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.

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Book Review: A Body at Book Club by Elizabeth Spann Craig

A Body at Book Club is the sixth book in the Myrtle Clover Mysteries by Elizabeth Spann Craig.

Quick Review (read on for the full review)

Loved it.  A great cosy mystery, with quirky characters and lots of humour.  Myrtle is fantastic. 5/ 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

This is one book club meeting that doesn’t go by the book.

When octogenarian sleuth Myrtle Clover discovers Naomi Pelter’s dead body during a book club meeting, the other members seem shocked. But Myrtle can read between the lines. Naomi had riled everyone up by flirting with other people’s husbands, arguing with neighbors, and generally making a nuisance of herself. Murdering troublemakers is the oldest trick in the book.

The book club members seem too sweet to be killers, but Myrtle knows better than to judge books by their covers. Myrtle’s investigation into the murder will take a more novel approach than her police chief son’s by-the-book methods. Can Myrtle and her widower sidekick uncover the killer…before he writes them off for good?

Favourite Quote

“Marathon?  For heaven’s sake, Miles.  Have you been drinking?  I’m in my eighties.  The only time you’re going to catch me running is if something really scary is chasing me.  Even then, I’ll probably just give in.’

Review

It was last Indie Only Month that I came across the wonderful Myrtle Clover Mysteries.  Very quickly the series worked its way into my favourite top five cosy mystery list. And, I think this might just be my favourite book in the series yet – but I’ve loved them all so it’s hard to tell 🙂  I do think this might be the funniest though.  Let’s get to the review proper…

First off – it’s all about Myrtle – she’s fabulous!  (As is Pasha the feral cat).  Mrytle might be in her eighties but that doesn’t stop her sleuthing.  I’m surprised she gets invited anywhere in Bradley anymore because wherever she goes someone always turns up dead.  But, I suppose at least she has the good grace to find out who the murder is.  Her neighbour Miles makes a great sidekick and Wanda the psychic is a hoot with the cryptic warnings and riddles she passes on to Myrtle.

For this mystery, I didn’t guess who the murderer was until just before the reveal, which always makes for a satisfying read. The book moves at a fairly rapid pace and the ending is just perfect for this story.  The dialogue is witty and realistic and the characters interact so well together.

If you enjoy cosy mysteries full of quirky characters and humour, I can’t recommend this series to you highly enough.  There is a high possibility that I might have to read another book in the series this month…

Rating

Bookish Reflections – June 2018

A monthly round up of all things bookish at Sammi Loves Books…It’s my attempt at becoming more accountable in my reading and reviewing habits…


In a nutshell

A bit of a slow month reading-wise, but at least I got reviewed what I planned to review and a bit more.  The slowness is down to me trying to get on with some of my writing projects and these have eaten into my available reading time.  I’ve been looking forward to Indie Only month, the first of the year’s self-set themed reading challenges.  So far, I’ve only decided on two titles, maybe three but I’m planning to see what crosses my path this time round instead of starting July with a set reading list – a deviation from past years.  And then, once July is over, we’re straight into the next themed reading challenge, Historical Fiction Month.  I’ve no set reading list for this challenge either, though you can always expect an something by Lindsey Davis, Ellis Peters or Karen Maitland (or all three), who are, in my eyes, the queens of historical fiction…

Books I’ve reviewed

Favourite read of the month

  • The Book With No Name by Anonymous

Books I’ve bought (or been given)

  • None this month!  Woohoo!

Books I’ve downloaded

  • Her Defiant Heart by Monica Murphy

What I’ve been reading on Wattpad

  • Winter Prey by T.M. Simmons
  • Love Letters to Selene – a multi-author anthology of poetry inspired by the moon
  • A Body at Book Club by Elizabeth Spann Craig

June’s “Read and Review” Goals*

  • Outside the Law by Anthony Berkeley
  • The Mask of Troy by David Gibbins
  • Others by James Herbert

* Light blue = review posted | Blue = review not posted

What I’m reading and reviewing in July

Indie authors only, of course! 😀

  • Body at Book club by Elizabeth Spann Craig
  • Winter Prey by T.M. Simmons

As for the rest of the month…we’ll see what interesting indie author / indie published books crop up…

Goodreads Reading Challenge

My goal is 40.  I’ve read 20.  50% complete.  Currently 1 book ahead of schedule. (Yes, you read that right! This is the second month in a row that I’m ahead!)

Other reads (books not on Goodreads): 1 (Outside the Law by Anthony Berkeley)

Total books read so far this year: 21

Short Story Review: Outside the Law by Anthony Berkeley

I found “Outside the Law” by Anthony Berkeley in “Great Crime Stories”, originally published by Chancellor Press in 1936.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

A tense short story that held my attention to the very end.  A good lesson in creating believable, well-imagined characters. 5 / 5

Summary

After committing the crime of breaking into a house and robbing it of any valuables, three very different men find themselves trapped in a building, surrounded by the police.

There appears to be little if no chance of escape.  And, should the police catch them with the big pile of stolen goods still in their possession, they know for certain that they will be spending the next few years in prison.

