Monday, 30 May 2016

BROKEN STORIES by Kate L Mary

5 out of 5 stars

7 short stories/novelettes: out-takes from the Broken World Zombie Apocalypse Series

On Amazon UK HERE
On Amazon.com HERE
On Goodreads HERE



I just spent a very happy happy two and a half hours reading these, a snip at 99p!

If you've finished the Broken World series and wish there was another book, or haven't read it yet and wonder if you're going to like it, this collection is a terrific introduction to it. 

Some of the stories are about characters we have already met or heard of in the series (such as Brady in Colorado, Vivian's father Roger, two of the girls who got out of the catastrophe at the Monte Carlo casino, and the girl down on Key West who was immune to the virus ~ you'll like the ending to that one, if you've already read the series!).  Others, though, are about people from different places: a girl in rural Oklahoma whose dad was a survivalist, another couple who had made the wrong decision to stay put in a city centre.  Roger was particularly well drawn; shades of Angus, but basically a bad guy, whereas Angus was basically good.

As with the other books in this series, there are a few editing and proofreading errors, but not enough to spoil my enjoyment; Kate Mary is a terrific storyteller.  I would have liked seven more, and hope that some day she will write another book in the series ... I want to know what happened to Brady, Jim, the people at Hope Springs, and some of the new people I met in these stories.  And I'm not finished with Viv and Axl yet! 

Definitely recommended.

Reviews for the 6 books in the BROKEN WORLD series can be found HERE


Review for TWISTED WORLD, the first in the 20-years-later series, is HERE

FORGOTTEN WORLD by Kate L Mary

5 out of 5 stars

The final book of a 6 part zombie apocalypse series

On Amazon UK HERE
On Amazon.com HERE
On Goodreads HERE



What makes a really good book?  These are some of the things: a believable plot, a pace that keeps you turning the pages, characters you feel you know, and care about, situations that affect your emotions.  Forgotten World has all of these; it's the best in this series.  

Vivian, Axl and the gang set out to get their one hope, the virus-immune Angus, to Atlanta, where the CDC are working on a cure.  The road trip is hazardous beyond their expectations, and people get lost on the way.  There were three instances in the second half of the book that actually made me cry - I mean real tears running down my cheeks and sniffing, not just a watery eye!  I can't say which they are or I'll give the plot away, though.  

There were some things about the book I was a bit disappointed with - not knowing what happened to a new favourite character, and the quick disposal of a menace who could have run and run.  And what about The Watchers?  So sinister - I wanted to know more!  Yes, there are editing errors, too - quite a few instances of the wrongly assigned dependent clause (eg, something like "Walking down the road, the bus ran me over" - if you don't know what's wrong with that, ask an editor!), the constant lack of the word 'of' after 'couple' (a couple years, a couple blankets) - fine when in Axl and Angus's dialogue, not so good in Vivian's narrationSome basic proofreading errors, like backwards apostrophes.  But I'd still recommend this book to anyone who likes this genre; Amazon tells us that 5* means 'I loved it'.  I did, I loved this book, and I was so sad to say goodbye to the characters (especially the one we lost last!).   I think the series could have done with one more book, but I've just seen that Kate Mary has also produced 'Broken Stories', so perhaps some of my questions will be answered in that....  I've just downloaded it to start reading immediately!
  
BROKEN WORLD, the first in this series by Kate Mary is reviewed by me HERE, with links to my reviews of the other four books.  All have Amazon buy links.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

NEW WORLD by Kate L Mary

4.5 out of 5 stars

Part 5 of Zombie Apocalypse Series

On Amazon UK HERE
On Amazon.com HERE
On Goodreads HERE



So there was me, with The Walking Dead withdrawal symptoms and in need of more zombie apocalypse stuff, when I remembered this series I'd meant to keep up with.  I re-read the first and the second, then decided to get this next one.  I have no longer got episode 4, Lost World, as I'd downloaded it on Kindle Unlimited, and I have a shocking memory, but, happily, most of the story made its way back into my head as I started reading this, and I discovered that it actually works okay as a stand alone, or near enough.

The two groups from Lost World are enduring their first zombie winter in snow-covered Colorado, and wondering what happened to their friends from whom they were separated.  One group is in a small community of about twelve, one in a much larger one, numbering about 200.  But, of course, with any community comes leadership wrangles that are only just beginning. And what will happen when the zombies thaw out?

It's never NOT a good time for a picture of Norman Reedus...

This is a cracking series, a real easy read if you like this sort of thing.  It's told from the points of view of ex stripper Vivian, redneck-with-a-heart Axl, former Hollywood actress Ginny, and her man, Jon.  The characterisation is excellent - I found a new one to love (Jim) and one to hate, too (Dax), and of course there are other worries for all survivors: sometimes the humans are more dangerous than the zombies.  I'm still not sure that Hope Springs holds the answer....

