Category Archives: Books read

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

March 2019

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C.J. Archer 
I have been binge reading again this time the very absorbing Glass and Steele books by CJ Archer. The story of India Steele, the Time Magician brought up in ignorance of her magic by her parents, who were frightened by the anti-magic power of the Craft Guilds.  Her partner in crime (solving) Matt Glass, who is in turns a dead man given a second chance by magic, an American outlaw turned inlaw, the next Lord Ryecroft  and the unattainable love of her life.
Set in roughly Victorian London , retaining a great sense of place, these almost cosy, murder and magic stories draw you in and keep you held as the next layer of multi-layered adversaries is revealed in the next book.
Fabulous series only slightly running out of steam by book 7.
Series of the year?  Maybe!
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Take your average wife, mum, breadwinner and tired old frump, struggling to keep her family housed and fed, in a job situation that is far from perfect, while her wanna be writer husband does very little. You have Penelope.
Her best friend, the perfect, lifestyle blogging millionairess Jenny suddenly dies. Revealing that things were not as they seem.
As a result, Penelope decides that she needs to get honest about her life  … starting with her fading marriage.
It might not sound it but it is an entertaining read. Well developed characters and while it has no conventional plot it moves everyone forward through the pages.
Five Stars Read it
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The Irish ‘Rankin’ returns as strong as ever.
Wilson has another murder to solve, that of an ex-Drug Squad officer.  As ever there are tentacles that reach so much further and bring an extra dimension to the case.
Unlike so many ‘Wonder Cops’ Inspector Wilson is a team player. His team are his eyes and ears in the world. His boss gives him cover from above. He drinks but not to the excess of Rebus. He thinks but not to the depths of Morse. He has had failed relationships but is now in a fragile long term affair.
This is a series  of truly great thrillers, I cannot recommend them highly enough
FIVE BIG RED STARS
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The Case of the Nefarious Naturist

The Case of the Nefarious Naturist

by Jack Dearborn (author), Ellen Dearborn (editor)
Just as you thought it was all going to be 5star reviews this month.
This tale of a private eye hired to find the Blackmailer who is trying to extort money from members of a naturist club falls a little flat. Miles manages to track down the blackmailer by asking the same questions, word for word often as not of all the members. He then goes home and recounts it all to his wife and partner Luann, verbatim.  The one clever trick becomes a bit of a bore after the third telling too.
Three Stars a Potboiler
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The Black Spitfire by [Oliver, Nicholas]

The Black Spitfire

by Nicholas Oliver (author)
 Well …
Start with an injured spy obtaining a private Hurricane fighter in the autumn of 1940
Then we have a super squadron of invincible Spitfire pilots called Bulldog Squadron, not a number like every other RAF squadron.
The spy’s boss flies in for a meeting in a private Avro Anson despite being out of favour.
Captured on Jersey, beaten and tortured in an underground bunker in Normandy before escaping after a gun battle, (two up) in the Hurricane …
Then turning into a sub-Denis Wheatley type story …
And Amazon ‘Recommended’ it in an e-mail.
It just scrapes
One Star Dross
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A Picture of Murder (A Lady Hardcastle Mystery Book 4)
The lovely Lady Hardcastle and her faithful partner Florence are back on razzle-dazzle form in this latest offering.
A visiting cinema presentation brings murder and mayhem to the Village once again Lady Hardcastle puts it all together in the end.
Light, humorous and easy but I still think these are great well drawn and consistent characters. The two central stars being joined by a troop of lesser personages starting to develop into well rounded an interesting people bodes well for the next book in the series.
 4 Stars … I saw through the plot!
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Cold in the Soul: A pulsating serial killer thriller (Wilson Book 10)

Cold in the Soul:

A pulsating serial killer thriller (Wilson Book 10)

by Derek Fee (author)
 More Wilson, more murder, more excellent writing. A serial killer stalks the Belfast gay scene and thinks he is smarter than our hero.
5 more Stars
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Fifth Sun

Fifth Sun

by Otha Foster (author)
An enjoyable Little tale of a small-time newspaper reporter who, at his wife insistence sets off to resolve a mystery from his childhood. . He finally gets beneath the protective shell of his old home town. He is taken in hand by the local paper proprietor and the elderly librarian, both of whom are naturists, and uncovers a story of family and prejudice that slowly resolve to reveal more about the reporter than anything else.
4 Stars, a pretty good read

