Archive for April, 2017

The Third Twin by Darren Speegle

April 28, 2017 - 5:36 am No Comments

The Third Twin by Darren Speegle

Published by Crystal Lake Publishing on 28th April 2017

213 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

When Barry Ocason received a travel mag with an advert for a trip to Bavarian Alps in the post, he did not expect to be drawn into a dangerous adventure. Recently divorced, travel writer Barry had a reputation of writing about the little unknown festivals held all over the world, but when he decided to take his teenage daughter Kristen, to the Spider Festival in Rio Tago, Brazil, he did not know that it would affect him and his family’s lives for ever. Kristen the sole survivor of twins was your typical teenage but she had a secret which came to light on the trip to Brazil. A disturbing stalker, only known as the Elephant Man, distressing dreams, and a fatal incident all eventually lead him to Bavaria and an old fascination involving experiments on twins were founded.
Whilst Barry was a worldwide traveller, in his heart he was a family man. Spending as much time as he could with his remaining daughter, he tried to take her on as many trips as he could. Like any loving father when his little girl was in danger his instinct kicked in. Due to his background, Barry relied a lot on his instincts and investigational skills. When he finally made the trip to Bavaria and came across others involved on the same journey, he took the lead in getting to the bottom of the mystery. Whilst he got on with the group, he was still much the loner.
This book had the element of suspense from the moment the magazine was dropped on the mat. Throughout the book there were hints of the experiments that were inflicted, and this was explained more with the dream sequences. The dreams also were used to explain the connection of the Third Twin. When the story shifted to Bavaria, Barry’s journey got darker and the pace was a lot a quicker. What helped was that the characters were hit with one occurrence after another and whether it was a natural or supernatural attack, made this a real page turner. You will get drawn into the mystery of the Third twin, this is a book that will getting you thinking and there were times when I wondered how much more tragedy could Barry handle before he cracked. Everything was explained in detail and descriptive writing made you feel as you were going on the journey with Barry. This is the 1st book I have read by this author and I really enjoyed it, with an unique storyline, I found this book a real page turner.

Visiting Lilly (Jake Talbot Investigates Book 1) by Toni Allen

April 26, 2017 - 9:01 pm No Comments

Visiting Lilly (Jake Talbot Investigates Book 1) by Toni Allen

Published on 31st May 2016

298 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

I downloaded this book on Kindle unlimited.

When DI Jake Talbot overhears Peter Charteris putting a complaint in about Frankie Hayward harassing his grandma. DI Talbot was intrigued and volunteered to look into the case. Thinking this case would be a distraction from his Christmas memories, he was curious to find out why a young man like Frankie is interested in a 90yr old woman. A simple case of harassment quickly becomes complex involving the MOD, astral projection, past meetings and a missing boy, but will Frankie ever meet Lilly.

What was different to other thrillers I have recently read was that DI Talbot was not a rule breaker, he was hard working, stickler for detail who would get the job done. As the story progresses you get to know more about his personal life and the reason why he does not like Christmas. He had an open mind when it came to the astral projection and the further he got with his investigation the more he fought for Frankie’s rights.

Frankie was a loner, even as a small boy he was different to his siblings. Brought up by his grandma and her stories about a mysterious figure who visited her one night, he was free to explore astral projection. As the investigation continued you are introduced to Frankie’s mom and siblings and I personally think he was better off living with his grandma as there was no love for him, to the point that his mom accused him of murdering Keith McKenzie, a childhood friend of Frankie’s who went missing when they were younger.

I was engrossed this story from the moment DI Talbot started the investigation. DI Talbot was like a big brother to Frankie and although Frankie found it hard to make friends there was a brotherly bond with Jake. The introduction of further characters was not confusing to the story but did help explain their past and with the addition of Frankie’s family although detestable had me feeling sorry for Frankie. I loved the idea of astral projection as although unusual neatly explained the fascination between Lilly and Frankie. The story was flowed smoothly and as the story progressed so did the suspense. There was enough twist and turns in this story to keep it interesting and when the MOD got involved I did not expect that. With Frankie talking about saving Jake’s sister, it leads nicely into book 2 and I for one can’t wait to see if he does it. A great thriller with a sci-fi element.

The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter

April 26, 2017 - 5:48 pm No Comments

THE MASSACRE OF MANKIND by Stephen Baxter
Gollancz / 464 pgs / £18.99 hardback / ISBN 1473205093
Reviewed by Carol Goodwin.


