10 New Books in 2015 from some of my favourite authors
1. TERRY TYLER Last Child
Published February 2015I couldn't put this book down and kept snatching quick reads every time I had to do something else. The device of using historical personalities and events as the framework for the novel works really well. The author has used the Tudor history really effectively but makes adjustments where necessary to avoid the contemporary plot becoming strained and contrived. I loved the way the relationships between various characters were explored and evolved. The author has used her trademark reality style to make her characters come alive and zing. The writing is clever, original and compelling and the whole two-book saga is a totally enjoyable read.
Book Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Child-Terry-Tyler-ebook/dp/B00TV1YBSQ
2. JONATHAN HILL Pride
Published February 2015As you would expect from this author, Pride is a very well written novella. Don't let its easy-reading style lead you into thinking it's a simplistic tale. The book works on a number of levels. It tells the story of Liam, an adolescent who is coming-of-age and coming-out. It's a charming story of a young man who meets another and falls in love. There are ups and downs in an ever-changing social whirl but all is resolved in a happy-ever-after ending.
On another level Pride is an exploration of the difficulties encountered by a young person who has come to terms with their orientation but is struggling to share the news. The author has explored sensitively some challenging relationships between parents and child. The reactions of others, both those who are empathetic and those who are openly hostile, adds depth to the story and provides the conflicts and tensions which make the book so engaging and interesting.
In addition Jonathan Hill has created a story which, although focussed on a young man who is gay, overarches the emotional development of all adolescents. Pride is a paradigm of otherness and the search for inclusion. There is an interesting juxtaposition of narrative intercut with reflections from the older, and wiser, Liam. And it's here where there are hints that all is not quite as happy-ever-after as the young Liam's story suggests. Maybe there is more of this story yet to tell.
I thought this was a lovely, beautifully written story and I enjoyed it so much I read it twice.
Book Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pride-Jonathan-Hill-ebook/dp/B00TJEPVIO
3. LUCIANA CAVALLARO Search for the Golden Serpent
Published March 2015Search for the Golden Serpent is an historical, mythological, fantasy quest on an epic scale. The plot is completely plausible. Fantasy and reality meld seamlessly with mythology until the reader is immersed in a world of times long past urging the hero, Evan / Evandros, to step up, take command and do whatever is necessary to save the day.
I was confident that Search for the Golden Serpent would be well written. Luciana Cavallaro has already demonstrated in Accursed Women her ability to tell a tale, sustain the reader's engagement from start to finish and keep the pages turning. However I did wonder how she would get on with a full length novel after writing shorts. The answer is she gets on really well and she's brought all her talent as a writer of short stories into this her first full length novel. The complex plotting, the fully developed characterisation and the beautiful descriptions of places, people and cultures are a delight to read.
Search for the Golden Serpent is a thoroughly enjoyable fantasy quest novel which really works but the novel is made extra special by the wonderful background detail that the author has woven throughout the story. As the reader accompanies Evan / Evandros and the other characters from one ancient place to another their world comes alive. Luciana Cavallaro's passion for Ancient History and Mythology permeates every page of this book and she paints verbal pictures of the changing scenes that are vivid and detailed and a pleasure to read.
Book Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Search-Golden-Serpent-Servant-Gods-ebook/dp/B00TO8TT9W
4. KATH MIDDLETON Top Banana
Published March 2015Although Top Banana has a serious side it's carried along by some very funny scenes.
Steven the main character is wonderful. He is so endearing despite his daft ideas and extraordinary fascination for fruit and veg. His mother is a nightmare of pursed lips, rolled eyes and acidic comments; Steven's long suffering dad is a quiet, formidable force who holds the little family together. Steven's first boss is an Ealing comedy villain while the second is a paradigm of human resources best practice. And when Steven eventually meets the love of his life, she turns out to be the sweetest, kindest, most grounded character that either he or the reader could wish for.
Top Banana really is a feel-good book. There are several instances of the triumph of right over wrong; there are the laugh-aloud funny events that are interspersed throughout the story from beginning to end; and there is a wonderful Mr Pollyish theme that emerges as the story unfolds where Steven takes responsibility for his life and takes actions to change it.
Beneath the comedy, Top Banana is a novel about relationships and these are explored wisely and with sensitivity. The book is ultimately positive and uplifting; it leaves behind a strong sense of the power of humankind to change for the good and this lasts even longer than the laughter.
5. LIZZIE LAMB Scotch on the Rocks: . . . journey to Cormorant Island and fall in love
Published June 2015Lizzie Lamb has already demonstrated that she is an expert in writing romantic fiction. She creates believable main characters who fall in once-in-a-lifetime love; she devises imaginative and unusual conflicts and tensions that threaten to keep the lovers apart; she develops a rich cast of supporting players who help and hinder the resolution to the lovers' problems; and she describes fascinating and beautiful settings in which their story unfolds.
Miss Lamb has done all this again in Scotch on the Rocks, another lightly comedic tale of love and romance set on a beautiful, remote, isolated Scottish island.
The plotting in this novel is really clever with many surprises on the way. Scotch on the Rocks keeps you turning the pages and wondering what's going to happen next.
The dialogue is particularly good in Scotch on the Rocks. It's sparkling and vivid, sharp and witty. There's a lovely Scots voice for all the indigenous characters enhanced with the musical, poetic tones of Gaelic.
No doubt about it: Lizzie Lamb has excelled with Scotch on the Rocks. A five star romance from a five star romantic novelist.
6. TERRY TYLER House of York
Published October 2015The House of York one of the best novels I've read this year.
What a fantastic book. I loved reading every page of it. The combination of family drama, romance, mystery and an historical framework based on the Wars of the Roses makes for a gripping read with so many twists and turns you can't put it down.