New Year, New Reads

The Haunting of the Harlequin Goat: Revenge with a supernatural twist

Richard Savin

The Haunting of the Harlequin Goat: Revenge with a supernatural twist by [Savin, Richard]

Psychologist Lydia Kroll gets a new patient … and ends up investigating a haunting that involves a goat, a scarecrow and a dancer.
Tension abounds from the opening line, “The last of the light was fading.”
The story takes the reader from the hustle and bustle of big city life to the prejudices and introversion of small-town life. As we follow Lydia from her shower to an abandoned house on the edge of town in a quest to find the source of her clients haunting.

There is a twist. The humour that underlies the story.

I heartily recommend this very well written story by the author who brought us The Girl In The Bakers Van, which as a romance set in wartime Europe belongs in a totally different genre

5 Star Super,  Supernatural Story

Taming Mrs Archibald’s Schnauzer

Matthew Black

Taming Mrs Archibald's Schnauzer by [Black, Matthew]

Silly, Silly, Silly

Once again Matthew Black takes us back to the Hidden Lake Naturist Club for more fun and frolics with the Dixon family. This time Brad gets involved in club politics “Brad Dixon Eco-Warrior” and well if you know Brad …
It is a totally absurd and very amusing read.
No Schnauzers are hurt in this story!

4 Stars a fun read!

Navigator -The Complete Series

SD Tanner

Navigator - The Complete Series

Four books in a series sold as a single unit.

An all-action Sci-Fi adventure based on Earth, very soon. Alien invasion. Mass destruction and a brave group of survivors fight back. A rather similar story in some ways to Independence Day (the movie) none the worse for that.

The characterisation is a tad thin as is the rationale for the final attack but by the time that happens you are at the 95% point so why worry.

4 Star Sci-Fi romp

A Change of Nature (The Rents Series Book 2)

Simon Butterworth

A Change of Nature (The Rents Series Book 2)

I really wanted to enjoy this the second book about the young Irish naturist Sasha.
Home from her holiday in Greece Sasha is determined to carry on with her naturist lifestyle. I found her undertaking some very high-risk activities and fretting a lot about minor issues. Getting naked in the woods but worrying about a boy she doesn’t like claiming they had a coffee date.
I am not a fan of the narrative heavy style of writing which I suppose didn’t help.
A 4 star idea dragged down by the telling.
2 Stars  Uninspiring

The Bonny Boy (A Harry Gilmour Novel Book 4)

David Black

The Bonny Boy (A Harry Gilmour Novel Book 4) by [Black, David ]
Another episode in Harry Gilmore’s undersea war.
The tension and wonderful descriptive work are all here. The characters are well observed and empathetically written but…
The exploits are starting to merge into a single blur. The only real difference between this and the earlier books is that Harry is now in charge of the periscope and planning the attacks.
Still a good read, I’m not sure how many more stories it can continue.
4 Stars, slowly losing momentum

The Floating Boy: Unexpurgated Edition (Heretics in Occupied Eden Book 1)

Kenneth Moe

The Floating Boy: Unexpurgated Edition (Heretics in Occupied Eden Book 1) by [Moe, Kenneth]

 

A book that takes you on a metaphysical pathway through a complex weave of beliefs and non-beliefs while remaining thoroughly entertaining.

This is a new expanded version of the story of Cloud, the eponymous Floating Boy, from his early child hood through school and Vietnam and from an evangelical Christian church member to atheism. The story is littered with anecdotes and personal histories of the interesting casts of characters. The school bully, the childless spinster next door, the couple living opposite.

In other section of the book, we follow the life of Terp, who is destiny is wound up with the Floating Boy.

I found myself empathising with Cloud’s father, Lloyd far more in this expanded version of the story. Which is part one of the Heretics of the New Eden series

If you enjoyed Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, you’ll love this book. If you found it heavy going the lighter, humorous, touch of Kenneth Moe could open it to you.

5 Stars Book of the Month (February)

Pioneer: Murphys In Space

PZ Walker

Pioneer: Murphys In Space by [Walker, P.Z.]

