Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Black Bead: Book One of the Black Bead Chronicles by J D Lakey

A bit of a departure from my normal reviews as this is not an Indie but a published writer. However even published writers need a little help. The writer requested reviews and made her book free on kindle so I downloaded her book and put it on my list. It turned out to be a great read that had me on the edge of my seat. I was initially a little put off by the new age infused world, but when I got going I found myself reading a very exciting adventure story. 5 stars.
Black Bead Chronicles book 1 by J D Lakey on Amazon.com

This is a book that will appeal to a lot of YA fans; a group of children needing to prove themselves in a confusing world full of danger. Cheobawn is a young girl that is deemed to be unlucky by the adults in her group. She has strong psi abilities and she is chosen by 3 boys and her friend Megan to form a pack. I found the world the writer has created at times bewildering as the social structures and the creatures in this world are so unfamiliar. I would advise to just go with the flow and not focus too hard on having to figure it all out. What you are left with is a thrilling adventure story that moves at a fast pace. You hold your breath as the children race against time to make it back to their home dome. This is part one of a series and I’m sure the complex social set up of this world will be further explained. This is a riveting start to a sci-fi series that will no doubt appeal to a lot of youngsters and adults. Looking forwards to the next instalment.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Little Big Boy by Max Power

What links my last and current weeks review together is the fact that they are both about a family from Dublin, but there all similarities end. Well, they were both five star reads, but that's it! If reviewed a book by this author before (Darkly Wood) and I think he is one of the great indie authors out there.
Little Big Boy by Max Power on Amazon.com

Little Big Boy is a bitter sweet, but mostly painful portrait of a young boy growing up in 1970’s Dublin. Childhood should be a happy and carefree time, but for many of us it is anything but and it helps us to empathise with the main character. For this seven year old boy things are especially hard as his father is a violent alcoholic. His Mother tries to keep him safe, but she has three other kids to care for too. School isn’t a safe haven either as our Little Big boy has to negotiate the perils of the playground and the sadistic Christian Brother teachers.
I’ve read Darkly Wood by the same writer and I think here, he has again masterfully created a sense of dread that builds throughout by cleverly hinting at events to come. (In Darkly Wood it was by tales from the past, but it sets a tone that makes the reader suck in his breath and move to the edge of their seats. You want to know what will happen, but you know it won’t be good. What stops this book from being sentimental is the little touches of humour and warm nostalgia. I think Max Powers has succeeded in bringing 1970’s Dublin to life for me. Max Power has a very distinct and readable style, I’d recommend it.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Swearing Allegiance (The Carmody Saga Book 1) by Jana Petken

I think Historic fiction or even non-fiction are my favourite genre of books. Not many of my Indie colleagues write (or at least I've not picked any up before now!) historic fiction, so it was nice to have this book to review. A romantic novel set against the Irish struggle for independence and the horrors of the First World War. It was a sweeping family saga which I enjoyed reading and give 5 stars.

Swearing Allegiance (The Carmody Saga Book 1) by Jana Petken on Amazon.com

This is a sweeping family saga set during the Dublin Easter uprising and the First World War. The Carmodys are a well to do Irish family living a charmed life in Dublin. Tragic events following the 1916 Easter uprising sees the family at odds with each other and forced to move to London.
Young firebrand Danny is supporting the cause of an independent Ireland. This puts him at odds with his brother Patrick who decides to join the Royal navy. Jenny his spoiled sister finds herself penniless and forced to look for work. Her Fiancée John, once a promising prospect, is arrested for his involvement in the uprising and imprisoned.
This book is meticulously researched and contains many period details that bring the story alive. The working conditions for the women in the munitions factories and the horrors of the battlefield are a brutal back ground that helped me feel a great deal of compassion for the family.
I especially liked the character of Jenny as she undergoes a complete transformation. She starts of as a spoiled and selfish girl, but through hardship her eyes gradually open and we see her grow into a confident, independent and intelligent young woman. The story ends in 1917 and as this is titled book 1, I hope that Ms Petken is already busy writing the follow up. There are turbulent times ahead for Ireland and I’m sure we’ll see Danny involved. I look forwards to reading the follow up as this writer has a very engaging style and her research is solid.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Promenade des Anglais

This morning I took a dip in the Mediterranean at 8am in the morning; the sun was rising and the water flat and calm. Another day in paradise begins. It's hard to imagine that only a few miles away and a few days earlier such horrific events took place.

