Friday, 10 April 2015

A Bucket Full Of Lies by Robert K Swisher jr

I'm currently involved with a book that we hope will raise a lot of funds for the Mac Millan cancer support and in particular its nurses. Ian Moore from my writers reviewers group is compiling the anthology and a number of us including myself are contributing a short story. I'm very excited to see this hitting the virtual shelves. So watch this space.

In the mean time here is a review for a detective novel I enjoyed very much. I gave it 5 stars:

A Bucket Full Lies (Roosevelt Mystery series)( book 1) by Robert K Swisher jr

Bob Roosevelt is a down on his luck private detective, who finds himself in Des Moines, Iowa after he has to make a hasty retreat from Florida. He runs into an old friend, Sam, from his old hippie commune days. Against his better judgement and the advice of his guardian angel, he follows Sam home to find out what ever trouble his friend is in. Sam is shot dead before they even get inside. His beautiful young wife asks him to stay. Bob knows he should get out of Iowa as soon as he can, but what private eye isn’t compelled to solve the murder of a friend.
This has all the components for a great detective novel; a corpse, a wife an ex-wife, a kidnap plot and some shady gangsters. It has the familiar feel of a Raymond chandler novel, but is yet truly original and modern. Bob Roosevelt is an interesting character; he has done a tour in Vietnam, lived in a hippie commune and drives around in a vintage VW beetle named Mathilda. But the best moments come from the obnoxious wise cracking guardian angel. The blunt comments on Bob’s investigation provide many laugh out loud moments.
I loved this book and after finishing, I ran straight to the Amazon store to buy the follow up Trout fishing for bodies. Well done Mr Swisher you have gained a new fan.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Lunch Hour by Carl Jones

 I'm progressing well with Conversations with Tom. A long way to go, but 8.000 words already written in Word and more on scraps of paper and in my head.
You may know I work at Nice airport. Even though the number of flights has increased and the number of passengers probably doubled in the last month, my work place is still very quiet. I work in a tiny last minute boutique in the non-schengen lounge. Most passengers (or PAX as we call them in the trade) have done their shopping before they come through passport control and into the lounge. So between flights and pax, I write ideas down and get a lot of thinking done. Once at home I just have to sit down and key it all in. Like the review below that was the result of lull between British Airways flights.

Lunch Hour by Carl Jones
Lunch Hour has like any great sitcom a great cast of characters. There is Christian who is the intellectual big fish in a small pond of inane lunch time banter. He secretly enjoys this even though he knows he bores the pants of his colleagues with his lectures on, well pretty much anything. Barry, his bigoted confrontational counterpart can be found in any work place. (I certainly had a few run ins with the Barry’s of this world. Then there is John who’s input mostly stuns the room into an incredulous silence. He is the bloke you dread being drawn into a conversation with. Saul is the youngest of the odd group, that is thrown together each day twice during their lunch breaks at the night shift of a DIY store. Saul manages to amuse his co-workers quite unintentionally with his naive statements. These are just a few of the skilfully created cast members.
The book is not what I initially expected but all the better for it. Apart from a witty comedy about colleagues chewing the fat during their lunch time break, it is also a sharp and very well informed critique of the 20th century and an even better snapshot of Britain in 2013/14.
The book is written from Christian’s perspective and it’s his opinions and observations that provide many of the laugh out loud moments. We get a hint of his troubled home life when he goes from the guy who usually sits quietly in the corner and on the fence, to taking part in the conversation and spouting opinions. Even though we got hints that all was not well, the ending of this book will guaranty that this is one read I will remember.
So who should read this book? I think Americans and UKIP voters will be befuddled and annoyed by Mr Jones, possibly both. I would recommend this to anyone with a good understanding of British contemporary culture and a love of satire. Go read it now before we forget who Cheryl Cole (or Tweedy?) is.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Amsterdam Calling by Tom Benson

At the moment, my cat Clicquot is my main inspirations. Although he does frequently interrupts me by walking over the keyboard, he is providing me with some great ideas too. I'm currently working on a book named Conversations with Tom. It started out as a series of short cat stories, but it is now more developing in a novel with a progressing story line. I still have masses of work to do before it is anywhere near to publication, but it is just a case of writing all these ideas down. However work and the increasing number of book reviews I'm doing are getting in the way. Talking of book reviews and Toms, here is my review of Amsterdam Calling. A recommend if you're going to Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Calling by Tom Benson

I like the way this story started in three different locations before the separate threads converged in Amsterdam. The book is part thriller, part romance. The blossoming romance between the two main protagonists Crystal and Dan develops during their research into her family. They’ve met by chance and because Dan feels an attraction to this American woman he helps her track down her remaining living relatives. They delve into her family’s history while he shows her the sights. Dan, a Scottish investigative journalist is laying low in Amsterdam after exposing a criminal gang. Neither knows that they are both being followed by people who intent to harm them.
I looked forwards to reading this book by Scottish writer Tom Benson, as I lived the first 20 years of my life in Holland (or the Netherlands as Tom correctly points out) before moving to Scotland. I’ve visited Amsterdam on many occasions, but after starting this book it became clear the writer knows this city better and that I should pay Amsterdam another visit. Tom has done his research well and it shows he loves the Dutch capital. However I found all the detail got in the way of actual plot of the thriller, which I would’ve liked to be more fleshed out.
I would love to take this book with me on my next visit to Amsterdam. I think this book will be most enjoyed as a travelling companion to Amsterdam and a light holiday read.

