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Book Reviews November ’19

Wow another month dashed by … a few more books read, most of them well worth reading!!

Sing Sad Songs

Michael Beyer

What a sad song, a sad young man and yet he brings so much joy to a dysfunctional Norwall family.

Arriving as an orphan, his French family wiped out in a car accident Francois brings something special to his Uncles Family and his new adopted brother, Billy.

He is accepted as one of the Norwall Pirates, a softball team and investigators of weird crimes. Rapidly a relationship between Francois and Valerie, a fellow Pirate, develops … all looks wonderful until the Teddy Bear Killer hits town. Even allowing for the strange dreams and the clowns …. had I mentioned the clowns? Or the dreams?

Weird and Wonderful 5 Stars

The Secret Chapter (The Invisible Library series)

Genevieve Cogman

Another fun instalment in the adventures of Irene the librarian and book redistributor and her sidekick the elegant dragon Kai. This time they need to deceive the man who leads the gang formed to steal the picture that … It makes more sense the way Genevieve Cogman has written it. Even if you got bogged down mid-series it is well worthwhile reading this little gem!

Weird and wonderous 5 stars

The Human Trials: And the Thrill of Being Watched

Ava Lee Mosley

Ava, got into a conversation with me on Twitter, I said I’d read one of her erotic stories. I touch of mild sexploitation, other wise a gentle, consensual sex story. Not badly written, No surprises. No problem. No excitement.

Nothing to get excited about 3Stars

The Church of the Undressed: Paradise Regained

Theo Theodora

A rather lacklustre priest’s wife inherits a run-down naturist resort, with a few wacky members. We going to sell it, her husband decides. Then she has a revelation, God’s work is best done naked. A new church starts. The new church attracts lots of on line coverage and the attentions of the police.

Liberally sprinkled with biblical quotations the story treads that fine line between titillating fiction and worthy polemic and generally manages to keep its balance.

I am not sure who the target audience for this book is, the naturists know this already and the unconverted are unlikely to start the story.

A pleasant enough read.

Well written Well balanced and Well … 4Stars

The Salt Path

Raynor Winn

An absorbing and almost overwhelming story of a couple beset with problems. Just little things, his health is failing, being made homeless, bankrupt, jobless … easy stuff really (NOT!). With nowhere else to go decide to walk the Salt Path, around the coast of Cornwall, rough camping. There only means of support, Social security of about £50 a fortnight.

The book describes their painful adaptation to their new lifestyle, acceptance and finally … read it and find out. The writing is sometimes a little self-indulgent, but the narrative thread was sufficiently strong to pull me through these rare patches.

The best non-fiction I have read this year.

Compelling … 5 Stars

Return of Uncovered Policeman

Yes the Uncovered Policeman, Rags, is set to return in a new adventure! LIVE, LOVE and LAUGH is the eleventh story in the series featuring the unclad copper.

The new story is released on Thursday 21st November 2019. The Kindle edition is available for pre-order on Amazon from …. NOW!!

The paperback is already available to purchase on the Amazon website. Whoo – Hoo!

The front cover of Live, Love and Laugh
The return of the Uncovered Policeman

Rags is back with a new adventure set, in part, on the island of New Albion. A place created by Wallace Greensage for “Who Is This Naked Lady?: And What Have They Done With My Wife?

Rags finds himself surrounded by strong, caring and supportive women; most of them strongly influenced by Bea. All wanting the very best for a man they all view as someone very special, Bea’s influence at work again?

If you remember how he left the after party following the final, farewell performance of the Unknown Twins. How he returned to his hotel and he sat and talked the night away. Then you might have an idea where this story starts.

If you don’t, well, this might be a good time to read or re-read The Uncovered Policeman: The Long Road!

October 2019 Book Reviews

Death Beside the Seaside (A Lady Hardcastle Mystery Book 6) by T E Kinsey (author)

Tiny Flo’ and Lady Hardcastle are back!

On holiday in wonderful Weston, the dynamic duo find themselves embroiled in a multiple murder, spy, hotel mystery.
Lots of murders, most of the guests at the hotel involved in espionage and the biggest mystery … who are Chub and Perch or is Antelope and Gazelle? Maybe Flo was correct to name them Leftie and Rightie after their gun hands.