For anyone who's been reading these books, there are two sad losses, from the original group, one of which brought tears to my eyes. I have downloaded Book 6, Forgotten World, and am going to start it as soon as I have posted this!

Book one, BROKEN WORLD is reviewed HERE, with links to my reviews for other 3 books in the series, all with Amazon buy links.




Thursday, 26 May 2016

CAWNPORE by Tom Williams

4.5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK HERE
On Amazon.com HERE
On Goodreads HERE



I bought this book as soon as I'd read the stand-alone sequel, Back Home.  In Cawnpore, India, John Williamson is employed as a Deputy Collector in the British governed town during the middle of the 19th century.  Not always comfortable in the role of a conqueror in a foreign country, he seeks his own amusement, and forms relationships outside the British community.

This is the story of the Indian Mutiny of 1857, and the build up and aftermath.  I knew next to nothing about this, and found it most interesting.  Tom Williams is a skilful writer, adept in both characterisation and story telling. I liked how Williamson was reminded that the British were the trespassers, and that the Indians' viewpoint was that they were taking back what was rightfully theirs; possibly the most profound moment in the book. The treatment of the British by the Indians might not have been honourable, but it was no less so than in any other war; however, the purpose of a book review is to comment on the readability of the book itself, not the activities of the characters, especially when the historical fiction is based on fact.

In early part of the book the author has portrayed so well the stiff formalities of the early Victorians.  As tension mounts, he doesn't favour any particular faction within the story, and the descriptions of the build up to the massacre are detailed and well thought out.  Sometimes I found the book a little long-winded, but not often; sometimes long-windedness is necessary in order to report all facts. 

Williamson disguises himself as an Indian to facilitate his ability to move between camps; at times I wondered if this was a little far-fetched, but then I read in the author's notes at the end that some British officers used such disguises successfully during the mutiny, so do please bear that in mind when reading.

On occasion I found the detail of his physical relationship with Mungo Buksh to be unnecessary, but that may be because I prefer my battle stories without the 'love interest'!  On the whole, this novel is all that historical fiction should be: absorbing, believable and educational.

Added extra!  Either before or after you've read this book, you might like to read this excellent article by Liz Lloyd on her 'Lost in the Past' blog, the tragic tale of the English ladies of Cawnpore ~ brings it home.  It's HERE

   

BACK HOME by Tom Williams reviewed HERE


Friday, 20 May 2016

DOWN SOLO by Earl Javorsky

4 out of 5 stars

Crime Thriller/Supernatural

On Amazon UK HERE
On Amazon.com HERE
On Goodreads HERE


Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber's Review Team



Another gritty, unusual and often darkly amusing thriller from Earl Javorsky, this time with a clever hint of the supernatural.  Charlie Miner is a fast talking, various substance snorting PI involved with many shady characters; the fact that he's actually dead adds another dimension to his dealings. 

He has a drink-crazed ex-wife and a daughter, Mindy, who he loves dearly and who has to deal with the scattered lives of her parents.  Among the cast are drug dealers, gang members, a priest, shady investment entrepreneurs, and a particularly perceptive taxi driver, Daniel.

The dialogue in this book is excellent, sharp and realistic, and zips along, with prison visits, road trips, kidnappings, arson, gunfights, from Santa Monica to Mexico.  It's not predictable at all, which I loved, and there's never a dull moment; aside from this, Earl Javorsky is just a very stylish writer, and Charlie is a great narrator. 

I didn't like it quite as much as his other book, Trust Me, because I would have preferred it if it was just a straight thriller without the supernatural element, and I felt it could do with a little tidying up in places, but the first reason is only personal taste, and I'd certainly say, yes, read this.  It's good!

TRUST ME by Earl Javorsky reviewed HERE

 


Tuesday, 10 May 2016

BACK HOME by Tom Williams

5 out of 5 stars

Crime in Victorian London

On Amazon UK HERE
On Amazon.com HERE
On Goodreads HERE


Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber's Book Review Team


I loved this book.  Although the third part of a trilogy, it is a complete stand-alone (I haven't read the other parts), with a two page preface that gives exactly the right information about what has happened before; this is so well written that I couldn't wait to get cracking on the main story.

Back Home is an excellent piece of intricately researched historical fiction, set in the mid 19th century, when affluent, middle class John Williamson returns home from thirty years in Borneo and India to find England a place that has gone through much change.  Circumstances take him to London, where he becomes involved with the murky, criminal side of life in order to rescue a friend from danger—and because he is being blackmailed.

