29 Apr 2016

SIREN.


Cover imageSIREN by ANNEMARIE NEARY.

PRESS RELEASE: Published 24th March 2016/Hutchinson/TPB, £12.99

A dark and suspenseful psychological thriller about the slippery nature of truth in post-conflict Ireland, and a redemptive story of a woman claiming back her own identity.


Róisín Burns has spent the past twenty years becoming someone else. The secrets she has kept since she was a naive schoolgirl in Belfast have blighted her existence and ruined her relationships; her life in New York is built on lies. 

Things are beginning to fall apart when a figure from her Belfast childhood flashes up on the news: it's the man who stole her life. These days Brian Lonergan is a smooth sharp suited politician, a family man, the darling of the Irish press. But scandal is brewing and Róisín knows the truth. 

Armed with the evidence that could ruin Lonergan, she travels back across the Atlantic to the remote Lamb Island to hunt him down. 

But Lonergan is one step ahead; when Róisín arrives on the island, someone else is waiting for her…


FIRST SENTENCE {Belfast}: Róisín sensed the danger long before she'd had a chance to think it, when it was just a quivering of something in the air outside the room.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 129}: Róisín tried hard to smoke. Each time it was an effort to get anything out of it, the smoke too bitter, too thick. She liked the idea of poisoning herself, though, sucking the evil into her until she became the same colour as everything else in this bloody place.

SOURCE: Received for review.

MY THOUGHTS: Powerful stuff, incredibly powerful stuff. I don't know which aspect I found more disturbing, the passages set in the Belfast of Róisín's youth or those set some twenty years later when she finds herself on a remote island, armed with the evidence that could ruin the man who ruined her youth and on a very personal mission to lay to rest the ghosts of her past and expose the dirty secrets behind this now seemingly squeaky-clean politician.

Jumping between the different eras didn't prove problematic as it sometimes can with a duel time line, the narrative flowed well, the characters were well penned and, as such, taken as a whole I did enjoy Siren but given the individual threads to the story it was the events of  Róisín's teenage years that I found hugely compelling. The author, perhaps in an attempt to draw out the suspense/tension, arguably lingering too long over the portions of the book dedicated to events on Lamb Island.

The second book by the author that I have had the honour of reviewing. Whilst also set in Belfast, A Parachute In The Lime Tree is a historical fiction. The very different styles proof that Annemarie Neary is a versatile writer.


28 Apr 2016

THE CUCKOO'S CALLING (CORMORAN STRIKE #1)


THE CUCKOO'S CALLING by ROBERT GALBRAITH.

BACK COVER BLURB: When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts, and calls in private investigator Cormoran Strike to investigate.

Strike is a war veteran - wounded both physically and psychologically - and his life is in disarray. The case gives him a financial lifeline, but it comes at a personal cost: the more he delves into the young model's complex world, the darker things get - and the closer he gets to terrible danger . . .

FIRST SENTENCE {Prologue}: The buzz in the street was like the humming of flies.

MEMORABLE MOMENT{Page 138}: Once again, by consciously filling out his own bulk and allowing his features to slide, as they did naturally, into a scowl, he made himself sufficiently intimidating to repel challenges as he marched, eyes down, past the desk.

SOURCE: A Readers Group read.

MY THOUGHTS: Though a big fan of Harry Potter, for various reasons I won't go into here I'd deliberately gone out of my way to avoid any of the 'adult' books written by JK Rowling, here writing under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith. That is until now when it became my readers group's March read.

A so-so story, nothing special, in fact I'd even go as far as to say that as far as this genre goes The Cuckoo's Calling was verging on the mediocre. There were few, if any, surprises and I found myself one step ahead of the author most of the way through, having long since worked out who-dun-it by the big reveal. 

Having been warned by several of the other members of the group that there were a lot of profanities used throughout I was pleasantly surprised that there wasn't an abundance of swearing (nothing that I couldn't cope with anyway) and what there was was used totally in character.

Contemporary (journalism and celebrity, not to mention Strike being a veteran of Afghanistan, are just some of the themes) and yet with an oddly old-fashioned feel to it which I'm not sure worked all that well.

Not that this was the only 'odd' thing about the writing.

Yes, by now I obviously knew this was a novel penned by JK Rowling and whereas I cannot hand on heart have said it was her work if I hadn't have known, I can honestly say that there were several pointers to Robert Galbraith being a woman - the attention to female fashion and the concerns about the state of gentlemen's toilets to name but two - that gave the whole thing a slightly off-kilter feel.

Why then did I enjoy the book so much?

In a word, Cormoran Strike. 

In many ways your stereotypical P.I. Gruff on the outside, and yet with such a sense of fair play. One of life's good guys. His disability giving an extra dimension to the character. I took an instant and inordinate liking to him that saw me through what was otherwise an essentially predictable, overly long, crime thriller.


27 Apr 2016

MORTLAKE.



MORTLAKE (THE MAPS OF TIME #2) by COLIN GARROW.


AMAZON.CO.UK BLURB (Kindle Edition): In the dark and dangerous streets of 1630s London, Felch is back, and this time he's determined to get what he wants - whatever happens. But Tom and his friends have other things on their minds - when one of Deacon's maps is stolen, the ancient library of Dr Dee seems to be the one place that holds all the keys... 

