Category Archives: Opinion

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

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.

Email from a reader

Email Subject; Made for TV

Ted ,great job, once again. Having read Andrew’s books recently made the story that much more enjoyable. I was also impressed with the Stonewall Jack storyline. I know Bea really pushed your patience in this one but it was well worth it. I also made sure to recommend Andrew’s trilogy in my review because without his good work this story wouldn’t have been possible

 Once again excellent addition. I’m sure you’re getting ready for the summer season. It won’t be long. It’s already pushing 90F here, so it shouldn’t be much longer now for you.  Scott

Email Subject; Re: Made for TV

Hey Scot

Thanks for the great review of the new book, I might have been able to do the story without Andrew’s book BUT having said in a review of one of them that it had the makings of a good TV drama … I asked Andrew for permission and we batted the idea around for a few messages which helped focus me on Rags to Riches story rather than Holding Briefs.

Bea wasn’t too bad really. Although she was a bit tangential at one stage and I had to chop quite a bit of the story out. It was Rags wanting to tell another story that was the problem! Then Fran and Jerry were on at me … and the ‘foundationers’ who you’ll get to meet one day soon.

It looks like the weather starts to change next week … so I’ll have to get busy on the pool and the garden (or get Jerry to do it!!)

 Be safe and take care in the sun

Ted Bun

The Uncovered Policeman; Made for TV
The Uncovered Policeman; Made for TV

February’s Books

February 2018

I was busy doing a lot of writing in February, see the previous post! The Uncovered Policeman: Made for TV

I managed a rather fun series of fantasy books. I probably started in the wrong place, although I might not have done … So I’ll review as I read it

Natural Witch (Magical Mayhem Book 1)

by KF Breene

Natural Witch (Magical Mayhem Book 1) by [Breene, K.F.]

http://getbook.at/NatWitch

This is the one that might have been out of sequence, but it appears to have a sequel in preparation.

We meet Penny Bristol, a young woman with known but suppressed magical talent, standing outside a church in New Orleans. She is supposed to be attending a magical retreat. Somehow the dates have  gotten confused. Preparations for a battle between good and evil are underway. The question is who’s side should she be on?

After having accidentally helped to turn a coven of witches into zombies she ends up hiding in a cupboard  while a pitch battle rages around her. Being found by a self declared ‘good guy’ another young woman dressed in leather armed with a gun and sword she survives and is taken into the care of an older couple of ‘mages’ (magicians).

From then on we follow her tale as she tries to return to her old life, correcting the grammar on public notices with her friend Veronica, for example. However, her magic won’t let her and soon the corrupt Magicians Guild of Seattle have her in their sights.

Pace, humour and a strong internal logic hold this well written story together. A very entertaining read I’ll give it

A Good Read

I then followed back to the parent series, starting with;

Born in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy Book 1)

By KF Breene

Born in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy Book 1) by [Breene, K.F.]

http://getbook.at/BornF

The lead character in this series is a certain leather clad, sword wielding,  female Super Natural Bounty Hunter, Reagan.  As you may have surmised this is the same self proclaimed ‘good guy’ who appears in  Natural Witch.

There is far more to Reagan, as learn across the rest of the series …

Raised in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy Book 2) by [Breene, K.F.]
http://getbook.at/RaisedF

 

Fused in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy Book 3)

Fused in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy Book 3) by [Breene, K.F.]

http://getbook.at/FusedF

and that is a problem with trying to do a review of a series like this. The books are pretty well continuous  and to review Fused in Fire without giving spoilers on the earlier stories is rather tricky. So I won’t go there other than to say that the journey to the Cracks of Doom in Fused in Fire is very derivative of the Lord of the Rings, not that that is a bad thing in its self!

If you enjoy magic, dragons, vampires and unicorns with a bit of violence and a twist of humour …. You should find the whole trilogy worth the read!

Three Good Reads!

All four KF Breene stories are free for Kindle Unlimited.

Just to prove that not everything gets a rave review

The Hundred Grand Banana (A Raucous Giles Curtis Comedy)

By Giles Curtis

The Hundred Grand Banana (A Raucous Giles Curtis Comedy) by [Curtis, Giles]

https://amzn.to/2GgVdnV

I should have know from the title – I mean – A Raucous Comedy by The Author? As part of the title?

This just didn’t work for me.
I found the premise absurd rather than witty and the humour rather desperate.

A biochemist has made a (presumably) genetically modified drug producing banana. Some klutz confuses another klutz for the biochemist and I lost the will to turn to the next page …

Far from ‘Raucous’

Don’t bother

And for something a little different

We Have Lost The President

By Paul Mathews

We Have Lost The President by [Mathews, Paul]

http://getbook.at/LostPres

Start with the concept,  London, 2044. Britain is a Republic. President Jan Polak has vanished overnight from Buckingham Palace, just weeks before an election.

Howie Pond – the President’s official spokesperson is determined to find out what has happened- as soon as he’s eaten his breakfast.

A very British comedy, occasionally a slightly desperate comedy, ensues. Cue failing technology, robotic security systems that mal function.  Yep British comedy!

Not badly written but nor is it a book to stop you putting it down and going to sleep either.

I might read more of the “We have lost …” books. They are part of Kindle Unlimited .. so nothing lost!

And Finally

Mirror Earth Network

By PZ Walker

Mirror Earth Network by [Walker, P.Z.]

http://getbook.at/MENetwork

The third Mirror Earth series from the prolific pen of Paul Z Walker.
This tale of travel between largely benign friendly worlds, all called Earth takes a twist and arrives at the beginning.
Meanwhile the wicked Prof Holgar, the principle of the Laboratory where we started (on ‘our’ Earth) is still in pursuit of his dinosaurs that live on the first Mirror Earth.
Add in strange ‘going ons’ at Ayers Rock, flowers with power and data, a few Aliens and we are dashing across curved, distorted time and Space with out rockets or pockets!

Another great yarn from PZ!

A Good Read

Kindle Family Reading

Having a Kindle Family sharing arrangement with the delightful Mrs Bun gives me access to some books I would not normally select. This week I read  two crackers I want to tell you about.

First up is:

Daughters of the Night Sky by Aimie K. Runyan

A Good Read

What a fabulous story, told through the eyes of one woman the story of the ‘Night Witches’ an all female bomber regiment of the Russian army from the start of the German invasion of Russia to the fall of Berlin.

It is a well written and captivating romance set against the barbaric background of the bloodiest fighting of World War 2. Both Katya and Vanna are serving as fliers in the Russian forces in separate war zones, so this is a long distance affair!

The strength of the female characters when confronted with deprivation, humiliation, hatred and violence, and all that from their comrades in arms, is impressive.

I enjoy this story from almost the very beginning to almost the very end.

I’ll give it  4+ Stars

http://getbook.at/DoNS

The second story from the Kindle Family Share is set over much the same period of history is:

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale: Bravery, Courage, Fear and Love in a Time of War by [Hannah, Kristin]http://getbook.at/Nightingale

A Great Read

Set in France during the second World War this book follows the lives of two sisters as they struggle to survive under the brutal Nazi regime that followed the fall of France in 1940.

The murderous attacks on the refugees escaping the fall of Paris, the treatment of the Jews and Communists and their transport to the concentration camps. The appalling hardship of the women left behind, the lack of food and energy for cooking and heating.

One sister struggling with a family to protect, the other, the black sheep, trying to fight back. In the background the father who was destroyed by the 1914-18 conflict and was unable to care for his girls. The young communist criminal prepared to kill any and all who try to stop him.

An ending worthy of being called an ending making the difference.

The full Five Stars

A Great Read

http://getbook.at/Nightingale

 

October Reads

The Curse of Panther Creek

by Olaf Danielson

A great mixture of fantasy and eco-warrior features in a story of a couple that nothing goes wrong for, except being childless, until a coven of witches arrive next door.
But then the unexpected starts to happen around the couple, not too them but around them. This is despite the efforts of the witches next door …. There is a nice twist at the end too.
Well written and engaging I liked this story.

Father Al Takes a Vacation: Book One (Father Al’s Voyage of Discovery Trilogy)Father Al Celebrates a Birthday Milestone: Book II


Starts off with a good idea …. worn out priest seeks change of life … goes on a nude cruise (through space) It actually delivers the plotline in the end.
However I found the detailed description of the theology and the actual words of the littany went on too long. Later in the story I found the dialogue getting a little bit too childlike.
It probably deserve a 4* rating but it left me unconvinced.

Then book two gets worse and worse ….. Childish dialogue, no real plot sorry 65% read I gave it up!

Awful 

Marks of the Forbidden (Defenders of the Earth Book 1)

No Peace in Exile (Defenders of the Earth Book 2)

The Windigo (Defenders of the Earth)

by Olaf Danielson


If you have time to fill with some fantasy fiction
Book one was …A different type of super hero to save the world aided by a different kind of super heroine.
Tattooed warriors against a rogue state…
It is an awkwardly paced action story but managed to hold it together long enough to keep me reading

Book two was … more of the same

Book three was ….Poor, the whole emphasis of the book in terms of characters has switched from the Defenders and the Volva to the Choosers. There were also huge sections of philosophical discourse rather than action, which is a bit confusing for what started as an action story series.
The action when it happens is world shattering …. and pretty fatal.
I was also disappointed that story threads are deliberately started and then just abandoned
Another series starting off with a promising premise going down hill….