An other rollicking adventure, revealing more of the past adventures of Lady H and her tiny companion, that bustles along like a hat in the breeze along Weston Promenade. At least it prevented Flo’ getting bored waiting for the tide to bring the sea to her!

As ever another fun read, just pipped to book of the month.

A fabulous read 5 Stars


The Reed Ferguson Series: Books 1-3 & Books 4-6
by Renee Pawlish (author)

A couple of box sets, the start of at least 18 stories featuring “not quite a rich boy anymore” detective Reed Ferguson. (Book 5 reveals why!)

The cast of characters are laid down in book 1 and they remain very true to themselves throughout, no sudden super-powers … then with Goofball Brothers as main support players; you wouldn’t expect them too.
The plots are all different even if Reed’s technique, a bit like Dick Francis’s detective Sid Halley’s “crash about a bit until someone beats me up”, approach.

I found them to be easy to read and kept me turning the pages.

Good reads 4 Stars


See You at the Bar (A Harry Gilmour Novel Book 5) by David Black (author)

Harry Gilmour continues to fight his war beneath the waves of the Mediterranean. Except in this story he is on the surface of the sea much of the time.
His would be nemesis, The Bonnyboy, is still trying to kill the one and only officer who knows the truth about his final patrol.

A less tension riddled tale than earlier books. Instead you worry for poor Harry’s mental and physical health and that of his crew as the submarine is pushed well beyond the normal deployment.

A bit weaker than normal from David Black

A final fling, 3 (+1/2) Stars


The Prisoner’s Key (Glass and Steele Book 8)
by CJ Archer

This is really a Steele and Steele book, picking up the story soon after Matt and India return from their honeymoon.
A metal magician wants to work with India to create new spells, then he becomes embroiled in a murder. India, Matt and the rest of the crew set out to provide the police with the identity of the real killer.

If you have enjoyed the previous seven stories, you’ll like this one too. It doesn’t, however, give you a reason to read on if you have lost enthusiasm for the series.

A fun read 4 Stars


The Last Dance (The Near-Earth Mysteries Book 1)
by Martin L. Shoemaker

The Captain of a ship on an endless voyage is charged with mutiny by the military forces under the control of BIG money.
The very junior Inspector General, Park Yerim, is the only inspector available in the narrow time frame available to conduct an independent investigation.

Park gathers testimony from the diverse crew, painting a complex picture of Captain Aames’s character: his heroism, his failures, even his personal passions. As the investigation unfolds, Park finds herself having to hold off powerful interests, each pushing and pulling her in a different direction to the one she wants to pursue.
Corruption, conflicting loyalties, and clashing accounts make it nearly impossible to see the truth in fifty million miles of darkness, and Park faces danger from every direction. All eyes are on her: one way or another, her findings will have astronomical implications for all involved

A classic country house style mystery, just the country house is missing. A well-told, enthralling story.

Undoubtedly The Book of the Month 5 Stars


Other Halves (Hannah series Book 2)
by Nick Alexander

A typically well crafted book by Nick Alexander. A marriage falls apart when Hanna leaves husband Cliff for his brother James. Cliff then has to struggle, coming to terms with suppressed feeling from his teenage years.
In the middle of this turmoil is Luke, the only child and weapon of choice for the warring couple.

A clever well written and absorbing story.

A good read 4 stars

September Books

Several books that were not so good this month … and one blindingly good one (at the bottom of the page)

The Case of the Nudist Numismatist

by Jack Dearborn (author), Ellen Dearborn (editor)

Another case for American detective Miles Grant, this time he has to solve the disappearance of a very valuable coin. The investigation progresses in an orderly manner, eliminating possibilities in a logical manner.

As usual Miles engages his wife as his sounding board which brings his family situation into the scope of the story. This opens up a family conversation about the rights and wrongs of the naturist life style some members of his family have adopted.

Not great literature but it is a fun read.

Fun 4 Stars

The Protest

by P.A. Choi (author)

Light fluffy short story about a naked protest on a college campus., from the prolific pen of PA Choi.

Fine if you want to read it.

Short and Signifying Nothing 2 Stars

A Dress the Color of the Sky

by Jennifer Irwin (author)

I wanted to enjoy this book … I didn’t.

