Tag Archives: Short Stories

The Rescue And Other Tales: includes The Escape and The Prisoner by Steven A. McKay – Review

Title – The Rescue And Other Tales: includes The Escape and The Prisoner
Author – Steven A. McKay
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 80 Pages
Publication – Sept 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Three short tales from the bestselling Forest Lord series, two of which are in the exclusive Kindle Singles Program, published in paperback for the first time.

THE ESCAPE

All he wanted was a quiet drink…

It’s spring, 1323 AD, and John Little, notorious outlaw, seeks to forget his troubles in a Barnsley alehouse. He didn’t count on the place being packed to the rafters with drunk, belligerent Scottish mercenaries though. This stand-alone Forest Lord tale sees one of England’s favourite sons in a battle for his very life that will hugely entertain all lovers of action and adventure.

“A short tale of Little John that packs a wallop as vicious as his quarterstaff!” – Parmenion Book Reviews

THE PRISONER

When two lawmen – fabled former outlaws themselves – are sent to a snowy English village to arrest a rapist it seems a straightforward task, but is all as it first appears?

Can Robin Hood and John Little complete the mission they’ve been given, or will their own innate sense of justice lead them down an unexpected path?

“A delightfully crafted, deceptively simple little glimpse of life in early 14th Century England.” – 5 Stars, Steve Denton of Speesh Reads

THE RESCUE

When a faithful friend goes missing from an English village it’s up to an unlikely hero to find out what’s happened in this action-packed tale.

“Once again Steven A. McKay delivers a story that, although short, hits like an arrow in the guts.” – Stuart S. Laing, author of Jezebel’s Chains

Review

I’m a big fan of Steven’s work and I’ve read each of the stories included in this bundle in kindle format previously. Why I’m I reviewing this bundle? Well I purchased 2 signed copies from the author, 1 for me and 1 for my dad (he loves the books too and Christmas is fast approaching). I can honestly say I’ve got all Steven’s books as paperback and always felt the collection wasn’t complete..This was a collection of tales I’ve been hoping would be released.

I’m going to try hard not to cover old ground..instead I’m going to focus on this version of the tales rather than the single editions and give an overall option.

What we get is a very neat and tidy looking book packed full of adventure. These are the kind of tales that really get me pumped up, short and full of action.

The tales themselves go side by side with the authors Forrest Lord series and are a perfect introduction to the author if you’ve never read his work and want to have a taster first.

One thing I particularly liked is the author included a suggested reading order, perfect for a long series if you are just starting out.

As much as I loved the main novels from McKay I think the shorts really show his talent. Providing such good stories in very few pages that really suck you in.

The Escape features our big friend Little John as the main character, it was a tale I’ve been bloody well waiting for but it was so worth it. 19 pages.. but that’s 19 pages of action and adventure. Little John has such a pleasing personality and the plot was perfect for the character.

The Prisoner again features Little John but this time Robin is here too 27 pages but you get a wallop of an ending!

The Rescue is the author’s way to let others have the limelight again as the focus shifts away from Robin once again, this time the girls play their part in an action packed, gory tale. I’m not going to spoil if for you but this tale shows the girls are just as tough as the boys.

The main thing a like about these tales is the author doesn’t lose any of the humour I’ve become used to from his longer works, if anything these books give a bit more dimension to the characters as the author focuses on individuals rather than Robin and his whole band of outlaws.

Short stories can easily go wrong, not enough plot, no real development and sometime you just find yourself thinking did this story really need written? Well that’s not this book. This collection hits the mark just as Robin’s arrow do!

Fantastic little collection that can be yours in time for Christmas, it’s the perfect quick read..let’s hope my dad agrees, he’s not tech savvy so I’m not worried this review will spoil the surprise on Christmas day ha.

Let’s hope we see some more shorts from the author..I want to see The Abbey of Death in paperback too 🙂

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

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Distant Echoes: stories of people, places and times past – Review

Title – Distant Echoes: stories of people, places and times past by writers from the Historical Novel Society
Author – Dorita Avila, Anne Aylor, Anna Belfrage, Richard Buxton, Christopher M. Cevasco, Lorna Fergusson, Cj Fosdick, Mari Griffith, Patricia Hilton-Johnson, Lisa Kesteven, Vanessa Lafaye, Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger, Yvonne Lyon, Jeffrey Manton, Nicky Moxey, S. Pitt, Jasmina Svenne, L C Tyler.
Genre – Historical Fiction/Short /Stories
Length – 171 Pages
Publication – Sept 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Gripping and thought-provoking stories of people, places and times past by writers from the Historical Novel Society.

