(Very late) Book Review: The Body in the Dales (3.5*)

I am proud to be  a Twenty-five Reviews or More reviewer on Net Galley.

 

AND I’m a Top Reviewer, which means 3 or more of my reviews have been added to any NetGalley title details page by a publisher (I bet it wasn’t for any of my 1 star reviews!!)

So I was sent this e-book, free-of-charge (yay!) by NetGalley, in return for an honest review. However it was yonks ago and I completely forgot to review it. Although it’s so long ago I can hardly remember it, I still feel I should do my duty and write a review. So here it is

The Net Galley blurb reads:

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Book Review: Darkness on the Fens (*** and a half)

I am proud to be  a Twenty-five Reviews or More reviewer on Net Galley.

 

AND I’m a Top Reviewer, which means 3 or more of my reviews have been added to any NetGalley title details page by a publisher (I bet it wasn’t for any of my 1 star reviews!!)

So I was sent this e-book, free-of-charge (yay!) by NetGalley, in return for an honest review.So here it is

DARKNESS ON THE FENS

by Joy Ellis

The Net Galley blurb reads:

Do you love addictive detective mysteries? Then try this book by a multiple #1 best-selling author now. You won’t be able to put it down. It’s a totally enthralling read.

A SERIAL KILLER ON A POISONOUS MISSION PUSHES NIKKI AND HER TEAM TO BREAKING POINT

Revellers are flocking into Greenborough for the yearly Dark Greenborough Festival, a three-day event celebrating local folklore, superstition and the darker side of life.What the public doesn’t know is that there has been a warning sent to the police, saying that Greenborough will be a very dangerous place this year. The anonymous letter ends with the Latin phrase, Mors certa, hora incerta: Death is certain, the hour uncertain.

DI Nikki Galena and her team soon discover this is no hoax, as people start dying from what appears to be alcoholic poisoning. Things rapidly escalate, and as the deaths get more horrific, Nikki realises they have a serial killer in their midst.

A NIGHTMARE HUNT FOR A KILLER DURING THEIR BUSIEST TIME OF THE YEAR.Full of twists and turns, this is a crime thriller that will keep you turning the pages until the heart-stopping ending. This is book ten of the international best-selling books featuring Nikki Galena.

(That’s part of the blurb…it goes on a bit!)

I hadn’t read the other books in the series, so there were a few references to past events that made little sense to me, but they weren’t vital to the story. I found the main characters engaging enough, and the story was fairly gripping. I did find it a little hard to believe that an investigating officer would allow her mum and three friends to take part in the investigation in the way they did – and actually I’m not sure that this added much to the story. Most of what they seemed to do could have been done by any other character.

The motivation behind the murders was a little weak – I could understand why the first murder could be as a result of the motivation (sorry, trying not to give spoilers) but the continued murders…I’m not sure. The start was a bit slow – I was tempted to give up, but am glad I didn’t – and there were places where I felt it was a bit baggy, and could have done with some editing, to speed the action along a little.

I’ll give this 3.5 stars (rounded down, I’m afraid, for Net Galley) but I’m not sure I’ll be rushing to read any others in the series.

A little library.

It seems these little libraries are popping up all over, using all manner of inventive items to house the books:

     

We used to have one in the village which used an old stationery roundabout, with doors. A bit like this, but less new and clean and attractive

It wasn’t very well insulated, and the books quickly became damp and damaged. It certainly didn’t look very inviting. Sometime over the past year it disappeared.

Well, this morning I passed the place where it had been, to find a beautiful new display case, which is obviously well-constructed, and definitely weatherproof! It is a delight!

  

You can see that there are fixed chairs too, so should one be inclined to, one could sit in the sunshine and read one of the books. It’s not the most picturesque part of the village, but it’s not hideous!

As the sign on the side tells us:

Book Cabins made by the employees of the wood workshop of our Upcycling centre, using recycled/reused materials taken from our collections, and reintroduced into the cyclical economy. If you see what I mean!! Acora is a second hand centre, where they also repurpose old pieces of furniture.

Of course, all the books are French, but with tourists in mind (there’s a campsite in the village) I went home immediately and rooted out some of my English books which I added to the library. Hopefully some other people will add their foreign language books. I think these free libraries are a great idea. The New MrsM – whose blog I read – created one as one of her 40 Acts of Kindness a couple of Lents ago, and there’s one set up near Church (I popped a few English novels in there a couple of months ago)

Have you got a Little Library near you?