There is nothing wrong with the writing. The plot is a little far fetched; a sex addict in therapy, trying to save a relationship with a man who is planning to marry another woman.

The voice didn’t work for me and coupled with the plot issues, I couldn’t read more than a few pages at a time … until I gave up.

NOT FINISHED – No rating

They Rang Up the Police (Inspector Guy Northeast Book 1)

by Joanna Cannan (author)

This a wonderful little detective story was actually written in 1939 and reflects the social mores of the period.

Out of favour Detective Guy Northeast is sent from Scotland Yard to investigate the disappearance of one member of a household of women, which turns into a country house murder. Before he can make progress he has to overcome the class prejudices of the era.

A rather well crafted book.

Good Read – 4 Stars

Death in Dulwich (The London Murder Mysteries )

by Alice Castle

The main character is a thirty-something single mum Beth Haldane. She has a young son, haughty cat, a fringe with a mind of its own and lots of bills to pay, as she struggles to keep up with the yummy mummies of the rather affluent Dulwich .

She starts a new a job and on her first day her immediate boss is murdered. For some reason she decides that she must be the main suspect and sets to clear her name.

A cozy crime story, pleasant enough if some of the characters are not much more than ciphers. Others I found to be a bit artificial. Read it or not, it isn’t going to change your world.

Cozy Reading 3 Stars

Hide and Seek PARIS-SXM

Valérie Lieko

I picked up the publicity for this book in a resort shop on St Martin, and didn’t get round to reading it for years. Thankfully.

Alternate chapters tell the story from either side of a dysfunctional romance. Dysfunctional because both characters are not who they claim to be. He is an undercover cop. She is on holiday and has created a more colourful persona for the event.

However, I found the double point of view story telling slow and often uninspiring. You know the factual basis of the second of each pair of chapters before you read it, although you might get a better understanding of the motivations and perceptions … it wasn’t enough.

I ended up skipping chunks and the entire last third of the book because to be honest I didn’t care enough about the characters.

NOT FINISHED – No rating

The Man with No Borders: A Novel

by Richard C. Morais (Author)

It is a time of reckoning for José María Álvarez, an aristocratic Spanish banker living in a Swiss village with his American wife. His has led a long and very interesting life, which includes a lot of salmon fishing. Or butchery of salmon by the hundred. Which he sells to hotels four or five days later, ungutted, no refrigeration, in Spain? Just as well it is fiction and an allegory.

That said this is the best book I read this month by a country mile. Well written, imaginative and engaging. You know the ending from the very start of the book. However, the narrative twist and turns like an alpine road, to the left, to the right and the doubling back to where you began, well almost.

I loved Richard C Morais earlier book The Hundred Foot Journey, I think that this is an even better book

The full 5 Stars And Book of the Month

July and August Reads

Reviews July August

Giant Problems, Naked Crow 8

PZ Walker

Naked Crow 8 - Giant Problems by [Walker, P.Z.]

P Z Walker’s Naked Crow, Sheila, and her friends (Jeremy, Josey, Wendy & Mike) are faced with a ‘giant’ problem at the Mighty Oaks Resort. All while caring for a group of young, native American artists.
Meanwhile, Owners Vinnie and Alice have their own problems to contend with.
Could they all be linked?
A great, rather bloody, romp at the interface of naturism and the ancient magic of the Tribes. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and was held captive by the great characters,

It is in need of a bit of tidying but I forgave that.

5 Stars

Siren Spirit

Elizabeth M Hurst

Siren Spirit (Lost Souls Book 1) by [Hurst, Elizabeth M.]

A short book, but it is the right length for the plot.

I enjoyed reading this tale of two timelines and two romances. There are no great messages or keys to the hidden mysteries of life, the universe etc.

The characters are likeable, the erotic content is gentle and the ghost scares nothing apart from the cat.

Overall a light and pleasant quick read.

4 Stars 

Broken Veil (Harbinger Book 5)

Prism Cloud (Harbinger Book 4)

Iron Garland (Harbinger Book 3)

Jeff Wheeler

Broken Veil (Harbinger Book 5) by [Wheeler, Jeff]

The third to fifth parts of this very popular series while perfectly readable and enjoyable did not add much to the story.

