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Book reviews ... Author interviews ... and anything else I think might be of interest to writers and readers.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Love Is All You Need

Love Is All You Need

With any anthology of short stories, one of the most important things is to have a good mix of stories. They shouldn’t all sound the same, and you should find yourself taken by surprise by the selection.

‘Love Is All You Need’ certainly succeeds in this. As Sophie King says of the stories in her introduction: ‘Many stood out in different ways but in the end, I picked those that surprised me and also left a lovely warm feeling.’

The common theme of the stories is love, but it is handled in many different ways.

The beginning of Alyson Hilbourne’s ‘Hot Chocolate Hero’ reads more like an action adventure story, and that promise is certainly delivered on as her unusual theme and an unexpected romance complement each other throughout the story.

In ‘High On Life’ by Yvonne Walus we literally feel the earth move, and in that story as well as Johanna Grassick’s ‘ Rum Truffle’, we experience the emotion of loss as well as that of love.

I absolutely loved Helen Yendall’s trip back in time for her story, ‘The Taste Of Love’ which cleverly recreates the world of Nell Gwyn through the eyes of a young woman working in a Chocolate House in the London of 1669.

You may remember that back in June, when the e-book of ‘Love Is All You Need’ was released, I interviewed Sherri Turner about her contribution, ‘Funny Face’. This story closes the collection and it’s another cracker. It makes a great satisfying end to the anthology and will certainly leave you with a smile on your face. 

This anthology of love stories has something for everyone and I highly recommend it.

Thanks very much to the publishers for a review copy of this book.

The anthology is now available in paperback as well as Kindle versions, and you can find out more here.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

A Matter For The Jury by Peter Murphy

A Matter For The Jury

When I read ‘A Higher Duty’ by Peter Murphy, Ben Schroeder was my favourite character. So when I heard that he was going to feature as the main character in a new book I was really keen to read it.

This book sees Ben firmly ensconced in chambers and about to defend a capital murder trial. Billy Cottage is charged with murder and rape, and because a piece of jewellery was stolen in the course for the crime, that makes it a capital offence. Ben, working with solicitor Barratt Davis and his assistant Jess, and QC Martin Hardcastle, a man with more than enough problems of his own, sets out to try to save Billy Cottage from the gallows.

There are some great sub plots supporting the main plot. Ben and his colleagues also have to defend a vicar under suspicion of assaulting a choirboy. Is there more to this than meets the eye? The way this case is handled by Ben and the others sets the scene for later events.

And another thread takes us on a chilling journey to discover exactly what might have motivated someone to apply for the position of public executioner. This is dealt with very factually, which makes it all the more chilling.

One of the subplots also delivers a huge and unexpected twist towards the end of the novel, for which I was totally unprepared.

We also get to see some insights into Ben’s personal life. It is his growing friendship with Jess and events in his own family that lead to some of the most tear jerking and emotional moments of the novel.

I was pleased to see some other characters from ‘A Higher Duty’ reappear in this story. Harriet Fisk is still sharing a room with Ben and provides a foil when he wants to chat about the case, and about their shared past. And Clive Overton, who was such a pivotal character in the first book, has an interesting cameo towards the end.

The repercussions of dealing with a capital murder case take their toll on all involved and this book left me feeling very glad that we no longer have the death penalty in this country, and hoping that no future government, however right wing, will attempt to bring it back.

I really thought this book was a great read and I recommend it to lovers of crime and courtroom dramas. I will be looking forward to more books featuring Ben Schroeder in the future. 

Thanks very much to the publishers for a review copy of this book.

You can find out more here.

You can read my review of 'A Higher Duty' here.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Race To Death by Leigh Russell

Race To Death

I really enjoyed this second outing for DI Ian Peterson – part of the spin off series from Leigh Russell’s original Geraldine Steel books.