You see the aftermaths of atrocities on TV and you feel for the victims but it always seems very far away; until it happens on your doorway.
My husband and I had just returned from a fireworks display in St.Laurent du Var (next to Nice) and decided to stop of for a quick pint before going home. Soon the TVs were switched on and we learnt about the tragedy unfolding in Nice.
Needless to say, the beer was forgotten about as we just wanted to get home and let friends and family know that we were ok. We met some friends on our way and we were just so pleased to see them safe and sound. Social media is much criticised but here it showed its use; with one click of a button I could let my friends know I was safe and see that they were safe too.
It was a late night and the next morning was filled with sadness and dread. The feeling I had driving to work I wont forget very quickly. Would all my colleagues be there? Would they be grieving?
I'm so thankful that I've not lost any friends or colleagues, but many have been affected in some way and they will struggle to come to terms with it.

Nice in happier times:
I firmly believe that the best way to defy terrorists is by living my life the way I have always done. The south of France is a beautiful place with the most perfect climate and I hope many people will continue to visit. I will be going out to restaurants, to beaches and events. I will not cower in my apartment but supporting local businesses who now must face a tough time.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

The English Sombrero: Nothing to do but run by Doug Goddard and Anthony Randall

Unfortunately my running days are behind me. My Achilles tendons start to protest after a mere 5 min. Like the main character in this book I struggled with my weight (But nothing like the main character Don Simmonds!) What started out as a chore to lose weight became an enjoyable pass time and I found some determination and will power I didn't know I had. It led to a number of 10k, Half-Marathons and even a full marathon. I found this book hugely entertaining and it brought back a few fond and not so fond memories. Well writen in an easy conversational style; I give it 5 stars.
The English Sombrero:Nothing to do but run on Amazon.com

Don Simmonds is a man you’d love to hate. A brash, arrogant used car sales man who overindulges at every opportunity. At 26 stone he can barely walk from the carpark to the pub. One Sunday after getting held up in traffic by a half marathon and therefore missing out on a car deal, Don vents his anger in the pub. Surrounded by his regular drinking buddies he thinks nothing of insulting the runners; calling them a “bunch of wankers.”
An old gentleman confronts him and demands an apology on behalf of his marathon running grandson. Bolstered by alcohol and the knowledge that few people have his kind of money; he makes the gentleman a bet of quarter of a million pounds that he will run the half marathon in a year’s time in under an hour and a half. He is more than a little surprised when he gets taken up on his bet.
This is a great story that has the feel of an old style Ealing comedy about it. Mind you the actor who would play Don would have an impossible task as he has to go from 26 stone to a sensible running weight. An inspirational tale of one mans will and determination.
I liked the book from the first chapter and enjoyed going on the journey with Don. I loved experiencing new things with him and meeting some great Spanish characters along the way. The book is written with a lot of love for Catalonia and its people. We see the character of Don grow throughout the book and he becomes a genuinely nice bloke you end up cheering for. Having run a few half marathons myself I thought the book was spot on, but going from 26stone to running anything is quite a challenge! I could have done without the subplot of the Russian gangsters, but it did show yet another facet to Dons character.
Enjoyable and inspirational read, I recommend it.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The Photograph by Grant Leishman

Summer here is in full swing and it is hard to concentrate when the temperature hits 32°C. I also have the excuse of the combined distractions of the European cup and friends wanting to meet up for drinks, beach parties or a gossip and a swim. Luckily I get a bit of reading done on my lunch break. This book was a real treat; a good original story and some well developed characters that were closer to my own age and I could relate to. I would like to read more of this writer as I like his sense of humour. A great supernatural thriller which I gave 5 stars.
The Photograph by Grant Leishman on Amazon

When Tony Logan finds a roll of undeveloped film clearing out his house, a nagging feeling in the back of his head tells him not to develop it. His sister Marie however urges him to print some photos when he tells her they were taken at their mother’s funeral many years ago. What they discover on the photos is something that shocks them to the core. Tony and his sisters; Marie and Cheryl embark on a quest to find out the truth about their mothers death and abandonment by their father. It leads them into the dangerous world of the occult. This is a well written supernatural thriller with a twist at every turn. Although it deals with the occult and there are a few nail-biting and gruesome moments it has enough humour and warmth to steer away from full out horror. This is what I liked best about this book, the depth of the characters. Before any spooky happenings, we get to know Tony Logan very well. He is not your usual hero; middle aged, down on his luck and recently divorced from the love of his life. He struggles with getting back on his feet again. I had great empathy with Tony and I understood his actions, despite willing him to leave the past well alone. The interactions between Tony, his estranged sisters and husbands, provide some of the comedy moments. But as they argue we feel that they still care for each other and that in the end blood is thicker than water. I enjoyed reading this book and was surprised and delighted by its originality and unexpected plot turns. The book is mostly written in the first person and we share Tony’s views and insights. Later in the book it turns to 3rd person narration as we follow his brother in law’s antics. I thought this was a good change of pace and worked with that particular plot line. This is my first book by this author but I’m hoping to discover more. Maybe the follow up to this book as the ending is left temptingly open.