One day you are an Air Traffic Controller, who sees strange faces in the radar screen.
Then you discover your wife’s uncle has left her something in his will.
Then your home burns down
Then … Well read it and find out!!I think PZ Walker has either been inspired by the old TV Show “The Twilight Zone” or the producers should hire him to write for a new series!
5 Stars Well worth the read!

Smoke and Summons (Numina Book 1)

Charlie N Holmberg

Smoke and Summons (Numina Book 1) by [Holmberg, Charlie N.]

A slightly more adult than young adult book from the prolific pen of Ms Holmberg.

Sandis the central character has been kidnapped and used as a conduit for evil. The young girl, an orphan alone in the world apart from her co-kidnapees, survives by keeping a low profile. She is suddenly scared by the death of a colleague she makes a run for it. Alone and on the point of recapture she meets Rone a young man of devious means comes to her help.
The story is tense and edgy with more than a hint of evil magic. Well written and very engaging. A page-turner worthy of the name!
While it works as a stand-alone story right up to the very end, the final scenes are very much about setting up part two as a separate book, my feeling is there are at least three stories with these characters.

5 Stars Book of the month (January) 

December Reading

December (and November) Reading

It has been a busy period, has December and November 2018. What with the new covers for the Uncovered Policeman books having to be done, uploaded and approved by Amazon.

Then there was finishing The Uncovered Policeman:THE LONG ROAD in time for the publication date 23rd December … so two months reading in a single post. Buy it

The Body In the Dales (A Yorkshire Murder Mystery Book 1)
The Quartet Murders (A Yorkshire Murder Mystery book 2)

JR Ellis

The Body in the Dales is an interesting whodunnit. Featuring a taciturn, cultured, separated DCI who has a reputation for solving complex cases by taking the path less travelled. A new DS joins the team and they set off to solve the murder of a thoroughly disliked potholer. The caver’s body has been found at the bottom of a cave complex but since he was dead before his body dumped. Lots of suspects with motive, but the means and the opportunity?
****

The Quartet Murders once again features DCI Oldroyd and DS Carter and starts with a violinist being shot on stage while the DCI is watching and the disappearance of the very valuable Stradavarius at the same time takes the story into the murky world of collectable musical instruments.
Lots of suspects with motive, but the means and the opportunity? (sound familiar) Lots of description of another DCI’s sweet eating habits, the violin is always called the ‘Strad’ no variation, The Violin, the instrument, the precious antique whatever.

**

Three Girls

Sally Dixon

Security expert Logan Kennedy flies into Schiphol airport to be met by Marianne and the first moments of a romance starts. The story is set mainly in the Rotterdam area against the background growing extremism, From Environmentalist, Radicalised Muslims and Right Wing Political Parties. Logan is here to protect an oil company from attack.
The other two girls are from the Muslim tradition, one very westernised the other trying to escape a strongly orthodox family.
So there are the ingredients for the story.
The plot weaves its way in and out of the characters lives, the oil company which they all work for providing the link until it reaches its conclusion. There is very little tension in this easy to read novel so it is a romance, with social comment rather than a thriller
A Good Read  4 Stars****

The Filey Connection (#1 Stanford Third Age Club Mystery)

David W Robinson

Joe Murray, Cafe Owner, Curmudgeon, Divorcee, President of the Stanford Third Age Club and Amature Detective, gets involves in the hit and run killing of a member of his club. The killing has left a space on the Club’s weekend trip to Filey. A space Eddie Dobson is keen to fill. Then things get worse.
On the downside, the characters, especially Joe, failed to engage me and I never developed an interest in them.
I picked this because the whole series was high in the Amazon charts. It turned out to be a bit of a potboiler whodunit, with no tension in the story. I’m not going to be reading the other 15 books in the series.