I enjoyed every word of this novel.  It's so cleverly written, with low-key humour in parts, the research used subtly and inobtrusively.  Williamson's new life centres around an underground industry; the detail about this is fascinating, as are the eye-opening accounts of life in early Victorian slums.  That aside, I loved reading about his impressions of this new London, his observations about the sociological changes and patterns, and the people he meets.  Even the mundane domestic detail held my attention a hundred per cent.

I shall be reading the previous book, Cawnpore, very soon (I've just bought it), and highly recommend this novel to all lovers of intelligent historical fiction.  Really impressed!


Sunday, 8 May 2016

ACROSS GREAT DIVIDES by Monique Roy

3 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK HERE
On Amazon.com HERE
On Goodreads HERE


Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber's Book Review Team


This is the story of Eva, a Jew living in Berlin, and her family.  It starts in 1932/3, when Hitler first came to power, and moves on to the family's escape to Antwerp, then to Rio, and their next move to South Africa. 

It starts off well, describing teenage Eva's life before the Nazis, and her initial fear of anti-semitism.  However, it soon becomes more like a quite basic history book or newspaper article, told mostly from the point of view of a narrator, rather than the characters.  With four years of encroaching Nazi terrorism rushed through in a small percentage of the book, I didn't get a sense of the build up of fear.  We are told that Eva's brother Max is the most fearful of the Nazis, and her father, Oskar, holds the optimistic view that it will all blow over, but I felt that the family were used as occasional illustrations for what was happening, rather than them being the subject of the story.  I imagine most people who choose to read the book will already know what happened during the 1930s and 1940s in Europe, and are looking for characters to become involved with, atmosphere and emotion, rather than factual information.

There are some interesting sections in the novel, such as information about the diamond trade in Antwerp and Eva's friend Trudy's experience working on the side of the Nazis in Ravensbruck, but with the huge subjects of the persecution of the jews, daring escape in Nazi dominated Europe, and apartheid in South Africa, I felt it was far too short a novel; it's only 223 Kindle pages long and I read it in an afternoon. 

On the whole, the book was enjoyable enough to read (if 'enjoyable' is the right term, without trivialising the subject matter), but there was no time to become emotionally attached to the characters.  It's a terrific story, and I am aware that much of it is taken from real life; the author has all the material there, but just needs to work on the actual craft of storytelling.    

Saturday, 7 May 2016

BREADLINE by Alain Dizerens

3 out of 5 stars

Memoir

On Amazon UK HERE
On Amazon.com HERE
On Goodreads HERE


Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber's Review Team

Hmm - a strange one!  It's not very long, probably novelette or short novella length, a memoir of the jobs taken on by the author, from experience of Vietnam, to a distributor for washing powder samples, a nightwatchman, and time on a kibbutz.

The whole presentation is quite 'experimental', a series of memory snapshots with little to link them together.  It needs editing, for sure, and the style is eccentric, but it's not without charm.  I liked some parts, like the author's take on pretentious art critics he encountered while working as a caretaker at a Picasso exhibition, and the banal attitude of the masses who passed by the works of art as if they were wallpaper or worse, and I very much liked his observation about how, when returning from Vietnam, even things like being able to switch on a light or sit in a comfortable chair felt like luxuries, but how quickly one got used to them, and began to complain about stuff that didn't matter, again...

This books reminded me of the early days of self-publishing on Kindle, before writers were urged to make their books conform to professional standards, and to be aware of their market; I imagine that with some re-drafting, more detail and a more enticing cover this would appeal to the reader who seeks the unconventional.  
 

Thursday, 5 May 2016

THE JOKER by Georgia Rose

4 out of 5 stars

Short story

On Amazon UK HERE
On Amazon.com HERE
On Goodreads HERE



The Joker is a short story, an ingenious idea I've only seen done a couple of times before, and like very much: it's a deeper look into the background of one of the characters from Georgia Rose's series of romantic suspense/mystery novels, The Grayson Trilogy, though it can be read as a stand alone, or introduction to the series.

Will is a troubled man with a past in the military, and difficulty in finding contentment back in the 'real' world.  Flashbacks of his experiences and his reluctance to form meaningful relationships hold him back, but might he manage to break through that barrier?  A one night stand gives him hope for the future. 

This is an enjoyable hour's read and the end, especially, will certainly pique the reader's interest about the mysterious Grayson; I liked how she was introduced in the final section.  The insight into Will's mind is artfully written, and the lack of speech marks in the conversation works well, for the most part; this is always a risky device to use, but in this case it does a nice job of adding to Will's feeling of detachment.  

Love, mystery and horses :)