I’m from the UK. And my specialist subject is cross-breeding vegetables.

Jonathan: No, Kath. CUT!

Jonathan takes Kath aside, reminding her that this is the drabble book blog interview and not an audition for Mastermind.

Kath: Ah, wrong day, sorry folks.

Jonathan: Okay, no harm done. Shall we begin?

Kath: Yes, I’m ready!

Jonathan takes a deep breath.

Jonathan: You're chiefly known as a reviewer (Ignite) and also someone who champions indie books, but how long have you been writing?

Kath: Authors always say, "I've always written," but so have I. I began writing poetry in my teens as everyone does and, in a bizarre case of arrested development, I still do. Since people have taken an interest in my drabbles, I’ve begun to write some longer fiction. I am also the only person I know who uses adjectives in shopping lists.

Jonathan: Adjectives in shopping lists? That’s perfectly normal.

Jonathan edges his chair back a little.

Kath moves hers forward to compensate.

Jonathan: And, just before we put your reading habits to one side and concentrate on your writing, do you remember which indie book you read first?

Kath: No. It was about three years ago and I'm old enough to find recalling why I came to the shops a bit of a challenge!

Jonathan: Ah, so that explains why you started off as if you were on Mastermind.

KathMastermind?

Jonathan: Never mind. Do you manage to squeeze any traditionally-published books into your reading time?

Kath: I read a few. I belong to a book group in my village and they choose traditional books because not everyone has an eReader, or even an internet connection. I always find there's another indie book I want to read though. I don't often have to resort to a trad book!

Jonathan: Well it seems appropriate to mention here that Beyond 100 Drabbles will be available as a paperback shortly after eBook release. (whispers) Was that subtle enough?

Kath: No.

Jonathan: Do you have any hobbies apart from reading?

Kath: My hobbies are largely creative. I breed vegetable varieties and make patchwork quilts. I love baking bread and cakes. As I've hinted, I occasionally dabble in the sort of writing not intended for public consumption. Ransom notes and such like.

Jonathan: Okaaaay. And when did you start writing drabbles?

Kath: I wrote my first drabble on a weekend away with the local Natural History Society in June this year. I hadn't been very well the week before and writing a drabble was a great excuse for not walking up a mountain in the rain. Like I should need an excuse! I'm a granny!

Jonathan: As you will know, a drabble idea can strike at any time (and often when you have no pen or paper to hand - but thankfully I haven't had to resort to scrawling on toilet paper... yet!) I find I get my best ideas while in the shower or sitting out on my patio. Do you have any particular place that leads to drabbles more frequently than others?

Kath: Bed. When I'm drowsing in the arms of Morpheus I often blink awake with another idea. Often it's how welcome a cup of tea would be, or why I've got cramp in my foot - but sometimes it's actually a drabble.

Jonathan: Do you bring your years of experience to your writing?

Kath: Hell no! I just make stuff up. Don't you? You mean you really have stabbed all those people?

Kath backs slowly towards door...

...but then is enticed back with cake.

Jonathan: Have you any advice for aspiring authors?

Kath: Never trust a granny.

Silence.

Jonathan: And? Is that your answer?

Kath laughs.

Kath: Sorry, of course that’s not the complete answer! Never trust a granny... not even your own!

A particularly large tumbleweed drifts across the studio.

Jonathan: How do you find it works, sharing a book?

Kath: Excellently, as long as you already like one another's work. We spur each other on. When you get a daily drabble or two in your inbox, you feel bound to send something back. We also have a friendly relationship so we feel able to point out bits that feel clumsy or drabbles that are unclear, without either of us taking the huff. We've improved one another's work. It's no help being told, 'That's very nice, dear,' each time.

Jonathan: That’s a very nice answer, dear. And what do you think is the effect on the book of the differences between us?

Kath: You mean the fact that you're male and young and I'm female and... mature? It makes for a wider range in the drabbles. (Aside to readers - Jonathan is Skywalker to my Yoda. I can't tell him much about drabbles as he's been writing them longer than I have. I'm trying to teach him to levitate though. And I can actually waggle my ears. Look! I'm doing it now. They're not green though. Much.)