Well, others like it  2 Stars**

More Unsworth Manor Nudes

PZ Walker

The follow up to the original Unsworth Manor story starts at the other end of world war 1.
The Manor is up for sale and American War Hero Avery Montague is looking for a new home in the United Kingdom. A match made in heaven?
Well, it is after Avery finds a document left by the late Lady of the House.
A full on Cosy International Crime story, with a sprinkle of a Romance (or two, you old dog “War Hero!”)
It would benefit from another run through by the author.
Great Story, Could read better 4 Stars ****

The Mortal Word

Genevieve Cogman

The latest instalment of the tales from the Invisible Library has been on my pre-order list for months. I was slightly disappointed in the end. The characters are all there, Irene the Librarian, Kai the Dragon princeling, Vale the human detective and Silver the Fae. Once again they all meet in a world that is foreign to them all. This time they are there to save a peace conference between the Fae and Dragons.
The plot is well mapped out and keeps you engaged throughout but where has the quirky humour, that had silverfish attacking Irene in book one, gone? All the threats to the lives of the heroes were all too real. Hopefully the absurd will be back for book 6.
A Slightly below par Good Read 4 Stars ****

The Lodger – The sequel to Requiem for a Page Boy

Andrew Calow

When you open an Andrew Calow book expect to find a convoluted story littered with classical music references and a smattering of incidental social nudity.
This book is no different, it ties together the Holding Briefs loose ends and the Brothers Head with many of the characters from Requiem for a Page Boy.
It is a well-crafted story, that twists and turns as much as the River Thwait on its way to Kingsthorpe Harbour, past a repurposed pub and on the North Sea.
Yes I enjoyed the book, even as it swung into areas that in the end had nothing to do with the story … this time

December Book of the Month 5 Stars *****

Live From The Northsea and Other Places

Stuart Vincent

Tales from ships with tall masts. Stuart Vincent worked as a radio engineer on several pirate radio stations during the 1980s. The book is his recollections of his time with the Voice of Peace, Radio Caroline and Laser. The author is a radio engineer so not surprisingly, if a little sadly, we learn more about RF Modulation than we do about the personalities of his shipmates, what they ate, how they lived and how they stayed sane for periods of up to twenty-nine weeks stuck on a ship in the Northsea with irregular supplies of … well, everything. These things are touched on but never developed.

It is an interesting, if slightly chaotic, account of one man’s experiences. Sadly that is the downfall of this book as a read. It is very poorly edited, stories begin in one chapter and then again in another, only this time with an ending. Still if like me you are an Offshore Radio nerd it is an important record of the time and the technicalities of the ships.

An Interesting Read if you are Interested 3 Stars ***

The Watchmaker’s Daughter (Glass and Steele Book 1)
The Mapmaker’s Apprentice (Glass and Steele Book 2)
The Apothecary’s Poison (Glass and Steele Book 3)

C J Archer

The slightly magical stories of the Watchmakers Daughter, Londoner, India Steele and her struggle with her magic, her employer American (or is he an English Lord) Matthew Glass’s uncertain future and the romance between them. Matthew has to find Chronos another magical watchmaker the only person who can stop him dying. However, Chronos has disappeared and there are other people in pursuit of Matthew. They are seeking to take revenge on him for other actions in his past. No wonder the romance is in denial!
Very well written and very engaging main characters I read the first three of the seven stories on the bounce. I’ll be reading the rest soon, I expect
Joint November Best Read 5 Stars *****

Books for September

September has been a strange month, still very hot here. Lots of writing being done too. So the list of books for September is quite restricted. The books this month have in general been rather weak reads too!

Cupcakes and Casualties (Peridale Cafe Cozy Mystery Book 11)

Cozy Mysteries 10 Book Box Set: The Peridale Cafe Series

by Agatha Frost

Cupcakes and Casualties (Peridale Cafe Cozy Mystery Book 11)

Why did I do it? I mean reading the whole ten book box set and then book 11?

Well despite the appalling lack of accuracy about English life and the nature of small Cotswold villages, they are fairly engaging characters. OK, there is death, multiple deaths where ever Julia goes. Even a simple birthday party for her new man results in a killing! And it is not the first illegal death in the family. Julia’s baking must be pretty fantastic, otherwise, the whole population of Peridale would have moved out to escape the Grim Reaper.

Book 11 sees an actress, a diva, buying the remains of Barker, the boyfriend’s, house damaged in a storm (and uninsured) to build a modern monstrosity on the site. Until murder takes a hand!

All very silly but easy reading

3 Stars

Buy from Amazon

Naked Crow 7 – Sacred Arrows by P.Z. Walker

Naked Crow 7 - Sacred Arrows by [Walker, P.Z.]

