Category Archives: Book Reviews

Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead by Owen Mullen (@OwenMullen6 ) – Review

Title – Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead
Author – Owen Mullen
Genre – Crime Thriller
Length – 272 Pages (Paperback)
Publication – 21st March 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Gavin Law was a whistleblower.
Now he’s missing.
Just another case for Glasgow PI, Charlie Cameron, until he discovers there is more to Law and his disappearance than anyone imagined.
Wallace Maitland, the surgeon responsible for leaving a woman brain-damaged may have abandoned his sacred oath and become a killer. Did the hospital which refused to accept responsibility for the tragedy have Law silenced permanently? Or, with his wife little more than a vegetable, has David Cooper, believing he has been betrayed yet again, taken justice into his own hands?
Charlie comes to realise the world of medicine can be a dangerous place.
Across the city, East End gangster, Sean Rafferty is preparing to exploit the already corrupt city council in a multi-million pound leisure development known as Riverside. The project will be good for Glasgow. But not everybody is keen to work with Rafferty.
With more than money at stake, Sean will do anything to get his way. His motto, borrowed from his old man, is simple. Never take a no from somebody who can give you a yes.
If that means murder, then so be it.
Charlie has crossed Rafferty’s path before and lived to tell the tale.
He may not be so lucky a second time.

Review

This is the third novel in the Charlie Cameron P.I. series. I loved the previous two books in the series so jumped at the chance to read this one. If you’ve not manged to read them yet you can see my reviews by clicking the images below.

gamesold fr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I honestly didn’t think Owen Mullen could top the previous book but he certainly did and it was lovely to be back with Charlie and the loveable rogue Pat.

Once again Charlie gets drawn into two cases while also handling his personal life.. which is never easy.

I think it’s this work life balance that makes Charlie the likable and believable character he is. His private life is more complicated in this tale when an old flame shows up which brings Charlie’s emotions to the foreground.

I’d recommend reading the books in order if I’m honest but it would work as a standalone too as the author explains the background well enough, I just think you’d be missing out on the character development that’s built up.

So you’ll want to know about the cases our P.I gets sucked into. Well first off Gavin Law has went missing and his overbearing sister is out for answers. There’s not much to go on at first and it takes Charlie a while to be able to piece the dark and disturbing case together with some twists in the tale that really knock you for six.

The other case involves Sean Rafferty a gangster we’ve met before. I won’t give the game away with this one but when a gangster is involved you know there’s bound to be a body or two.

I’ve always loved Charlie but in this tale his Police friend Andrew Geddes shined and developed so well for me. I can’t wait to see what’s next and hope Geddes gets more page time.

The plot is dark and gritty, twists come from nowhere and you really are kept on your toes. It’s another brilliant tale from Mullen. What I really enjoy is that he manages to give us two tales weaved into one and at no point did it get confusing, With so many characters it would be easy to get lost but not with Mullen’s tales..everything is so clear to follow.

What I really need to love a book is to feel like the characters are real and with Charlie I get just that. I couldn’t think of anything I didn’t like about this book.

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads.

In Three-Quarter Time: A Short Story by Pam Lecky (@pamlecky)- Review

Title –  In Three-Quarter Time: A Short Story
Author – Pam Lecky
Genre – Short Stories
Length – 22 Pages
Publication – Feb 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Dublin 1914 and war is declared. Each of the Cusack family must face the consequences in their own way. Josie and her young man, Anthony Lanigan, have plans for the future. But her sister Lily is also secretly in love with Anthony and has no idea if her feelings are returned.

Anthony is about to emigrate to America to make his fortune. Will he ever return, and if he does, who will eventually win his heart?

Set against a pivotal time in Irish history, from the Dublin Lockout in 1913 through the First World War to the brink of the birth of the Irish Nation, this story will take you through a family’s experience of war and tragedy, loss and love.

Review

I read Pam’s previous novel The Bowes Inheritance a while ago now and promised to keep up to date with her work and she’s offered up a lovely little short story.

In Three-Quarter Time is a moving tale to say the least but the ending left me looking to the future with positivity.

At 22 pages it’s a super short book but you get a full tale. The author easily sets the scene/introduces the characters and the plot develops at a steady pace.

Even in such a short novel there were some standout moments but obviously if I mentioned them it would give the game away but honestly this tale is a roller-coaster ride..up then down then up again.

If you’ve not read Pam’s full length novel yet I’d highly suggest you get this first to introduce you to her work.

