Category Archives: Book Review

Book Review: ‘Games People Play’ by Owen Mullen

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If you’re expecting an American-style, fast-paced, action-packed story, you’ve got the wrong book. Owen Mullen’s ‘Games People Play’ is a typical Tartan Noir, with private investigator Charlie Cameron as the protagonist. We see the world through his eyes and it’s not a pretty one. Charlie struggles with a loss of his own and, as he tries to find missing persons for other people, as you delve deeper into the mind of Charlie, you find out who his missing person is.

Mullen has described some excellent vivid characters, very believable and endearing. As Charlie tries to make sense of life and help others to find their loved ones, you can feel the pain and desperation Charlie is feeling as he is fighting his own demons. Life is not an exciting rollercoaster all the time and the life of a private investigator is not always as rosy as it may seem.

If you’re not from Glasgow, it’s still easy to follow Mullen’s descriptions and find yourself immersed in the scene. Throughout the story, several plot lines are followed. This may distract from the original story line of the disappearance of the little girl, which never leaves the mind of Charlie and ultimately comes back to the foreground, but they give you an excellent insight into Charlie’s character and sets the scene perfectly for the continuation of the series.

I enjoyed reading Mullen’s book and will be looking forward to the next one.

You can find Owen Mullen’s book ‘Games People Play’ here.

From Russia with Love: Movie vs. Audio Book

I finished the audio book of ‘From Russia with Love’ surprisingly fast. I listened to it during my gym trips and as I go there three times per week, it was over before I realized. It appears I listen faster than I read 😀 . It was the second audio book I listened to and I must say I like it. It is not a perfect way to ‘read’ the book, as I often find myself losing concentration which makes me miss little bits here and there. With Ian Fleming’s story, I didn’t find this a problem, I didn’t miss the line of the story. I have immediately got myself a new book, Good Omens, written by the late Terry Pratchett and Neil Gayman in 1990 and I find their writing not suited for audio. Too much happening, too many references to past text. I need to get another one.

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Back to From Russia with Love. I listened to the story before I (re)watched the movie. I was surprised about the detail Fleming gives in his story. I always had the impression that his writing was ‘below average,’ that it was ‘cheap’ and ‘full of action.’ This didn’t mean there is little information in his writing. The first chapter describes one of the scenes which appears later in the movie. It’s the one where the assassin is being massaged by a pretty lady in her underwear. In the scene, no one talks. Not one word is said, but Fleming details everything. In particular, the girl’s thoughts are described, how she despises the man her hands are working on for no apparent reason. How he terrifies her without ever having said something to her. Fleming describes extremely well what sort of a man he is. After all, he is an assassin (but the girl doesn’t know this). I liked this opening of the book.

There is a lot of telling instead of showing. Every person and every scene are described. I didn’t mind this, but I guess that is partly the director in me. I suppose it helped when they made the movie. Fleming also used a lot of adverbs and adjectives. Again, I didn’t mind this, but I did notice.

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When I watched the movie, the first thing I noticed was that they didn’t follow the book. The sequences were different, scenes were added, helicopters and explosions were added. Another big difference is that SPECTRE replaced Russia as the ‘bad guys.’ I’m not sure if this was done because the relationship with Russia was precarious, but it was a surprise. I hadn’t realized when I read the book. Then again, it had been ages since I watched the movie. As the movie was made in 1963, Sean Connery is very young in the movie. So young, I almost didn’t’ recognize him 😀 . I was annoyed when I was watching him and his co-actors on the screen. I missed the information provided by Fleming in the book. The backgrounds, the character traits, the details; they were totally dismissed. The movie seemed like a very cheap copy.

My conclusion is that I preferred to read the book over watching the movie. But I guess you already knew I was going to say this 😀 .

Book Review: The Demon of Devilgate Drive, by Colin Garrow

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‘The Demon of Devilgate Drive’ is another great story by Colin Garrow. It’s my third book I’ve read by this wonderful author. This time, the protagonist is a boy, Jeff, who, together with his pal Suzi, goes looking for a school pal named Jimmy. Jimmy is often ‘missing’ from school, but this time it’s different. Jeff and Suzi seem to stay ahead of police investigations and stumble upon a dead body. But is he really dead? Did Jeff hear the dead man talk? More than one ‘mysterious’ occurrence happen to Jeff and Suzi, but together they face all kinds of danger.