Jonathan: Just a reminder, Kath, that we’re not on video. They can’t actually see what we’re doing, or wearing for that matter.

Kath: Oh, is that why you’re just wearing...

Jonathan: ...AND moving swiftly on... I have some burning questions to ask you. But be warned they may be far too deep for you to answer. Firstly, if someone were to make a film of your life (although I'm not sure modern cinemas are equipped to cope with the demand), who would play you?

Kath: Helen Mirren. I've always wanted to look intelligent and elegant!

Jonathan: And now for a more sensible question. My name is quite often spelt incorrectly. I have seen several variants of Jonathan which are in relatively common usage but also some absolutely bonkers spellings that I wasn't aware of at all! Has anyone ever spelt your name incorrectly, and if so, did it lead to chaos, e.g. being addressed as the Duchess of Cambridge?

Kath: I was once asked on a forum if Will often landed his helicopter on my lawn. I spent so long trying to decide if that was rude that, by the time I was prepared to comment, the conversation had moved on. I don't like to be called Kathy. I'm not that person. Sadly, it's mostly elderly gents who call me that so I can't really slap their faces or they'd fall off their zimmers.

Jonathan: Riiiiight.

Kath: Actually, just ignore that last bit. I don't like being called Kathy but I really don't slap elderly gents!

Jonathan: I’m afraid I can’t just ignore that last bit. The contract you signed gave me your full permission to use every word you utter in my presence.

Kath: Contract? What contract? I don’t remember signing a contract? What else did it say?!

Jonathan makes a show of rustling papers and appears to have temporarily misplaced the contract.

Jonathan: Errrr, never mind. We can deal with that another time. Right, back to the book. Our time is almost up.

Kath(peering at watch in relief) Oh what a shame!

Jonathan: If you were forced to describe the book in three words only (and I am forcing you here), which trio of words would you choose?

Kath: Jonathan and Kath. Am I allowed to add - The Movie? It's only a matter of time, you know.

Jonathan and Kath(in unison) So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu. Adieu, adieu, to you and you and you.

Kath: Wait! We can’t finish with just three yous. It implies your blog has three readers!

Jonathan: Hopefully it’ll be correct by the time we post this interview. I know someone who has expressed an interest in visiting my blog.

This interview was recorded in a top secret studio in 2013. In fact, the studio was so well hidden it took several weeks for Jonathan and Kath to find their way home afterwards.

'Beyond 100 Drabbles' is available to download from Saturday 23rd November 2013. The book features 120 drabbles and is an eclectic mix, so the authors would like to wheel out the cliché that there really is something for everyone. Jonathan and Kath also wish to point out that the book itself is more sensible than this interview. Well, mostly.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Simon Jenner

This is the second in the Ethan Justice series.  It's another fast paced action thriller with a superbly evil villain!




My review - 

Ethan Justice and his work partner and on-off girlfriend Savannah Jones are working with Herb Johnson from an organisation called Earth guard. Johnson seems to have finances and technical wizardry at his fingertips, some if which Justice and Jones are given to use. They are up against a sick-minded criminal Uber-villain who is behind the disappearance of a young girl the pair have promised to find.

This is a high octane action story, the second in its series, and twists a number of story strands together. I very much enjoy Justice as the unlikely hero and Jones as the surprising heroine. I loved her effect on his previously unyielding parents in this book! Lovers of the thriller genre will quickly engage with this series. I enjoyed it a lot.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Various Authors - Anthology

This anthology is produced by members of the Kindle Users Forum and is sold to raise funds to keep the forum going.  


Off the KUF

Amazon.com  Off the KUF

My review - 

If you are a one-genre reader then you won’t get much from a mixed anthology such as this but if you are a pick-and-mix person and enjoy several genres, even those stories that don’t fall neatly into one category, then this is your book!  Buy it now!

I am a member of the forum which produced this anthology and the variety of stories which were offered is tremendous.  Some are by favourite indie authors of mine so I knew I was in for a treat with at least part of the book.  I resisted the temptation to dip and go for those first and I have to say that the order of presentation has been carefully thought out.  It’s a real opportunity to savour those you know you will enjoy while trying out new flavours.  There are now authors whose work I had never encountered before who will have me lurking on their author pages to see what else they have published!

