Review of The One Saving Grace by Julie Houston

I downloaded Goodness, Grace and Me by Julie Houston in November 2013 and really enjoyed reading it. 

My review is here if you missed it.

I'm usually good at keeping tabs on new releases 

from authors I've enjoyed reading and can't understand how I missed the sequel, The One Saving Grace. In fact, the author's third book has been published recently but more of that later.

When I realised that Julie Houston had more on offer I downloaded The One Saving Grace straightaway with my Kindle Unlimited subscription. 

And it was just like meeting up with old friends. 

Once again, the relationships between Harriet, Grace and all their assorted families and friends are explored in great detail and once again it's a 100% enjoyable book to read.

The book description sets the scene:

When Harriet Westmoreland goes into labour with twins in Harvey Nichol’s men’s knicker department at exactly the moment she sets eyes on Alex Hamilton, it marks the start of a year of madness - for her, her family and, at times, it seems most of the West Yorkshire village of Midhope.
Giving birth only two months after Harriet, her childhood soulmate Grace has her own craziness to contend with. As both women hurtle down unexpected and very different paths, they flounder in a maelstrom of passion and confusion, perilously clinging on as the chain of events that threatens not only their comfortable, ordinary lives but also their very existence…

And The One Saving Grace well and truly lives up to its promise. 

I'm not saying anything more about the plot other than I thought it was brilliant. Towards the end of the novel you're on the edge of your seat wondering what's going to happen next and how all will be resolved.
Harriet and Grace are joined by the same supporting cast of family and friends but they're joined by some newcomers notably Anisim, the Russian oligarch Harriet's husband is doing business with and Lilian, the Mrs Doubtfire nanny who saves the day more than once.
The children have grown up a bit since the first book and there's the addition of the new baby twins into Harriet's family. And Grace finally achieves her desire to become a mum and is joined in her part of the story by baby, Jonty.

I really like the way Julie Houston describes the setting of Harriet's home in Yorkshire. 

Her descriptions of nature, sunsets and the weather are almost poetic and create lovely images of a rural idyll.

Narrated by Harriet herself, the novel draws the reader so closely into Harriet's dilemmas and emotions that you feel you know her in real life.

I thought Goodness, Grace and Me was really good but, amazingly, The One Saving Grace is even better. A fantastically enjoyable novel from Julie Houston and I'm going straight on to read her latest novel, Looking for Lucy, which is also available in Kindle Unlimited.
More details of The One Saving Grace by Julie Houston here.

Review of Dream On by Terry Tyler

Dream On is one of Terry Tyler's earlier novels 

and another enjoyable story with some unexpected twists as the plot unfolds.

I really like Terry Tyler's writing. 

She has a remarkable ability to take the lives of fairly ordinary people and turn them into such interesting and engaging characters. And Dream On is no exception.

Book Description

Dave Bentley was born to be a rock star. 
He believes he's a reincarnated Viking warrior, too... 
When Dave forms his new band, Thor, there are plenty of sleepless nights for Janice, his on-off girlfriend and mother of his son. Not only must she deal with the thrills and spills of life as a hardworking single mum, but also the imminent return of singer-songwriter Ariel Swan, Dave's one true love. 
Poor Janice. Dave is still the love of her life. 
Ariel Swan returns to small town life - and Dave's heart. 
She and her friend Melodie (whose ambition is to be "a celebrity") enter a TV talent competition, so Dave and the rest of Thor decide to make the most of the opportunity for possible fame and fortune, too. This adventure brings about big changes in the lives of all of them – none of which Dave could have anticipated. 
One member of Thor even ends up on The Jeremy Kyle Show...

Whenever I read Terry Tyler novels 

I always become really involved with the story. Her writing style draws the reader in so well that every page turns itself and it's difficult to leave the narrative and go and do something else.
Dream On, just like the other Terry Tyler novels, is easy to read and yet it gives the reader something to think about. This time it's an exploration of the values that lead to fulfilment in life. Each of the main characters strives to achieve their ambition but the route to success is filled with obstacles quite often of their own making. For some the end result is not always what at first seemed to be their goal.

I read Dream On with my Kindle Unlimited subscription 

and enjoyed every chapter. Terry Tyler is the author of twelve published ebooks and I thought that, apart from a collection of short stories, I'd read them all. But on double-checking I've realised there's a sequel to Dream On.
You can be sure that I've already got Full Circle on my Kindle, waiting to be read.

You can find details of all Terry Tyler's novels, novellas and short stories on her Amazon Author Page.


Review of Ignoring Gravity by Sandra Danby

Ignoring Gravity is Sandra Danby's debut novel and it's stunningly good.

The novel connects two pairs of sisters separated by a generation of secrets. 

Finding her mother’s lost diaries, Rose begins to understand why she has always seemed the outsider in her family, why she feels so different from her sister, Lily. And the secrets keep on coming.

Ignoring Gravity is a really unusual novel 

which explores family trauma through a fusion of mystery, romance and detective fiction. The romance conforms to the conventions of romantic fiction but it doesn't dominate. Rose demonstrates the skills and perseverance of the seasoned detective. And the mystery she is trying to unravel is complex and original.

The characterisation is excellent 

and the two sisters, their parents, partners, friends and colleagues are vibrant and come alive as the story evolves. 

The novel is about adoption 

and a sense of belonging that Rose begins to understand as the plot evolves; and it's a novel about relationships. 

It's an emotional novel 

and the reader readily shares the emotion but it's never sentimental. The issues explored are handled sensitively by the author although she doesn't hold back in tackling their complex difficulties.

Ignoring Gravity is a very well-constructed novel 

with a plot which keeps the reader's close attention throughout. The plot takes some unexpected turns along the way but reaches a satisfying resolution in the end. 