This novel is a sequel to H G Wells’ THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, and the new story revolves around the Martians return to Earth in the 1920’s. Whilst other authors have previously written sequels, this version is listed as “authorised by the H G Wells Estate” and I presume was timed to coincide with 2016 being the 150th anniversary of Wells’ birth. The author, Stephen Baxter has previously written another authorised H G Wells’ sequel, THE TIME SHIPS which was a follow-up to THE TIME MACHINE and marked the centenary of that book’s publication.
It is fourteen years since the Martians invaded England, and the world has changed considerably. Examination of wrecked and abandoned Martian machinery has led to significant advances in technology. History as we know it has changed as a consequence of the original invasion; most significantly, a recovering UK formed an alliance with Germany, and a “Schlieffen War” between Russia and Germany is still ongoing. The governments of Earth scan the skies, but as another close approach between Earth and Mars nears, they are confident that their progress and prior knowledge means that this time they are prepared for the Martians. But when another Martian fleet begins to land, it becomes obvious that the Martians have also learned lessons and adapted so that yet again mankind is in deadly peril.
Writing in another author’s world, especially one so well-known and iconic as this one, is always going to be a difficult task. What is done very well is the attention to the details of 1920’s geography, vocabulary and appropriate technology. It is clear that a considerable amount of research has gone into writing this novel, and I also enjoyed the little nods to other people or works connected to Mars, ranging from Schiaparelli through to Grover’s Mill.
The worldbuilding is excellent and like the original, there are some suitably gruesome accounts of the Martians’ treatment of captured humans. However, I found myself a little frustrated with the pacing. The first section of the book, which deals with the initial landing, consolidation and the flight of refugees is the most successful in my opinion. After that however, there is an interlude of a couple of years where the Martians in England spend a long time just consolidating this bridgehead, without any attempt to spread further, and I found the urgency and menace of the story evaporating in this section. Towards the later part of the book there are further landings around the world, and the pace picks up but it felt to me like there was then too little space left to give these invasions sufficient details and thus engage the reader.
Fans of Wells’ will appreciate that the narrative does link back and reference the original story. It also includes many of the characters from the Wells’ story, including the original narrator, Walter Jenkins and the artilleryman, although much of the tale is now told by Julie, the sister-in-law of Walter Jenkins. However, I felt that the major focus was on the plot and that thus the characters often seemed to lack depth and I often found it hard to care much about their struggles.
Finally, it was always going to be difficult to find an ending with equivalent impact to the original. Without giving away the conclusion, this story finishes with a resolution that feels a little too “easy” and hence unsatisfying, although there is a “epilogue” which leaves scope for future developments. To summarise, this is a “curate’s egg” of a book – there are some very good bits but other bits that didn’t work for me. CG
(ARC kindly donated at Gollancz SF Gateway anniversary party)

Jackals by Stuart R Brogan………. The Jackals book blog tour

April 18, 2017 - 12:28 pm 1 Comment

We are honoured to be part of the Jackals book blog tour. I had the pleasure of reading it and below is my review. Theresa interviewed the author and if you want to know more than carry on reading past the review:

Jackals by Stuart R Brogan

Published by Midgard Books on 23rd January 2017

243 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

 

Whilst out with her husband celebrating their anniversary, Jesse Reid come across as group calling themselves Jackals, meeting them changes her life for ever. When a Police station is brutally attacked DI Class is assigned to the case, a police officer who is not afraid to bend the rules and lives life on the edge, but is he the right man for the job.

When Jesse Reid is introduced she was a meek woman happy in her marriage, suffering with a mental health problem. What surprised me was when her life was in danger she turned into a woman possessed, putting the Jackals to shame.  Overseen by 13 influential men and pillars of the community, the Jackals are part of a secret society, a society that wanted to go back to primitive ways, who believed they would make the world a better place by murdering people. Their only rule is that they can’t use firearms. I liked DI Class as even though he knew that he was on a case that could wreck his career, he still put all his efforts into the investigation and to protect Jesse.

From the early scenes, you are subject to the graphic and horrific scenes of the Jackals handy work. Some of the death scenes were genius and one of my favourites was the death by guillotine. Jackals is full of action and fast paced. The thrill of the chase made this book exciting and it gave me a book hangover as I was reading into the early hours as I wanted to know what happened. The twists in the book added intrigue and emphasised the conspiracy of the secret society. Although this book is categorised as Horror it will also appeal to readers that like their thriller dark and bloodthirsty. For all you lovers of conspiracy groups this is Dan Brown on steroids. A brilliant book that has left me wanting to know more about the Order.

 

Interview with Stuart  Brogan

 

1) Tell us a bit about yourself! And about Jackals.

Hi there and thanks for having me. My call sign is Stuart R Brogan, author of fast paced action / horror fiction and Heathen / Pagan nonfiction. I currently reside in and torment Glastonbury, UK where I own a Viking / Heathen shop called Shield Maiden.

JACKALS is a pacey cross genre action / horror novel in which the reader is thrust into a violent and brutal world where killers stalk people to further a hidden bloody agenda. The protagonists are just normal people who have their own personal demons to deal with, but have bigger problems when caught in the cross fire. A cat and mouse game ensues as the Jackals and their superiors hunt down the already downtrodden couple, beginning in rural England and then spreading across the rest of the country as the chase continues. Jackals is my first novel and I am humbled by some of the reviews it is receiving. Fans of horror or boys own action will enjoy the visceral intensity and relentless nature.

2) The book appears to blur the edges between horror and police procedural. How important is genre to you?

It’s strange, when I started writing Jackals, I always thought of it as a horror / thriller but people have been labelling it under different genres. To be honest action / horror is closest to the mark. My style is a hybrid between genres and I enjoy blurring the lines. For me, writing realistic and intense stories is the basis and I let the story take on a life of its own, I let it breath and grow organically, even if it takes me away from the original idea. As far as I am concerned the story writes itself. I have always been a huge fan of the classic 80’s action / horror movie; I try to recreate that sense of adventure as well as impending doom. For me, human nature is far more horrific than any monster living under the bed and as such my books are intense and relentless in nature, some may find them brutal but the violence is there for a reason, never just for the sake of it or to shock.

3) I know writers hate this question, but I’m going to ask it anyway. Where did the idea come from?

I have had the idea for some time now and to be honest, I can’t really say where my ideas come from. It’s like a moment of clarity, I might hear a news story or see something when I am out and about and start to ask myself “What if”. I think all authors will know what I mean by that. Every good story starts with that simple question, swiftly followed by “What would I do?” From there it’s just a case of letting the imagination run with it. Inspiration can come from anywhere and at the moment I have ideas for two other novellas, one stand-alone novel and two more books using the Jackals. So I am not going to run out of ideas any time soon.

4) What else are you working on right now?

I am currently nearly finished a novella entitled SCALLYWAG; it is an intense thrill ride taking place over twenty-four hours. I have created a character that I hope will become somewhat iconic. I don’t want to give too much away as I like to keep an air of mystery but rest assured, it will have my trade mark cross genre brutality and will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very last page.

5) If you could have dinner with any writer, living or dead, who would it be and why?

That my friend is an easy one, John Twelve Hawks. Author of my all-time favourite book The Traveller, he uses a pen name and little is known about him but I just love his social observations regarding the Orwellian world we now find ourselves in. In his books the antagonists are very powerful business men who wish to enslave us all and have us sub-servient. It has an excellent pace and is full of superb action sequences. The characters are also well fleshed out. I would love to sit and chat with Mr Hawks because we would agree on many issues.

Like me, he believes that mankind and his actions is the greatest evil of all!

 

Miracle on 5th Avenue

April 18, 2017 - 1:37 am No Comments

Reviewers note: this site does not often review contemporary romance, however, as her alter ego Eve Campbell, Theresa Derwin has started to write in the romance genre and found some great books worth sharing with our readers.

 

Miracle on 5th Avenue
(From Manhattan with Love Book 3)
Author: Sarah Morgan
Publisher: MIRA (Harper Collins imprint)
Page count: 384pp
Release date: 20th Oct 2016
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Eva Jordan is a glittering star when it comes to understanding romance; just unfortunately not for herself. She works like a maniac and her bedroom companion is a stuffed kangaroo her grandma gave her when she was four. At least, unlike the men in her life, the kangaroo never lets her down. Besides, she has no room or time for men in her life. Eva is still grieving the loss of her grandmother a year ago, wearing the heavy emotional scars and unable to really confide with anyone for fear of being a burden.
Still, at least she was busy with Urban Genie, the event and concierge business she ran with friends Paige and Frankie. It was their first Christmas since going into business, so things were looking up.
She used to love the silly season, and was determined to start enjoying it again, to do the things her Graham’s would want her to do. To make her proud.
On a personal note, I’m reviewing this late because I suffered a loss just after Christmas myself and I suspect Morgan has experienced a similar loss. She has completely captured the all-consuming pain and emptiness such grief brings. And though it may seem strange, this novel comforted me through that.
Lucas hates Christmas- as a crime writer at the top of his fie,d, he has deadlines, fans, a publisher and an agent – but no book. Normally he can force the worse out but this year is much worse, memories of his Sallyanne in the morgue haunting him. He’s supposed to be away writing in a cabin in Vermont, but just couldn’t face it. He’s still in his Manhattan aapartment alone.
He needed a miracle.
In the midst of a snowy blizzard, Eva turns up for her next job.
Decorating best seller author Lucas Blade’s fifth avenue apartment for the holidays. A preseng arranged by his grandmother.
A fabulous surprise …
And the first time they meet in his darkened penthouse suite? Hilarious. I laughed out loud at one part when Eva thinks of the contents of her purse. The dialogue between the two sparks the instant they meet, even if it starts as hostile, and Eva is ‘unintentionally’ funny. The reader finds her funny, the characters find her funny, but she doesn’t realise just how witty and insane she really is. There’s a genuine warmth to the banter between Lucas and Eva that reminded me almost of Marian and Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Last Ark. I love Morgan’s writing but with these two she’s excelled herself.
Lucas’ outlook as a crime writer is also pretty funny in an “OMG did he really go there?” way. His dark nature is very apparent from the first interaction, juxtaposed with Eva’s more positive outlook. It makes for great chemistry between the two. And as a horror writer, it also gave me some cracking ideas. In chapter two we also have a sly wink to ‘Psycho’. And the internal thoughts of both protagonists almost runs like a comedy of errors. Brilliant.
This is easily the best Sarah Morgan I’ve read and in her dealings with grief she is spit on.
5/5