Happy New Year


Wishing 
all readers 
of my bookblog 
a very 
Happy New Year.



Especial thanks to the fantastic authors I interviewed in 2014:

Andrew John Rainnie
Jeffrey Perren
Jenny Worstall
Julia Hughes
Kath Middleton
Lizzie Lamb
Matt J. Pike
Rob Sinclair
Saskia Tepe
Wendy Percival

Thanks very much for reading my bookblog in 2014 and hope to see you back in 2015.

Death Is Overrated by Jeffrey Perren

I've had Death is Overrated by Jeffrey Perren in my Waiting To Be Read Folder ever since I finished reading Clonmac's Bridge by the same author. 

It's the third novel by Jeffrey Perren that I've read and it shares with the others the author's intention to tell a good yarn. Unlike the others it isn't historical either in part (Clonmac's Bridge) or in whole (Cossacks in Paris) but just like the other two novels it has a wide ranging plot and a cast of unusual and original characters.

There is a dramatic opening scene where the main character, Professor Thomas Paine, is falsely identified as a corpse and has great difficulty proving his identity to the police. The situation is made more complex as Thomas is a visiting American Professor and the police force are in Wales.

An emerging romance between the Chief Inspector's daughter, Terri, and Thomas is thwarted at every turn by a conspiracy of competing interests including other academics and scientists and Thomas' own father.

Moving rapidly between Wales, Ireland and Scotland Thomas is determined to re-establish himself and find out the truth behind the allegations.

This is good escapist fiction ideal for holiday reading or whenever you want to get lost in a long, convoluted plot in which all the threads are skilfully tied up by the end.

I really enjoyed the author's descriptions of the various locations visited in the course of the story. I also liked the juxtaposition of the Welsh voices of some of the characters with the American English of Thomas and the narrator which gives the novel an interesting writing style which is sustained throughout the book.

I was delighted when earlier in the year Jeffrey Perren agreed to an interview for my bookblog and you can read his fascinating answers to my questions here.

For more details about all Jeffrey Perren's novels, check out his Amazon Author Page in either

or

UK.

Maureen's Christmas Carol by Jonathan Hill

Fans of Jonathan Hill's "Maureen" will be delighted to have another opportunity to read about her exploits in this newly published novella, Maureen's Christmas Carol.

As the title suggests Maureen is preparing to celebrate Christmas. Since losing Roy she has evolved into a thwarted and Scrooge-like character in her attitude to the Festive Season.

This latest novella from Jonathan Hill is a Maureen-specific take on the classic Dickens version of "A Christmas Carol" although the ending is rather less happy-ever-after than the original.

Maureen's lusty, sherry-fuelled encounter with Tiny Tim, the heating engineer, is Maureen at her hilarious, foot-in-mouth best.

The visits of the Three Spirits are three short stories worked into the structure of the novella. They reflect Jonathan Hill's masterly ability with the short story form that was demonstrated so well in Eclectic and Beyond Eclectic.

I liked the way the First Spirit illuminates Maureen's earlier life giving the reader insights into Maureen's past. This provides a surprising contrast with her more recent present explored in all the other novellas.

The Second Spirit leads Maureen to her local supermarket and her grumpy, clumsy self is an amusing counterpoint to the festivities although there is a lot of truth in what she thinks.

Finally, Maureen is presented with a vision of a futuristic hell and the Third Spirit advises her to make some serious changes to her life-style. This section reflects some of the more macabre tales in Jonathan Hill's short story collections and provides a very different sort of Maureen story.

Maureen's Christmas Carol is very engaging and readable. I got it as a free download so many thanks to Jonathan Hill for a generous pre-Christmas present.

You can read my reviews of other Maureen novellas if you click the links below and you can get details of Maureen's Christmas Carol and all Jonathan Hill's books on his Amazon Author page.




Miss Peach's Dream by Jenny Worstall

Indie author Jenny Worstall published a new collection of short stories last week. Miss Peach's Dream is another charming collection which is the latest instalment in her "Quick Coffee Break Reads" series.