Highly recommended.

Find details of this and Sandra Danby's other writing on her Amazon Author Page.

Review of Ezicash by Ian Thompson

Ezicash by Ian Thompson 

has a detailed book description on its Amazon Kindle store page which is well worth reading to get a flavour of the book.

I was drawn to the book by the eye-catching cover, 

the unusual title and the European Union setting of the book given the current national obsession with all things EU. I read the book with my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Ezicash is set in 2060 in a post-EU dystopia 

where safety and health have become all-consuming for the citizens of DOSH-1-TERMINUS-UK (Department of Safety and Health).
DOSH1 residents are part of EZICASH (Eurozone Investigative Coordinating All Safety and Health) and they live a carefully controlled, micro-managed lifestyle in a super-size, all-encompassing dome.

But one day there is a problem 

which can only be fixed by an outsider - someone who doesn't live in the dome.
It becomes apparent early on in the novel that there is an alternative to the sanitised dystopia of dome life. This is explored through the narrative of Philip Lud, an old fashioned plumber whose lifestyle, and that of his friends, is the very opposite of DOSH1.

Ezicash is a most unusual, satirical and highly entertaining novel. 

The author has, amazingly, created an extraordinary but completely plausible alternative world in EZICASH. This is because so much of DOSH1 is seen through the eyes of the very down to earth outers. These characters are rather eccentric and very engaging and contrast well with their more regimented neighbours in DOSH1. The author has also created some lovely contrasts in describing the two alternative worlds: the natural world outside the dome and the artificiality within.

I enjoyed reading the novel and look forward to reading more by Ian Thompson.

Details of Ezicash are on the author's Amazon Author Page.


Review of Just Above Hades (DCI Cyril Bennett crime thriller series Book 2) by Malcolm Hollingdrake

I've visited the town of Harrogate many times but will see it with new eyes after reading Just Above Hades by Malcolm Hollingdrake.

Just Above Hades is a page-turning tale of murder, mystery and corruption hidden behind the refined and respectable facade of this beautiful Yorkshire town.
Book description
Just Above Hades, is a Yorkshire based crime novel that reunites us with DCI Cyril Bennett and DS Owen in what proves to be a rather gruesome investigation. The tentacles of the Romanian Mafia in Harrogate spread far and wide to encompass prostitution, illegal immigrants and murder. The police are faced with a complex and challenging series of events with a fight against time in a thrilling conclusion. The interaction of the two detectives continues to enthral.

The book is the second in the DCI Cyril Bennett series 

and I read it with my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

DCI Bennett is a very likeable character 

whose off-duty excitement is derived from being a serious collector of paintings. He's affable and considerate with a systematic and thorough approach to detection which leaves no stone unturned.
Cyril Bennett enjoys good working relations with his colleagues especially his forthright sergeant, Dave Owens. They're an effective team who ensure that the pages of Just Above Hades turn briskly.

I really enjoyed reading Just Above Hades

The police procedural aspects of the novel are very realistic and convincing. 

The plot involves some gruesome twists but the violent details are not gratuitous. The plot evolves at a good pace and leads to a satisfying conclusion with all loose ends successfully tied together along the way.
I've added the first DCI Cyril Bennett novel, Keen as Mustard to my waiting to be read list.

Details of Just Above Hades and other books by Malcolm Hollingdrake are on his Amazon Author Page.


Review of The Forgotten Monarch: Franz Joseph and the Outbreak of the First World War by Matthieu Santerre

When the preparations for the commemoration of the centenary of WW1 began I started exploring my family history in that era. I wrote a series of blogposts about family members who'd served in the armed forces and also the impact of the war on the lives of several other ancestors.

My Writing a Family History: World War One Stories blog is dormant at the moment but I still follow several WW1 blogs including The July Crisis: 100 Years On, 1914-2014. This blog introduced me to The Forgotten Monarch: Franz Joseph and the Outbreak of the First World War by Matthieu Santerre which I was able to borrow as part of my Kindle Unlimited subscription
The author, Matthieu Santerre, submitted the text of The Forgotten Monarch: Franz Joseph and the Outbreak of the First World War for his PhD disertation and has subsequently published it as an ebook.
This is an interesting aspect of self-publishing and I've seen many examples of academic texts being made available to the general reading public this way.
The Forgotten Monarch: Franz Joseph and the Outbreak of the First World War was fascinating to read partly because of the academic conventions followed in the book and also because the book explores an aspect of the causes of the First World War which was skated over in all the history courses I've followed.
The book examines the role of the Austro-Hungarian Emperor, Franz Joseph, in the days and weeks immediately following the assassination at Sarajevo.
In forensic and meticulously referenced detail the author explains the background to Franz Joseph's decisions and charts the inevitability of the consequences. It's well worth reading and you can check it out here.
For anyone seeking an accessible and concise overview of the causes and events of WW1 Rupert Colley's World War One: History in an Hour does exactly what it says. Having studied WW1 for 'O' level and 'A' level and also at teacher training college, I should be able to re-call all the salient points but increased grey hairs seem to have affected some of the memory cells and I found this quick-read overview very useful.
After finishing The Forgotten Monarch I skipped through WW1 in an hour and then turned to Matthieu Santerre's second book (also available on Kindle Unlimited) World War I: How Germany Blundered into War.
This book explores the same territory as The Forgotten Monarch but from the perspective of Kaiser Wilhelm and his German advisers. It's another fascinating study: well referenced and very readable
At the moment The July Crisis: 100 Years On, 1914-2014 Blog is unavailable but both books are still available in the Amazon Kindle Store.