Really well written as you'd expect from this author but the best I've read yet from Terry Tyler. Each chapter is told by one of the main characters so as the narrative moves forward the reader's perspective shifts depending on who is telling the tale. This works really well and results in characters who are realistic and totally convincing. As each chapter unfolds they present their take on the story as though they're chatting to you on the phone and so from early in the novel the reader is immersed and engrossed in the emerging plot.
Inspired by events from the era of the Wars of the Roses how could there not be intrigue by the bucket load? The characterisation remains largely true to historical fact but the course of events is less determined by history than it was in the author's Tudor sagas. As a construct to help tell a tale it is highly effective and unusual.
The ending is completely unexpected. It's sinister and leaves your imagination working overtime. It's here where there is the strongest resonance with the historical background of the novel. There is a very dark side to this novel too which is explored honestly but without gratuitous detail. This greater depth makes The House of York the best Terry Tyler novel I've read so far.
Book Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/House-York-Terry-Tyler-ebook/dp/B016WNEEQO
7. EMMA DAVIES Merry Mistletoe
Published October 2015As the charming book cover and the title suggest, the story is themed around Christmas. From the early description of Freya dressed in her "forest green coat and bright red woolly hat and scarf" as she sets off for the Mistletoe Fair, Christmas images abound. As well as the mistletoe there's snow, robins and baubles in abundance. The sense of Christmas is almost Victorian and its creation is lyrical. Descriptive writing is full and evocative: landscape, weather, rural life and the Christmas season are brought to life with a deft choice of words and phrases. But even with this strong sense of place and time, the themes of the novella are much deeper.
Underneath the romantic Christmas story is an exploration of bereavement; coming to terms with loss; letting go of the past. And this is written about with gentleness and sensitivity. Although there are the some pithy remarks, sharp comments and occasional swearwords which prevents the novella from becoming saccharine and keeps it rooted firmly in reality.
What I found extraordinarily good about Merry Mistletoe was that so much was packed into a relatively short book. It took just a couple of hours to read but it felt as satisfying as a full length novel. Lovely!
Book Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Merry-Mistletoe-Kindle-Single-ebook/dp/B016YB99KK
8. JONATHAN HILL The Anniversary
Published December 2015The Anniversary doesn't take long to read but this novella lingers on with an uneasy sense of having missed something. As one question is answered another forms. Is this book the exploration of a mental breakdown or of a clever criminal mind?
There are many details in the setting and the descriptive writing that place the story firmly in the Christmas season but it's about as far from "peace and goodwill to all" as you can get. There are echoes of a couple of the writer's more macabre short stories and, once again, he's demonstrated an ability to write beautifully with economical and precise language that creates powerful visual images.
The non-linear time scheme is the great strength of the novella allowing the reader to delve into the mind of the narrator. It creates complexity and gives the story a much bigger context than the simple tale it supports. Confusion is created and the reader is lead into the narrator's nightmare world, whether real or imagined is difficult to say.
This is definitely a book to read again, and probably again, and one that I can recommend most highly.
Book Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Anniversary-Jonathan-Hill-ebook/dp/B018ZSCEKW
9. JULIA HUGHES Everybody Lies
Published December 2015A missing teenager, a disappearing conman and a suicidal rock-star are a huge challenge for Detective Inspector Crombie who is given the job of investigating a complex web of family secrets and deceit. This book is the one DI Crombie fans have been waiting for - a full length novel putting the big man himself centre stage! Author Julia Hughes has devised a tricky plot full of twists and red herrings that keep the reader guessing right to the end. Crombie is at his straight talking, takes-no-nonsense best. There is a strong supporting cast from both sides of the law and some particularly good female characters. There's a great sense of reality with sharp, entertaining dialogue and an attention to detail that makes Everybody Lies a gripping page-turner and a thrilling whodunnit.
Book Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Everybody-Lies-Julia-Hughes-ebook/dp/B0199AB0QE/
10. JEFFREY PERREN Tellen Song
Published December 2015I've read all Jeffrey Perren's other novels and have been looking forward to Tellen Song. It was released just before Christmas and I'm about half way through. The novel combines the author's ability to tell a good tale with his fascinating historical research. So far .... so very good.
This is from the book description in the Amazon Kindle Store.
1307 AD — The Legend Ends, the Story Begins...
Wilhelm Tell, hunter and builder in Üri, dares to disrespect the envious bailiff Gessler, appointed ruler of the southern forest cantons by King Albrecht of Germany. Sentenced to slavery until he completes building Gesslerburg, Tell escapes over the Alpine mountains to Lombardy. But the political upheaval in his homeland is mirrored there. Drawn unwillingly into the squabbles between the Pope-supporting Guelphs and the Ghibellines, who side with the Emperor, he longs to rejoin his own independence movement. A fugitive from Schwyz and a misfit in Milan, Tell finally sees his chance to return to lead his people. Will he forge a lasting freedom for himself, his family, and his countrymen? Or will his own brethren betray him, and themselves, at the crucial moment? Harking back to the founding of the Swiss Confederacy, Tellen Song tells the story of its legendary founder — set among all the rich historical details of the 14th century.
Book Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tellen-Song-education-Wilhelm-Tell-ebook/dp/B019T7A388
Well, that's it! My third and final book list for 2015.
Thanks for reading my blog today and best wishes for 2016.
I'm running a Kindle Countdown price discount for A Single To Filey, the best selling detective novel by Michael Murray, between New Year's Eve and Twelth Night in the Amazon UK Kindle Store.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00YA6SPFC and http://www.spurwing-ebooks.com/ for further details.