Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog HACKING GEORGE by Bob Palmer Even if you don’t love weird and annoying characters, you must read this #humour #BooksGoSocial

Hi all:

I bring you a book I discovered in NetGalley through BooksGoSocial. They help indie books get into NetGalley, and although it is difficult to keep up with all their offerings, one can find some true gems there.

Hacking George by Bob Palmer

Hacking George by Bob Palmer

Playing God is a dangerous game, even if you do write the rules and think they’re pretty neat.

Following a road-rage incident in which he was the victim, middle-aged cynic George Sanderson has an epiphany. He believes he has the power to influence fate and set the world to rights.

During a meticulously-planned intervention to help his friend Angela Hayworth, the two fall in love. George’s lonely existence looks set to improve. But he’s about to discover that playing games with people’s lives is fraught with danger. And when his life starts to fall apart, he’s forced to confront the frightening truth…

Someone is manipulating him. But why?

With his freedom and sanity at stake, George must fight for everything he holds dear – especially his lawn, his meat thermometer, and Angela’s perfect teeth.

Perfect for fans of Fredrik Backman, Graeme Simsion, Richard Osman, and Jonas Jonasson, Hacking George will put a smile on your face and a tear in your eye as it drives you towards its startling end.

https://www.amazon.com/Hacking-George-gripping-touching-thriller-ebook/dp/B09XVFS136/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hacking-George-gripping-touching-thriller-ebook/dp/B09XVFS136/

https://www.amazon.es/gp/product/B09XVFS136/

Author Bob Palmer

About the author:

Bob Palmer has been, in chronological order, a construction worker, town planner, rock drummer, graphic designer, award-winning adman, entrepreneur, scriptwriter and movie producer. He gets bored easily.

In his spare time, he’s been caught in a Utah desert flash flood, set off the alarms at Area 51, and renovated a 17th century cottage with his infinitely patient author and book cover designer wife Berni Stevens.

Hacking George is his debut novel. It combines his love of the absurdity of the world we live in, of grand concepts, and the fact that even the smallest of events can spin a life in an entirely new direction.

His next novel, another instalment in the life of George, is scheduled for release in spring 2023.

https://www.amazon.com/Bob-Palmer/e/B09Y98QSCK/

My review:

Thanks to NetGalley and to BooksGoSocial/Double Bluff for providing me with an ARC of this book that I freely chose to review.

 This is a very peculiar book. There was something about the description that attracted me to it, and once I started reading I kept going, although for a while I wasn’t sure I liked any of the characters very much. Although that is not a prerequisite for me to like a book, it means that the book has to make it up in other ways. My opinion changed, and although I am sure that the protagonist, the George of the title, would test my patience to the point of distraction if I were to spend any time with him in real life, I grew quite fond of him, by the end. And he wasn’t the only one to make me feel that way.

 The plot of the book made me think of the movie Phone Booth, at least a big part of it. No, it is not that tense or claustrophobic, and the main character isn’t at all like the protagonist of that story. But it was the sense of somebody just deciding to play God (as the description puts it) or to take revenge on somebody and going to extremes hardly guaranteed by the actions they are intent on punishing. When I watched that movie I kept thinking that there are people who have committed horrendous crimes, and yes, I could see the logic of taking justice into one’s hand in that case, but it all seemed rather perverse and pointless in the case at hand. And, as I said, I felt there was some of that here, but the author goes beyond it, cleverly constructing characters that have a heart, and feelings, and although they might be the complete opposite to us, we understand them and empathise with them.

 This is Palmer’s first novel (although he has been doing creative work and knows a lot about books and about writing, and so does his wife), and he shows a great talent for endearing us to George, and oddball, an accountant by trade and by mindset, an obsessive man who needs to plan everything in advance and would not take an impulsive decision to save his own life. (I suspect he might have been given a diagnosis of mild autistic spectrum disorder in real life if he’d ever sought one, but I can’t see him doing that, as he is perfectly happy, or almost, with the way his life is). He is the hero as anti-hero (or the anti-hero as hero), and although he seems to be a total loser when we meet him, things don’t turn out as bad as one could imagine to begin with, especially considering who the baddy is. (I can’t say much more to avoid spoiling the plot and the story for other readers).

 This is a bit of a mixed-genre novel. It has plenty of wit and humour (much of it observational humour), a certain degree of mystery (we know much more than the protagonist does from the beginning, although not everything), and at times even a touch of thriller. I have mentioned the romance, which is pretty unusual as well, but not without charm.

 The story is told from the point of view of several characters, mostly the main three characters, but also some of the secondary ones, and the author is very good at putting us in their shoes and making us share their experiences, always from their point of view. We might never have done the things some of them do, but we see their thought processes and understand their doubts, their feelings, and why they eventually do what they do. As I said, even if the characters have very little to do with us, the author manages to immerse us in their worlds and that makes us appreciate their adventures and reactions all the more. And, funnily enough, we are not alone in this, as the characters themselves experience a similar phenomenon. If George and his nemesis seem the complete opposites to begin with (George living in the realm of order and law, and Goldtooth in the world of chaos and lawlessness), things are not as they seem.

 Apart from the way the story and the characters are depicted, I also loved some of the fabulous secondary characters, even those we only get to hear about second or third-hand. They all have their personalities and their quirks, and that makes them more real and true.

 I thought the repetitiveness of certain actions and the slow rhythm, especially at the beginning, suited the main character and the nature of the story pretty well, but some people might find it a bit frustrating, especially if they are fond of quick-paced and action-filled blockbusters. This is not that kind of book. But it has a few surprises up its sleeve, and it will leave readers with a smile on their faces. And that is something we sorely need today.

 I recommend this book to anybody who enjoys quirky characters and situations, oddballs and charming weirdos (or not so charming), has a sense of humour and appreciates British humour, and does not mind investing a bit of time in a seemingly random story about a nobody, but one that ends up being delightful. So, yes, I recommend it to pretty much everyone.

