Welcome!

I love reading! Well, I suppose you worked that out from the title of this site, didn’t you?

I read flash fiction, short stories, novelettes, novels, full-length books and am quite fond of book series too.

I also read most genres, though there are some I am more likely to read than others, but hey, I will give pretty much anything a go!  You never know when you are about to uncover a hidden gem.  Unless you read it, you don’t know if you will love it…and that is part of the magic of books.

I like to do what I can to support indie authors (I’m one myself), so if you would like me to review your book / story, just get in touch🙂

If you have any suggestions, recommendations or review requests, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me.

Have a great day!

To learn more about me, read my about page.  To see what I’ve already reviewed, visit the A-Z review index.

Book Review: Kiss of Death by Rachel Caine

kiss-of-death-front-coverKiss of Death is the eighth book in the Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine.

When Michael Glass is invited to go to Dallas for a recording session, his friends Claire, Shane and Eve are really excited for him.  This could be the big break he needs for his musical career.  However, the odds that they are going to be allowed out of Morganville are pretty slim.  If you want to leave you need permission.  The problem is, when most people get out of town, they are not too keen on coming back…

However, much to their surprise, passes are given and they are given the green light…only if they take an escort.  Oliver, Amelie’s right hand man and Eve’s boss.  Although this news dents their excitement a little – Oliver isn’t known for his fun side – they are still really eager and fired-up over their first road trip.

But the road trip they find themselves on isn’t the one they planned.  Especially when they believed they were leaving  the danger behind them in Morganville…

It has been a few months since reading book seven in the series, but it all came back as soon as I opened the cover and the detail that I couldn’t recall was nicely drip-feed through the story.

Again, these books are an easy, quick read and don’t take very much effort for the amount of entertainment they provide.  The story is filled with enough drama to keep you reading without being overly complicated and yet although you can guess the direction the story is taking, there are enough twists and turns to keep it interesting.

It was nice to have a change of scenery for this book.  So far, all the others have been set in Morganville itself.  Nevertheless, this is the first book in which I found a few of the characters slightly grating, something I hope is confined to this book only.

Kiss of Death is another sound instalment in this paranormal series, and I’m looking forward to reading book nine, Ghost Town, to see what happens next.

Book Review: By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Coelho

by-the-river-piedra-paulo-coelho-front-coverBy the River Piedra I sat Down and Wept tells the story of Pilar.  Although she seems to have a good grasp of where she is going in life, what she has to do and what she thinks she is expected to become, there is a part of her that is restless and unsettled.  This feeling is magnified when she meets up with an old childhood friend, one who she hasn’t seen in years.

The childhood friend is a spiritual teacher, one who has garnered a reputation for working miracles.  As the two are reacquainted, they are taken on a spiritual journey of self-discovery through the French Pyrenees, a landscape filled with a history of spirituality experiences.

This one meeting has the potential to change everything, and not just for Pilar but for many others…

This is the first book I have read by Paulo Coelho and probably the first from this genre, which, I believe is spiritual fiction.  I’m not really sure what to make of this story.  Part of me liked it and another part was waiting for something to happen.  Although the book was short, the pace was a little gentle and so perhaps a little slowly for my liking.

However, I did feel sorry for Pilar on a number of occasions as it is clear from the narrative just how lost she is on this journey.  The emotions described as she is trying to find her way through the inner conflict this meeting has awakened in her is touching and inspirational in parts, as she comes to understand what it is she wants from life, as well as seeing religion in a new light.  That religion does not have to be the Catholicism of her youth, but rather can focus on the feminine aspects / representations of God.

I did especially like the last sentence, which I think is a great piece of advice:

“Dreams mean work.”

Book Review: The Dark Flight Down by Marcus Sedgwick

the-dark-flight-down-front-foverThe Dark Flight Down is the sequel to The Book of Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick.

The story begins a few days after The Book of Dead Days ends.  Valerian is dead, and Boy and Willow have been fending for themselves in The Yellow House.  Together, they are content, but this isn’t to last.  Kepler, Valerian’s once-friend then enemy, sends Willow to an orphanage whilst he takes Boy back to his own home to become his assistant.

However, when Boy is sent back to The Yellow House to retrieve an item for Kepler, he is captured by the Imperial Guard.  Everything that belonged to Valerian is to be sent to the Palace, and that includes his assistant.  Incarcerated in the Emperor’s dungeons, Boy is soon thrown into a world where finery and opulence are everywhere, but this gilding is hiding much.  Danger and madness are an even greater presence here than outside the palace walls.