I love the way Garrow describes his characters. They are so endearing. Like with ‘The Hounds of Hellerby Hall: Volume 1 (The Christie McKinnon Adventures)‘ and ‘Death on a Dirty Afternoon: Volume 1 (The Terry Bell Mysteries),’ you can immerse yourself into the story without a problem. This time, you’ll be transported back to the seventies, when children played outside until dark and nobody had a phone on them. As is Garrow’s calling card, the people in the story speak with accents which helps you with your travel to a different location. When you time travel, you may as well go some place nice 🙂 .

Even though the protagonists are children, this doesn’t by any means mean this is light reading. Your children will be biting their blankets while you read to them with a spooky voice about the things that are lurking in the dark!

Check out The Demon of Devilgate Drive

Book Review: Death on a Dirty Afternoon, by Colin Garrow

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I had already read one book by Garrow, called ‘The Hounds of Hellerby Hall.’ I liked it so much, I decided to read another.

‘Death on a Dirty Afternoon’ is the story of Terry Bell, a taxi driver, who finds his friend Frank dead on his dining table. Together with Carol, the taxi company’s secretary, he tries to find out who did it. More murder happens, more mayhem.

The first thing you need to know is that Terry and the other characters talk with a Geordie accent. Even though I have never talked to someone with a Geordie accent, never been to the area, I found it easy to follow and it set the scene beautifully. Garrow does a great job setting scenes and building characters. You can just imagine yourself watching it all happen in front of your eyes.

The story is told by Terry himself and the insights to his thoughts are at times comical yet so humane. His relationship with Carol is one of the subplots that was interesting to follow. The tension builds up quickly and only goes up from there. What happens in the story is thrilling but on a realistic level. These characters are made of flesh and blood and there is no Hollywood-style over-the-top action. All of it could be true. There is no gore or sex in it (no matter how much Terry wants it :P), but it does have adult themes. The way Garrow describes it I think it is suitable for 16 and up.  This is a story that you will want to read to the end. You’ll never suspect the twist.

Thumbs up to Colin Garrow to come up with such a witty, funny cabbie-turned-sleuth. I imagine plenty of interesting stories to follow and I can’t wait to read them.

You can find Garrow’s books here.

A Book Review: Graveyard Rose, by Ginny Clyde

4/5 stars

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I was part of Ms Clyde’s launch team, but unfortunately I am such a slow reader that I’m sorry to say I’m a bit late for the launch now. But as I finally finished the book I am happy to give my review.

Lenara is a young woman without a mother who has to find out about love and life on her own. Her father provides her a comfortable life, but this doesn’t take away any of the perils that Lenara must face, particularly those she has to face when getting the medication that her ill sister so desperately needs from the dark forest. It gives for an exciting story.

I found that Ms Clyde has a nice way of storytelling. It draws you in and you feel like you are there. Graveyard Rose is a pleasant read with vivid descriptions and likeable (and not so likable) characters. It is great to see another book with a female character who stands up for what she believes and wants in life and it’s a good read for any teenaged girl.

Graveyard Rose is the first in the series of The Rose Chronicles and the end of the book leaves you wanting to find out what happens next as this is definitely not the end of the story. The second and third book in the series are already out on Amazon.

You can find The Rose Chronicles here.

 

Book Review: The Keresa Headdress, by Larry D. Shackelford

5/5 Stars

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I was given this book by Mr Shackelford and I couldn’t wait to read it. I’m a sucker for appealing visual covers and having my roots in Australia I just loved the blue and red colours of this book. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but everybody does. I don’t’ know what it is, but so far I’ve never been disappointed. If the author takes time to pick a good cover, they are usually quite picky about the content as well. So much so for this book.

The story is about agent Karen Adams, an FBI agent in Salt Lake City. She investigates a young man who goes missing. As Karen begins a routine investigation, more and more dark things are uncovered, involving the Royal Mounted Canadian Police and international trafficking of all sorts.

The story has a good suspense arc, upping the stakes all the time. Shackelford has cleverly woven in some sidelines and the whole time you don’t know where the story is going to go. It is clear that Shackelford has experience in the field (he’s now retired though after twenty-five years of law enforcement) and his accurate description of situations, actions, and weaponry sucks you into the story without effort.

The ending was not like I thought it would be, but I’m not going to spoil it for you. You’ve got to read it and find out for yourself!

You can find The Keresa Headdress here.