All in all for a short its top-notch, likeable characters, good plot development with some twists and events that make the reader become emotionally involved.

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads.

Somewhere in the Shallow Sea by Dennis Macaraeg – Review

Title – Somewhere in the Shallow Sea: A Novel of Suspense
Author – Dennis Macaraeg
Genre – Thriller
Length – 229 Pages
Publication – Oct 2015
My Rating –3/5 Stars

Synopsis

To save the life of his friend, a marine biologist must deliver the scientific compound he invented to kidnappers hiding deep within the jungles of the Philippines. Unexpectedly paired with his ex-lover for the mission, it’s a bit more than he signed up for.

Review

So what is the book about I hear you ask?

Well the book follows Danny a scientist, his friend Blake has been kidnapped and he has the compound the kidnappers are after. Danny, with the help of some friends and an ex-lover sets out to save  Blake.

The plot was good with a few twists thrown in although I did feel events happened a little too easy at times.. just when Danny thinks all hope is gone an acquaintance of a friend can help. Nothing so bad as to ruin the plot but I would have enjoyed seeing Danny struggle a bit more for leads.

The writing was good, fast paced and easy to follow with a great amount of knowledge added by the author to set the scene. This really did help me imagine the locations described which sound lovely but at the same time dangerous.

Towards the end of the tale the plot picks up a notch and I really enjoyed the ending.

I liked the characters although with such an action packed tale it was hard to get to know them. The romance in this book didn’t feel forced, which suits my tastes. There was a natural progression to it which made it more believable and if you’ve read my reviews you’ll know I don’t do romance ha

Overall this is a good book, think spy thriller without the good guy having any skills or tech support.

The author shows great imagination with his plot and it was really great to see how well this story mixed with the descriptive text of the tale. I definitely think there has to be more to come from this author so I’ll keep an eye out for what’s next!

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads.

Free-Wrench by Joseph Lallo (@jrlallo)- Review

Title – Free-Wrench
Author – Joseph Lallo
Genre – Science Fiction, Steampunk
Length – 153 Pages
Publication – July 2014
My Rating –5/5 Stars

Synopsis

The islands of Caldara are a shining jewel in a rather bleak world. A terrible calamity in the past had blanketed much of the world with a toxic “fug.” Those who survived were forced to take to the mountains and the skies in wondrous airships. Life has since been a struggle, with only the most ruthless and crafty able to survive. To spare themselves the same fate, the Calderans erected a battery of guns to fend off the airships of the mainland. They isolated themselves from the madness of the world, choosing instead to focus on the pursuits of art and creativity. Few believe the technologically advanced but socially barbarous outsiders have anything to offer. Amanita Graus, though, is hoping that they do.

Nita’s mother has lost her livelihood and perhaps soon her life to a terrible disease. Already the black sheep of the family for embracing engineering rather than art, Nita resolves to leave the safety of her home and do whatever it takes to find a cure. For a price, the bizarre crew of an airship called The Wind Breaker are willing to grant her a meeting with their mysterious benefactors, and thus a chance to procure the one thing with a chance to save her mother.

Free-Wrench follows Nita’s adventures in a steampunk world of airships and lunatics. Helping her in her journey are an eccentric crew of smugglers; the gruff Cap’n Mack, the simple but enthusiastic Lil and Coop, the arrogant marksman Gunner, the surly surgeon Butch, and the irritable mascot Wink. To survive and find what she seeks she’ll need to earn their trust, follow their rules, and meet face to face with the people who pull the strings of their society.

Review

I’ve had this book on my TBR list for a while and I thought it was about time I gave the author my attention. I’m very glad I did.

Free-Wrench follows Nita, she’s good with machines..I think she could probably fix anything given the time.

The book starts off giving a little background to Nita’s life..  she works in the steamworks which is a very demanding job and we quickly learn how good she is.

A couple of events happen that conspire to change her life forever. Her mother has an illness which can’t be cured and by chance see gets to meet some smugglers.. these smugglers know a lot about the world and know a cure is out there..but it will be a high price if they can get it for her at all.

Nita is happy to pay the price but doesn’t trust the smugglers so adds her services to the bargain in order to keep an eye on things.. this is when things quickly escalate.

Loyalties are tested, relationships forged in the heat of battle and secrets are revealed..It appears those who pull strings hold all the cards..but for how long?

This was a very enjoyable tale with airships and gun battles and one very interesting/fun and nosy lead character.