The book is of very high standard and I enjoyed almost all and was actually excited by some!  It’s a chunky read too – excellent value.  Don’t miss it – the world will be talking about it! 


Disclaimer – I’m in it!  ;)

Monday, 4 November 2013

Jonathan Hill

This is the third eagerly awaited Maureen book.  I think Jonathan has taken her to a new level here.  Excellent!



Maureen and The Big One

Amazon.com Maureen and The Big One

My review -

Many readers have delighted in the exploits of Maureen, a lady of a certain age who can sweep into any situation leaving a chaotic wake. Here is all the humour we've come to expect but there's so much more. I feel that in this story Maureen takes on greater depths and the story is all the richer for it. I laughed at her visit to the rock shop – in order to hide from another situation she'd created. I loved her sudden discovery of a gambling addiction, her consultation with a pseudo psychic and her ride on the ghost train. There's a wealth of funny situations here. It's not just slapstick comedy though. Jonathan Hill is very good at humour based on a great choice of wording. It's clever and witty and really appeals to me.


In this story I feel that the author has matured in his dealings with his character. We are witness to her recollection of repressed childhood memories and of her discovery that she will not be able to have children. We had 'the letter' in Book 2, but there's much more here to change Maureen from 'larger than life' to 'real life' and I feel she's a better character for it. Some of the revelations about Maureen's life are unexpected and stunningly done. Jonathan Hill can hit harder with understatement than many can with a gush of words. This series is going from strength to strength. I can happily take more of this! Go Maureen!

Friday, 18 October 2013

Stuart Ayris

This novella is a travelogue with a difference.  If you love Stuart's playful use of language and vivid imagination you'll adore this.

The Buddhas of Borneo

Amazon.com The Buddhas of Borneo

My review - 

This charming, magical, chaotic travelogue of a novella takes us with the author on his five day visit to Borneo. With a Stuart Ayris book, you are aware that you are reading his unique description of the place and events alongside the amazing things happening on the inside of his head. There are descriptions of places many of us will never see, alongside a conversation with a monitor lizard and a card game with the pygmy elephant from a picture on the wall. He describes the cave inhabited by clouds of bats, and from which the nests for the famous bird's nest soup are collected. He takes us to an old prisoner of war camp and he shows us the island where the female turtles come ashore to lay their eggs.

His writing is lyrical and creative, artfully constructed and layered in meaning. I love it when a writer can link together commonly used words and make me see something in a different way. This book can be read in a couple of evenings but the beguiling voice of the man who has not lost the child's eye view is going to remain with you. 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Nicola Palmer

A delightful story of a young boy growing up.

The Stranger in the Shed

Amazon.com The Stranger in the Shed

My review - 

Rory is a very bright and articulate 11 year old who doesn’t get on with his peers.  It doesn’t help that his father is a celebrity chef and his mother has left the family home.  His older sister is studying psychology and seems to want to analyse him!  Nobody seems to understand how Rory is feeling – certainly not his school fellows.  Then he meets Angus.  Not just a stranger but very strange.  He understands Rory in a way nobody else does, but he also infuriates him.  We come to see both Rory and Angus in a new light as this charming story progresses.


The tale is a quick read for an adult but contains a lot of wisdom.  Don’t dismiss it because it’s for young people.  It’s very well written and whips along at a good pace.  I enjoyed this very much!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Hunter S Jones and An Anonymous English Poet

This is a collaborative book by an author I've never come across before and an author/poet whose work I have previously read and loved.  This works seamlessly here.

September Ends

Amazon.com September Ends

My review 

I really enjoyed this story which documents the relationships of Liz Snow, who felt lost and adrift since she and her brother were in a car crash in which he died. She entered a brief unsuccessful marriage then, while concentrating on her career, became involved with Pete who shared her love of poetry. She eventually met and married Jack, the poet whose blog they both followed. The story is told from different points of view and in the form of emails, letters, diary entries and narrative. There is a fairly racy section in the first half of the book in which Liz and Pete share their fantasies in a private chatroom, and later in the flesh. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t class this as Erotica, nor would I say it’s Romance. It charts the evolution of a number of interwoven relationships and it’s fascinating.