Book Review: The Power Inside by P.A. Priddey

4/5 Stars

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The blurb of Vesta Mansion promised magical creatures, witches, a warlock and demons… and it delivered. I don’t know P.A. Priddey, but, after having read the book, I like the man already (I know it’s a man from his picture on Twitter)(I’m not going into the truthfulness of the internet here). His way of writing and what he writes is so damn happy and relaxing! Yes, even if it’s about magical creatures, witches, a warlock and demons 🙂 .

The story is about Alex Wayward, a man who can only get around with a walking stick, who is leading a boring and  lonely life. When he suddenly hears an emergency call from what he perceives are his two daughters, his life is changed forever. Suddenly he is very agile, has daughters, can speak with wolves, and see in the dark. And this is only the beginning.

I don’t really know how to describe the book accurately. Not much is happening and yet so much actually is. There is not a lot of action for the most part, but there is one fight scene at the start and several at the end of the story. The majority of the story is a happy occasion, one after the other, most due to unfortunate circumstances though. See, it’s hard to describe. I guess that’s why it’s so refreshing. I began reading this book months ago, starting to read other books in the mean time, but I always came back to it. It just has this pull to make you want to read on when you need some happiness in your life.

The story gets more and more intriguing as it nears the end and a proper suspense arc is followed. There are some issues left open and plenty of questions to be answered still, but as this is a trilogy, I have no doubt these will be answered in the sequels (which I hope to read one day as I need my questions answered!).

There is a love story there too, but no hanky panky. So many writers revert to sex scenes to sell their stories, but it’s not necessary in this book. It sells on its own. And young teenagers can read this book without being embarrassed.

If you don’t want to be scared out of your wits, but still want to read a nice feel-good story with action, suspense, romance, and mystical creatures, pick up The Power Inside. You won’t be disappointed.

You can buy The Power Inside (Book One of the Vesta Mansion Triolgy) by P.A. Priddey here.

 

Book Review: The Hostile by Joy Mutter

– Spoiler Alert! –

4/5 Stars

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I was enticed by the lovely Joy Mutter to read her book ‘The Hostile.’ I was intrigued by the blurb that a bathroom tile could have powers.

I must admit that when I began reading the story, I thought ‘WTF?’ The protagonist of the story is a twelve year old girl, Serena, with constipation. Who in heaven’s name writes about a young girl with constipation? It took me a bit of courage to read on as I, call me old-fashioned, wasn’t used to reading about bowel movements. But fortunately the story was intriguing enough for me to keep on reading.

Another surprise was the amount of sexual relationships described in the story. As the protagonist is, like I mentioned, a young girl, you don’t expect half of the text to be about the adult adulterations happening in the girl’s family. They were very nicely described though, no pornography. Just enough for you to know what was going on without the graphic picture (well, not most of the time).

The characters were very believable and Ms Mutter did a very good job of letting you know exactly what type of people you were dealing with. I honestly felt sorry for most of the people described.

Being a fan of action thrillers I found the story arc a bit flat, with individual stories strung together to make the larger story. They were also predictable, but they were never-the-less very entertaining and very ‘real life experiences.’ Okay, apart from the paranormal bits 🙂 . The ending had a nice twist that I didn’t anticipate.

All in all not your average paranormal story, yet a nice, entertaining read with a top score for being different. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think this is horror. Whatever you want to call it, I’m looking forward to read the sequel ‘Holiday for the Hostile’ to find out what this evil tile is up to now.

You can get The Hostile here.

Book Review: The Hounds of Hellerby Hall, by Colin Garrow

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The Hounds of Hellerby Hall is the first story of Christie McKinnon, a pre-teenaged girl who has a keen eye for detail and a wish to become a published writer. Set just before the start of the 20th century in Edinburgh, this comes with the necessary obstacles. In her determination to be published, Christie gets tangled in an adventure that starts with a bowl of blood and a murder.

The main character, Christie, is very close to my heart. She’s female, a wannabe writer, struggling to get published, and loves a good murder mystery. Her actions and thoughts are very up to speed, a character trait I unfortunately don’t share 🙂 . It is fun to read how she manages adults and about her caring touch for her rough, not so bright, friend Donal.

The setting of the story is very well portrayed by Garrow, with matching dialects of the persons involved. It really makes the characters come alive, although it may be tricky if you’ve never heard the accents. The plot is well planned and you need to keep your wits about to follow. The whole story is very entertaining from beginning to end, with lively characters being added to the murder mystery mayhem along the way.

A good read for teenagers and up. I will certainly be looking out for more adventures of Christie McKinnon.