Thanks to NetGalley, BooksGoSocial, the publisher, and the author for this fun and cheery book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, and keep calm and smile. ♥

Categories
Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview #DOVERONE (A DOVER MYSTERY BOOK 1) by Joyce Porter (@farragobooks) A satirical vintage cozy mystery with an awfully funny (anti) hero #mystery

Hi all:

I bring you something a bit old today but wickedly funny.

Dover One by Joyce Porter
Dover One by Joyce Porter

Dover One (A Dover Mystery Book 1) by Joyce Porter

Detective Chief Inspector Wilfred Dover is the most idle and avaricious hero in all of crime fiction. Why should he even be bothered to solve the case?

For its own very good reasons, Scotland Yard sends Dover off to remote Creedshire to investigate the disappearance of a young housemaid, Juliet Rugg.

Though there’s every cause to assume that she has been murdered – she gave her favours freely and may even have stooped to a bit of blackmail – no body is to be found. Weighing in at sixteen stone, she couldn’t be hard to overlook.

But where is she? And why should Dover, of all people, be called upon to find her? Or, for that matter, even bother to solve the damned case?

Editorial reviews:

“Something quite out of the ordinary.” Daily Telegraph

“Joyce Porter is a joy… Dover is unquestionably the most entertaining detective in fiction.” Guardian

“Plotted with the technique of a virtuoso.” New York Times

“Wonderfully funny.” Spectator

“Dover is wildly, joyously unbelievable; and may he remain so for our comic delight.” Sun

“You will be fascinated by his sheer dazzling incompetence. Porter has a keen eye, a wicked sense of comedy, and a delightfully low mind.” Harper’s

https://www.amazon.com/Dover-One-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B07XX255JK/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dover-One-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B07XX255JK/

https://www.amazon.es/Dover-One-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B07XX255JK/

Author Joyce Porter
Author Joyce Porter

About the author:

Joyce Porter (28 March 1924 – 9 December 1990) was an English crime fiction author. She was born in Marple, Cheshire. In Macclesfield she attended the High School for Girls, then King’s College London. She served in the Women’s Royal Air Force from 1949 to 1963. An intensive course in Russian qualified her for intelligence work for the WRAF. She left the service determined to pursue a full-time career in writing, having written three detective novels already.

Joyce Porter lived the last years of her life in a pretty thatched cottage on Sand Street in Longbridge Deverill, a village in Wiltshire. She is buried in the churchyard of St Peter and St Paul.

Porter created the characters of Eddie Brown, Constance Ethel Morrison Burke, and Wilfred Dover.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joyce_Porter

My review:

I thank NetGalley and Farrago for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review. Let me clarify that this novel was first published in 1964 by Cape, and Farrago is now republishing all the books in the series.

In brief, this book is a blast. I hadn’t heard of the Dover series and had never read any of Joyce Porter’s books before (more fool me!), but I’m pleased to have discovered both, the character and the author. While the character is truly dislikeable, the author had a talent for creating solid and engaging mysteries inhabited by a fantastic array of characters, and her observational skills and her comedic timing turn her books into a peculiar creation, somewhere between the satire and the farce.

I’ve been trying to find a way to describe this book. It is clearly a mystery and as I said above, it is a good, solid mystery, with red herrings, twists, turns and enough clues to make most lovers of the genre enjoy the putting together of the puzzle. You even have the mandatory summing up at the end, by Detective Chief Inspector Dover, but like everything else in the book, any similarity with what would happen in a true golden age mystery (yes, Agatha Christie comes to mind) is pure coincidence. You’ll have to read the book to judge by yourselves what you think of the ending, but it made me chuckle. I guess I would call it a vintage cozy mystery (if such a thing exists). It is not a standard modern cozy mystery, because although we do have some of the typical elements of those (a peculiar investigator, a strange crime, and a weird assortment of characters), the investigator here is a professional of law enforcement (to call him something) from Scotland Yard and all (the fact that the Yard are keen on sending him as far away as possible notwithstanding), and rather than being engaging and likeable, he is quite the opposite. In some ways, the novel has element of the police procedural, of the period, of course, and the mystery plays a more important part than it does in some of the modern cozy mysteries, where the main character is usually an amateur and his personality, her relationships, her business/profession, and her adventures can take up much of the novel.

Dover is a great creation. He is terrific and horrible all at the same time. He is lazy. He will go to any extents not to make any effort, either mental or physical. He is completely self-centred and totally uninterested in his job. There is no rule he won’t break in order to make his life easier and get a quick result. He exploits Sergeant MacGregor, making him do all the donkey work, and scrounging his cigarettes; there isn’t an invitation to food or drink he ever turns down; he is prejudiced, short-tempered and blows his top at the drop of a hat; he is pompous and never listens to anybody… As the back matter of the book says: “Detective Chief Inspector Wilfred Dover is arguably the most idle and avaricious hero of any novel, mystery or otherwise. Why should he even be bothered to solve the case?” This is not a novel for those who are looking for a character to root for. Although his sergeant is the total opposite, when it comes to solving crimes, he is methodical but not a great asset, either. The mystery takes place in a small town, mostly around what would nowadays be called a luxury housing state, and we come across a fantastic catalogue of characters and suspects, from the slightly odd to the wildly eccentric, and every shade in between. The local law enforcement sounds pretty normal in comparison, although the police women we meet are something else as well. Sorry, I’d rather not spoil it for readers.

The story is narrated in the third person, and although we mostly follow Dover’s adventures, we are clearly outside observers, rather than seeing things from his point of view. We might be privy to some of his thoughts and those of the other characters, but always as spectators. People who read the novel and feel disgusted by the lack of political correctness and the character’s flaws miss the distance between the narrative’s perspective and the character, in my opinion. We are not meant to like him or agree with his approach, quite the opposite. Of course, the novel is of its time, and that’s another one of the joys of it. I loved the language, the references to popular culture, the snippets of information about clothing, habits, social mores… It occurred to me that people researching the era (writers, designers, scholars…) would have a field day with this book.