Ah, that is why! Mr Walker has come up with an inventive set of stories for his heroine Shelia, the modern day Crow nation Shamen, her friends and her spirit guide. At least four different storylines intertwine their way through the book, some light-hearted others potentially darker.

A fun light read. I loved it, even the sometimes idiosyncratic use of English!

5 Stars

Buy from Amazon

Gallows View (Inspector Banks Series Book 1) by Peter Robinson

Gallows View (Inspector Banks Series Book 1) by [Robinson, Peter]

Mentioning darker plots … I was tempted by a low-cost edition of book one of the Inspector Banks series (the first of twenty-four, it could be expensive). On the other hand, it was not a strong book.

Written in the 1980’s which I managed to pick up from the smoking in public buildings and one mention of synthesiser and drum music, some of the plot devices had not stood the test of time. The opera-loving hero and the Radical Woman character. Some of the writing was very repetitive ‘Banks lights another cigarette!” Headlines in the Eastvale Herald. Many of the characters are very one dimensional, all the women are stunningly attractive, the bad guys are irredeemably evil, petty but evil.

If I was going for a post-Rebus detective … Derek Fee’s character Ian Wilson is far better. Definitely in the

I gather there is a TV series based on these books. Reviews indicate they might get better so I may try another.

2 Stars

Buy from Amazon

What Have You Done by Matthew Farrell

What Have You Done by [Farrell, Matthew]

Another dark and nasty American murder psycho-drama with a twist in its tail, story. I am struggling with this book. So much so I re-read the Lady Hardcastle mysteries to avoid it.

Buy from Amazon

August Reading

August …

The month of heat and reading in the pool. Loving the August reading experience.

Silent Deception: A Paranormal Gothic Romance Novella by Cathie Dunn

Dark Deceit
Dark Deceit

 

4 Stars a Good Read

The Forgotten Summer by Carol Drinkwater

The Forgotten Summer
The Forgotten Summer

This one really didn’t work for me.
The mystery was so obvious that I had resolved it about a third of the way into this story.
Likewise the sub-plot, why is Mother-in-law so horrid, was pretty easy to work out.
That made the reading of the rest of the book heavy going.
The digression into wine and olive oil production whilst informative added little. As did the description of the towns and villages and the mention of the swimming pool being cleaned …. no body even goes in the pool.
An inventive story padded to novel length instead of edited to a short story.
Just a  Fair Read

Oh! To be in England & A Little of What You Fancy by H E Bates

A very painful read in more was than one. There is the pain of Pop’s heart attacks … Ma’s refusal to recognise how much she was contributing to his problems.
The relationship between the Vicar, Mr Candy, and Primrose is worrisome to. Last time we met them she was just 14! The period of time elapsed since is never clear but Oscar is now at school so several years. Phew!
Then you get the casual racism of Ma’s disapproval of bare-breasted black women on TV. The narrow minded anti Common Market slogans bandied about . All very uncomfortable stuff written 7 years after Oh! To be in England but actually not the England it was.

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge

 

Skinful of Shaddows
Skinful of Shaddows

A Young Adult fiction story of a young girl growing up with her runaway mother in Poplar just before the English Civil War.
Makepeace is not a normal girl, she has a space for ghosts inside her …
A very cleverly plotted story, spoilt slightly by the use of different fonts to differentiate the different voices.
 Four stars and a  GOOD READ

Time, Tide and Trouble.  Sun, Sand and Secrets.  Rocks, Roses and Riptides by Carolyn L Dean

Three more cosy crime stories set in the Oregon sea side town of Ravenwood Cove.
Amanda gets involved in solving murders with her boyfriend James the detective. All very gentle and as comfortable as a room at the Ravenwood Inn and as sweet as the cakes served in the towns café.
Gentle  EASY READING

Varied Traits by Patrick Brown

Varied Traits
Varied Traits

The first book featuring Salem Reid.  A private vigilante . This story revolves around the ‘adult entertainment’ industry as a background to crimes of sexual violence and extreme violence. How on earth Salem gets away with the trail of death and mayhem is beyond my belief. On the other hand it is a readable page turner. The excitement keeps the pages turning, even if smacking the head of a bad guy against the pavement until his skull is pulp tends to push the other way.

A three star Fair Read

Magic Vodka Wardrobe by Sheila Patel

Insanity, in a young woman’s wardrobe is a vodka only disco bar from the 1970s.
Shaz, her sister and her aunt are the only customers. They get blasted, dance to old disco and have failed relationships with assorted blokes, who sit on a sofa outside the corner shop.
I had volume 2 on Kindle Unlimited, I sent it back unread … nuff said!
No picture, no link, don’t go there unless you like strange alternate urban realities, vodka and YMCA!

OOPS … It’s been a while

Digging In by Lorretta Nyhan

 

Digging In

http://getbook.at/DiggingIn

The story of the salvation of woman, and her son, after the death of her husband. The road to salvation … digging up her garden

I enjoy this story and the relax style of writing. I’m not sure why but enjoy it enough for 4-stars and a Good Read

The Lost Girl by Carol Drinkwater

https://amzn.to/2JYlXum

An almost smash,
The easy road to success of the actor husband …
The rapid success in a new career are not realistic.
The romance that leads to the story line is rather mundane.
The ending was just a little too “tidy”
That said I enjoyed the book
The main story is one of drama, tension, kindness and pain.
The secondary story of a historical romance is beautifully written and very engaging
The Palestine section of the story is important but burying it in this book wasted it.

4 stars a good read

Roar of the Storm by Adam Burch

 

I’d read part one of this story, Song of Edmond, which I called a clever story a while back.

Except apart from the hero being the semi-indestructible Edmond it has nothing familiar from book 1. In fact it has nothing in common with it. Very uninspired Space Opera

I’ll give it 2 Stars,

Building a Family Book 1 -A new Life Begins by William Corgan

 

A really uplifting tale of building a home and a family starting from scratch. Well not quite scratch. An amazing house in a wonderful location ready for conversion from house to home. Money, lots of money to finance the conversion. Oh and good will, stacks of good will.

All a little bit far fetched but if you can suspend belief …. a wonderfully happy family story but I’m not going to read the second story in the series.

3 Stars

The Plastic Magician  by Charlie N Holmberg

https://amzn.to/2A96isk

I love Charlie Holmberg’s writing. aimed at the YA market these are fun  stories.

The Apprentice to one of the few Polymakers is a young American girl, Elvie. She travels (partially) magically to London for her apprenticeship. There she finds herself involved in a struggle for power and influence in the new world of Polymaking, the Magic of Plastic.

This story has a much better sense of place compared to the earlier Paper Magician, which had some inaccuracies of geography. Since this is my only ever criticism of the “Magician” stories a full 5 Stars and a Good Read

Natural Dual-Madge by K F Breene

https://amzn.to/2uSZiuO

Ms Breene is another excellent writer in the YA magical realism world. I reviewed the earlier books in this “reality” back in February. This book ties the two journeys through this world together to produce an exciting gathering of the ends …

The corrupt Magicians Guild is trying to reassert itself, the only real opposition is a rag bag of untrained “Natural Madges” aided by some Vampires and Wereanimals. Oh and the heir of a powerful one. If you have read  Fused With Fire you’ll know who I mean.

5 Stars a Good Read

A Convenient Death by Derek Fee

https://amzn.to/2LCcYnn

A second Moira McElvaney story set in Boston Mass. (rather than Belfast for Inspector Wilson, her former Boss) Wilson looms large in the background of this tale as Moria agonises over her future. Meanwhile multi-millionaire Frank Shea, who fancies the pants off his best friends girl friend, (yes Moira!) stands accused of the murder of the man who’s testimony sent him to prison.  Moria has weeks to clear her boyfriend’s best friend of murder.

Lacking the grit of a Wilson story … 4 Stars a Worthwhile Read

Brave Nude World by A D Rowen

 

https://amzn.to/2AewRfO

So imagine that public nudity is no longer a crime in the United States, and a new generation of nudists has begun to become visible in towns and cities around the country.  Rachel, encounters a couple of nudists and gradually becomes involved in the naked recreation and then the politics of naked living.

An easy read, well written.

4 Stars an OK Read

To Die in Vienna by Kevin Wignall

https://amzn.to/2Ae4Gh9

Kevin Wignall writes nice tense thrillers set on the edge of the shadowy world of espionage and international secret agencies This one is set in Vienna. He carefully draws a picture of a retired British agent who is conducting an observation on a younger Chinese man, when everything goes horribly, horribly wrong. He is forced to run and hide as everybody associated with his last job is murdered.

To stay alive he is forced to kill or be killed.

5 Stars a very Good Read

The Beekeeper’s Promise by Fiona Valpy

https://amzn.to/2NMsQRG

A wonderful book comprising of two narratives set 70 years apart spoilt by a twee ending. If you don’t read the last couple of chapters it is a very worthwhile read. It counterpoints the contemporary story of Abi a widowed victim of a controlling husband and her journey from door mat to  person with the wartime tale of Eliane. The Beekeeper of the title and her struggles to survive and resist in war torn France .

Sadly the ending looses it a star 4 Stars a Worthwhile Read

Back Lash (Anna Travis Book 6) by Lynda La Plante

I expected more from the pen of a successful TV writer, but ….
I felt the characters Anna, Langton, Mike, Joan lacked any depth or reason why I should care about them.
Likewise the baddies, the main one Oates, who we are told is super-bad, have no character at all!…

Just 3 Stars … An OK Read

The Air Raid Killer by Frank Goldammer

https://amzn.to/2AcTtxj

Oh My Goodness! An absolutely incredible read. Set in war time Dresden where a string of savage murders are taking place. The hero Detective Max Heller, a non-Nazi police officer, veteran of the Great War has to investigate these murders despite obstruction by his ‘politically’ minded boss. Mid-way through the investigation the Fire storms are inflicted on the city and the Russians arrive.

More red herrings than a kipper factory, confused romantic feelings and strange alliances.

Translated from the German by Steve Anderson.

It  struck me as being in a very similar in tone to the writing of Richard Savin. Who’s “The Girl in the Baker’s Van” I had just beta-read.

5+ Stars a  GOOD Read

The Battersea Barricades (a St Mary’s Short Story) by Jodi Taylor

https://amzn.to/2uQSj5D

Short and slightly unfulfilling, the Battersea Barricades have been aa event referred  to on a constant basis in the stories of St Mary’s. It was seen as a turning point, a heroic stand and victory in the UK revolution. The  story describes how to be a rebel you need skills like bike stealing and canal navigation.

As usual with Jodi Taylor you get a wonderful self depreciatory humour and a slight sense of the absurd.

No stars … it is an anorak fans story filler.

An Argumentation of Historians (St Mary’s Book 9) by Jodi Taylor

https://amzn.to/2OkT52Y

OK so I am that anorak.

Max and the team of time traveling historians from ST Mary’s are off on their travels up and down the timeline of history. Observing the last joust of happy King Henry VIII, laying traps for arch baddie Clive Ronan. Which don’t work out as well as anticipated., leading to Max getting marooned in time and heading for extermination as she approaches a time she has visited before.

Humour absurdity and in jokes all abound.

5 Stars a Good Read

Death on D’Urville + Straight and Level both by Penelope Haines

Claire Hardcastle is a commercial pilot and flying instructor, who operates out of Paraparaumu airport in New Zealand. Both stories are a little bit the Famous Five meet Magnum PI (or the TV detective of your choice)

https://amzn.to/2OkQC8A

Death on D’Urville is a straight forward murder who dunit. Clair finds the clues that love interest Hunky Cop follows up to solve the crime. There are twist and turns enough to keep you reading

4 Stars an OK Read

 

Straight and Level is a more complex plot that starts with a demonstration by environmental activists and ends in murder, kidnapping and an attempt at starting a racially motivated guerrilla war. Far fetched? Did I mention the Famous Five?

3 Stars a Fun Romp

 

The Ripening Sun + La Belle Saison both by Patricia Atkinson

 

The Ripening Sun is a great (true) story about a woman, who follows her husbands dream to make wine in France. Then it all goes horribly wrong. The wine is awful. Her husband contracts lupus and goes back to the UK and she is left with some else’s dream to live. The story is then of her struggle, helped by some amazing friends, to succeed.

4 Stars a Worthwhile Read

La Belle Saison

A failed attempt to write copy for the French Tourist Board.

2 Stars not worth the effort, unless you are in hospital with no WiFi.