With two of the three men armed, how will they react to this twist in their fortunes?

Favourite Quote

He knew little English, but already he had gathered that the word “busies” meant the police.

Review

For a short story, Outside the Law is really quite tense.  I think it’s down to the clear, concise characterisation by the author.  The three men were all very different.  They each have differing reasons to turning to crime, different reasons for being there and have very different characters and backgrounds to each other.  As their options fall away, it’s no wonder they all respond differently to the pressure they find themselves under.

As for the ending…it’s very good.  You suspect you know what is going to happen but still you are glued to the story.  I can’t say any more for fear of giving too much away.

But I will say is this: when a writer knows his characters well, the story just flows.  And this is what we have here.  For any writers out there who want to read what is, in my opinion, a great demonstration of creating well-defined and believable characters, you could do a lot worse than taking a look at this.

Rating

Book Review: The Book With No Name by Anonymous

The Book With No Name is the first book in the Bourbon Kid series by Anonymous.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

A thoroughly fun and entertaining read, with a plot that twists and turns and keeps you guessing right to the very end.  Great stuff!  4 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

Detective Miles Jensen is called to the lawless town of Santa Mondega to investigate a spate of murders. This would all be quite ordinary in those rough streets, except that Jensen is the Chief Detective of Supernatural Investigations. The breakneck plot centers around a mysterious blue stone — The Eye of the Moon—and the men and women who all want to get their hands on it: a mass murderer with a drinking problem, a hit man who thinks he’s Elvis, and a pair of monks among them. Add in the local crime baron, an amnesiac woman who’s just emerged from a five-year coma, a gypsy fortune teller, and a hapless hotel porter, and the plot thickens fast. Most importantly, how do all these people come to be linked to the strange book with no name? This is the anonymous, ancient book that no one seems to have survived reading. Everyone who has ever read it has been murdered. What can this mean?

Favourite Quote

‘Cross my palm with a twenty-dollar bill and I shall reveal your destiny.’

What happened to silver? Dante thought…

Review

When I reached the last paragraph of this book, hope swelled within me.  The book ended with question, leaving the reader to wonder if this was indeed the end of the story. You know the type…This is the end…or is it?  I desperately hoped not.  When I learned there were in fact more instalments to read, I was so very, very happy.  As I’m sure you can tell. 🙂

As soon as I saw this book I was intrigued.  Curiosity piqued, I wondered at the title or lack there of, and then I wondered some more at the author deciding to publish under the name “Anonymous”.  It didn’t taken long for me to realise I needed to read this.

This is highly imaginative storytelling, with a plethora of characters to keep you entertained (see the summary above for a brief cast list). The pace is fast, as one plot twist occurs after another.  There is plenty of action, and plenty of gore also – something I’m not usually a fan of, but here it seemed to work.

The story is told from several points of view, allowing us glimpses of all that is going on in Santa Mondega.  You won’t like many of the characters – I’m not sure you’re supposed to – but you may find yourself laughing at some of the things that happen in the story.

There are elements from a number of different genres, including horror, the paranormal / supernatural, fantasy, westerns, crime and mystery but somehow the auther has managed to weave them all together into a cohesive whole. I guessed some of the plot twists but there were still plenty I did not see coming.

A thoroughly fun and entertaining read.  I am excited to read book two in the series, The Eye of the Moon.

Rating

Book Review: The Mask of Troy by David Gibbins

The Mask of Troy is the fifth book by David Gibbins to feature Jack Howard.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

An imaginative story containing some interesting passages and characters, but tempered by the inclusion of some heavy, lengthy descriptions. Well worth the read, if only for the ancient history and archaeology.  3 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

Greece. 1876. Heinrich Schliemann, the great archaeologist, raises the Mask of Agamemnon and makes a mind-blowing discovery. Determined to keep it a secret until the time is right, he then dies.

Germany. 1945. The liberation of a concentration camp reveals clues to lost antiquities stolen by the Nazis. But the operation is covered up after a deadly secret surfaces. Northern Aegean.

Present day. Marine archaeologist Jack Howard discovers a shipwreck, part of the war fleet of Agamemnon, king of the Greeks, and soon becomes embroiled in a desperate chase across Europe against a ruthless enemy…

Favourite Quote

The air had been cleansed by the rain, but the smells were rising again: rosemary, thyme, the sweet ether that seemed to float above these ancient sites, an exhalation from history too powerful to be washed away by a transient act of nature.

Review

I really enjoyed parts of this book.  It was interesting to read about marine / underwater archaeology and the complexities involved, such as tidal patterns and how these effect not only working conditions while excavating but also how they can alter the appearance of the context in which artefacts are found. However, there are lengthy technical descriptions which were a little harder to read, which affected the pace of the book.

I liked the historical aspect of the storyline (both real and fictional), in terms of the discussions on ancient Troy, Mycenae and Homer and the mystery surrounding Heinrich Schliemann’s behaviour in the latter half of the nineteenth century.  But I found the Nazi story thread too much.  I understand why it was there: to create the thriller / mystery part of the book, but still.