I don’t want to go into too many details about the plot, but we have a pretty special victim, a bunch of characters from the ridiculous to the more ridiculous (dope fiends, yapping dogs, leery aristocrats, amateur detectives, defrocked priests (well, sort of), a writer interested in little known tribes…), blackmail, a ransom note, a missing body, adultery… and more. Take your pick.

Although I know comedy and sense of humour are very personal, and many of the references in the book are very British, I found it really funny and witty. The book is eminently quotable, but I had to try to offer you at least a few snippets, so you can get an idea:

I was nearly fifty when I married. Up till then I had always avoided matrimony like the plague, going on the principle that there is no need to throw yourself into the river to get a drink of water.

Dover didn’t approve of foreigners, mainly on the irrefutable grounds that they were un-English, and he was looking forwards to giving Boris Bogolepov, guilty or not, a rough old time just for the sheer hell of it.

It’s no good going round with an open mind like a vacuum cleaner because all you’ll finish up with is…’ Dover paused to work this one out ‘… is fluff!’ he concluded triumphantly.

I recommend this book to people who love cozy mysteries but are looking for something leaning more towards the police procedural side, and who prefer their humour rather sharp and British. Although I’ve read far worse, and there is only limited violence (fairly slapstick), the novel is non-PC (not that it condones the points of view exposed, but…) so it could be offensive to people reading it as a straight narrative. On the plus side, royalties from the book got to the work of the Friends of Friendless Churches (yes, they do exist, and do a great job as well). Go on, try it. You know you want to!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for this novel, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to spread the word if you’ve enjoyed it or know somebody who might. And always keep reading, reviewing and having fun!

Categories
Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview THE TAKING OF ANNIE THORNE by C.J. Tudor (@cjtudor) (@penguinrandom) #horror A well-written book but the plot might sound familiar

Hi all:

I bring you the second book by an author whose debut novel I really enjoyed:

The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor

The Taking of Annie Thorne: The spine-tingling new thriller from the bestselling author of The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor.

‘Some writers have it, and C. J. Tudor has it big time. The Taking of Annie Thorne is terrific in every way’ Lee Child

The new spine-tingling, sinister thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Chalk Man . . . 


One night, Annie went missing.

Disappeared from her own bed. There were searches, appeals. Everyone thought the worst.

And then, after 48 hours, she came back.

But she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, say what had happened to her.

Something happened to my sister. I can’t explain what.

I just know that when she came back, she wasn’t the same.

She wasn’t my Annie.

I didn’t want to admit, even to myself, that sometimes I was scared to death of my own little sister.


‘Shows that her excellent The Chalk Man was no one-off in matching Stephen King for creepiness’ Sunday Express’s 2019 Bestseller Predictions

‘Written with such skill and fluency it’s hard to believe this is only her second book. Indeed I think it gives King a run for his money’ James Oswald

‘Dark, gothic and utterly compelling, The Taking of Annie Thorne pulls off a rare combination – an atmosphere of unsettling evil along with richly nuanced characterisation’ J. P. Delaney

‘Deliciously creepy, impeccably plotted and laced with both wicked humor and genuine shocks, this is the kind of read-under-the-covers thriller you didn’t think people wrote anymore. Lucky for us, C. J. Tudor still does. An absolute corker of a book’ Riley Sager, bestselling author of Final Girls and The Last Time I Lied 


Praise for C. J. Tudor . . .

‘If you like my stuff, you’ll like this’ Stephen King

‘Wonderfully creepy – like a cold blade on the back of your neck’ Lee Child

‘A tense gripper with a leave-the-lights-on shock ending’ Sunday Times

‘A must-read for all horror fans’ Daily Express

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07CNNN4B3/

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CNNN4B3/

Editorial Reviews

Some writers have it, and some don’t. C. J. Tudor has it big time . . . The Taking of Annie Thorne is terrific in every way (Lee Child)

Shows that her excellent The Chalk Man was no one-off in matching Stephen King for creepiness (Sunday Express’s Bestseller Predictions 2019)

Dark, gothic and utterly compelling, The Taking of Annie Thorne pulls off a rare combination – an atmosphere of unsettling evil along with richly nuanced characterisation (J. P. Delaney, bestselling author of The Girl Before)

Tudor’s 2018 The Chalk Man was a standout mystery novel with a fresh voice and a spooky plot. This is even better (Washington Post)

Spine tinglingly good (Amy Lloyd, bestselling author of The Innocent Wife)

Deliciously creepy, impeccably plotted and laced with both wicked humor and genuine shocks, The Taking of Annie Thorne is the kind of read-under-the-covers thriller you didn’t think people wrote anymore. Lucky for us, C. J. Tudor still does. An absolute corker of a book (Riley Sager, New York Times bestselling author of Final Girls and The Last Time I Lied)

The Taking of Annie Thorne deserves every plaudit it receives (Richard Armitage, narrator of The Taking of Annie Thorne and star of The Hobbit)

Dark and creeping and utterly unpredictable, The Taking of Annie Thorne is another triumph of a novel by C J Tudor. With its compelling characters and witty writing, it grips from the very first page (Jenny Quintana, author of The Missing Girl)

Gripping and dark, The Taking of Annie Thorne descends like its very own mine shaft, getting creepier the further you go. You’ll race to the finish (Roz Nay bestselling author of Our Little Secret)

With shades of Pet Sematary and an all-round aura of creepiness, The Taking of Annie Thorne cements C. J. Tudor’s position as a major new talent at the dark heart of crime writing. Her characters are compelling, the village of Arnhill as atmospheric as its abandoned pit, and she possesses that rare ability to keep the reader turning the pages, desperate to discover what happens next. Brilliant (Fiona Cummins, author of Rattle)

Author C.J. Tudor
Author C.J. Tudor

About the author:

C. J. Tudor was born in Salisbury and grew up in Nottingham, where she still lives with her partner and young daughter.

She left school at sixteen and has had a variety of jobs over the years, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, shop assistant, ad agency copywriter and voiceover.