Will Willow find out what has become of Boy?  Will Boy manage to escape from the confines of the palace?  And will The Phantom, which is still killing without warning, ever be caught?

I wanted to enjoy this book as much as the first, but for some elusive reason I did not.  Perhaps the character of Valerian in The Book of Dead Days was a more gripping evil character than I found either Kepler or Maxim to be.  Or it could have been the pace was slower and the narrative less dark and gothic in nature.

However, I was happy to continue reading about Willow and Boy, the plans they had for the future and the scrapes they found themselves in and got themselves out of.

Although this series of books is aimed at a young adult audience, I found this instalment much more so than the first, which, as an adult reading it clouded my judgement a little, but I can imagine that it would still appeal to younger readers.

Book Review: The Book of Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick

the-book-of-dead-days-front-coverValerian, a magician in The City, made a Faustian-style pact many years ago that would reveal to him the knowledge he was after.  However, such a deal always comes with a price, and Valerian’s time to avoid certain death is running out.  If he is to survive until the new year, he must find a book of magic that has not been seen for generations.

Along with his apprentice, Boy, they must follow a trail set before them with the aid of Valerian’s inventor friend, Kepler.  But as The Phantom roams The City, killing without warning, and Valerian’s enemies hoping he will fail, can they find the book and prevent the inevitable?  And at what cost?  Time is running out…

This is a young adult book where technology and magic are entwined, creating an atmospheric story full of mystery and darkness.  Although this book was aimed at a younger audience, I did find the story gripping.  There are dark Dickensian elements, Gothic buildings, a magician and a puzzle that needs to be solved in short order or someone will die  – what’s not to love?

Boy and Willow are great characters. Both are lonely, but while Boy seems to accept what fate has dealt him, Willow questions it.  It quickly becomes clear that the two are stronger together, giving each of them who have nothing in this world, something to hold on to.  Whilst the story is unravelling around them, dragging them constantly into danger, Boy is struggling to understand who he is and where he comes from.

All-in-all, I found this book to be surprisingly engaging and rich in dark description.  The City is an interesting place, full of interesting characters and reminiscent of many Victorian cities.

As I already had book two in the series (The Dark Flight Down) about the house, I started reading it as soon as I finished this one so that I could find out what happens next to Boy and Willow.

Book Review: Rome: The Emperor’s Spy by M.C. Scott

rome the emperor spy front cover

The story begins in AD 63, in Coriallum in Gaul, during the reign of the emperor Nero.  It has come to the attention of the Emperor that a prophecy is in circulation predicting that Rome will burn in the year of the phoenix and bring the kingdom of heaven to earth.  Understandably Nero wants to prevent this from happening, and so he asks the spy, Sebastos Pantera to find out what he can, who is involved and ultimately to ensure that this prophecy doesn’t become reality.

But there are other things going on as well.  A young boy named Math, who dreams of driving a chariot on the greatest stage in Rome, has caught the emperor’s eye.  Nero’s reputation for cruelty is well-known, and so Pantera and the leader of the chariot team Math races for, Ajax, do all they can to protect him from the emperor.

This journey will take them all from northern Gaul to Alexandria and then on to Rome.  But can they really protect Math from the most powerful man in the Empire?  And what of the healer Hannah?  What is her story?  As they get closer to the truth, many secrets will be revealed…but will they be able to stop Rome burning?

I have a somewhat mixed review of this book.  Let’s start with the positives: This was an interesting take on the Great Fire of Rome and I loved the characters.  It was them that kept me reading, hooking me from the beginning of the story and not letting me go until I had reached the last pages.  Many of them were some of the best characters I have come across and have earned a place on my favourite characters list.

The negative: I found it very hard to get interested in the story line itself.  The whole idea of the prophecy rather surprisingly did not grab my attention.  Usually I love this sort of thing.  Instead, I was reading because I liked the characters.  I wanted to know how they fared as the story unfolded.

The book is packed with historical detail and so it doesn’t matter where in the Roman Empire the current scene is set, you can clearly visualise it and the characters.  The characters are well-rounded and interact convincingly with each other.  The story is well-paced and is moved forward by scenes full of action and energy.

Although this is the first book in this particular series, I learned that a few of the characters had featured in the author’s previous series based around the Celtic warrior queen, Boudicca.  Even though it has no bearing on the understanding of this book or my enjoyment of it, had I known beforehand, I probably would have read that series first.

I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Rome: The Coming of the King, to see what happens to my favourite characters and what trials they come up against next.