A new anthology of nineteen award-winning and acclaimed historical fiction short stories.

Distant Echoes brings you vivid voices from the past. This haunting anthology explores love and death, family and war. From the chilling consequences of civil and world war, to the poignant fallout from more personal battles, these stories will stay with you long after the last page.

This selection of winning and shortlisted stories from recent Historical Novel Society writing awards includes The House of Wild Beasts by Anne Aylor (winner of the Historical Novel Society Short Story Award 2014), Salt by Lorna Fergusson (winner of the HNSLondon14 Short Story Award) and Fire on the Water by Vanessa Lafaye (winner of the HNSOxford16 Short Story Award).

Review

If I had to pick one word to describe this anthology it would be heart-rending..the tales were all so beautifully raw and emotive. At the end of the book I wasn’t sad as such.. it just knocked the wind from me and brought me back down to earth. My life has been so far relatively pain free..not everyone has been so lucky.

It’s a very personal collection of tales, In very few word you find yourself immersed like the events are playing out right in front of your very eyes. While it might be a quick read I found myself drifting in-between stories, rereading bits, contemplating events in my own life that seem so trivial now. It left a lasting impression.

It’s hard to pick a favourite from the collection but The Happy Island by Christopher M. Cevasco really hit me hard and I won’t forget it any time soon.

I challenge you to read this book and not be touched by it.

A major plus for this book is although this is a collective work by a number of authors it all fits together nicely. While the stories differ in setting the tone filters throughout the book to make it an easy flowing read.

It’s a touching collection of thought-provoking tales that I highly recommend.

I was lucky enough to be given an ARC copy of the book by Corazon Books to read but how could I read this and not buy my own copy..for me it was worth every penny.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

The Abbey of Death by Steven A. McKay – Review

Title – The Abbey of Death
Author – Steven A. McKay
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 97 Pages
Publication – 26th Sept 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

He wanted to find peace in prayer, but some men serve God best with a sword in their hand.

Will Scaflock wants only to live in peace. He had more than his share of adventure when he went by the name Will Scarlet and fought corrupt authority alongside Robin Hood. Now widowed and alone, and estranged from his adult daughter, he has taken holy orders and sought refuge in a remote Benedictine abbey.

But even there, trouble and violence follow him. The abbot, John de Wystow, is a good man but a weak leader, and easily undermined by a faction of dissident monks. When the rebels, led by Brother Robert de Flexburgh, run riot in the local community—stealing, drinking, fornicating—Scaflock’s old instincts return. Reluctantly taking charge of the abbey’s moral defence, he finds himself embroiled in a series of fierce clashes with de Flexburgh’s rowdy gang.

As the abbey’s tranquillity is shattered, its cloisters stained with blood, Scaflock is forced to reconsider the direction of his life. Has he really left Will Scarlet behind him—or has he simply been running from reality?

Review

I’m a big fan of Mckay and as much as I knew the end was neigh for the Forrest Lord series featuring Robin Hood I couldn’t help but feel a little down.. I loved the every bit of the series and it was just a shame It had come to an end….Luckily for me the author knows what his readers want and gives them another short that sits alongside the series.

This short is set years after the events of the main Forrest Lord series, Will Scarlet has moved on.. he’s older now and as the world moves on around him he struggles to find his place.

Will ends up turning to religion and is now Brother Scaflock.

We all know Will though don’t we? If he doesn’t find trouble..trouble will find him.

There’s a good plot involving some unruly monks and town’s people who are at their wits end but when things turn violent one night and the stakes are raised Will becomes gods tool. You really do feel like he was sent to the abbey for a purpose in life.

Will has his internal battles. He’s convinced he has no place in this world and he can’t seem to shake his old life.. but let’s be honest we don’t want him too!

What I really like about the book is it gave me a little closure..it’s what I needed to really say goodbye to the character. The end of Will’s tale just felt right and I was left with a big smile at the end.

What the author gives us is another cracking short that builds on his larger works. It’s got the edge to it that makes it dark and gritty at times but over everything else it’s just fun and riveting. As a young kid I grew up on stories of Robin Hood and these books keep the little boy inside me giddy with anticipation every time I read them.