The whole story is beautifully told and the poet Jack is brought to life by means of his poems. We are brought up against personal loss and the characters' reactions to those experiences. I was especially impressed that Jack's poems are different in style from Pete's although written by the same (anonymous) member of the authorship collaboration. I'd love to see more from this pair. It's a seamless collaboration and there's scope for more.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Mark R Faulkner

Mark Faulkner writes these stories so engagingly.  There's horror but there are flashes of sensitivity and understanding which highlight and contrast.  Lovely stuff.

The Dark Stone

Amazon.com The Dark Stone

My review - 

This is the story of Sam who was a survivor of a terrible plague which killed all his family and almost everyone in his small town. He was befriended by another young boy, Joshua and eventually taken away by a group of monks with whom he found a happy and peaceful life. A couple of years later the monastery was sacked and Sam was the only survivor. As he escaped, he took a dark stone with him, which gradually but inexorably altered his behaviour. 

The writing is fluent and descriptive and I loved the away the story flowed. The author is able to describe both beauty and horror and to evoke both disgust and pity. This is sensitive horror. I felt for Sam as he had to cope with the death of all those he loved, and later as he found his own actions were beyond his control. I felt his anguish as he lost his innocence and fell prey to the power of The Dark Stone. A great story with its own built-in horror.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

David Wailing

This is the collected Auto stories with 3 added - and I'm guilty of thinking it would just be more of the same. I'm glad to be so wrong!

Auto (Auto Series)

Amazon.com  Auto (Auto Series)

My review - 

I wondered what I would be getting with this book, having already read all those short stories published individually. Three extra stories, yes, but what did they add to the mix but more of the same? Well, now I know. Strangely these three, one at the beginning, one somewhere in amongst, and one at the end, set the other stories in a context. Each story stood alone and gave considerable food for thought, but when connected, they make a whole which really asks some questions. It doesn't give all the answers though, and leaves us with the knowledge that there will be more.  I do find myself thinking that this must read rather differently if you come to it all here for the first time.  For me it both linked earlier stories and drew out a meaning from them which wasn’t obvious previously.  I would urge people who think of skipping the stories they’ve already read, not to do so.  Read this in its entirety. 


David Wailing has shown us a future which some might find exciting, but he fills in the gaps and gives us the down-side of a society where it's no longer possible to be secretive. These stories and their characters connect to make an excellent whole.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Ray Kingfisher

This story takes us back to the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen.  It's real food for thought.

The Sugar Men

Amazon.com  The Sugar Men

My review - 

This latest book by Ray Kingfisher begins as the life of Susannah Morgan is drawing to an end.  She is an American citizen but was born a Jew in Berlin.  She has suppressed her memories and not told her children of what she went through.  In her last few months of life she makes the decision to go back to Germany and to visit the site of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where she spent a year as a teenager.  Gradually she allows herself to revisit her memories and with them comes the decision to visit one other person who is very important to her.


This book is wonderfully told and expressed and it doesn’t pull any punches.  Susannah appears to be a crusty old dear and makes jokes when her children are trying to talk to her seriously.  Eventually she trusts herself and then trusts them with the times in her life which took so much from her.  They also took much from the soldiers whose job it was to liberate the camp.  The story the book tells is now so far in the past that not many people still remember it.  It’s a story which should never be forgotten.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

David Wisehart

This is the first David Wisehart I've read but I doubt it'll be the last. It's a cracking medieval quest story with smatterings of Latin and some great characters.

The Devil's Lair

Amazon.com  The Devil's Lair

My review - 


This story is a Grail Quest and a journey which follows Dante's route into the inferno.  The group undertaking the quest includes an epileptic girl, a friar, a poet and a knight who lost his memory after a deep head wound.   Their world is devastated by the plague, the Black Death.  Their quest is to acquire the lance of Longinus, the soldier who pierced Christ's side, and take it into the underworld, through the nine circles of hell.  There they will use the lance to gain possession of the Grail and bring it back to earth to help to heal it.  Not all of them will return!