It kept me quiet, I paused and put the Kindle down and went and did something else for a bit, came back and read a few more pages.

3 Stars

No Where Girls

Teuta Metra

Nowhere Girls by [Metra, Teuta]

Nowhere Girls is at one level quite a dark read, corruption and crime form the overarching background to the whole story. However, it is a wonderful story of the will to survive.

Superimposed on to this gloomy backdrop is the story of three girls attempts to escape and lead a better life. The girls drive and determination to escape the gravitational pull of Albanian society takes them along different paths. Paths that intersect from time to time enabling changes of storyline to flow smoothly.

A very different take on a similar theme to James Gault’s The Redemption of Anna Petrovna.

I just wish that the main character, Sara, wasn’t such an ‘Eeyore’ character.  

4 Stars

Turn Left at Istanbul, Escaping Shirley

Richard Savin

Turn Left at Istanbul: ESCAPING SHIRLEY - The ultimate, mad, sixties road trip by [Savin, Richard]

Time it was,
And what a time it was
It was . . .
A time of innocence
A time of confidences
In writing a humourous memoir of a 1969 road trip Richard has accidentally written a wonderful eulogy for a bygone age of innocence, freedom and a world (more or less) at peace.

This is the story of his (and his travelling companion) first task in a new job. To drive his boss’s brand new Jaguar car from London to Calcutta.
They cross borders that are closed today, they pass ancient relics that are now lost to the world. They shop for a wing mirror, meet a drug lord, eat fabulous regional food (& some dross) and buy bits of the Taj Mahal from a small boy with a knife.
You couldn’t do this trip, this way today. Yes, it is funny but it also made me feel wistful for that era of optimism.

5 Stars

A Charmed Life

Paul Rouse

A Charmed Life by [Rouse, Paul]

This is the story of a young Australian news cameraman/T.V. Journalist told by the people around him at various points in his life. His ex-girlfriend, a cousin, his agent and several others all contribute to this tense story, mainly set against the wars in Iraq and the Kurdish independence struggle.
A well-plotted tale, stylishly written. That is where the star got lost.
While the multiple points of view approach enables the author to see all the events through the eyes of a direct observe it means that the timeline, while generally moving forward, shuffles around quite a lot.
We also never really get inside the head of the hero, we just get to hear the remembered speech through other people’s personal filters.
That said the book kept me engaged to the final scene.

4 Stars

A Flower in the Wind

James Gault

A Flower in the Wind: A thriller about Love and Politics by [gault, james]

Our star crossed lovers meet…
Hoa is a young Vietnamese girl sent to school in Singapore where she meets and falls for political activist Tim, a young American of Asian descent.
The group of activists they join are a strange little group of non-activists. They crave more action and well one thing leads to another. Then things get strange.
The tale is tightly written, maintaining a tense atmosphere throughout.
The two main characters are engaging if a little naive.
The plot while holding together pushes credibility more than a little towards the end. However, so does Romeo and Juliette. If Shakespeare can get away with it, maybe it is not an issue.

4 Stars

The Catnapped Lover

Rue Allyn

The Catnapped Lover

The story starts with an annual challenge between two very successful and wealthy young men. The company they run selects its’ CEO on the basis of this challenge from the current junior to the existing post holder.

This year Adam is challenged to survive without access to his money and business connection for eight weeks.

Meanwhile Dierdre is in the process of getting herself sacked from her job helping the disadvantaged.

Adam’s clunker of a loan car overheats in the Michigan wilderness. While he is searching for water, he finds a sick cat. Moved by the cat’s plight he carries in his arms as he searches for help, for the two of them.

With no job, and thanks to her ex, Paul, who had betrayed her trust and run off with her money, no savings.  Dierdre needs somewhere to take stock and rebuild her life.

The two meet on the porch of Aunt Shea’s farm and animal refuge. It is a long way from love at first sight.

The story is one of disdain and dislike turning to longing and lust but where will it end?

The story is essentially about the interactions between these three characters, Adam, Dierdre and Shea. With three minor characters in support. Oh, and the cat, well sort of.

The story is well written, and it is possible to empathise with the characters as they pass from trial to tribulation. However, I found a number of unresolved threads, sub plots that appear and disappear, a little distracting. As a matter of personal taste, I found Dierdre lack of willingness to talk honestly and Adam’s determination to win the bet frustrating.