I’m really looking forward to what the author comes up with next as he moves away from Robin Hood and his band of outlaws.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

Chase: The Hunt for a King by Thomas Dellenbusch – Review

Title – Chase: The Hunt for a King (Chase (EE) Book 2)
Author – Thomas Dellenbusch , Richard Urmston (Translator)
Genre – Crime, Thriller, Mystery
Length – 118 Pages
Publication – Feb 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Translated Version from the popular German book series of Movie-Length-Theatre-Of-The-Mind-Stories

Scotland on the brink of independence: the government is planning its own Scottish monarchy. But when a member of the close-knit planning group reveals the identity of the candidate for the throne, suddenly people appear who want to prevent this royal ascension at all costs – including murder. When CHASE is called in to assist, Jérome and Chen Lu travel to Glasgow. Together with the Scotsman James Campbell, they hunt for his father’s murderer. A secretive wax seal leads them into a maze of ancient legends and lost manuscripts. Can they solve the mystery and save the king – or will old ruins become their grave?

Review

This is the second book in the CHASE series. If you didn’t catch my review of book one then click here –  The Hunt for the Mute Poetess.

On to book two…. This time the author lets other members of the CHASE team shine and this meant the story was not only enjoyable but fresh. This added some depth to the team which we were introduced to in the previous book and it’s this kind of slow but steady build-up that makes me invest in a series.

The CHASE team have a habit of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and they’re thrust into a life or death situation as a friend of Jérome’s life hangs in the balance.. it’s all linked to the death of his father and ties to the past and the Scottish monarchy itself.

There’s plenty of twists to this tale and exciting revelations to keep the reader hooked. Fast paced scenes keep the action flowing but there are also points in the book where you and the characters can reflect on events. For me this reminded of TV character Columbo, a real mystery to be solved and it takes the CHASE team to figure things out.

A real joy to read I must admit and both the author and the translator have got this book spot on. I really wouldn’t have guessed this book was translated from German to English at all and the story works well. It especially fits at the moment with Brexit and the question of Scotland’s independence being discussed.

A super quick, easy and fun read. I’d go so far as to say it would be impossible not to enjoy the book.

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads.

Chase: The Hunt for the Mute Poetess by Thomas Dellenbusch

Title –  Chase: The Hunt for the Mute Poetess
Author – Thomas Dellenbusch, Richard Urmston (Translator)
Genre – Crime Thriller
Length – 116 Pages
Publication – Aug 2016
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Enrique “Rique” Allmers runs a security firm in Hamburg, Germany. When he encounters a young woman fleeing from pursuers through the local fish-market, he takes her under his wing. They get away, but the same men – now with reinforcements – are still on their tail. Rique doesn’t know
who she is, or the identity of those who are after her. Because she doesn’t speak a word to him…

Review

Thomas Dellenbusch is a German writer and this is the first book in the Chase series that has been translated into English.

I was interested as soon as I read the word KopfKino..I’m guessing you don’t know what this means? Neither did I. It’s a German term for Theatre of the mind and it means relaxing, thought-provoking and enthralling movie length stories. The books certainly ticks all those boxes!

So on to the story itself. Rique is forced to defend a girl when he sees her running for her life, clearly scared out of her wits. The goons chasing her want the girl back but what they don’t realise is Rique isn’t just a normal guy.. he’s part of the CHASE group, highly skilled individuals who offer services such as security.. he manages to scare the goons away and with his team behind him he looks to stop this gang..but why are they after her?

This girl is mixed up in in a situation she never knew existed and Rique is going to put the puzzle pieces together for her one bit at a time.

The thing I liked about the book the most was the CHASE team itself, A Mission Impossible type of team. Each member has their own skill set which the author showcases throughout the tale.

The story flows logically and you are sucked in deeper and deeper as facts are revealed. Towards the end the suspense was killing me.

Does the book work being translated into English? It most certainly does. If I hadn’t of known I would never have been able to tell.

Overall a top notch plot translated perfectly for English readers. I’m pleased to say book 2 has already been translated and I’ll be reviewing that shortly!

Highly enjoyable and very much the engrossing fast read I was after. There wasn’t a thing I didn’t like about this one.

I hope to see many more from Thomas.

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads.

10 Questions with…Frank Westworth

Today I bring to you my 10 questions feature with author Frank Westworth. If you’ve been following my reviews you’ll know I’m a big fan of his work.

 

Frank is the author of the brilliant Killing Sisters series and also the JJ Stoner short tales I love so much.

If you havent already please take a look at the Author Spotlight I did for Frank last year.

You should also check out my recent reviews for the following books –

The Stoner Stories – Volume 1

The Redemption Of Charm

I hope you enjoy the Q&A 🙂


 

First of all welcome to my blog Frank. The first question has to be the most important… so obviously I want to know if you are a tea or coffee kind of man? Or do you prefer something stronger?

Both. Everything. No limits. Whatever tastes right. No constraints. If I want to drink a coffee – I drink coffee. Tea’s the same, there are tea days and there are coffee days. And there are … something stronger days too. They are the jewels. When that time is the right time, only Stolichnaya will do … if there’s none nearby, then maybe Famous Grouse, or a lot of cheap beer. A lot… an awful lot.