This is an intriguing concept and the writing is scattered with antique words and Latin phrases.  Much of the Latin can be understood by anyone with a smattering of church Latin – it’s biblical quotations and pieces from the Mass for the Dead. Mostly it comes off, except for odd times such as when the author apparently unwittingly used a bit of Cockney rhyming slang.  The mediaeval mind was wonderfully conjured here and I very much enjoyed the read.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Darren Humphries

Here's a quick read - another couple of short stories featuring Agent Ward.

The Man from UNDEAD - Frights and Fireworks

Amazon.com The Man from UNDEAD - Frights and Fireworks


My review - 

This is a pairing of short stories featuring the popular Agent Ward from UNDEAD. The character has matured and mellowed and is now so laid back he’s practically horizontal. His exploits in the haunted house in the first story are superb, with some lovely references to look out for! In the second story, London, and in particular parliament, once again face a bonfire night threat.

These short, seasonal stories are part of a series which could well be grouped as ‘Around the Year with The Man From UNDEAD’ – but probably won’t. They are a great idea and provide an additional variety of plots to complement those we meet in the longer series. 

Monday, 30 September 2013

Jim Webster

This prequel will give a flavour of Jim's work to anyone who's been hesitating because  the price his publishers set.  It's the early years of Benor the Cartographer who will probably end up as one of your favourite characters.  He's one of mine!

The Cartographer's Apprentice

Amazon.com The Cartographer's Apprentice

My review

This book of short stories acts as a prequel to the tales of the Land of the Three Seas. If you’re a fan of Jim Webster’s work, as I am, you’ll be delighted to read some of the earlier exploits of Benor, a character it’s very easy to become fond of. The other books contain more fantasy in the sense that there is magic and there are strange beasts, more so than you will find here. This gives the flavour though. Speaking of flavours, there’s always a good deal of food involved in these stories!

The longer books are, by ebook standards, pricy, so there may well be people who have held off reading them. Wait no longer! Read this one and dip your toes into the gentle humour and wonderful way with words that characterise this series. Jim Webster manages to write his stories as though they were ancient Greek myth. It’s a wonderful gift!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Darren Sant

Darren Sant writes short stories but I've never managed to catch up with them.  This novella length story pulled me in from the blurb.  It's brilliant!

The Bank Manager and The Bum

Amazon.com The Bank Manager and The Bum

My review - 

This is a wonderful novella length story about Giles, the bank manager, his family and the homeless man found by Giles one morning as he unlocks the bank.  The family are coming to terms with some dreadful news and Frank, the bum of the title, together with his dog Rex, are pivotal in the family’s survival.  It’s almost a modern legend and definitely has a mythic quality about it.  I found it beautifully written and a real ‘feel-good’ story.  It’s the first work that I’ve read by Darren Sant and on this evidence, I really must read more!


Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Sibel Hodge

This is the first of Sibel's books that I've read.  It's a bit different from her usual style as she writes chick-lit and Romance which don't normally do much for  me!  This is excellent.



The See-Through Leopard

Amazon.com The See-Through Leopard

My review - 

Jazz is a teenager whose problems began when her mum was killed in a car accident for which Jazz blames herself. She was also facially scarred and is naturally insecure about this and stubbornly on the defensive. Her dad takes her back to Kenya where he and her mum worked before she was born. She hates it and feels everyone is staring and judging her as a freak. Early on, she finds an orphan leopard and a bond between two motherless creatures is forged. It’s through rearing the young leopard that Jazz finds her purpose and her life comes together. It’s heartening to watch her surmount her personal problems to come to the aid of the wild creatures which are subjected to human greed and poaching.

This Young Adult novel deals sensitively with issues of self-doubt and insecurity all piled on top of the all-purpose teenage angst we’ve all felt. The book’s beautifully written, the characters are believable and I think it’s a great read whatever your age. A proportion of the profits will go to Panthera and other charities dealing with wildlife crime.