What made the tale even better was the crew of the airship, the Wind Breaker. Each have their own reason for being on board and we learn a little about each throughout the tale. The interactions between the characters is really what made me enjoy the book, fun at times then at others deathly serious.

This is a great introduction to a series which I fully intend to keep reading. I can only say I’m sorry it took me so long 🙂

It’s a fast paced, well written, easy flowing, wild ride of a tale suitable for young adults up and at 153 pages it won’t take you long to be hooked in.

Best of all you can pick the book up on Amazon for free!

Have a look and tell me what you make of it. Please do let me know if you’ve read the other books in the series, I’d love to know what you think of them.

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads.

Ganga Jamuna by Sunita Lad Bhamray – Review

Title –  Ganga Jamuna
Author – Sunita Lad Bhamray
Genre – Inspirational Fiction
Length – 150 Pages
Publication – 2016
My Rating – 4/5 Stars

Synopsis

Ganga Jamuna is the tale of Abani, an enchanting woman from Nepal. Blessed with remarkable tenacity, Abani tries to tackle every predicament with a silent resolve. When she is faced with a medical situation that seems insurmountable, Singapore, the hallmark of modern medicine, comes to the rescue, and she finds herself travelling across borders seeking solutions. This journey proves to be a fulfilling experience and a turning point in more ways than one, as she discovers new allies in strangers. Just when everything seems to be finally going right, another bout of misfortune strikes. Holding onto mere filaments of hope, Abani chances upon answers in the elements of nature, which enable her to carry on and make her stronger than before. About the author Sunita Lad Bhamray is an author and educator based in Singapore. After a long rewarding career in teaching, she now enjoys her time devoted to writing. Ganga Jamuna is Sunita’s third book. Her first book, Triumphs on the Turf, was about horse racing in India. It was followed by Grandma Lim’s Persimmons, a storybook for children.

Review

I jumped at the chance to read this book as soon as I learned the subject matter of the story..Twins. Conjoined twins no less. I feel very blessed that my own twins girls had what is classed the perfect birth with no issues so when I learned a little about this story I just had to read it. I couldn’t imagine the stress the situation would have put Abani under.

The book starts off slowly with very plain speaking informative chapters. It’s Abani’s early life..how she meets a local boy.. they grow up and become closer one night.. and that night changed everything.

Abani takes the twins on as a single mother, the father having no knowledge of girls birth but she has an amazing group of people watching over her.

When the chance to separate the twins arrives it’s a tough decision but in the end she must do what’s best for the girls and in this case it means travelling from Nepal to Singapore to get the care they need.

It’s an emotional ride with a lot of low moments but overall the story is very inspirational to me.. Abani never gave up..she battled on throughout what would have been a very trying time.

The writing is short and sharp..no messing around..straight to the point. Once I got used to the style I loved it..the story flowed so well from chapter to chapter and this no-nonsense approach meant I really took in what the author was saying.

If you are looking for a happy tale this isn’t it..this is a good book but a hard story to read, it hits you in the gut..life isn’t fair..but you must never lose hope!

My thanks to go Rachel at Authoright for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review

To find out more head to Kitaab, Amazon.com or Goodreads.

The Spirit of Solstice by Charlotte E. English (@Charlottenglish) – Review

Title – The Spirit of Solstice (The Malykant Mysteries Book 6)
Author –Charlotte E. English
Genre – Dark Fantasy
Length – 92 Pages
Publication – Jan 2017
My Rating –5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Konrad Savast is the Malykant: foremost and most secret servant of the God of Death. His job? To track down the foulest of murderers and bring them to The Malykt’s Justice. No mercy. No quarter.

Solstice Eve, and Konrad is dragged from his bed to investigate the murder of a local wine merchant. The man’s as dead as they come, but his spirit seems oddly unperturbed by his passing.

More victims are swift to emerge, all killed in the same brutal style — and all with strange, unheard-of reactions to the news of their own demise. Is it just the Solstice spirit, or is there something else afoot? Something stranger, darker and far more dangerous…

Review

I don’t know how Charlotte does it but this series gets better and better with each story.

Konrad is the Malykant, He seeks justice for those murdered and he has a growing group of followers to help him. My favourites being Optapi and Eetapi as always. Their dark humour always has me smiling. The relationship between them and Konrad is a strange one, I don’t think Konrad wants to admit it but as much as he doesn’t like the serpents he’d be lost without them.

This case is a very perplexing to start with..a man is found murdered but seems happy to be dead when the serpents bind him. Why?

More bodies turn up and the curiosity grows with each death.

Now I don’t want to spoil the tale by giving away too much detail but Konrad has to root out fact from fiction to discover the identity of the killer but the strange manner of the deaths means this isn’t a quick open and shut case.

I loved the injection of myths in this tale. Fantasy and myth blend so well for me and it made for an extraordinary tale.

What the author manages to do superbly well is that she builds on the previous foundations set in the series and develops the relationships. Konrad is still coming to terms with feeling emotions and in this tale it looks like having emotions might not be the best thing.

While I loved the original ensemble of characters I really enjoyed the return of Tasha, she’s very unique and I love the relationship she has with Konrad and the growing support she has to offer with her own set of skills.

Once again I’m shocked at how much Charlotte can fit into so few pages. At 92 pages this is exactly what a short story should be..It’s a full tale, fast flowing and easy to follow, no unanswered questions & nothing feels rushed.

Charlotte’s tales are dark and a mildly gruesome at times but are very enjoyable and well suited to a young adults and above. I think what I really enjoy is Charlotte’s use of language, it’s never dumbed down but never too complex to put a reader off either.

I’ve said it before but Charlotte is Queen of the short tales for me. She never sets a foot wrong and they’re perfect if you don’t have the time to read a longer length novel.

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads.

Blog Tour! – Kin of Cain by Matthew Harffy

Today I’m very glad to be the next stop on the Kin of Cain blog tour. First let me tell you I jumped at the chance and did receive a copy of the book in advance but as always with Harffy’s work it was already on my pre-order list so I’ve paid for my copy too 🙂

Other stops on the tour

1st March – Hoover Book Reviews
2nd March – Speesh Reads
4th March – Parmenion Books
5th March – For Winter Nights
6th March – History…The Interesting Bits!
7th March – Lives and Loves of a Book Nerd

Matthew has kindly wrote a post about what the future holds which will follow on from my review so sit back and enjoy! My thanks go to the author and Yasemin at Head of Zeus for making this blog tour happen!

aria_harffy_kin-of-cain_e

Title – Kin of Cain
Author – Matthew Harffy
Genre –  Historical Fiction
Length – 86 Pages
Publication –1st March 2017
My Rating –5/5 Stars

Synopsis

AD 630. Anglo-Saxon Britain. A gripping, action-packed historical tale set in the world of The Bernicia Chronicles. Perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell.

Winter grips the land in its icy fist. Terror stalks the hills, moors and marshes of Bernicia. Livestock and men have been found ripped asunder, their bones gnawed, flesh gorged upon. People cower in their halls in fear of the monster that prowls the night.

King Edwin sends his champions, Bassus, Octa and band of trusted thegns, to hunt down the beast and to rid his people of this evil.

Bassus leads the warriors into the chill wastes of the northern winter, and they soon question whether they are the hunters or the prey. Death follows them as they head deeper into the ice-rimed marshes, and there is ever only one ending for the mission: a welter of blood that will sow the seeds of a tale that will echo down through the ages.

Review

When I first read The Serpent Sword I was shocked at how quickly Octa disappeared from the tale, it’s this murder that sets Beobrand on his journey but I was  left wondering who Octa really was.. was he anything like his brother?

Well now we have the chance to see a little of the man himself in a short story set before the events The Serpent Sword.

86 pages is a decent amount of pages for a short tale in my opinion and Harffy doesn’t hold back. For me what I really enjoyed was this tale has a bit of fantasy and mystery to it. The unknown force that is attacking people..is it human or beast.. either way the King wants it dead!

Octa sets out with a band of men to prove himself to his King and one of my favorite characters is included in this group, Bassus! oh how I love that man.

Harffy weaves a tale which includes the death and gore we are used to but it also manages to give some depth to Octa that wasn’t possible before.

The tale is full of suspense, it’s dark, gritty and gruesome..what more could you possibly want?

When I was reading the tale I couldn’t help but see Octa as Beowulf and reading the author note it was really great to see the Harffy’s thought process on this. It really made the tale stand out.

Personally I feel Harffy has loads to offer and I hope to see  more shorts in the future as I feel they bring depth to the authors world and allow them the chance to share some great stories with us the readers. When I commit to an authors work I want to feel like they are committing to me also..to give me their best and Harffy never disappoints.