Once a month I tend to let my hair down (not that I have much these days) and enjoy a slap up takeaway meal. I mean as much as I can eat. It’s my guilty pleasure. What’s yours?

Guilty? There is a thing. Why feel guilt about a pleasure? You deserve pleasure, and so do I. But… rules got laid down in all of us when we were growing up. I can still feel a little guilt about breaking those rules. So… ordering more food than I can eat, and wasting the rest. Drinking more than is sane, to the point of embarrassment. Riding a motorcycle further and faster through the wildest storm in the darkest night through the Welsh mountains…
Forbidden conversation in the dark hours on forbidden topics with people you don’t know and do not even like.

Are you afraid of anything strange? I myself am afraid of clowns which I believe is totally justifiable.

No. Fear is a strange thing. I’ve died twice – although I can’t recommend this much as a learning experience – and after that very little is a concern, almost nothing is an actual fear.

Are you a morning or night person?

Depends. A beautiful dawn is as beautiful as a beautiful evening, and the blackest night is as challenging as the brightest day.

Rufus appears out of nowhere with a time-traveling phone booth. You can go anytime in the PAST. What time are you traveling to and what are you going to do when you get there? (For those of you who don’t know who Rufus is… watch Bill and Ted. I love those movies!)

  1. I want to endlessly sit in an audience anywhere and listen live to Jimi Hendrix playing Little Wing. Loop. Repeat. Forever.

Now an important question. I don’t want facts, I want opinion. How many sides does a circle have? (I’ve had many a drunken conversation on the topic, exciting I know)

Four. Accept no other answer.

Ok so I guess I should ask some questions about your writing. Give me five words to describe JJ Stoner.

Relentless. Loyal. Vindictive. Clever. Violent.

Do you have any inspirations inside and outside of the writing community?

Oh yes. Far too many to list – you’d doze off. Every brilliant book is a unique inspiration, like every outstanding movie, and every great piece of music, and standing in love with mountains, forests, rivers, ships and cities. Everything, pretty much, is an inspiration – something to think about and enjoy.

What’s currently on your own bookshelf?

I’m reading Entanglement by Zygmunt Miloszewski, after that comes Kings of America by RJ Ellory. And after that? I’m not sure whether to dive into something SciFi or maybe another thriller of some kind. There’s a lot of books on the shelves.

What’s next for Frank Westworth?

A holiday – off to Malta. Holidays are the very best times to write fiction, and as I’ve hit the end of the trilogy I need to get into the fourth book. Trilogies always have four books, right? Right.

Thank you Frank..this is a fun little Q & A 🙂 Ha

To find out more about Frank’s work head to Murder, Mayhem & More or Goodreads

The Escape by Steven A. McKay – Review

Title – The Escape: A Forest Lord Short Story
Author – Steven A. McKay
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 19 Pages
Publication – 3rd April 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

All he wanted was a quiet drink…

It’s spring, 1323 AD, and John Little, notorious outlaw, seeks to forget his troubles in a Barnsley alehouse. He didn’t count on the place being packed to the rafters with drunk, belligerent Scottish mercenaries though.
The locals all respect – even fear John – but the strangers from the north only see in him the chance to claim a great bounty.
When the hard stares and furtive whispers turn into explosive violence the chase is on. Without any of his famous friends to help him though, will it mean the end for the giant outlaw?

This new stand-alone Forest Lord tale sees one of England’s favourite sons in a battle for his very life that will hugely entertain all lovers of action and adventure.

Review

So this is a super short fun tale that fits in with McKay’s Forest Lord Series. It slots in nicely between books 2 & 3 so I’d advise not reading this until you’ve finished book 2 at least.

McKay’s Forest Lord series mainly focuses around Robin Hood as you’d expect so this short is a good chance to shine light on Little John.

It’s short at 19 pages but does offer an action packed little tale to read. The plot is really good and it was a really nice change of focus Robin not being involved. Little John gets to show how much of a formidable opponent he is and the image McKay paints is spot on with how I’d imagine the character myself.

I do hope we see more short tales as I think these are the perfect accompaniment to the series.

As usual with McKay you get great writing and can expect a bit of violence but it’s not overly gruesome, which is one of the things I like about this authors books. I know it sounds weird but he manages to add fun to the fight.. That makes sense right? Ha

Overall this is a good short from McKay and it ticks all the right boxes but it really does highlight how much I miss the series. *Sighs*

Definitely one for the fans of the author and let me tell you that ending is what makes it 5*

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads