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Glass Sword (Red Queen)
Victoria Aveyard

Disappointing second detective story about Win Garano

The Front  - Patricia Cornwell

Leading from At Risk, Win finds himself investigating a cold case but there are two other plotlines going on to confuse matters. The whole effect is of a mishmash, including as usual some forensic science. It's disjointed and less than satisfying. The characters are still interesting and the whole thing does not take long to read but - school report - can do better!

Very good first part of a fantasy series

Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard


Mare is a Red, essentially "slaves" or worker bees for the Silvers who possess powers that keep the reds in their place. Her destiny changes with an unexpected encounter and things progress from there. The fantasy novel has Hunger Games similarities to it and has an engaging plot with interesting characters, although some are a bit two-dimensional. With political machinations, twists and turns, the novel is a good example of the genre, possibly aimed at the YA readership but has enough to make this worthwhile for all fantasy love

A quick easy read about political machinations and a murder to solve

At Risk - Patricia Cornwell

Unlike the Scarpetta novels, this one about Win Garano is less intense but still has a lot going for it. Dealing with a cold case murder, the investigator also has to deal with his DA boss who herself is involved in all sorts of shenanigans. The characters are well-drawn and the plot moves along nice and quickly. At 191 pages, it does not take long to read and is satisfying nonetheless.

Detective story with a literary side to it. Different from the usual fare.

Gently Continental - Alan Hunter



This detective novel deals with the death of an American staying at a coastal hotel in the UK. Gently is called in when it transpires that all is not as it seems. His investigation takes in a myriad of characters, the development of which takes up most of the novel. Unlike previous novels, Alan Hunter uses a literary style here with few paragraphs, florid language and builds up the characters rather than concentrating on a complicated plot. Certainly different and reasonably worthwhile.

Engaging second volume in the Book of Dust series

The Secret Commonwealth - Philip Pullman



Phillip Pullman takes us further on Lyra’s journey, this time as a young woman, leaving Oxford to embark on a long purposeful trip, meeting a host of different characters along the way, both friendly and hostile. Meanwhile political machinations are underway.

The writing is engaging and very literary in places and makes the whole experience enjoyable. The characters are well-developed and evolve as the story progresses. Fans will certainly find the novel rewarding.

Damon Runyon’s second volume of short stories, generally a lot of fun

From First to Last - Damon Runyon

Another bunch of short stories about gamblers, gangsters, showgirls and various characters which are full of 1940s New York slang and silly situations. They are a lighthearted easy read which I’ve delved into between reading more serious stuff. Making a pleasant change, this book is enjoyable and worth a look for something a bit lighter.

Straightforward detective story - short and a very easy read

Sixkill - Robert B. Parker



At 293 pages, 63 very short chapters, large print and short sentences, this detective novel does not take long to read. Spenser is hired to investigate the death of a young lady found dead in the hotel room of a film star. Along with Zebulon Sixkill, the film star's ex-bodyguard, he uncovers all sorts of unsavoury goings-on and solves the crime to the best of his ability. Quite witty and fun, this book is an easy, satisfying read and recommended to all lovers of US detective stories

Alex Cross detective novel - OK but also disappointing

The Big Bad Wolf - James Patterson



Now with the FBI, Alex Cross gets involved in a case about kidnappings and murders while also dealing with a family crisis. Although the plot unravels well over 300 pages, it’s one of Patterson’s books where all is not resolved at the end, something which I find disappointing and unfair to the reader. I read these occasionally for a fast entertaining read but this was not as enjoyable as it could be.

Last of the Courts of the Feyre series - very good but tragic in many ways

The Eighth Court - Mike Shevdon



This novel brings the series to a close in an engaging and complicated way. The plot thickens and moves along at a steady pace and more characters are introduced as others re-emerge from previous stories. Everyone is involved at some stage and not all of them survive. This has been a rewarding and unusual fantasy series which we have really enjoyed. Highly recommended for fantasy lovers.

Straightforward love story

Love Unscripted - Owen Nicholls

This comes under the heading of women’s fiction so it probably serves me right if I don’t enjoy this much. Although I’ve not read it (but seen the film): it reminds me of High Fidelity but the references are all related to films this time with others about music with which I am not familiar. Nick, the narrator, takes us through his first “date” with Ellie, alternating chapters with their break-up and the end result. Because it’s a first-person narrative, there’s a lot of introspection. It’s straightforward but lacks humour. Not really my cup of tea but I’m sure that many will enjoy it. I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Exciting and interesting sequel to Sixty-One Nails

The Road to Bedlam - Mike Shevdon



Niall’s adventures amongst the Fey continue as he gets involved in 3 difficult situations involving an investigation into missing children in Yorkshire, power machinations in the Fey and a situation with his daughter. Juggling this lot and looking for solutions take up the plot which generally moves along well. Few new characters are introduced but others are developed further. It’s certainly engaging stuff and I’ve bought the next in the series. Highly recommended.

Scottish detective tale from the 1960s Good enough

Gently North-West - Alan Hunter

Topical for a change as, although written in the 1960s, it deals to some extent with Scottish Nationalism. This George Gently detective story deals with a murder in the Highlands while the policeman is on holiday with Brenda Merryn, his sister and his brother-in-law. There's death, imprisonment, adultery and betrayal included and it reads quite well even if a lot of the dialogue is in Scottish brogue and needs some effort to comprehend.

A bit of a disappointment for a fantasy novel as part of a trilogy

Geomancer - Ian Irvine


I was hoping for better than this. This is the first part of a trilogy which takes place in a world relying on "fields" and crystals to fight against monsters (the lyrinx). Tiann, an artisan, is the main character and she gets involved in all sorts of intrigue, along with other major characters, Nish and Irisis. It's over 600 pages of fighting, lust, jealousy, mystical forces, monsters and betrayal. The characters are certainly well-fleshed-out and the story is quite intriguing but it's long, complicated with too much description and a little too much horror for my liking.

Stephanie Plum havoc again, working for Ranger - hectic and fun

Finger Lickin' Fifteen  - Janet Evanovich



Not very different from all other Stephanie Plum novels, this one has her working for Ranger as he has business problems. There’s also Lula in a lot of trouble. The book has a lot of fires and destroyed cars and, to be honest, it’s surprising that there’s not more bodies and bloodshed. It’s lightweight and entertaining stuff.

Highly enjoyable urban fantasy

Sixty-One Nails - Mike Shevdon


Niall, the central character, finds himself embroiled in a Fee conflict and meets all sorts of supernatural characters, both good and nasty. The whole story takes place mainly in London as Niall discovers much about himself. Each chapter ends on a bit of a cliffhanger which enables the reader to get really involved in the plot. The characters are generally well-developed and I can recommend the book to all lovers of fantasy - there are other volumes after this but it is self-contained.

A family "saga" from the Spanish Civil War to post-Pinochet Chile - well-written stuff

A Long Petal of the Sea - Isabel Allende

This novel by Isabel Allende, based on a true story and true events, tells us about Victor, a medical student in Republican Spain of the 1930s, as he lives through - and survives - the Spanish Civil War, exile to Chile, the Pinochet regime, more exile and eventual return to his homeland. Along the way, we encounter members of his family, friends and political opponents as well as the poet, Pablo Neruda. His life is a life of adventure, degradation and love. Characters are interesting and well-developed and the whole story, although inevitably depressing in places, is important and engrossing. Recommended, especially to admirers of Isabel Allende. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.