I was really surprised when The Pale House by Luke McCallin dropped through the letter box. I have been a member of Real Readers for ages and this isI was really surprised when The Pale House by Luke McCallin dropped through the letter box. I have been a member of Real Readers for ages and this is the first book I have received. Because of that I wish I liked it more. This is the second book featuring Gregor Reinhardt. Perhaps if I had read The Man From Berlin, the first in this series, I would have had a better knowledge of the character of Gregor and would have been able to care more about him. The story is set towards the end of the 2nd WW, in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. Gregor has been reassigned to the Feldjaegerkorps. This was a branch of the military police who, in theory, answered to nobody but themselves. It is obvious to most of the characters that they are on the losing side of this war and no one wants to be left behind waiting for the Partisans and the Allies to arrive. Gregor is called upon to investigate the non-combat deaths of several German soldiers. At the same time, members of the Croatian Fascist police force are disappearing. Could the two be connected? It is difficult for me to put my finger on quite why this book didn't appeal to me. It has lots of good points it is well written with a taut narrative It has a logical plot with no gaping holes It is well researched, but the research is not flaunted at the expense of the story. And yet for some reason it didn't strike a chord with me. If you like Historical/War/Crime fiction, and usually I do, then I would still recommend that you give this book a try. It might not be the book of the year for me, but it is still worth the reading time....more
Right from the first paragraph of the first chapter I knew I was going to like this book. Jack is a flawed hero. He has turned to alcohol to dull theRight from the first paragraph of the first chapter I knew I was going to like this book. Jack is a flawed hero. He has turned to alcohol to dull the pain of a failed marriage. And that addiction costs him the reporting assignment he so desperately wants.
I immediately felt sympathy for Jack. I wanted him to succeed in solving the problems set before him. Personal problems and political problems are his to grapple with and if he fails the whole world will pay the price.
Lifemaker is the 2nd book in The Great Iron War series. If you haven't come across this series beforeread my review of the 1st in the series HopebreakLifemaker is the 2nd book in The Great Iron War series. If you haven't come across this series beforeread my review of the 1st in the series Hopebreaker.
Lifemaker starts of exactly whereHopebreaker ends and without having read Hopebreaker you might well be confused about what is happening. I strongly recommend getting both books and reading them in sequence.
Does your knowledge of King Richard the Lionheart stretch no further than the tales of Robin Hood? Then this story might come as a bit of a shock. Ric Does your knowledge of King Richard the Lionheart stretch no further than the tales of Robin Hood? Then this story might come as a bit of a shock. Richard is no hero and his cause is less about God than it is about Mammon.
Richard is not the central character of this novel. But his actions have an overwhelming effect on the lives of the main characters. Richard’s desire for self-aggrandisement changes the course of life for Garon and Elise.
In many ways this could be considered a coming of age tale. By today’s standards Garon and Elise would be considered very young to be married. She is only nineteen and he is not much older. By the standards of the time this is nothing unusual. What is unusual is that Elise is left to manage their home by herself. And Garon goes to the Crusade with Richard’s army. By the end of the story life has taught both of them some harsh lessons. Both have experienced despair and happiness. Making them very different people from the ones we meet at the start of the book.
I was lucky enough to be given the softback version of this book to review by RedDoor Publishing. This meant I had the full benefit of the various fonts and colours used in the printing. The effect is so different from the usual printed book it took some getting used to. Once I had grasped that each font and colour belong to an individual character and reflected not only who was speaking but how they were feeling, I grew to like the effect.
This is not a book that will have you reading all through the night. It is not one that will have you drop everything else to find time to read a bit more. What it will do is stay with you. The ideas will ferment in the back of your mind and pop through at unexpected times and places. It is to be savoured and will improve with rereading. It is destined to be a book read several times over, each time giving up another layer of complexity.
I read many, many books. An awful lot are forgettable and will never be reread. I have been very lucky so far this year to come across some unforgettable novels. I am pleased to say this one deserves its place on that list.
The publishers of The White Cross have very kindly offered my readers a discount on the purchase price of the book. For those of you wanting to read this book and experience the full effect of the use of colour in the printed edition the book is available directly from the publisher for £8.00, which includes p&p. A nice saving on the cover price of £10.99 Please email email@example.com mentioning you saw this offer at RockspringsCrafts Book Reviews....more
This is the fourth book in the NeedleCraft Mystery series which currently number 18. I listen to these on audiobook, usually while working at my sewinThis is the fourth book in the NeedleCraft Mystery series which currently number 18. I listen to these on audiobook, usually while working at my sewing machine as they are such a good accompaniment to crafting.
I have listened to the books completely out of sequence. This one being the earliest in the series I have heard so far, but going out of order has not spoilt my enjoyment at all.
Betsy Devonshire has inherited a needlework shop based in the town of Excelsior, Minnesota. As well as learning to run a small business she has become proficient in needlework. Betsy has also developed a knack for solving crime.
It is interesting to see the effect on Betsy of being involved in such adventures. At the start of this story Betsy is suffering from terrible nightmares. Nightmares that are so realistic she cannot always tell the difference between being awake and asleep. There is enough information so that I can empathise with Betsy’s situation and understand why she feels so upset.
The story quickly moves from the usual setting in Excelsior to a remote rustic lodge. The only one of the regular cast of characters to appear along with Betsy is her friend Jill. This device allows us to watch Betsy’s character grow and develop. Without the distraction of the usual set of people that surround her it is possible to focus on Betsy without distraction.
She has to decide if she wants to continue investigating when crime comes her way. Or if the effects on her psyche are just to much for her to cope with. She finds than when confronted with injustice she cannot walk away. And so when she finds a body she is compelled to solve the mystery.
By the end of the story Betsy has recognised that her compulsion to solve mysteries can bring peace to the innocent. The occasional bad dream is a small price to pay....more
The second of the Alicia Trent Mystery Series was a book I have been impatiently waiting to read and it did not disappoint. The first book in the seri The second of the Alicia Trent Mystery Series was a book I have been impatiently waiting to read and it did not disappoint. The first book in the series,Antique Magic, was excellent . I have been waiting on tenterhooks for book two to be available for review.
Eileen Harris has come up with a hook that grabs the reader and pulls them from one book to the next. In Antique Magic a prediction is made by the magical clock. It predicted that Alicia would discover the dead body of a friend. At the beginning of Antique Forgery Alicia is preparing to evaluate a jewellery collection. The collection belongs to Janice and Arthur Darnell who have known Alicia for many years. The collection is located in a part of the country Alicia has never visited. And where she knows nobody. Alicia feels she has beaten the prediction. Events conspire so that people who ought to be half a continent anyway at least turn up to visit. During one of those visit Kendra, who is one of Alicia’s closest friends, is found dead. Alicia is determined that there will be justice for her friend and that the killer caught. There is another death and this just makes Alicia more determined to find out the truth.
I loved most of this book. Eileen Harris has become one of my favourite writers. Addicted to her stories from the first of her books I read. I am glad that Antique Forgery lived up to my expectations of story and style.
The writing style of the author is simple and unpretentious. This makes it easy to read and propels you through the story at lightning rate. There was enough information at the beginning so that a new reader could follow what was going on but not so much a returning reader would be bored.
The writing leaves you thinking that you have been clever enough to spot the murderer and solve the crime. Then wham you are slapped around the face with a big Red Herring that makes you realise you have been completely duped. It is cleverly done.
Characters from the first book made a reappearance and it was good to see those characters being developed. New characters are introduced. I hope to see them again in future books.
Alicia is not a private investigator and does not go looking for adventure. She is one of the partners of an Antique Store in Scottsdale, Arizona and would be quite content if no adventure came her way. When she finds herself in situations where skill and determination and nerve are required she always steps up to the mark. Alicia is the type to take charge and not be frightened away by misfortune.
This book had two other future predictions for Alicia so I am hoping this means another book is on it’s way. Something I am looking forward to already.
So why after having been so fulsome in my praise have I only given this book a 3* rating. Because there is a fault in the resolution of the storyline. One that doesn't affect the story or the outcome but is about the wrapping up of loose ends.
Inheritance law simply does not work this way. It seemed to me that there was either a lack of research or a misunderstanding of the principles of inheritance law. Despite this I would recommend that everybody gives this Series a try. It is an enjoyable read and deserves to be much more widely known...more
My first 5* read this year and I will be lucky if I come across another book as good as this one in the near future. It hardly seems possibly that thiMy first 5* read this year and I will be lucky if I come across another book as good as this one in the near future. It hardly seems possibly that this is Katarina’s first novel. She is such an accomplished writer that I can’t praise this book highly enough.
I think Katarina must have found her own magic machine for this novel. It shines so brightly.
I love everything about this book. Not just the story. The beautiful cover captures the essence of the story completely. The language resonates “Italian”. The descriptions of colour are amazing. One of the ways the reader realises Oscar is becoming more and more reliant on his magic machine is his ability to see shades and nuances of colour disappears. For example before he starts using the machine Oscar talks of baby blue and faint Delft blue, afterwards blue is just blue.
The story is a parable, the saying “be careful what you wish for” springs to mind. Then again, perhaps there is magic in this mundane world. But despite all its captivating promises we would be better of resisting it.
If you want to read something a bit different. Something by a new author. Something outside of your usual comfort zone make this the one you go for. You will not regret it....more
I only started reading Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell as it was the book of the month in my bookgroup and I had a copy sitting on my bookshelf. It hadI only started reading Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell as it was the book of the month in my bookgroup and I had a copy sitting on my bookshelf. It had been there for more years than I care to think about and I needed this prompt to start me reading otherwise it would have remained unread and unloved forever which would have been a great pity.
Cranford showcases the lives of a group of women living in a small country town in Northern England during the mid C1800s. The women are all single, either unmarried or widowed. They belong to a social class that disapproves of women who work for a living, however these women do not have enough income to take life easy and must consider carefully how every penny is spent while keeping up the appearance of not having a care in the world regarding money.
The story centres around Miss Matty and is told in a series of brief episodes that confirm that all life can be observed in a small country town. It is told with obvious affection for Miss Matty and at times it is extremely amusing with a great deal of subtle humour. At other moments it is serious such as when the bank Miss Matty has entrusted with her lifesavings becomes bankrupt. The effect this has on Miss Matty and the way her friends come to her aid is incredibly moving but serves to emphasise the strict rules that governed the behaviour of women of that time.
I very much recommend that you get hold of this book and read it as soon as you can. If all the five star reviews on various book blogs haven’t persuaded you to part with your money this book is available as a free download from most major online book retailers and it is worth the effort to get hold of....more
I often find that the first book I read in the new year sets the tone for the whole of the year. If thats the case with this book it's going to be anI often find that the first book I read in the new year sets the tone for the whole of the year. If thats the case with this book it's going to be an excellent reading year. This fast paced adventure takes a smuggler who prefers to work alone and through circumstance and coincidence makes him throw in his lot with a bunch of freedom fighters.
I liked the way the Jacob moved from being someone who cared only for himself towards being somebody willing to sacrifice everything for a cause. I found his transformation believable and honest.
On occasion I thought too much was taken for granted, with no explanation of how or why characters and plot had moved from A to B: to the point where I had to check I hadn't accidentally skipped a couple of pages or even a chapter. Apart from that niggle I have nothing but praise for this book and am looking forward to reading about the further adventures of Jacob and his colleagues....more
Amelia and her friends meet up once a week to play bridge. All Of the women have had successful careers and while not exactly bored in retirement AmelAmelia and her friends meet up once a week to play bridge. All Of the women have had successful careers and while not exactly bored in retirement Amelia especially is aware that a certain spark is missing and life is not as exciting as it used to be. That is all about to change. Amelia rescues a 10 year old boy from a couples of thugs and decides to help him further. This is the catalyst for change for all the women. They all become involved in helping Marc, the little boy Amelia saved, and from there the word spreads about their problem solving abilities and people start coming to them for help. Before they know it they have a full time P.I. business and have definitely found that missing spark.
One of the things I loved about this book was that it portrayed women in retirement as capable, talented, energetic independent people retaining a zest for life and adventure. OK so there are health problems and their stamina isn't what it used to be but it's good to have positive role models in this age group.
A couple of times I thought I noticed some inconsistencies in the story line and this distracted me from enjoying the book. At one point I had to go back and actually check someones name and nationality as it appeared to have changed from one chapter to another. These things did not diminish my overall enjoyment of the story itself but have led me to give the book a lower rating than I would have done otherwise....more
This is a coming of age story about a naive young girl,brought up in isolation and unaware of the ways of the world. She has to learn to adapt to theThis is a coming of age story about a naive young girl,brought up in isolation and unaware of the ways of the world. She has to learn to adapt to the truly dreadful situation she finds herself in and decide whether the struggle to live and live decently is worth the effort or if death and an end to pain is preferable to continued suffering.
The story itself quickly had me in its grip. The characters are strong, well drawn and compelling. Abbey is an interesting character whose fate I quickly became concerned about and wanted a happy ending for her. However the writing style of the author was not to my taste and I often found myself being pulled out of the story in order to look up the definition of some esoteric word choice. This broke the flow of the story and therefore diminished the book as a whole....more
Emma Rossi is within spitting distance of graduating college with a nursing degree. Unfortunately that is never going to happen. Before Emma get a chaEmma Rossi is within spitting distance of graduating college with a nursing degree. Unfortunately that is never going to happen. Before Emma get a chance to work as a fully qualified nurse her world is shaken to the core and everything she took for granted is turned upside down.
The basic tenets of life are you're born, you live, you die, you stay dead. Not any more! If you are really unlucky you come back to life as a ravening, ravenous monster. An infection passed on through a bite causes people to die and become reanimated as zombies, hungry zombies with a taste for living flesh.
Emma, her husband Jake (and let's not forget her dog Daphne) struggle to survive in this new world. Not knowing if today's best friend might be tomorrow's worst enemy means having to be vigilant at all times and prepared to commit acts that only days previously were unthinkable. Shana asked me if I would like to review her début novel and I jumped at the chance. Just recently I realised I was reading the same old stories by the same old authors and it felt as though I was in a reading rut. I needed something different to shake up my reading life and this novel certainly managed to do that. I never bothered with zombie novels before this one but this turned out to good to resist. It would not surprise me if it ended up being the best zombie book of 2014.
The opening sets the scene of small town, working man, life as normal America and as soon as we start to invest in Nick Michaels he is dead and responsible for the zombie outbreak that brings America to its knees. From then on all the focus is on Emma. She copes with a hurricane, the loss of family and friends, the despicable behaviour of some other survivors with strength of character and razor sharp wit that engages the reader in such a way you can't help but like her. The story is fast paced but believable, the characters are engaging and the reader is put through a roller coaster of emotion.
I found myself picking up my ereader when I was supposed to be doing other stuff simply because I needed to know what happened next. And now the book is finished I'm already wanting to read the next in the series.
I came to this novel without many expectations, a new author in a genre I don't usually read, it will pass the time I thought. By the time I had finished I realised I was lucky enough to come across someone who is going to be a very big name if she keeps up this quality of writing and I am most definitely a fan. 5/5. Go download the eBook straight away you won't be disappointed....more
Quirky, funny, original and unputdownable. Don't skip a word or miss a paragraph as every single word is important and a lot of them are original. EveQuirky, funny, original and unputdownable. Don't skip a word or miss a paragraph as every single word is important and a lot of them are original. Every time you think you know what is going on be prepared to have your assumptions tossed aside as the story segues in a different direction.
This is the first book by Paul Mannering I have read so I came to it with no preconceived notion about what a Paul Mannering book should be like and finished it knowing I have another favourite writer to follow.
Charlotte Pudding and Vole Drakeforth live in a world powered by "empathy technology". Think nice thoughts at your toaster or it will burn your toast! Nobody really questions where this energy comes from, why would they - it's clean,free,renewable and long lasting. But this utopia has a serpent at its heart and his name is Godden. From the moment Charlotte meets Vole her life is turned upside down. Burglars enter her home in an attempt to steal an antique desk inherited from her parents and that turns out to be the least of her worries. The pair go from hiding in an Arthurian monastery to infiltrating the headquarters of the Godden Corporation discovering along the way that there is an uncomfortable link between the Arthurians and Godden. The main weapons at their disposal are Charlotte's highly tuned empathy traits and Vole's black belt in sarcasm.
In some ways this book reminded me of reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy for the first time. No idea where the ride is going to take you but it is so enjoyable in a totally insane way that you want to stay on-board for the whole journey....more