Overall, despite these nit-picks, it is an enjoyable read, great for a summer’s day in the garden or an autumnal read in the sun lounge.    

I’ll give it 4 Stars for being a pleasant piece of non-taxing fluffiness.

 books2read.com/u/ba2KBx

Books I read in May

It has been a busy old month. I have been doing some beta reading for a couple of people as a result I have not had a lot of time for reading published books

Hope for the Best (Chronicles of St. Mary’s Book 10)

Hope for the Best (Chronicles of St. Mary's Book 10) by [Taylor, Jodi]

Jodi Taylor

Another outing for Max the Historian from St Mary’s.

If you have read the earlier books it will all make sense straight away, if you haven’t it will be difficult to pick the story. There are lots of references to other stories, I won’t say earlier because when you are dealing with “events in contemporary time.”

All the regulars are here, Max, Leon, The Time Police and resident bad guy Clive Ronan. A jolly romp in a series that readers of this page will know I really enjoy. If you are new to this delightful, wickedly funny series … start with Book 1, “One Damn Thing After Another.” It will make more sense, not a lot of sense but more!

5 Stars

The Thirty Something Snap

The Thirty Something Snap (2019 Revision) by [Helgasson, Alan]

by Alan Helgasson

Howie is heading towards his 40th birthday. He is worried about the way so many of his male friends undergo major lifestyle changes in their thirties, The Snap. He is a failed musician, he is divorced, he now has a good job, a very good job, so the thought of him ‘Snapping’ has him worried.

Then he gets a late night, well, early morning call from his ex-band mate and best friend. Peter is in hospital, Peter has burnt himself and his car is still at the place where the accident happened … A naturist resort. ‘Snap!’

The story is the classic boy discovers he actually likes girl more than just a friendship and loses her …

Has a second chance at fame as a musician …

A surprising and inventive story, even if it stretches your credulity, and ultimately a rewarding little light read. (It is not quite a #naturistfiction story but deals with naturism in a very mature way!)

Four Stars

Recipes for Gingerbread Children

Recipes for Gingerbread Children by [Beyer, Michael]

by Michael Beyer

A very clever book. It is easier to describe in terms of ‘Not’

  • It is not a children’s book
  • It is not an adventure story
  • It is not a light and fluffy fairy tale
  • It is not a piece of naturist fiction.

But it is all of these things at times as Grandma Gretel weaves her tales for the children that come to her cottage for cookies and stories.

This book is most certainly well written. It delivers moral judgements with all the force of the Brothers Grimm.

Five Stars and the Read of the Month

Myths and Mortals (Numina Book 2)

Myths and Mortals (Numina Book 2) by [Holmberg, Charlie N.]

Charlie N Holmberg

The second book in the three book Myths and Mortals series. Follows on directly from the end of book 1, with the heroine Sandis feeling betrayed by the male lead Rone.

I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first story, it was lacking in pace, with long periods of reflection by Sandis that I found ‘unsatisfactory’.

The action scenes are strong and the story arc is well planned but I felt that it had been padded-out and could have done with a few pages less. On the other hand I plan to read book 3 when it is published.

Four Stars

April 2019 Reads.

An eclectic bunch of books caught my eye this April. Here we go

Refusal

Felix Francis

Refusal (Dick Francis Book 3) by [Francis, Felix]

In the past, I have read most of the genuine Dick Francis books. The Sid Halley stories being in among the best of them. I was tempted into this one by while doing some research for a story.
Sadly, Felix is not his father. The book moves forward in leaps and pauses. The character of Sid has changed, much more than marriage and fatherhood alone should have done.
The secondary characters get very little development, even Chico becomes a cypher of his former self.
If you are new to the Francis canon, it is a perfectly acceptable ripping yarn, but …. 3 Stars

Forever War

Joe Haldeman

The Forever War: Forever War Book 1 (Forever War Series) by [Haldeman, Joe]

I read this as an almost new book while serving in the RAF and enjoyed it. Many years later I read Starship Troopers the story it was supposed to be antidote too.
Re-reading on the Kindle it was just as engaging as i remembered. The story follows Private Mandella as he manages to reach the heights of command simply by being just one of just two people to survive 2000 years of war, the other is his lover of choice. Haldeman manages to avoid the cliches of war fiction, by leaving most of it out. Probably as a result of being a Vietnam veteran. The end is a clever twist too.
A Good read.  4 Star