As for the characters, I liked them, though the cast seemed extensive.  Jack Howard was interesting (though the other characters had a tendency to go on about how great he was). Costas Kanzantzakis made a great side-kick (I think he was my favourite character).  Professor James Dillon had the air of the aging adventurer about him.  Rebecca I wasn’t sure about; I liked her but found the things she got up to a little far-fetched for a 17 year old.

The author’s passion for the subjects involved is clear and obvious to the reader.  However, the heaviness of some passages does impact on the book’s pace, hence the rating.  So, a bit of a mixed review, but well worth the read if only for the ancient history and archaeology.

Rating

 

Book Review: Others by James Herbert


Quick Review (read on for full review)

An original, dark and disturbing horror story on the theme of redemption.  Atmospheric, chilling and not for the faint of heart.  4 /5

Summary (from Goodreads)

Nicholas Dismas is a Private Investigator, but like no other that has gone before him. He carries a secret about himself to which not even he has the answer . . .

He is hired to find a missing baby. One that was taken away at birth . . . Or was it?

His investigation takes him to a mysteriously located place called Perfect Rest. It is supposed to be a nursing home for the elderly . . . But is it?

Here Dismas will discover the dark secret of the Others. And in an astonishing and spectacular finale he will resolve the enigma of his own existence . . .

Favourite Quote

Beggars, beaches, bitches and batty old ladies – the images spun round my mind like a carousel filled with harpies.

Review

I’m a big fan of James Herbert and have read many of his books over recent years.  There is something about his writing that captures the “creepiness” factor that not all horror writers can achieve, whilst at the same time wrapping it up in a story you actually what to get to the end of.

This is one of those books.

Others follows the life of Nicholas Dismas, a hunchbacked private investigator based in Brighton.  When he’s asked to find a client’s missing baby, little did he know where the case would lead.  The strange mystery slowly transforms into an even stranger supernatural tale.

The characters really make this story work.  Dis is a complex character as he struggles to deal with his own personal demons whilst at the same time, having people look to him to as a hero after a lifetime of having strangers think of him as a monster simply because of the way he looks.  Constance Bell, who works at Perfect Rest (the world’s creepiest nursing home), and Louise Broomfield a Brighton-based clairvoyant, are both interesting, engaging characters, that work well with Dis.

There’s a terribly sad undercurrent to this story; I won’t say any more for fear of giving too much away.  It is dark tale, with dark and disturbing passages, some of which make for uncomfortable reading, given the author’s powerful imagination and ever greater power of description.

I thought the opening was very clever.  Herbert lets the reader know from the off that this is a tale of redemption so we are clued in whilst the characters are not.  Instead of this tactic revealing too much, what it does do is heighten the tension when strange and supernatural things start to happen.

I didn’t find this to be a quick read.  The story unfolds slowly and the pace is fairly moderate until you reach the last 150 pages or so.  That is why I rated it four stars and not the full five.

The final sentence of Herbert’s End Note (which makes for interesting / surprising / sad reading in its entirety) reads, “I sincerely hope you have been disturbed.”  Quite!

Rating

Bookish Reflections – May 2018

A monthly round up of all things bookish at Sammi Loves Books…It’s my attempt at becoming more accountable in my reading and reviewing habits…


In a nutshell

Not a bad month at Sammi Loves Books.  Averaging over a book week (just!) isn’t bad when time feels like it’s disappearing before your eyes – melodramatic, I know, but still…I’m pleased that I got five out of six books on my read and review list ticked off.  I’ve only added three books to this month’s list simply because I’ve not yet decided what I’m going to read once I finished Others by James Herbert.  And, next month is Indie Only Month here, followed by Historical Fiction Month, so I will soon be putting together a list of books / short stories / collections to read in July and August.  Any suggestions or review requests welcome 🙂

Books I’ve reviewed

Favourite read of the month

  • A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Books I’ve bought (or been given)

  • Holy Spy by Rory Clements

Books I’ve downloaded

  • Summer at Coastguard Cottages by Jennifer Bohnet

What I’ve been reading on Wattpad

  • Winter Prey by T.M. Simmons

May’s “Read and Review” Goals*

  • Snow White Must Die by Nele Neuhaus
  • The Anatomist’s Apprentice by Tess Harris
  • Eye Witness by Ellis Peters
  • The Intruders by Michael Marshall
  • A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
  • Outside the Law by Anthony Berkeley

* Light blue = review posted | Blue = review not posted

What I’m reading and reviewing in June

  • Outside the Law by Anthony Berkeley (read but not yet reviewed)
  • The Mask of Troy by David Gibbons (read by not yet reviewed)
  • Others by James Herbert (currently reading)

Goodreads Reading Challenge

My goal is 40.  I’ve read 17.  43% complete.  Currently 1 book ahead of schedule. (Yes, you read that right!)

Other reads (books not on Goodreads): 0

Total books read so far this year: 17