 

Book Review: The Forgetting Flower(****)

I am proud to be  a Twenty-five Reviews or More reviewer on Net Galley.

 

AND I’m a Top Reviewer, which means 3 or more of my reviews have been added to any NetGalley title details page by a publisher (I bet it wasn’t for any of my 1 star reviews!!)

So I was sent this e-book, free-of-charge (yay!) by NetGalley, in return for an honest review.So here it is

THE FORGETTING FLOWER

by Karen Hugg

Publish date: 18th June 2019

The Net Galley blurb reads:

Secrets and half-truths. These litter Renia Baranczka’s past, but the city of Paris has offered an escape and the refuge of a dream job. The specialty plant shop buzzes with activity and has brought her to a new friend, Alain. His presence buffers the guilt that keeps her up at night, dwelling on the endless replays of what happened to her sister.

All too suddenly, the City of Light seems more sinister when Alain turns up dead. His demise threatens every secret Renia holds dear, including the rare plant hidden in the shop’s tiny nook. It emits a special fragrance that can erase a person’s memory—and perhaps much more than that.

As Renia races to figure out the extent of the plant’s powers, she’s confronted by figures from her past who offer a proposal she can’t outright refuse. Bit by bit, she descends into a menacing underworld of blackmarket mobsters, navigating threats and fending off abuse to protect the safe peaceful life she’s worked so hard for. Desperate to outwit her enemies, Renia maneuvers carefully, knowing one wrong move will destroy not only the plant, but the lives of her sister and herself.

I enjoyed this book very much: it had a slowish start, but built up gradually to a satisfying close. An intruiging premise: a flower that makes you forget things if you smell its perfume – and, of course, what people will do to get their hands on such a thing, and what they will do once they have it. What would you do? What would you want to forget?

The characters were well described, and sympathetic. I understood Renia’s motives and actions, and was rooting for her throughout the story. Descriptions were good, and  flashbacks were handled reasonably well to tell the story, although at times I would have preferred them to be a little more “highlighted” as I was occasionally confused as to the timing of events.

There were none of the pesky typos, poor punctuation/grammar or bad layouts that sometimes plague Net Galley books, which added to the enjoyment of the book.

The author is a horticulturist, and this comes through in her writing. She is obviously knowledgable about plants, but the way she describes them is beautiful. In one scene, where plants are damaged beyond repair, there is a real sense of loss and desolation in the descriptions. There is a love of plants and flowers that shines through Karen Hugg’s words. That for me is what elevates this book to a solid four star, rather than a 3.5 star book.

Slightly jealous…

One of the blogs I read on a regular basis is “Fractured Faith“, written (mostly) by a guy in Nor’n Ireland, recounting his family life, thoughts, ponderings on living a Christian life…a well written blog. Sometimes his wife, or children, chip in with a post, but it’s mostly Stephen’s words.

One of the themes of the blog has been Stephen’s struggles writing a book, and then getting it published. He writes honestly about his difficulties, the sacrifices made and how it seemed to take over his life at times. But, very quickly,(it seems – but I might be wrong on the timescale) it was snapped up by a publisher – testament to its great writing, I feel.

Each time I read an example of Stephen’s writing I feel a bit downcast – how could I have thought my novel good enough to publish? But then, I remember that I haven’t really tried… Stephen worked, and rewrote, redrafted…contacted people…looked for agents… and didn’t give up. Whereas I bleat a bit about not knowing how to set about getting it published…and then put it back in its (metaphorical) drawer. Basically I’m a lazy so-and-so, and Stephen isn’t. I even had two kind people read my novel, make suggestions about it, and I carefully kept their notes and did precisely sweet Fanny Adams about them.

So maybe I’m not so jealous of Stephen’s talent (though there is that!) but rather of his tenacity!

Whatever it is, I wish him (through slightly gritted teeth) every success with this book, and the ones that follow.

The blurb from Amazon for his book reads:

They want him to save the world. But, first, he must save himself.

Kirkwood Scott is having a bad day. Languishing in a dead end job and recently dumped by his girlfriend he struggles with a crippling form of OCD which manifests itself in the form of Colonel Augustus Skelly, a phantom voice from Kirkwood’s childhood who controls his every waking moment via a series of tortuous routines, ‘The 49’.