The Burning Issue of the Day

TE Kinsey

The Burning Issue of the Day (A Lady Hardcastle Mystery Book 5) by [Kinsey, T E]

The return of Lady Hardcastle delighted me.
It meant one of my favourite characters was back to, the diminutive, violent and supreme deflator of the pompous, Lady H’s maid, Flo.
The story appears to have been carefully researched and is a well written cosy mystery. If murder, arson and explosions are cosy.
Tucked into the mix are some wonderful observations on the class structure from the pocket lady’s maid. Plus there is a little bit of the history of the suffragette movement to round out the mix.
Well worth reading the whole series.

The return to form continues 5 Star fun

You Then, Me Now

Nick Alexander

You Then, Me Now by [Alexander, Nick]

A cleverly constructed tale of two visits to the Island of Santorini. (The Greek island where they take the classic white house, blue sea tourist pictures.)
For Becky, the two trips are a lifetime apart. For Laura, it is a painful return to try and find closure for the loss of the love of her life on the island.
Nick Alexander cleverly keeps the two stories separate and yet allows the reader to see how interwoven they are. Without revealing too much of the plot, let’s say there is a twist in the tail that I didn’t see coming until very close to the reveal.
Mr Alexander manages to weave an abusive, controlling, alcohol addicted character through the story. The hardship of life for the Greek people in the post-bail-out economy features too. This is not all the fluffy Shirley Valentine paradise.
An Excellent Read, worth every one of  5 Stars

A Dead End (A Saints & Strangers Cozy Mystery Book 1)

Keeley Bates, Annabel Chase

A Dead End (A Saints & Strangers Cozy Mystery Book 1) by [Bates, Keeley, Chase, Annabel]

As the blurb says “Kit Wilder is all washed up at the ripe old age of twenty-three. Blackballed by the producers of her hit TV show, she returns home to the affluent town of Westdale, chock full of Mayflower descendants, to enroll in college and lead a quiet life…until she discovers a skeleton in her house.” An absurd plot, ex-TV Cop helps solve murder. PS Mother is stinking rich, the must know person in town. The whole concept stinks.
On the other hand it is written with a deftness of touch that allows the authors to get away with a romantic lead … called Romeo.
Fun, a lot of good clean fun.  4 Stars

Going Home: The Barely Normal Life

Chef Martin

It’s not a novel, it is not even a good TV script (which is what it looks like)
No review, I didn’t read it beyond a few pages.

Dry Hard

Nick Spalding

Dry Hard

Funny, appalling, appealing and very contemporary … Classic Nick Spalding.
Kate and Scott have a wonderful fun-filled marriage. The partying hard and enjoying the odd drink, they drink a lot to find the odd one they enjoy. Sadly for them, it is destroying their lives, their marriage and their daughter’s life. Until their daughter posts a video of Christmas at home on the web …
The infamy is enough to get the couple onto the wagon … Can they stay there, can survive a year? What do the thousands of follows of various online gurus think ..
A funny moving story with a moral.
It hurt, I’ve cut back on the booze.  5 Stars

I can be flash

A new short story, Flash Fiction.

I was responding to a Twitter post about characters leading a story away from the original plot line and set out a flash fiction outline by way of an example.

Example
3 people in a lift. They have never met before today. they arrived for a job interview that turned out to be a series of tests.
They have been competing all day for 1 job, working as a team.
The lift stops Trapped
One opens a case for his phone a magazine falls out
“Oh ..

So the holder of the case becomes a woman, the phone vanishes and in a flash, you have

A Job in the City

A Job in the City
Flash Fiction

From the first Tweet at 8:19 AM – 21 Apr 2019 to Posting to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing  12 noon – 22 Apr 2019

Faster than a flash of lightning or what?

Out on Amazon for Kindle Friday 26th April 2019

£0.99 or Free with #KindleUnlimited

I hope you enjoy the read and if you like it, please, leave a review. If you think it could be better … contact me directly

ted.bun(at)sunnybuns.me .uk