Monday, 14 July 2014

Treading On Dreams by Jeff Gardiner - a review

A feel good story of friendship, growing up and unrequited love.

Donny and Hazel are twins, close, as twins often are, but also different characterwise. The story centres around them moving to London to further their educations after A levels. The twins take lodgings with Jaz ( the landlord ) and Selene ( the gorgeous Selene, love of Donnys' life, woman of his dreams etc. etc ).

Jaz is everything Donny isn't. He is the life of the party, he is surrounded by friends, and he sleeps with women.....LOTS of women. Jaz takes Donny under his wing (whether he wants to be there or not) and so starts an eventually quite moving friendship.

But, at the heart of all this is Selene. Donny is in love with her from day one (or possibly before as she seems to be the embodiment of a character from a favourite book from his younger days). Unfortunately Selene is engaged  to Melvin.....

This is very much a story built on strong characterisation - even the lesser characters like Hippy and Mule, friends of Jaz, come across well. Donny starts out as a naive and at times slightly Adrian Mole-ish type but grows into more of a maturity thanks to Jaz, who, in turn becomes a more likeable soul.

As I say, this is a story of growing up, friendship etc. I won't promise you happy endings, I won't promise you'll leave without a tear in the eye but what I will promise you is a good read, a good time with characters you would want to be friends with.

I was offered a copy of this story in exchange for a frank and honest review - and I'm glad I accepted it. I read the book on holiday and thoroughly enjoyed it.

5/5 stars

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Blood Guilt by Ben Cheetham - a review

Welcome to the dark side of Sheffield in the first of Ben Cheetham's Steel City Thrillers.

Four years ago Harlan Miller was a Detective Inspector with a lot of promise, but losing his son in an accident sent him into a downward spiral. As we join him at the beginning his marriage is not in a good state, he is drinking and, in a drunken fight he kills a man.

He, serves his time but the Harlan Miller who emerges from his four year incarceration is a changed man - and not in a good way.  He is haunted by his crime and tries to make amends to the wife of his victim but she will not forgive him.

Within days of his release a child is abducted, and the child just happens to be the son of the man Miller killed. The police are not getting anywhere and the mother turns to the only man who can possibly do anything to find her son, the man she hates more than any other - Harlan Miller.

This is not a book populated with nice characters. Miller is, at times, a wretched soul. He hates who he is, what he has become, but under the circumstances this makes him a more believable lead. He becomes a kind of vigilante, working outside the law but with the benefits of his time spent in the police force. He is not a nice man but he is not a bad man. He just wants to do what he feels he has to to make his life bearable. There is a lot of miserable despair, loathing and hate here but it adds to the atmosphere

As you would expect, the criminals range from the pathetic to the truly vile and evil. It is not a comfortable read, but it is a good one - I finished it in 3 days. There are red herrings a plenty, several twists (I believed I knew one of the culprits, and was feeling quite smug as Miller drove up to his house, but then he drove straight past it - I was wrong).

At the heart of this book is the Steel City itself, Sheffield (my home town, as well as the authors') in all its' dark, brooding, northern glory. It lends itself well to the story, and, as a reader, it makes a nice change to be spending time with characters in places you know well.

I wouldn't hesitate to give this story 4.1/2 out of 5 stars. There are at least 3 more Steel City Thrillers to come. The first, Angel of Death is out now (and will be reviewed here in the near future) and features a whole new set of characters at the start of a planned trilogy

Sunday, 15 June 2014

The Slowest Cut by Catriona King (a review)

This, the 6th book in the Marc Craig Crime Series is, by a long way, the darkest yet.
It starts, as all good murder mysteries do, with a body. The body in this case belonging to a school headmistress, Eileen Carragher. The murder has been a long and torturous process involving lots (and I mean lots) of cuts to the body and finishing off with one final, fatal cut. More bodies follow, killed in the same way and secrets of the lives of the victims come to the fore. Who are the bad people - the victims or the killers.
This is not a book of black and white - the grey line down the middle plays a much bigger part, but, having said that, the ending, when it comes is the right one. Satisfactory and very well done.
As is often the case with these books the dark storyline is tempered with a happy side story for one of the team (but I'm not saying who obviously!!). These parts were wonderfully written, with a hint of magic that really shines through.
Another winner from Catriona King - bring on the next!!!

Saturday, 17 May 2014

The Grower's Gift by Vanna Smythe - Cover Reveal


Todays' Blog post is a cover reveal (with link for the uk  version and book description - I'll post US link if I can find out how.....I am a novice at this kind of thing) by one of my favourite new authors, Vanna Smythe (author of the Anniversary of the Veil series)

The book is The Grower's Gift (Progeny Of Time#1) and is certainly going straight on my kindle. Anyway, without further ado, here it is:


Product Detailshttp://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Growers-Gift-Progeny-Time-ebook/dp/B00KDPD2BG/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1400307412&sr=8-5&keywords=vanna+smythe





In 2102 the Earth is plagued by draughts, floods, and blizzards that come in the middle of summer. The rich and powerful of North America have pulled back into the six remaining megacities, erasing all trace of a central government and leaving the millions displaced by the environmental crisis to fend for themselves in the dying world. But sixteen-year-old Maya is certain she was born with the power to heal the Earth and make it habitable again.