In the early nineties, she fell into a job as a television presenter for a show on Channel 4 called Moviewatch. Although a terrible presenter, she got to interview acting legends such as Sigourney Weaver, Michael Douglas, Emma Thompson, and Robin Williams. She also annoyed Tim Robbins by asking a question about Susan Sarandon’s breasts and was extremely flattered when Robert Downey Junior showed her his chest.

While writing the Chalk Man she ran a dog-walking business, walking over twenty dogs a week as well as looking after her little girl.

She’s been writing since she was a child but only knuckled down to it properly in her thirties. Her English teacher once told her that if she ‘did not become Prime Minister or a best-selling author’ he would be ‘very disappointed.’

The Chalk Man was inspired by a tub of chalks a friend bought for her daughter’s second birthday. One afternoon they drew chalk figures all over the driveway. Later that night she opened the back door to be confronted by weird stick men everywhere. In the dark, they looked incredibly sinister. She called to her partner: ‘These chalk men look really creepy in the dark . . .’

She is never knowingly over-dressed. She has never owned a handbag and the last time she wore heels (twelve years ago) she broke a tooth.

She loves The Killers, Foo Fighters and Frank Turner. Her favourite venue is Rock City.

Her favourite films are Ghostbusters and The Lost Boys. Her favourite authors are Stephen King, Michael Marshall, and Harlan Coben.

She is SO glad she was a teenager in the eighties.

She firmly believes that there are no finer meals than takeaway pizza and champagne, or chips with curry sauce after a night out.

Everyone calls her Caz.

https://www.amazon.com/C.-J.-Tudor/e/B074WBT1GL/

My review:

I thank NetGalley and Penguin Random House UK (Claire Bush in particular) for providing me an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review. I had read and enjoyed C. J. Tudor’s previous novel The Chalk Man (you can read my review here), and I was eager to see what she’d follow it with.

I know I can go on in my reviews, so I’ve decided to cut to the chase, in case you’re in a hurry. Did I enjoy the novel? Yes. C. J. Tudor can definitely write and write well. But, if you are looking for an original story and something that will take you by surprise, this is not the book for you. That is particularly true if you’re a fan of Stephen King, although there are elements in the story that will be familiar also to people who watch a lot of movies, even if they don’t read King’s novels or his adaptations to screen (a somewhat difficult feat, I must admit). I’m not saying there are no surprising elements in the book, and there are quite a few twists and turns in it, but the general plot lines I think will be recognisable to many, especially to people who read this genre often.

In many ways, this book has much in common with the author’s first novel. The main character, Joe Thorne, is also a teacher, and far from an exemplary one. It is not so much his teaching that is at fault, but his drinking, his gambling, his lying… Yes, this is a morally dubious main character, who also narrates the story in the first person, and who, although we might or might not suspect this, to begin with, also belongs in the category of the unreliable narrator. He seems to freely share negative things about himself from the very beginning, but as the story moves on we realise that what he tells us might not be the whole truth. I won’t elaborate more on this, because there is a twist close to the end that puts things under an interesting light. Like in his previous novel, the author is also forced to look at things that happened years back, which involved him and his friends at the time.

I kept wondering what I thought about Joe, and I’m not sure I’ve decided yet. He is intelligent, witty, but has a penchant for getting himself into trouble, and although his way of using sarcasm to protect himself makes him rather amusing, there are moments when we glimpse at other aspects of his personality. He was a devoted brother, he was bullied and later joined the bullies’ gang, and he suffered terrible loses as a teenager, although… He struggles between trying to avoid tragedy repeating itself and trying to keep himself out of trouble, as he is being tracked by Gloria, who is intent on getting him to pay off his gambling debts, one way or another (I confess Gloria is my favourite character in the novel. I’m not sure if that says more about me or the novel, but she is fast, small but lethal, and you underestimate her at your peril). Joe tells the story of what is happening now when he returns to the town where he was born to take up a teaching job, because somebody has anonymously warned him that some pretty terrible things that happened when he was a teen have started happening again.

This is a trip back in time, and the narration of Joe’s current investigation and life (including living in a cottage where a murder-suicide took place) is interspersed with his memories of what happened to the Annie Thorne of the title, his little sister, who disappeared, returned (sort of), and then died in an accident that killed their father as well. (By the way, and just in case you read it or see it in some place, it seems the book was originally going to be published in the US as The Hiding Place, and I have seen some reviews on Goodreads under that title). There are many other characters in the novel, some that we meet in the past and the present (Joe’s friends and schoolmates, some still around, school staff members…), and some that are brand new, like some of the teachers (Beth is another one of my favourites). Although not all of them have big parts, and some are drawn only in outline, the author is very skilled at creating a sense of community and a believable, if creepy, small town. This mining community, with its challenges and changes over the years, comes to life, and despite the supernatural touches suffusing the story, the setting remains, mostly, well-grounded and realistic.

As I said at the beginning, the story is not very original. In some way,s it is like a collage of disparate elements many readers will recognise: the prologue brought to my mind Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and some other aspects of the story did as well (although there are no aliens, just in case), some reviewers mentioned The Tommyknockers (I hadn’t thought about it, but yes, in a way the connection in theme is also there), like her previous novel, some bits of it made me think of It, although the Stephen King novel it resembles the most is one whose new film adaptation is due out later this year (and I won’t mention it in case people are not familiar with it. It’s one of the first novels by King I read, and the first novel I read in English in its entirety, so it’s not one I’ve ever forgotten). There’s even a passing nudge at The Usual Suspects. Postmodernism is fond of pastiche, but it is normally used to emphasise the fact that the surface of an object or a creation is everything, and we can mix and match diverse elements without feeling obliged to refer to their original meaning or intent. I am not sure if C. J. Tudor would call her novel a pastiche, and she does give the stories and the characters her personal touch, but I can see the point of a reviewer who called it “fan fiction”.

The novel, as it is (and if you’re not familiar with King’s books all I’ve mentioned might not affect you at all), is full of atmosphere, quirky characters, some pretty dark moments, some that might be scary (I don’t scare easy, so I’m perhaps not the best person to comment), and some set pieces and scenes that are compelling and are easy to imagine as a film or TV adaptation. As I said, there are plenty of twists and turns, and the book is highly entertaining. There are many reflections that would make readers chuckle, even though sometimes we might also feel like telling the character to stop being so clever and get on with things.

