18 Jan 2018

(A LANCASHIRE DETECTIVE MYSTERY #4/A DS BRENNAN MYSTERY #3): SITTING MURDER


With a myriad of motives, the question is who? 

Detective Sergeant Michael Brennan of the Wigan Borough Police has no time for tales of ghosts and the afterlife, or of the dead contacting the living. So, when he finds himself investigating the case of a recently widowed young woman, Alice Goodway, who has suddenly developed ‘the Gift’ of mediumship and has received a threatening letter, he embarks on the inquiry with no small degree of scepticism. 

But just as Brennan and his burly colleague, Constable Jaggery, consider how to proceed with the case, something much more sinister takes place… a murder, in Alice’s own home. Who would commit such a crime? 

Could it be one of the seven ‘visitors’ who had been to sittings with Alice and not liked what they had heard? Or the interfering and sanctimonious Inspector of Nuisances who strongly disapproved of the séances? 

There are a lot of old wounds opened and painful memories shared with Brennan and Jaggery as they meticulously gather the information they need to solve the case. The challenge will be narrowing down the suspects, using clues from both the living and the dead… 

This devilishly plotted Victorian whodunnit keeps the reader guessing right to the end, with red herrings aplenty scattered along the way. 
- Press Release Blurb 

Wigan. 1894.

Alice Goodway sat by her dying husband's bedside for three days and nights, courtesy of Mr Draper, the colliery owner.
- First Sentence, Prologue

"Don't be alarmed if you see Constable Corns passing your door over the next few days."

A look of alarm spread across her face. "Why?"

"Oh, just a precaution, Mrs Goodway. It'll help keep the curious away."

And someone who might want to finish the job, he thought, hiding the fear behind a smile.
- Memorable Moment, Page 66

SOURCE ... Thanks to Alice of Endeavour Press for sending a copy.

READ FOR A CHALLENGE? ... No

MY THOUGHTS ... A wonderful period mystery which combines a classic whodunit with spiritualism. The terraced houses, the close-knit community in which the characters dwell brought to life. Secrets abound, old wounds opened as DS Brennan and his sidekick, Jaggery, eliminate the suspects one by one.

From the archetypal detective and his faithful constable through to the quirky, no-nonsense women, from the living to the dead, from those who had an actual part to play in the unfolding events to those who served mainly as a red herring, I adored the myriad of characters. The main protagonist, the bereaved Alice, seeking to comfort those who, like herself, are grieving, her late husband's aunt, her motives for hosting the seances, not so much a means of comforting those who have also lost loved ones as a way to make financial gains. 

The fourth novel in the series (the third to feature Detective Brennan) but reads perfectly well as a self contained murder mystery. Am I inspired to read the other books? You bet I am. 


16 Jan 2018

ANNOUNCING THE 'WHAT'S IN A NAME?', 'MOUNT TBR' & 'GOODREAD' CHALLENGES 2018

What's In A Name 2018 logo Thanks once again to Charlie for hosting the increasingly popular challenge. If you haven't already done so click here to sign up and/or read the full terms and conditions.

As always the challenge runs from January through to December 2018 and has six categories. To make it even harder on myself I like to read books that either Mr T or I already have. And so, without further ado, I give you the 2018 categories with Charlie's ideas in brackets, books I might read in red (where there is more than one option, the most likely option is in italics) ...

  • The word ‘the’ used twice (The Secret By The Lake; The End Of The Day, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time): Ramses, The Son Of The Light by Christian Jacq OR The Restaurant At The End Of The World by Douglas Adams OR The Day I Fell Down The Toilet by Steve Turner
  • A fruit or vegetable (The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society; The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake): Almonds And Raisins by Maisie Moscoe OR Five Quarters Of The Orange by Joanne Harris
  • A shape (The Ninth Circle, The Square Root Of Summer, Circle Of Friends): ????
  • A title that begins with Z – Can be after ‘The’ or ‘A’ (Zen In The Art Of Writing; The Zookeeper’s Wife, Zelda): Zelda's Cut by Philippa Gregory
  • A nationality (Anna And The French Kiss; How To Be A Kosovan Bride; Norwegian Wood): Delizia! The Epic History Of The Italians And Their Food by John Dickie
  • A season (White Truffles In Winter; The Spring Of Kasper Meier; The Summer Queen; Before I Fall; The Autumn Throne): ???
Hmm! Looks like I could come un-stuck with a book with a shape in the title and a book with a season in the title unless a search through the boxes waiting to go to the charity shop throws up something.

After last years challenge saw me clear a respectful 24 books off my TBR mountain I thought I'd sign up to this years challenge aiming for the somewhat less lofty heights of Pike's Peak with its 12 books. To find out more about the challenge and/or sign up head over to Bev's My Reader's Block by clicking here.

Oh, and for those of you signed up to this years Goodread challenge, how many books are you planing on reading this year? After a disappointing 74 out of 104 last year, I decided on a less ambitious total of 80 books this year.