Friday, 27 March 2015

The Institute by Kayla Howarth

This week I've been reading young adult science fiction. This one was a bit different from the rest as it was well written and had plenty of action. I might be getting a bit to old to read about angst ridden teenagers but I certainly recommend this to a younger audience.

The Institute by Kayla Howarth

In a future where the population has been decimated by disease and a nuclear explosion, some humans have come to possess special powers. The authorities deem these people to be defective and have started to round them up and place them in The Institute to be cured of their dangerous abilities.
Allira Daniels lives with her father and ‘defective’ brother Shiloh. They move around a lot and Allira has perfected living her life being almost invisible. Then one night she helps two car crash victims and everything changes.
Kayla Howarth is on familiar territory with a dystopian society where being different is not tolerated, but what makes this such an entertaining read is the main character Allira. She struggles with putting herself before others, harbouring a secret while falling in love for the first time. She is narrating the story and we experience her thoughts, fears and insecurities first hand. Her love life is complicated to say the least which leads at times to hilarious situations. She is a sympathetic character I could easily relate to. The story moves at a quick pace and I was glued to my kindle for hours at the time. There is plenty of action and a great ending that sets the book up for the sequel.
What I liked about the book is that even though it is set in the future, it still is a society we easily recognise. People still ride the train and use telephones which made this story easy to follow and relate to. The characters are well drawn out and believable. I certainly look forwards to reading the sequel.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Beneath the Rainbow

This week has been unusually wet and cold here on the Côte d'Azur and I think even my cat has caught a cold. The poor thing has been sneezing and sleeping more than usual. I do feel sorry for him, but we both rather like this new cat that just wants to crawl on your lap and cuddle. I'm sure he'll be soon back to tearing the wallpaper of the wall and putting his teeth into anything that moves.
So with this Clicquot needing less attention, I've been motoring on with reading books and here is the next 5 star review:

Beneath the Rainbow by Lisa Shambrook 

If I stuck to my usual genre, I would have missed this little gem. I’m so glad my review group took me out of my comfort zone. I just started reading this book without knowing anything about it because I was asked to do a review, and I’m so glad I did.
The author did not pick an easy topic. The death of a young child and its aftermath has been handled with great sensitivity and Lisa Shambrook has managed to create a beautiful story that brought a few tears to my eyes. But I wouldn’t say this is a depressing book, far from it. This is a story about living through difficult times but eventually letting go and embracing life again with the help of remembering the joyful times.
I can tell that the author is a keen gardener by the knowledgeable descriptions of the many flowers in the story, which are so important to the young road accident victim Freya and her mother. I thought the bluebell illustration at the start of each chapter was a lovely touch.
I also think faith is very important to this writer as she places Freya in heaven to look down on her grief stricken family, but I wouldn’t class this as a religious book. That said, I don’t think this book would look out of place in a Christian book shop or school. I highly recommend this book to readers of all persuasions.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015


It has been quite a day. Not only was it glorious sunny weather and did I get to finish the excellent untamed by Steven Jeral Harris while getting a tan, I also got two five star reviews from my fellow reviewer group members. So I feel all warm and glow for more than one reason.

One thing I do wonder now I read a lot of self published books; why the hurry to publish? If you want to sell a product, do you not want it to be the best it can be? I sometimes get taken aback by the amounts of mistakes I spot. I'm a Dutch woman who has to speak French all day for work. I know my English is less than perfect. Maybe that is why I'm maybe less complacent than an English or American writer and sought the help of a professional before I put my work out there. Anyhow I never include that the book has 'editing' issues in my review as that can be corrected in the Kindle age. Plus I'm still angry at all my teachers who just took their red pens to correct spelling but failed to give me any feedback on my writing!

Untamed by Steven Jeral Harris

This book gripped my by the throat like the supernatural beast from the very first chapter and didn’t let go! This is a supernatural thriller of the best kind, exciting, very scary at times, but with well written believable characters.
Iva Hill is a teenage girl plagued by illness and insecurity. She thinks that her life will change little when her mother gets a new job and moves her to New York State. It is the town her mother grew up in and she gets re-acquainted with her uncle Frank, a local detective. He is investigating a gruesome murder that leaves him bewildered and worried. Iva’s mother enrols her in the local college. Things take an unexpected positive turn and slowly Iva begins to make friends and thinks she is getting the life she always wanted; a normal one. But the town is hiding a dark secret and Iva’s new found ‘normality’ puts her in grave danger. The-worried-mother versus girl-reaching-adult hood relationship is well described and you can feel the warmth, but firstly and foremost this is an exciting book with lots of action. I would recommend this for young adults, but with a warning that there is swearing, violence and a torture scene, but nothing that shocked this not-so-young adult.