I thought I’d share a few quotes, to give you an idea of the writing style:

“Finally, a long time since I’ve seen anything resembling civilization, or even a McDonald’s, I pass a crooked and weathered sign on my left: Arnhill welcomes you. Underneath, some eloquent little shit has added: to get fucked.”

“It is the sort of village that glowers at you when you arrive and spits on the ground in disgust when you leave.”

Here, Joe is talking to Beth about the teacher whose cottage he’s living in now. Beth is telling him she is fed-up with people asking if they had seen the tragedy coming, if there were any signs.

“Julia came into the school wearing a great big placard around her neck: ‘I intend to kill my son and myself. Have a nice day.’

“Well, politeness costs nothing.” (Joe replies).

On a more philosophical note:

“People say time is a great healer. They’re wrong. Time is simply a great eraser.”

So, this is a good read for lovers of thrillers with a touch of the supernatural and horror, but I’d be a bit wary of recommending it to enthusiastic readers of the genre or of Stephen King who are looking for something unique. But if you enjoy well-written stories in the genre and have fun looking for references and connections to well-known books and films, you will have a blast with this one.

Thanks to Penguin Random House, to the author, and to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and to keep smiling!

Categories
Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart. A warm and uplifting rom com by Anna Bell (@AnnaBell_writes) If you need a gentle romantic comedy that will leave you with a smile, try this.

Hi all:

To prepare for the New Year (Happy New Year’s Eve, by the way) I thought you might want a fun comedy, light and fluffy, but also about change, that is something we often think about around this time of the year. So, if you like romantic comedies…

The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart by Anna Bell. Cover
The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart by Anna Bell

The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart. A warm and uplifting rom com by Anna Bell

Description

A hilarious new romantic comedy for fans of Lindsey Kelk and Jane Costello from Anna Bell, the bestselling author of Don’t Tell the Groom.

Abi’s barely left her bed since Joseph, the love of her life, dumped her, saying they were incompatible. When Joseph leaves a box of her possessions on her doorstep, she finds a bucket list of ten things she never knew he wanted to do. What better way to win him back than by completing the list, and proving they’re a perfect match?

But there’s just one problem – or rather, ten. Abi’s not exactly the outdoorsy type, and she’s absolutely terrified of heights – not ideal for a list that includes climbing a mountain, cycling around the Isle of Wight and, last but not least, abseiling down the tallest building in town . . .

Completing the list is going to need all Abi’s courage – and a lot of help from her friends. But as she heals her broken heart one task at a time, the newly confident Abi might just have a surprise in store . . .

My review:

Thanks to Net Galley and to Bonnier Publishing for offering me a free ARC copy of this novel that I voluntarily have decided to review.

The plot of this novel fits perfectly in the category of chick lit or romantic comedy, and I could almost watch the movie in my mind’s eye as I read it. Abi , Bridget Jones’s spiritual sister, is suddenly dropped by her boyfriend of almost a year, Joseph (“the one”) and she’s desperate. She comes across his bucket list by pure chance and, clutching at straws, thinks that if she were to achieve all the items on the list (more or less) and share the pictures on Facebook, he would realise what a mistake he’d made and go back to her. Abi (and as we learn as we read, Joseph also) is not very adventurous. In fact, she’s worried about everything and scared of almost everything (especially heights). Her friend Sian, a fun character and a great contrast with Abi, doesn’t really like Joseph much, and her attitude to love is so different to Abi’s that she decides to lie to her and everybody else, and tells them that the list is her way to try and get over her break-up. On hearing that, everybody offers to help her. And, indeed, she needs all the help she can get.

The book becomes naturally organised around Abi’s adventures in trying to fulfil her bucket list, which go from pathetic to funny, passing from embarrassing. Apart from the events surrounding the ten items in the list, she’s also getting in trouble at work, at first through her own doing, and later bizarre things start to happen and she suspects that there might be foul play.

The novel is written in the first person from Abi’s point of view, and although she’s not the most insightful or reliable narrator, to begin with, and her weakness and her obsession with Joseph might make the reader cringe, eventually she does discover herself as a separate person and one capable of much more than she gives herself credit for. She is surrounded by a likeable supporting cast (and a few not so likeable when not openly bitchy) and through them, readers can appreciate that she is perhaps not the best at judging how she comes across to others. The author is also adept at giving us enough clues to allow us to make our own minds up rather than accept Abi’s biased conclusions, not an easy thing to do when the events are shown from a single perspective.

The writing is fluid and easy to read and although readers of the genre will probably guess what’s going to happen pretty much from the word go, the fine details are enjoyable, and there is a touch of intrigue to keep us interested beyond the pure romance. And for those who love romance, although we see Joseph mostly from Abi’s starry-eyed perspective and he is hardly a real person, Ben, who is almost too perfect to be true (other than by the tiny detail of having a girlfriend) is somebody easy to like and one to root for. And my bet is that you’ll like Aby by the end of the story and you’ll be wondering about the psychological benefits of bucket lists for yourself. I particularly appreciated the final words by the author who acknowledged there was a personal basis behind the seed of the novel.

In sum, a light and easy to read the novel, satisfying if you’re looking for an amusing and sweet read, with no erotica, and no shocking surprises. Great for those moments when you don’t want to test your brain and want a read that will leave you with a smile.

Links:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1785760378/

https://www.amazon.com/Bucket-List-Mend-Broken-Heart-ebook/dp/B0196P0S5G/

https://www.amazon.com/Bucket-List-Mend-Broken-Heart/dp/B01IRUATFK/

Thanks to NetGalley, the publishers and the author for this fun book, thanks to you all for reading, and remember to like, share, comment and CLICK!

Categories
Book reviews Rosie's Book Review Team

#RBRT TRUST ME I LIE by Louise Marley (@LouiseMarley) Mysteries, fairy tales, false identities and an unlikely couple. #TuesdayBookBlog

Hi all:

As you know August is #AugustReviews month and I decided to set an example by bringing you a review of a book I’ve just read. I’ve read it as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team and I’m thankful to her and all the members of the team for the great books are recommendations. And without further ado…

Trust Me I Lie by Louise Marley
Trust Me I Lie by Louise Marley

Book Title: Trust Me I Lie

Author: Louise Marley

Pages: 350 pages

Genres: Murder Mystery, Suspense, Romance, Humour

Publication Date: 20th June 2016

 

Trust Me I Lie

 

When Milla Graham arrives in the picture-perfect village of Buckley she tells everyone she’s investigating the murder of her mother, who died eighteen years ago. But there’s already one Milla Graham buried in the churchyard and another about to be found dead in the derelict family mansion.

 

Obviously she’s lying.

 

Detective Inspector Ben Taylor has no life outside the police force. Even his own colleagues think he’s a boring stick-in-the-mud. But now he’s met Milla and his safe, comfortable life has been turned upside down. She’s crashed his car, emptied his wallet and is about to get him fired.

 

He knows she’s a liar because she cheerfully told him so.

 

Unless she’s lying about that too …

And now that you’re utterly intrigued, my review:

Mysteries, fairy tales, false identities and an unlikely couple.

I am writing this review as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team. Thanks to the author for providing me a free copy of the novel in exchange for an unbiased review and to Rosie for the opportunity.

I try to read in a variety of genres (it’s good to keep the brain on its toes, so to speak, and since I joined Rosie’s team I’ve been tempted by the varied offerings of titles I might not have come across otherwise). But whilst for some genres I have to prepare myself and be in the mood, mysteries and thrillers I am able to read in most circumstances.

I liked the title of the novel (I don’t like liars, but an honest liar… well, I prefer that to people who swear blindly they’re telling the truth when it’s obvious they are not) and when I read it was set in the UK and it involved a family whose business was to publish books (and pretty fancy fairy tales editions at that) I knew I had to try it. And it does deliver in spades.

The story is told in the third person from the two main characters’ points of view, Milla Graham (although if she’s really Camilla Graham or her cousin, or somebody else entirely is a big part of the puzzle), a reporter who writes features about musicians and musical events, and Ben Taylor, a detective, divorced, father of a young daughter, and a man always on a mission to rescue somebody (especially damsels in distress, even if they don’t want to be rescued). There are other fragments, in italics, also in the third person, that narrate the event at the heart of the mystery (the night when the Graham’s old house burned down and three children and their mother died), that took place eighteen years before the rest of the novel. The point of view these other fragments are narrated from is not clear as we read them (other than it is somebody who witnessed what happened) but by the end of the novel we have a clear picture of what really happened (although we will have been tripped and wronged in our assumptions many times along the way).

Both main characters are likeable in different ways. Ben is handsome, honest and a good guy, who, as many female characters tell him, seems to suffer from rescue fantasies. He lives in a chocolate box cottage and he meets the other protagonist in a traumatic manner (he runs her over) in the first chapter. His car ends up in a ditch and as he has no other option he invites the stranger, a young woman, to his house. She disappears with some of his money early next morning but she does not disappear from his life. At first sight Ben appears to be a type of character we’re very familiar with (a handsome detective somewhat disillusioned by his job and with his family life in tatters) but his immediate attraction and sympathy for Milla makes him do out of character things that surprise others around him as much as himself. And we get to discover some surprising things about him too.

Milla is, without discussion, quite unique. She lives hand to mouth, has adopted the identity of the dead daughter of a very rich family (it made me think of the stories about Anastasia, the Romanov tsarina who was supposedly still alive), and it’s difficult to know what her real motivations are. Does she really believe she’s Camilla Graham? Is it all part of a hoax to get money? Is she trying to help Patrick Graham, the man who was sent to prison for the murder of his wife (and the real Camilla’s mother)? Is she the cousin of the family now trying to create confusion? Or is she a fantasist who does not know what the truth is any longer? She is determined, resourceful and will stop at nothing to reach her goal. Whatever that might be. And she is open about her lies (and does surprise herself when she doesn’t lie).

The novel features charming English towns, an old mansion that has become a gothic castle in ruins, murders staged to imitate the illustrations of famous fairy tales (with designer clothing and four poster beds also thrown in), a murderer dressed and made-up like the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland, mysterious bracelets, and a world of fairy tales that turns very dark.

The main characters are fascinating and likeable and you can’t help but root for them, no matter how outrageous their behaviours. If you stopped to think about it, some of their actions definitely stretch one’s belief, but the pace is so dynamic and the story so intriguing and surprising, that you keep trying to guess what will happen next and enjoy the ride. The writing is descriptive and vivid and one feels a part of the story, or at least a very close witness of the events. Although the crimes described are horrendous, there is no gross attention to the details of the violence, no CSI-style descriptions, and although not a cozy novel, it’s not a hard-edged thriller either. Ah, and there is romance but no explicit sex scenes (or implicit even).

I had a great time reading the novel, enjoyed the satisfying ending and my only disappointment is that being a big fairy tale fan I would have loved to get my hands on the wonderful illustrated volumes of fairy tales described in the novel but unfortunately it won’t be possible. I recommend it to readers of mysteries that prefer an involved story rather than a hard-edged scientific investigation in dark, urban and grittily realistic settings. If you love quirky characters, do not hesitate and give it a try. And I’ll be keeping an eye on Louise Marley’s work for sure.

Links

AmazonUK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Trust-Me-Lie-Louise-Marley-ebook/dp/B01HDYDJZ8

Amazon USA: https://www.amazon.com/Trust-Me-Lie-Louise-Marley-ebook/dp/B01HDYDJZ8

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30715819-trust-me-i-lie

The author shared a bit of information about herself too.

Author Louise Marley
Author Louise Marley

Louise Marley

Louise Marley writes murder mysteries and romantic comedies. She lives in Wales, surrounded by fields of sheep, and has a beautiful view of Snowdon from her window.

Her first published novel was Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, which was a finalist in Poolbeg’s ‘Write a Bestseller’ competition. She has also written articles for the Irish press and short stories for UK women’s magazines such as Take a Break and My Weekly.

Her latest novel is Trust Me I Lie.

You can connect with her in

Social Media:

Website: http://www.louisemarley.co.uk/

Blog: http://www.louisemarleywrites.blogspot.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LouiseMarley @LouiseMarley

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LouiseMarleyAuthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/LouiseMarley

Thanks to Louise for her great novel that I thoroughly enjoyed, thanks to Rosie for creating such a great group, and thanks to you all for reading, and remember to like, share, comment and CLICK! And this month, don’t forget to REVIEW!

Categories
Book launch New books

#New book The Vampire of Blackpool by Catherine Anne Green (@SpookyMrsGreen) #Paranormal eerie and spooky, with a British touch

Hi all:

I’m pleased to see that authors I’ve met through blogging and social media are keeping busy with their books, and there’s a great variety of them. Here, Catherine Anne Green who also belongs to the fabulous and supportive group of authors ASMSG told me she’d released a new book, and as I’ve visited and enjoyed my time in Blackpool, I could not resist…

The Vampire of Blackpool by Catherine Green
The Vampire of Blackpool by Catherine Green

The Vampire of Blackpool by Catherine Green

British paranormal romance author Catherine Green has taken a break from her Redcliffe novels series set in Cornwall, and has launched her brand new novel, The Vampire of Blackpool. A contemporary English Gothic story, it tells the tale of vampire Meredith Hanson, her love interest Samantha Morris, and her rival, the vampire hunter Ryan James. The novel is strictly for an adult audience, and Catherine’s vampires do not sparkle!

 

The vampire, the witch, and the hunter battle it out in a contemporary Gothic adventure in Northern England.

 

Meredith Hanson lives in Blackpool, the former Victorian holiday hotspot of Northern England. She masquerades as a reclusive author, feeding on the blood of unsuspecting tourists without remorse. Her life takes on new meaning when she meets a young witch in a local pub one evening. Despite Meredith’s cold demeanour, she finds herself oddly fascinated with Samantha Morris, and falls into an accidental relationship with the girl. It is at this time that a vampire hunter arrives in Blackpool. He is tough, he is determined, and his next target is an ancient vampire that has been spotted in the tourist town. He intends to bring her down and destroy her to save the lives of innocent humans. Will he succeed? Or will the experienced vampire seductress be the cause of his undoing?

 

The Vampire of Blackpool is available to order in paperback and ebook formats via her website www.catherinegreenauthor.blogspot.com or you can find it in Amazon and other ebook stores.

Here, a bit of information about the author:

Author Catherine Green holding a copy of her new gothic novel The Vampire of Blackpool. Oh, to be beside the seaside!
Author Catherine Green holding a copy of her new gothic novel The Vampire of Blackpool. Oh, to be beside the seaside!

About the Author

Author of British paranormal romance series The Redcliffe Novels, Catherine Green was raised on books from a young age, and has happy memories of Saturday mornings spent in her small local library, devouring the contents of the shelves. Catherine has always been fascinated by the supernatural world, and it feels natural for her to write about vampires, werewolves, witches and other mystical creatures in her contemporary stories.

 

If you sign up to Catherine’s newsletter, she will send you a free copy of her Redcliffe short story, It’s Complicated, to introduce you to her fictional supernatural seaside town in Cornwall, England.

You can find Catherine in the following places:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SpookyMrsGreen

Author blog: http://www.catherinegreenauthor.blogspot.co.uk/

Twitter page: https://twitter.com/SpookyMrsGreen

Personal Blog: http://spookymrsgreen.com/

Thanks so much to author Catherine Green for bringing us her brand new novel, thanks to all of you for reading, and you know what to do, like, share, comment and CLICK!

 

Categories
book promo Guest author post

#Mother’sDayMagic. A book anthology for a very good cause. An interview with Allyson R. Abbott (@AllysonRAbbott)

Hi all:

If you follow my blog you know I’ve been talking about this anthology for a while. Mother’s Day in the US is this weekend, and one of my author friends, Tamara Ferguson, told me about an initiative she was taking part in. A wonderful collection of books to commemorate mother’s everywhere, and for a very good cause, to support the research of Multiple Sclerosis. She also gave me the opportunity of getting to know some of the writers. Today is the last interview I bring you of another British writer whom you will love to meet. A true character. Allyson R. Abbott.

Mother's Day Magic

Mother’s day Magic…

with love

Every mother’s heart holds a bit of magic…her children’s love. Enchantment awaits in a dozen brand new, previously unpublished-stories, written by #1 bestselling and/or multi-award winning authors from across the globe. Whether it’s a captivating tale of romance or fiction fashioned from loving memories, these poignant stories are sure to touch your heart.

10% of proceeds from this anthology will go to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society toward research.

Links:

http://www.mybook.to/MothersDayMagic

Amazon

USA http://amzn.to/1QBkiXk

UK http://amzn.to/1QBkiXn

CAN http://amzn.to/1QBkhTw

AUS http://bit.ly/1QBkiXs

iTunes

USA: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1077026791

UK: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/id1077026791

CAN: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/id1077026791

AUs: https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/id1077026791

NZL: https://itunes.apple.com/nz/book/id1077026791

Barnes and Noble

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/2940152738933

Kobo:

https://store.kobobooks.com/Search/Query?fcmedia=Book&query=9781524222727

AN INTERVIEW WITH Allyson R. Abbott One of the Authors FROM MOTHER’S DAY MAGIC Anthology

Author Allyson R. Abbott
Author Allyson R. Abbott

#1 Best Seller and 4 times 5★ seal award from Readers’ favorite

 

The Story I’ve Contributed Is An English Rose. A Mother’s  Love, A Love Inspired

An English Rose. A Mother's Love, A Love Inspired by Allyson R. Abbott
An English Rose. A Mother’s Love, A Love Inspired by Allyson R. Abbott

At eighty-five, Rose fears her usefulness and independence are shrinking. Her grown daughters have full lives, and Rose worries if she’s a burden to them. After meeting Bill, a spark of laughter and purpose comes flooding back into her routine, especially when her happy healthy family reveal a few cracks and turn to her for advice and support. And Rose blossoms, opening her heart to accept new challenges.

Allyson R. Abbott, British romance author, always finds a way of encouraging the reader to become attached to her characters. Using wit, humour and real life situations the protagonists could be your friend or neighbour.

 

What Was The Inspiration For Your Mother’s Day Magic Story?

My own mother. She is a great inspiration for me, even at 86yrs old, she is always on the go and her social life is more active than mine, even though she is visually impaired. She has a wicked sense of humour and laughs at everything, enjoying all she can in life.

 

How much research was involved in writing your story? How did you go about it?

I just sat and thought about my mum, it was easy and pleasurable.

 

How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

I’m a panster, and write as I go along. Bill, In An English Rose, was a total surprise, he came out of nowhere, but is such a loveable, jolly character.

 

Do you miss spending time with your characters when you finish writing this story?

I have a habit of trying to think about a follow up book, to keep the characters alive.  I just can’t let go. I am the character, when I am writing, so I know they have so much more to give. I find it hard to remove myself from a book.

 

  What writer has been your biggest inspiration?

I am great lover of the classics, especially by Charles Dickens and Jane Austen. I love the way they subtly use humour. Most of my books have a humorous element. I also enjoy a Lee Child book and now, of course, having found his books, Cary Allen Stone. I am always in awe of writers who can weave a good plot. To round of my inspirations, I also need to add Janet Evanovich to my list. I love a book that makes me laugh out loud, and the Stephanie Plum series are so funny, I have read them all. I have just found a new author, Aimee Horton, her book Mother’s Ruined, had me howling with laughter. 

 

What non-writer had the most influence on your life and why?

My husband, only recently married, but he has such faith in my abilities and is so supportive, he makes me believe that I can do anything. When you have someone at your side to lean on and trusts you explicably, if gives your live a boost and opens so many doors. 

How important is the choosing of character names to you? Have you ever decided on a name and then changed it because it wasn’t right for the character?

The name of the character usually pops into my head as I write. If it doesn’t I will just leave a line XXXXXX until it reveals itself to me.  As most of my writing is about people over 40yrs old, and sometime a lot older.  I often think of friends or relatives names, of that era, that will suit my characters.

Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft?

I usually share my work with my husband, by reading it aloud to him.  This also helps me to edit it. If it is clumsy in speech or just doesn’t sound right then I can change.

 

What inspired you to write your first book? 

For the first time in my life I actually found I had time on my hands. I had always wanted to have a go at writing a book, I think most people do, but I realised that there was an indie movement, and now was a good time. When my niece-in-law to be, celebrated her first published book, it took me by surprise.  It gave me a push. I thought if my niece can do, so can I.  So I took pen to paper and started writing.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I like nothing more than to sit in an English pub with a pint of real ale in my hand. I really miss a good British beer, during my travels. I spend most of my time on the road, or at least abroad somewhere, flitting from one continent to another.  It is a great life.

 

In Addition

An English Rose, was inspired by my mother. She is 86yrs old and has macular degeneration and is now registered as blind.  Along with her deteriorating hearing, diabetes, asthma and extremely delicate thin skin, she drags herself to church every Sunday to make her peace with God. Her middle name is Rose, and she is a happy and active senior. Now she has a mobility scooter, she is never at home. Nothing seems to slow her enthusiasm for life down. Losing her sight has stopped her from her many hobbies of Green Bowling, painting, pottery, sewing, reading, but she still struggles on with her knitting, and laughs about all the air-holes that appear through dropped stiches. She talks about her numbered days, and then books a holiday abroad.  I just love her to pieces.

The fabulous line up of Mother's Day Magic
The fabulous line up of Mother’s Day Magic

About the Author

I love to travel, but I also need to work. Being an author allows me to combine both of activities and has the added bonus of life being an adventure. I never know where I will be sitting writing from one year to the next. As I write this, I am in South Africa, in February I travel to Spain for a few months and by June, in the USA. It is a great life, if you don’t mind a little insecurity.

I try to bring a little of my adventurous personality into my stories. Being a ‘mature aging gracefully’ woman, I feel akin to the problems of aging and relationships. I spent many years on my own before finding my truly remarkable and very patient partner who I happily gave up my whole world for. My stories are about mature relationships with mature people. People who have character and humour, who have a history; people just like us.

I like to call it Hen Lit, Not Chick Lit, but they are not just about falling in love. They are about real relationships and adventure.

Allyson R. Abbott's Hen Lit
Allyson R. Abbott’s Hen Lit
Goodbye, Hello by Allyson R. Abbott
Goodbye, Hello by Allyson R. Abbott

LINKS:

Email Address Allyson.Abbott@hotmail.com

Webpage http://www.AllysonRAbbott.com

http://bit.ly/1NopBMl

Twitter https://twitter.com/AllysonRAbbott

http://bit.ly/1E180bd

Facebook www.facebook.com/AllysonRAbbott

http://on.fb.me/1gRmOOY

Pinterest                             https://www.pinterest.com/aabbott0517/

http://bit.ly/1TPJ5P4

LinkedIn                              www.linkedin.com/in/AllysonRAbbott

Google Play                       http://bit.ly/1NBlDxP

Goodreads                         www.goodreads.com/AllysonRAbbott

Blog Page                            http://allysonrabbott.blogspot.co.uk/

http://bit.ly/1z8f6Te

Google+                             http://google.com/+AllysonRAbbott

 

Thanks so much to Allyson R. Abbott for talking about her contribution to Mother’s Day Magic, thank to Tamara Ferguson for this opportunity, and you know what to do, like, share, comment and of course, CLICK!

GET MY FREE BOOKS
%d bloggers like this:
x Logo: Shield Security
This Site Is Protected By
Shield Security