Have any preference as to which book(s) you'd like me to read for my What's In A Name challenge? Care to share which books you'll be reading if you are taking part? Or are you hosting/participating in any other challenges you'd like to share with us?

12 Jan 2018

(RUNEMARKS 0.5): THE GOSPEL OF LOKI.

THE GOSPEL OF LOKI by JOANNE M HARRIS.


With his notorious reputation for trickery and deception, Loki is a Norse god like no other. Demon-born, he is viewed with deepest suspicion by his fellow gods who will never accept him as one of their own.

But while Loki is planning the downfall of Asgard and the humiliation of his tormentors, greater powers are conspiring against the gods and a battle is brewing that will change the fate of the Worlds.

From his recruitment by Odin from the realm of Chaos, through his years as the go-to man of Asgard, to his fall from grace in the build-up to Ragnarok, this is the unofficial history of the world's ultimate trickster.
- Back cover Blurb

OK. Stop. Stop right there.
- First Sentence, Foreword

We travelled for days; Odin morose; Honir talking constantly - about the scenery, the sheep in the fields, the funny dream he'd had last night, speculating on whether we were there yet, how many leagues we must have travelled, or how long it was to lunchtime ....
- Memorable Moment, page 88

SOURCE ... A present from Mr T.

READ FOR ... Not applicable.

MY THOUGHTS ... First things first - the cover. Certain aspects picked out in gold foil (not that you can necessarily see it by looking at this image), I know, never judge a book by its cover but I hoped I was going to like the book as much as I did its cover.

0.5 of a series. 0.5? I ask you? But then it gets better ... before books 1 and 2 (Runemarks and Runelight respectively) which are marketed at a younger audience altogether, we have 0.6 (The Temptation of Loki). 

Anyway, 

Largely regarded as an 'adult spin-off (the first of Harris' Norse books for adults) and a prequel, which can be read as a stand alone book'. Whilst there are those out there who knowing their Norse mythology as they do will probably despair at the author's interpretation. For myself I really enjoyed The Gospel Of Loki with its ...

  • Creation story
  • Mighty ash, Yggdrasil 
  • Nine worlds
  • Cast of characters, some like Loki and Odin well known, others like Balder the Beautiful and Loki's off-spring Hel and Fenris perhaps lesser so.

Yes, its all here in this gloriously unpredictable and humorous account narrated by Loki himself no less. His language contemporary, something which will either work for you or not.

The original anti-hero, Loki makes no apologies for who or what he is. I don't usually go for the 'bad boy' but a fascinating character, like an onion, un-peel him and you'll find another layer. Then again, better people than me have been taken in by his charm.

One of those books on my Wish List for a long time. Am I glad I finally got to read it? You bet I am. What would I say to those who know there mythology and are wondering about reading it but are worried they might not like it? Go ahead, try to put aside what you think you know about Loki and co and go with the flow. After all, at worst you can come away justified that you were right all along and at best? Who knows, you might actually even enjoy it for the fun read that it is.

6 Jan 2018

HEMLOCK JONES & THE ANGEL OF DEATH.


HEMLOCK JONES & THE ANGEL OF DEATH by JUSTIN CARROLL.


"I understand that you were intending on visiting another address, but please let me assure you that you've come to the right place.
The gentleman you were looking for is out of town, and I am certain that I will be able to help you.
I am Hemlock Jones, Demystifier."

Ten doors down from the home of a world famous ‘consulting detective’ lives twelve-year-old Hemlock Jones, and her recently arrived housemate and unwitting companion, Edward Whitlow.

Hemlock and Edward’s investigations will lead them all over Victorian London, uncovering bizarre and deadly foes, figures from Hemlock’s hidden past, and a plot to take over the city ...

Hemlock Jones & The Angel of Death is the first of the Hemlock Jones Chronicles, a series of detective adventures for children and adults, set in Victorian London.
- Back Cover Blurb

"Is this your first time dining at The Fern?"
- First sentence, Before My Involvement

She had pulled up the dented tin plate of the soldier's face and was looking intently at what looked, to me, like the internal workings of a rather complicated clock.
- Memorable Moment, Page 40

SOURCE: Received from the author with thanks.

READ FOR: Not applicable.

MY THOUGHTS: A twelve year old girl demystifier? 

Hmm, you may well be sceptical but as Hemlock herself informs us ..

What these adults don't understand is that children like us can get in almost anywhere ...

I love good strong female leads and Hemlock Jones is no exception. Determined, resourceful if a little  opinionated and haughty. A great rival to Sherlock himself, altogether I thought her both a wonderful character and role model. Edward, her side-kick, the Watson to her Holmes, a somewhat reluctant partner in crime. It's refreshing to see the girls on top. 

Then there's the case. I won't say too much for fear of a spoiler but, with its mysterious and seemingly deadly apparition and clockwork assassins, what's not to like?

A great first outing, Hemlock Jones & The Angel Of Death is definitely up there as one of my favourite reads of 2017, in what I hope to be many adventures. I loved the whimsical writing and how the author brought to life not only his not quite teenage protagonists but also Victorian London