Book Review: Dissolution by C.J. Sansom

dissolution front coverDissolution is the first book in the Shardlake series by C.J. Sansom.

The year is 1537.  Anne Boleyn had been beheaded eighteen months previously and England is witnessing the dissolution of the monasteries.  In charge of this great undertaking is Thomas Cromwell, the vicar-general, who is sending out commissioners across the land to help him close the religious houses.

One such commissioner is Matthew Shardlake, a London-based lawyer, who sometimes undertakes assignments for Thomas Cromwell.  When Shardlake is summoned from another case in Surrey and told to report to Cromwell’s office immediately, it can only mean that there is important work to be done.  When the lawyer has his audience with the second most powerful man in England, it is to learn that another commissioner has been murdered whilst on Cromwell’s business, at the monastery of Scarnsea on the Sussex coast.  Not only must Shardlake uncover the murderer but also complete what his predecessor failed to do: persuade the monks at Scarnsea that their monastery will close.

However, there are dark goings-on at Scarnsea.  Not only has a commissioner been murdered, but an act of sacrilege has been committed in the church.  Surrounded by suspicion and treachery, Shardlake must use all the talents he possesses – including his wits – if he, and his assistant Mark Poer are to survive the investigation.  And yet, perhaps more importantly, as the case unravels, what Shardlake witnesses firsthand may lead to him questioning that which he has firmly believe for many years…

This is a fascinating historical series set in one of the most turbulent periods of English history.  I have read the first half of the series before, but decided that I wanted to read them again before allowing myself to read the later books –  an activity that I cherish🙂

Matthew Shardlake is a highly likeable character who, with a hunchback (which is dealt with sensitively by the author), has a lot stacked against him.  Commoners tend to fear him – contemporary superstition maintained that it was unlucky for someone to be touched by a hunchback, whilst those of his profession are jealous of his connections to Thomas Cromwell.

There were a number of characters that I found myself liking as I made my way through the book.  Brother Guy of Malton, who is a monk of Moorish descent.  Mark Poer, Shardlake’s assistant, who has currently fallen out of favour after a period of disgrace.

The story is rich and flows with ease.  The descriptions and historical detail provided by the author are vivid, bringing both the story and the time period to life.

Dissolution is a great first book for a series.  It had me hooked from the start and I’m looking forward to enjoying the other books that follow it.  I highly recommend it to those who have an interest in the period.

Book Review: Venus in Copper by Lindsey Davis

Venus in Copper Front CoverVenus in Copper is the third book in the Falco series by Lindsey Davis.

Falco’s third case is nothing if not complex.  Having distanced himself from working with the Palace – the Flavians like to keep a hold of their money, making it hard for any honest investigator to get paid – he finds himself employed by a close-knit bunch of freedmen.  The case: stop a gold-digger black widow from marrying and then murdering the only unmarried one amongst them.

The gold digger is one Severina Zotica.  She has a shady past: three dead husbands who died in mysterious circumstances leaving their fortunes to her.  Naturally anyone would be worried about their friend – a rich friend – who wanted to get involved with such a woman.

But are these freedmen as concerned as they make out to be?  When Falco goes to meet them in their sprawling villa on the Pincian Hill, what he finds is that the freedmen have much more money than taste (which they are happy to show off in any way they can).  However, they are very, very canny when it comes to business.  The question is, is it their friend or his money they are thinking about?

And what does this case have to do with a foul-mouthed parrot named Chloe and a circus snake-dancer?  Falco will need all his wits about him if he’s to uncover the truth…

I have been reading this series over and over again for over ten years and I have yet to tire of it.  In fact, I love these books so much, that as soon as I pick one up, I have to read it all before I can put it down again.  So it comes as no surprise that I finished Venus in Copper in a day.

Lindsey Davis explains the complexities of Roman life very easily.  From the proper naming conventions of freedmen to the insurance fraud that was rife throughout the city, Rome in its many shades is brought to colourful life with historical accuracy.

One of the things I love about these books is the humour that is woven through the story.  These really are some of the most entertaining historical reads I have come across.  Falco’s personality shines through and he is surrounded with a wonderful supporting cast: his long-suffering mother, Petronius Longus of the Aventine Watch, his classy girlfriend Helena Justina…to name but a few.

The story itself is gripping.  As Falco tries to work his through the case and the upheavals in his private life, you cannot help but get drawn into the tale, rooting for the man at every turn.

I would recommend this book (and the whole series) to anyone who loves historical and / or detective fiction.  Falco is one of the most original and interesting private investigators I have come across and these books really do stand apart from others in the genre.