From the Amazon book page:

The first story introduces Miss Rosie Peach, a young teacher keen to sort out other people's problems. In 'Best Song in the World', Celia tries to intervene between her son and daughter-in-law; she has to revisit sad events in her own marriage in order to help the young couple. The heroine in 'The Lady with the Funny Hair' has had enough - after all, even a worm will turn in the end.

As I've come to expect now from Jenny Worstall, the stories are well written and pack into a relatively few words a full and complete story with an unusual or quirky aspect. I enjoyed reading all three and they certainly do what's on the tin and enhance your coffee break.

You can read my reviews of Jenny Worstall's earlier short story collections if you click on any of these links and you'll find further details of Miss Peach's Dream and the other titles on Jenny Worstall's Amazon Author page.





Accursed Women by Luciana Cavallaro

Luciana Cavallaro is the author of a series of short stories about the lives of five amazing women from Ancient Greek History. I read the first one, Aphrodite's Curse, several weeks ago and enjoyed it so much I downloaded the complete series, Accursed Women.

I've just finished reading the collection and re-read Aphrodite's Curse, which is the death-bed memoir of princess Phaedra in which she reflects on her own life and describes the events of the day. I think I enjoyed it even more than on the first reading especially for its detailed background.

The second story is the life of Helen as told to a self-styled professional historian who visits Helen towards the end of her life and records a whole new version of events leading up to the wooden horse of Troy saga. Helen comes over as a really strong character who is determined to tell her story to posterity and set the record straight about what she regards as a distorted reality. Whether the author is making this up or not I don't know but it makes for a very readable and engaging story.

The style for the third story, A Goddess' Curse, is a complete contrast and a big surprise. It combines the ancient and the modern, the mythical with reality and works really well. I think this is my favourite story in the collection: it's informative and insightful but entertaining and amusing. The goddess Hera gives a candid interview to daytime chat show host, Drake Drabbler. She shares what it’s like to be a goddess and wife to Zeus, the King of the Gods. Drabbler thinks that his exclusive interview with Queen Hera is a cert for a daytime TV award but he gets a lot more than he bargains for!

Boxed in a Curse is a fresh take on the well-known story of Pandora's Box. When two precocious children ask their grandfather for a story he's got a good one up his sleeve which seems to have more than a little relevance to their own lives.

Everyone must have heard of Medousa, the hideous Gorgon with the human face and snakes instead of hair who will turn you into stone if you look into her eyes. In the final story, Cursed by Treachery, Luciana Cavallaro explains how Medousa becomes this terrifying monster and by the end of the story, amazingly, the reader is full of sympathy for Medousa's plight.

All the stories are well written and packed with information. They are highly readable and entertaining. I'm sure if school Classics lessons had been this interesting I would have paid more attention. Well done author Luciana Cavallaro for bringing such originality to some very ancient tales.

The stories are available to download singly or as a boxed set and there are details on the author's page at Amazon, Smashwords or on her website.





Magnificent Britain by Michael Murray

Here is one of my occasional promotional pieces for the books I publish at www.spurwing-ebooks.com.

Magnificent Britain by Michael Murray

It is 1971 and Nigel Lush’s official biography of First World War hero, Sir Maurice Brearley, is ready for publication.

Brearley had been a revered establishment figure, arms manufacturer and founder of the Magnificent Britain gardening competition.

At the last minute, Nigel receives some startling and unexpected allegations about Brearley’s conduct at the Battle of Loos.

“The man’s a fraud,” says Leonard Stidges, “a liar and a fraud”.
When confronted with these allegations, Maurice’s widow produces even more extraordinary revelations about her late husband’s behaviour. This places Nigel in a terrible dilemma that forces him into a decision which changes his life forever.

Michael Murray’s epic novel questions the relationship between biography and truth and explores the hypocrisy, class consciousness and prejudice that permeated British society during the Twentieth Century.

"Addictive reading"

"A stunning must-read"

"Magnificent Britain - magnificent story"