Looking forward to Winter

“Looking forward to winter” … That’s a very strange thing for a naturist to write you might think.

 

 

The Uncovered Policeman: In and Out of the Blues
The Uncovered Policeman: In and Out of the Blues

 

The Uncovered Policeman
The Uncovered Policeman

 

The Uncovered Policeman Abroad
The Uncovered Policeman Abroad

Actually I am already looking forward to the coming summer; the sun, the warmth, the long evenings … Now that is the catch in this modern day and age.

I write on my lap top.

Lets face it copy typing a long hand manuscript is never going to be my forte. The “Typex” (a special white paint that you used to hide mistakes on typewritten pages) bill would be astronomical.  I would still have to scan the pages to digitise the output.  So I write on my laptop.

When I say write …. I am talking about transferring the silly ideas from my head to an electronic page via the first finger of each hand. Back to the lap top.

The problem with a laptop in summer is I want to be outside in the sun. Outside in the sun is where I get some of my less silly ideas. Sadly because of the bright light I can’t recognise mistakes as I make them on the computer screen. So the arrival of the earlier sunsets of November through to March means I can start transcribing brain waves to a PDF.

The Uncovered Policeman: Goodbye Blues
The Uncovered Policeman: Goodbye Blues

I might just get the next Uncovered Policeman story finished by Christmas , then there is another couple of half formulated short stories and vague thoughts for a sixth Rags and Bea adventure.

The Cookery Book … I am the genuine Naked Cook, ask anyone who ate at the Quinta da Horta 2011-13 if I am any good

The Project Management Text Book

and …..

Thank goodness for the longer evenings!

The case for proof reading?

Proof reading is an attempt to over come the  Pareto principle  that is the “law” that says 80% of your errors will get picked up by your word processor but 20% wont. It also means that while 80% of the changes are correct 20% are actually new errors.

Confused? I am ! So on to the practicalities of why proof read and why it might not be a good idea.

It is interesting to read some of the comments turning up on the Amazon Reviews of my stories. Quite a few refer to the need for proof reading. I accept that my spelling is appalling and my finger (yes a one-digit typist) is often over taken by my imagination and words get missed.

The story that used to attract the most comments
The story that used to attract the most comments

Now here is the rub, if Word fails to point out a mistake, how am I supposed to spot that I have made one?

This is a comment from a review, it is of another authors work but the same person review one of my books.

“I have read many hundreds of books (fiction and non-fiction and mostly not erotic) and the vast majority of them were grammar and punctuation perfect. So I think it’s a pity that erotic book authors don’t take more care because I believe it must have an adverse effect on their sales.”

This is where we, in my opinion – feel free to decry me, hit the big problem.

As far as I am aware none of the authors of naturist fiction (#naturistfiction) are actually making a living out of their naturist fiction. It is a part-time endeavour even a hobby. I think most of us write for our own enjoyment initially then decide to share it. Something that has become possible via Amazon’s KDP, Goodreads and Smashwords.

So, to proof reading. looking for mistakes in an existing piece of writing has to be done by a new set of eyes. Remember Pareto is watching you 20% of your corrections will be extra errors! It takes a lot of effort to carefully read ,, word by word,line by line looking for mistakes rather than enjoying the story. I am lucky I had a volunteer for the Uncovered Policeman Abroad and my wife is a “finisher-completer” and had the time to do the Uncovered Policeman; In and Out of the Blues. Otherwise you pay a specialist. This is great if you have a publisher. They will deduct the cost of proofing, editing or buying you a cup of coffee while arguing about artistic integrity of a phrase, out of your advance on the copies they expect you to sell.

Well, I am planning a party to which you are all invited when the first of my stories sells its 500th unit. (Bring your own bottle, I’ll provide the pork scratchings.) If I had paid for proof reading by a professional I would not be able to afford the pork scratchings until I had sold 700 books and what sort of party would that be? Hey we are having a really big party, after all you are only 47 years old once … nope it doesn’t work.

“OK Ted, do you have a solution?” You ask.

Well, sort of. Most of the #naturistfiction authors (I’m a story teller not an author by the way) seem to be approachable. It is rare not to find an e-mail address in the blurb around the story. Review the story, the writing style and how you felt about the reading experience. Then if you have found specific errors send the writer a nice e-mail pointing out the errors. I am sure most will change the manuscript to correct these mistakes. One of the big joys of these electronic publications is that they can be changed almost daily unlike a printed book.

One word of warning never, never try to correct a plot line! You may discuss why the author chose that path but don’t correct the plot if you want to live long enough to come to the 500th Book Party.