Kin of Cain is thriller/mystery/fantasy/myth/folklore and so much more wrapped in to 86 glorious pages and it’s well worth the asking price.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon


What the future holds for me and my writing – Matthew Harffy

harffy_matthew

If you’d asked me four years ago what the future held for me and my writing I would have said I hope to find an agent and then get published. In February 2013 I was close to finishing the first draft of my debut novel, The Serpent Sword. I’d never written anything longer than a few hundred words before and I could see no further than completing the book and somehow getting it out in front of readers who hopefully would like it. That was it. I really had no ambition beyond that, apart, of course, from the secret dream of selling millions of books and becoming rich enough to retire to a tropical island somewhere. But we won’t talk about that.

So much has changed in the last four years. I finished The Serpent Sword and found an agent. I then wrote the sequel, The Cross and the Curse, while my newly-acquired agent tried to sell the first book, and, unfortunately, failed. This failure pushed me to self-publish both books, whilst pressing on with the writing that had somehow become part of my life by this point. Both books were doing well and garnered many positive reviews. This finally piqued the interest of a publisher, so I signed a contract with Aria, a new imprint of publisher, Head of Zeus. Aria re-published the first two books and then published book three of the Bernicia Chronicles, Blood and Blade. They also managed to sell the rights for the three novels to Audible, who have now released the audio books for them, narrated by a great actor called Barnaby Edwards.

I have also written a prequel novella, Kin of Cain, which is out now, and completed book four in the Bernicia Chronicles, Killer of Kings, which is due out in June.

I am now well into the first draft of book five in the series, which will also be published by Aria, who have plans to release all the books in hardcover and mass market paperback in the coming months and years. I am even hearing talk of possible translations of the books in the works!

The point of this rambling on about the past and all the great things that have happened in the last four years is that I had no idea what would happen then, and I don’t really know what the future will bring in the next four years. But what I do know is that there will be more novels in the Bernicia Chronicles. Beobrand’s tale marches on into the seventh century and he will see more kings come and go. He will face his foes in the clash of shieldwalls in battles throughout the island of Albion and, who knows, perhaps even beyond its shores.

And when I decide to move on from Beobrand? When I am done with the mead hall and the shieldwall? What then? Well, I would love to write a western, but I am told there is no money in them. If I am ever close to living in my dream where I have enough money to write what I want and not care about how many people will read it, I will probably turn my hand to the American West. I can almost smell the rotgut whiskey and the pungent stench of gunpowder in the air of a rowdy cattle town when the ranchers and their cowhands have rolled in from the dusty trail. If you look carefully, you will see much of the so-called Wild West in the Bernicia Chronicles, but I would relish the chance to write at least one book set on the Frontier of civilization in the 19th century.

If, as is much more likely, I will have to write books that might sell and which appeal to readers of my books, I have an idea for a Viking saga, which actually has elements of a western in it. But I can say no more now, as it is just a twinkle in this author’s eye! It’s either that or romance, which my wife assures me sells better than the violent books I write. I’m not sure I would do very well at that, but I might have to think of pen name if I want to find out!

I am sometimes tempted to write a fantasy. I am a huge fan of writers like J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard and David Gemmell, so I have a firm understanding of the genre. And the thing that I like most about it, is that I would not have to stick to historical facts! In many ways, the stories I tell could easily be transposed into a word of epic fantasy. But as I am writing historical fiction, I am constrained by what is known to have happened, the technology available, and when things occurred. Oh, and no dragons or magic!

I would love the chance to be able to just create a plot and write whatever I wanted because I would be in total control and nobody could tell me I had got something wrong, as it would be my creation!

So, what of the future? I think we’ll have to wait and see. But if people keep buying my books, I think I can safely say I’ll continue to write them.

Hopefully others will enjoy whatever directions in which the muse takes me.

Author info:

Matthew Harffy is the author of the Bernicia Chronicles, a series of novels set in seventh century Britain. The first three books in the series, The Serpent Sword, The Cross and the Curse and Blood and Blade are available on Amazon, Kobo, Google Play, and all good online bookstores.

Kin of Cain, a standalone prequel novella set in the same world as the Bernicia Chronicles was published on Amazon and all good online bookstores on March 1st 2017.

Killer of Kings , the fourth of the Bernicia Chronicles, is available for pre-order now on Amazon and all good online bookstores.

Website: www.matthewharffy.com

Twitter: @MatthewHarffy

Facebook: MatthewHarffyAuthor