Kirkwood has little to look forward to, bar a weekend of drunken oblivion in Belfast with his equally deadbeat friends. All that changes when he meets Meredith Starc, a young homeless woman struggling to survive on the streets and come to terms with her own troubled past. Kirkwood realises Meredith may hold the answer to him finally being free of his mental demons.

But what if Skelly is more than just a voice? Kirkwood and Meredith join forces to unearth a supernatural battle raging on the city’s back streets between ancient forces of good or evil, the outcome of which will decide the fate of the planet. Between them, they hold the key to saving mankind from a new Dark Age but can they survive long enough to do so as Skelly unleashes a legion of vicious ghost soldiers upon the unsuspecting city?

‘The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: Skelly’s Square’ is a fast paced and darkly humorous supernatural fantasy guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

It doesn’t sound at all my cup of tea – I generally avoid fantasy – but it has a feel of Phillip Pullman about it, and I really enjoyed the His Dark Materials trilogy (well, most of it) and this one is written from a Christian pen, rather than Pullman’s staunchly atheistic pen. So, let’s give it a go, I thought, and downloaded it onto my Kindle. If you are looking for a new author to read then why not give Stephen Black a try. I’m going to…

My holiday reading makes strange bedfellows:

“Skelly’s Square”…and “In this House of Brede” – about a successful businesswoman who enters a Roman Catholic convent!

And the last word goes to enviousness:

…just because it made me smile!

Book Review: The Long Road Home (***)

I am proud to be  aTwenty-five Reviews or More reviewer on Net Galley.

 

AND I’m a Top Reviewer, which means 3 or more of my reviews have been added to any NetGalley title details page by a publisher (I bet it wasn’t for any of my 1 star reviews!!)

So I was sent this e-book, free-of-charge (yay!) by NetGalley, in return for an honest review.So here it is

THE LONG ROAD HOME

by JH Morgan

The NetGalley blurb reads:

Book Review: Repentance (*** and a half)

I am proud to be  aTwenty-five Reviews or More reviewer on Net Galley.

 

AND I’m a Top Reviewer, which means 3 or more of my reviews have been added to any NetGalley title details page by a publisher (I bet it wasn’t for any of my 1 star reviews!!)

So I was sent this e-book, free-of-charge (yay!) by NetGalley, in return for an honest review.So here it is

REPENTANCE

by Andrew Lam

The Net Galley blurb reads:

Sometimes the line that separates coward from hero is not easy to spot. When that line is crossed, to what lengths will a remorseful man go to set things right? That’s a question that had never crossed Daniel Tokunaga’s mind until the U.S. government started calling, wanting to know more about his father’s service with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II. Something happened while his father was fighting the Germans in France, and no one is sure exactly what. At least, no one who’s still alive and willing to give details. Wanting answers, Daniel upends his life to find out what occurred on a small, obscure hilltop half a world away, in a quest for the truth that threatens his marriage, his sanity, and the love of everyone he holds dear. In unraveling his family’s catastrophic past, the only thing for certain is that nothing—his life, career, and family—can ever be the same again. 

I enjoyed the book, although as a British reader I was, perhaps, less invested in the story of the US regiment, and the treatment of Japanese-Americans during the war, than other readers might be; however I found the central two stories interesting and engaging. I liked the way that Ray’s story unfolded gradually through the book, so we did not see or understand the whole truth until the very end of the book. Ray’s character was, perhaps, a little “extreme”, but I can imagine that the effects of his exploits would have been quite severe, so I wasn’t put off by this.

On the other hand, Daniel’s back story was slightly less engaging, with a particular thread seemingly serving very little purpose; I felt the description of his relationship with his wife, Beth, was a little bit flat, and less believable than the “Ray side of the story”

Having said this, I did feel that all the characters were believable and – for the most part- I was interested in their stories. Andrew Lam is a consultant surgeon, and so his descriptions of Daniel’s life as a surgeon were true-to-life: the sense of holding another person’s life in your hands, the importance of your patient over everything else,the effect this has on family life – these passages were well written and credible.

I’m giving this 3.5 stars on my blog, but 4 stars on Net Galley – I would prefer to round it up, rather than round it down. It’s better than 3 stars in my weird marking system that even I don’t really understand!

Memorial to 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Bruyères-en-Vosges

PUBLISHING DATE: 01.05.19