FIRST SENTENCE {Chattels}: Dark. Cold.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Chapter Nine ~ Making Plans}: "Hmm." Deacon frowns. "Had I not developed an interest in gaining knowledge of that which I did not understand, I myself might have remained ignorant of updrafts, secret passageways and indeed, time travel."

Tom taps a finger on the map. "Maybe that's it. Maybe only people who want to find it, can find it."

SOURCE: Received for review from the author.

MY THOUGHTS: First thoughts? What an amazing cover. It isn't often that I share the back cover but simply had to share this with you.

Hot on the heels of the first book in the series, The Architect's Apprentice, the author brings us the equally enjoyable Mortlake.

A series undoubtedly best read from the beginning. Left on something of a cliffhanger, I do hope it won't be too long before part three is published such is my desire to read more of the adventures of Tom and co. Not something I ever dreamt to feel as notoriously bad at following (to say nothing of understanding) time slip/travel novels, suffice to say these books have come as a bit of a revelation to me.

Arguably more adventure laden, mysterious and suspenseful than The Architect's Apprentice, Mortlake is certainly that bit darker as we see the return of the villainous Felch who, his knowledge seemingly way ahead of that of 'the architect', uses the updrafts to travel around in time in search of .... well, that would be telling.

Alchemist Dr John Dee a wonderful addition. As with its predecessor it is the mix of adult and child, fictional and actual characters (albeit doubtlessly written with a fair amount of poetic licence) that makes this series so enjoyable. 

The sense of time and place compelling. The intrigue? Nothing short of, well, thoroughly intriguing. The author not only manages to capture the attention of his reader but holds it throughout.


26 Apr 2016

JUST CHECKING.


Anyone else having problems viewing Pen and Paper?

I was contacted this morning by a friend who informed me she was experiencing problems with my blog in that when that she visited her view of my font was 'a very tight itallic and unreadable' (as shown above). So far the only person to contact me, if anyone else is having problems viewing could they please let me know. Thank you.

25 Apr 2016

WORLD BOOK NIGHT & A GIVEAWAY WINNER.

My asthma having worsened .... again, I narrowly missed another trip to hospital and as such I'm afraid I didn't get to celebrate World Book Night as I hoped but the reports are that all went swimmingly with all of the official World Book Night reads having found new homes along with well over half the hundred or so books I had sent.

Unable to keep all of the books I receive for review, many of them go to fellow readers including family and friends but with several boxes full in a cupboard I decided this year to donate them to a good cause and what better cause than one that promotes not only reading but hopefully the love of books? So, on that note many thanks to all of the publishers and authors from whom I have received books. Not only has it been a honour to read and review them but who knows they may have gone onto inspire someone who wouldn't normally pick up a book to do so.

Anyway ...


Onto the winners for my recent 7th Blogoversary giveaway.  My thanks to everyone for your friendship and support. 

The copy of Alistair Grim's Odditorium by Gregory Funaro goes to ....

Natasha Hill.

Whilst the copy of Dancing To The Flute by Manisha Jolie Amin goes to ....

Kelly.

Well done ladies, a copy of your chosen book will be with you soon.




21 Apr 2016

LOVE'S LONG ROAD.


LOVE'S LONG ROAD by G D HARPER.

BACK COVER BLURB: Glasgow, 1975. How do you cope when your boyfriend kills himself because of you? 

When Bobbie Sinclair's boyfriend commits suicide and blames her, she vows never to love again. Instead she chooses to lead a double existence, kind-hearted by day and promiscuous by night. She increasingly struggles to maintain the balance between light and dark and soon finds herself sucked into the world of a controlling and ruthless crime lord from which she must escape. 

Set against a vibrant but seedy 1970's Glasgow backdrop, Love's Long Road plots Bobbie's desperate plight. Starting a new life but constantly afraid of her past catching up with her, she battles danger, adversity and drug addiction on the long and perilous road back to love. 

Love's Long Road is about dealing with the guilt of terrible events in your past and the risk of being corrupted by the world around you; it is a story that captures to perfection what it was like to be young and single in the 1970s.

FIRST SENTENCE {Glasgow, June 1975: Chapter One}: Should you be at someone's funeral, if they died because of you?

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 181}: She liked I'd changed my name, and didn't ask what my old one was. Laughed when she heard my haircut was only one day old. I didn't tell her about being robbed. Didn't want to come across as a complete idiot.

SOURCE: Received for review from the author. Released April 28th 2016.

MY THOUGHTS: A complex character that on the one level having lost loved ones myself I could totally relate to. And yet, despite my understanding that its not unknown for people to react with self destructive behaviour at times of grief, on another level I simply didn't get Bobbie at all as she slept her way through countless number of men in her quest to find peace until, without giving too much away, she becomes involved with a man who though outwardly respectable is (shall we say) a wrong 'un.

A great premise, the whole control of a somewhat naive young women by a rich, seemingly sophisticated man fascinating and more than a little chilling. Love's Long Road had such potential and yet, one step ahead throughout, for me it didn't quite live up to this potential.

Still .... 

'Glamorous halter-neck jumpsuit in bright green for disco nights, and a canary yellow trouser suit with the most amazing bell bottoms.' - Page 43

With references to the fashions (not to mention music) of the day the author certainly does a grand job of taking the reader back to the 1970's.