A man plummets to his death during the York Races. Suicide or murder?  Newly-promoted DI Ian Peterson is plunged into a complex and high-profile case, and as the body count increases, the pressure mounts for his team to solve the crimes quickly.

From this intriguing beginning set against the vivid backdrop of a racecourse on race day, the story unfolds at a great pace and grips until the end.

Like Geraldine Steel before him, Ian has moved since his last investigation so this book sees him getting used to a new set of colleagues and living in a new place. The relocation throws up challenges for Ian. In particular a new boss who expects results and doesn’t let up on the pressure when she doesn’t get them, and a wife who feels uprooted and discontent in her new environment.

In this case, DI Peterson is up against a criminal with a very complex and unusual MO indeed. Peterson and his colleagues have to solve a series of murders that seem to make no sense and have no link and, as the days tick by with no progress, pressure mounts.

As with all Leigh Russell’s books this one has a great mix of just the right amount of police procedure and a chance for the characters to shine. I was also pleased to see another guest appearance for Geraldine in Ian’s story.

In this book we get some deeper insights into Ian’s personal life, and towards the end things get very personal indeed as the investigation threatens to endanger everything he holds dear.

Overall, I found this a great read. Ian Peterson is a likeable main character and his new sergeant, Ted Birling, provides a great foil and York a great setting.

I recommend this book to crime and thriller lovers, and look forward to more in the series.

Thanks very much to the publishers for a review copy of this book.

The paperback is released in September, but the Kindle version is available now.

You can find out more here.

You can find my reviews of Leigh Russell’s other books here and here.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

The Book of Life

A guest review from Lady Techie

I received an early release e-Arc through NetGalley and I have to say with one exception this is the book I have been anticipating for a year. This is saying a lot since I have not been reading a lot of Urban Fantasy or Paranormal books in the last 6 months to a year. I had to take a break because I sort of burned myself out on them. But, I had the chance to read this one early and jumped at it, especially knowing it was the end of the series. My sister teased me saying “maybe they’ll add another book or another 3 books.” I was quite grumpy thinking this could happen. But, I have to say I am writing this without having even finished the books. I have had different thoughts as I read and wanted to start jotting them down so that I could get my review in just as the book is released.

As I read this my first impression is that Book of Life does not disappoint. There is wonderful character development as we meet new friends and see old ones. I almost went back and read Shadow of Night because some of the characters left my memory. I purchased both A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night in unabridged audiobook as well. I will be rounding out the series in audiobook and purchasing The Book of Life in unabridged audiobook when it is released. These will be great to listen to a 6 months to a year down the line. I am betting I will hear things I missed the first time through.

I have to say my biggest fear with this book before I have finished it is that someone I like in the series will be killed off. Both Diana and Matthew have survived a lot of losses in their lives so I’m hoping this doesn’t happen but, I know how these things go with series. The readers fall in love with a character like GallowGlass. How can you not love him? We want the best for him so much and worry for him. There are so many likeable characters in this book just as there are some truly bad villains. It is hard to decide who to dislike more, Benjamin, for being such an evil creature; Gerbert, for being Switzerland in front of everyone when he might just be evil and Peter Knox, for being so power hungry that he will do anything to get that power. The Congregation is not innocent either and it does not appear to only be because they want to stop humans from finding out about the otherworldly beings. Part of what they do seems to be steeped in prejudices and control as well.

I have to admit that Book of Life was a satisfying ending to a great trilogy. There were some individual stories I wished we could have had more information about but all in all things were drawn to a great conclusion. Diana and Matthew both have grown a lot and learned a lot about who they are and who they needed to be and their trials drew others to them and helped them grow as well. Sarah and Isabeau are two people that grew so much in this book. Isabeau just draws you to her more and more throughout the entire series. But, there was change and growth in the supernatural community as well which was all any of them could hope for along with the cute babies that we get to know a bit about since they are still small babies. But, maybe we’ll see them again one day. I wouldn’t be against that at all!