Tuesday, 22 August 2017

A HUNDRED TINY THREADS by Judith Barrow @barrow_judith

4.5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK
On Amazon.com
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book:  I'd read the rest of this series and was looking forward to this prequel.  I highly recommend the short stories attached to the series, Secrets.

This is the fourth book in the Pattern of Shadows series, though in some ways the first, because it's the prequel to the others, which are set in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.  I'd recommend reading it first, anyway.  It spans the years 1911 to 1923, and tells the story of earlier members of the Howarth family.

So, there was me thinking this was going to be an 'eh-up, love, put the kettle on' family drama amongst the cobbles, with a bit of WW1 angst thrown in.  I was wrong; it's so much more than that, and far more interesting.  The book starts with Winifred Duffy, daughter of 'orrible Ethel, joining up with some enchanting Irish scallywags with irritating dialogue tics who are involved in the fight for the women's vote.  The story was jogging along in a modest fashion, until (enter stage left) along came Winifred's grandmother, Florence, who I loved, and whose story was heartbreaking.  A moment later I was reintroduced to Bill Howarth (Mr Prologue), a thoroughly unlikeable character who grew increasingly despicable, and all of a sudden I realised I was engrossed.  I do love a well-written nasty piece of work, and Judith Barrow has done a masterful job with Howarth.  He'd had a bad start in life, yes, but I didn't pity him; my loathing of him grew more intense as the book progressed.

The saga moves through the treatment of the suffragettes, lost love, unwanted pregnancy, dark family secrets, the evil, pointless horror of WW1, the general godawful fate of the impoverished classes, the 1919 influenza epidemic, the atrocities committed by the Black and Tans ~ this is no rose-tinted piece of nostalgia, and no detail is spared.  Saddest of all is the life of Winifred, in many ways; although she finds some degrees of happiness, the theme all the way through seemed to be how women of the time had to put up and shut up, and accept what they got, even if it was so much less than they deserved.  This aspect of the book is so well done, without being hammered home.  I was pleased that, although there was resolution, there was no great happy ending.  100 Tiny Threads is about real life, and quite an eye-opener it is too; it made me glad I wasn't born fifty years earlier, for sure.

When I got to the end, I wanted to nip back to Pattern of Shadows, set in WW2, to find out what happened to Bill and Winifred; it's two or three years since I read it, and I can't remember.  D'you know, I think I will.

Friday, 18 August 2017

VICTIMS by Joel Hames @joel_hames

5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK
On Amazon.com
On Goodreads


How I discovered this book: Amazon browse, but I leapt on it because I've loved other books by this author.  I downloaded it on Kindle Unlimited.

Victims is a novella to introduce Sam Williams, the lawyer star of The Art of Staying Dead, which I read eighteen months or so back, and thoroughly enjoyed.  In this story, Sam becomes involved with a woman he shouldn't, and a dangerous gang who are after one of his clients...

I loved this, I was absolutely glued to the pages.  It knocks the spots off many other you'll-never-guess-what's-going-to-happen-next type thrillers that I've read in the last couple of years, and Joel Hames's writing is first class.  So witty, and sharp, and intelligent, and realistic... and I liked that he totally gets the 'impromptu pub sesh' syndrome.  The atmosphere of young professionals in London is perfectly portrayed, and this book is just so well written.

It ends at 70%, after which there are the first couple of chapters of the novel mentioned above, and if you haven't read that, you're in for a treat.  Go on, fork out 99p or download it on Kindle Unlimited.  You'll be glad you did.

Friday, 11 August 2017

THE BERLIN AFFAIR by David Boyle

3.5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK
On Amazon.com
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: it was submitted to Rosie Amber's Review Team, of which I am a member.

This is a novella length story; I wondered if such a plot could be fitted into a novella, and if there would be a lack of detail, but it is well structured and fits nicely into the shorter length.

Xanthe Schneider from Cincinatti arrives in Cambridge as a student, six months before the outbreak of World War Two.  During her childhood, she was endowed with a love of and talent for crosswords by her father, and, in England, during the 'phoney war' of the first eight months following September 3rd, 1939, she gets to know the mysterious Ralph Lancing, a code cracking enthusiast.  Then Ralph disappears, and Xanthe is approached by war officials to take part in the world of British espionage.

One thing I liked about this was the portrayal of the England at the time; it's very well done, but subtly, and it came over, to me, a bit like a black and white film.  I also liked that Boyle has used real life characters, such as Goebbels, and I felt Xanthe's growing fear; the atmosphere of menace certainly worked.  Sometimes I felt the choice of words was a little odd, and I wasn't always sure about the way in which, for instance, a naval commander spoke to Xanthe, a woman he had only just met.

This is a good read for the historical detail in itself, and it is well plotted; an undemanding, enjoyable book with which to curl up for an afternoon.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

TWISTED MEMORIES by Kate L Mary @kmary0622

5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK
On Amazon.com
On Goodreads


How I discovered this book: I've read all the other books in this series, links at bottom of Twisted World review 😀 Genre: Zombie Apocalypse.

The first book in this series takes place 20 years after the group from the Broken World series, Vivian, Axl and co, finally find perceived safety in Atlanta.  I liked it very much, but was longing to know what happened in those intervening 20 years.  This is the book I was waiting for!

Best of all is the character of Angus James, the Merle Dixon of Kate L Mary's zombie world, who is imprisoned for experimentation at the CDC after it's discovered that he's one of the few people in the world who are immune from the virus.  I felt every tear he cried, I'm sure I did, and his strange relationship with the icy cold Dr Helton kept me completely engrossed.   It's one of those books that's so frustrating, because you, as the reader, can see the peril that the cast are in, and you want to scream at them, 'Go back to Colorado!  Now!  Just go!'  Of course, that I felt so strongly shows how good the characterisation and general storytelling is.

I very much liked some elements of the sinister practices going on behind the Atlanta population's back, such as the orchestration of an uprising, leading to a couple of deaths, so that the evil Star's government could put new, restrictive laws in place under the guise of keeping the people safe.  Something that *many* think happens in the real world....

The pain of the characters I've grown to know so well was heartrending, and some of this book was the very best stuff I've read by this author.  She has a real knack of choosing exactly the right POV for each part of the story, and really seems to understand that sometimes a not fully informed, third party account of another character's situation can tell the reader so much more than the actual words.

This is an excellent book; my only slight complaint is that it seemed a bit rushed at times, with some areas needing more detail; I thought it might have been better stretched over two books, as I didn't get a feeling of time passing.  But I still loved it, and the fact that I would have liked it to be two books instead of one says it all, really. 😌