The only place she can learn to use her gift is a school, which is run by the ruthless head of the city of Neo York. But the school is only a front for a facility where they will extract Maya’s magic and then discard her. Only Ty, the heir to the city, can keep Maya from being destroyed at the facility. And Ty’s loyalty to his family has never wavered. Will his growing love for Maya be strong enough to save her?

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Home and Hearth by Angela Slatter (a review)

Home and Hearth is the latest chap book from Spectral Press. As such it is only short, 25 pages or so, but oh what a tale you get within these pages.

The story starts as Simon, a school age boy, returns home after a trial for "a bad thing" (I'm not going to drop spoilers on you if I can help it!). His mother, Caroline, is glad to have him home but as time goes by she starts to wonder if she really wants him back.

The feel of the character of Caroline is really good - you get a sense of the shame she feels when outside, the love of a mother for her child but also the fear of what that child is or may become. Overall, I found this to be a tense, well told tale and must say, the end surprised me a little but, again, was really well done - I don't think I saw the swerve coming until it happened.

Another winner from Spectral Press and another author I will be looking out for more from in the future

Monday, 12 May 2014

Keira's Quest: Perceptions by Kristy Brown(a review )

Perceptions is the third in the Young Adult series of novels, Keira's Quest.

As with the two previous books, this starts off more or less straight from where book 2 finished (so don't go thinking you can go hopping in mid series). At the start Keira is stuck in Zakk's realm while the Witch Queen is on Earth and has taken Keira's image.

For the most part this is a book of two halves. The Keira parts are interesting as we get to see more of the people and places in the realmand there are some interesting ideas here. For me, personally, though the strongest and most fun sections are those with the Witch Queen in our world.

As she has taken Keira's identity we, and her friends and allies get a totally different "Keira". Its entertaing watching her sow seeds of chaos and disruption amongst the friends.

Will Keira be able to get back home? Will any of her friends still be talking to her if she does ? Trust me, it's fun finding out ;-)

I guess my only gripe is that this is another short book. I would like to see more of tje people and places of the Realm. But don't let me put you off, this is another strong part of the whole tale.

4.5 out of 5 stars

Friday, 9 May 2014

I wish I was at Stonewylde - a post a year in the making

I have been planning to write this post for nearly a year but for some reason all attempts seemed to fail. I couldn't find the angle I wanted I guess. Then, last night, driving to work a magnificent heron flew across my line of vision, and I thought to myself "I wish I was at Stonewylde". And that, I guess, was my lightbulb moment.

I have also been wanting to start a series of posts along the lines of  "The book that....." to highlight some of the books that have influenced my reading life. This post will also contain the first of these I guess, but more on that later.

STONEWYLDE

The Stonewylde series consists of 5 books, starting with Magus of Stonewylde. In 'Magus' we meet Sylvie, the joint lead in the story. She is in hospital, due to being allergic to modern living. As a possible cure, or at least a chance of respite, she is offered the chance, with her mother, to go to Stonewylde, an enclosed community in the heart of the English countryside. At Stonewylde the people live a more self sufficient life and follow the old ways. It is an idyllic place and Sylvie soon starts to adapt to the way of life and her health starts to improve.

While at Stonewylde she starts up a friendship with a young man, Yul but it is frowned on, as the leader of the community, Magus, despises Yul and is determined to make his life a misery. This is where you start to see the dark underside to Stonewylde, and  believe me, at times it really is brutal enough to make you wince as you read.

I am not going into too much detail of the story here as I have already posted reviews elsewhere. Here I just want to say how much the books affected me. The community itself felt like somewhere I would want to be. The author Kit Berry being very knowledgeable about the 'old ways' and the festival's. The descriptions of the lifestyle, the flora and fauna all touch the soul and leave you with a sense of the magic. A truly beautiful series.

The series is set in two parts, the first three covering the arrival of Sylvie, Magus' reign of terror and his battles with Yul. The second set is the books four and five which see (SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!) Yul and Sylvie grown up and running Stonewylde. Things are good for now, Stonewylde is thriving, but evil is never far away and Yul and Sylvie's love will be tested and threatened.

The third and fourth books also introduces their children and more of the beauty and magic of Stonewylde as the modern world starts to encroach.

And this brings me to........

THE BOOK THAT BROKE ME!

That may sound a bit over dramatic but believe me Shaman of Stonewylde, the fifth and final book in the series left me emotionally ruined like no book before or since (and this is testament to Kit Berry's skill as an author.)

In 'Shaman' Stonewylde is facing it's darkest hour. Yul and Sylvie are more or less estranged, dark shadows loom over Stonewylde and things look beyond saving. The overall feeling is that the story ends with a death. I expected that, I even had it in my mind who would die. I didn't like it but I knew it was coming so I prepared.

I was wrong. It wasn't who I expected and prepared for.

It was so much more shocking than that! I'm not ashamed to say this book brought me to tears. Even now, writing this, I can feel the trickles on my spine.

It's taken me a year to write this, and only now do I feel I'm ready to go back and reread this wonderful, beautiful, emotional series of books.

So, the gates of Stonewylde are opening for me again, I'm going back. Why not join me.

MY FINAL WORDS ON STONEWYLDE

Easy enough this bit. All I need to say is THANK YOU Kit Berry for writing these books and for being someone I think of as a friend. Job well done lass ;-)

Blessed Be