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51cbgazksil

** My thanks to Charlie Laidlaw for my copy of this book **

 

Description:

On the way home from a dinner party she didn’t want to attend, Lorna Love steps into the path of an oncoming car. When she wakes up she is in what appears to be a hospital – but a hospital in which her nurse looks like a young Sean Connery, she is served wine for supper, and everyone avoids her questions.

It soon transpires that she is in Heaven, or on HVN. Because HVN is a lost, dysfunctional spaceship, and God the ageing hippy captain. She seems to be there by accident. Or does God have a higher purpose after all?

At first Lorna can remember nothing. As her memories return – some good, some bad – she realises that she has decisions to make and that she needs to find a way home…

 

My Thoughts & Review:

When I originally looked at this book I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, certainly it sounded very intriguing but so very far from my usual crime thriller reads but what’s life without a little spontaneity?  When my copy of the book arrived, I picked it up and idly flicked through the pages to get a feel for the book and before long I was curled up on the sofa with a cuppa and utterly entranced by Lorna Love and her strange new world.

I’m not a big reader of sci-fi or anything that challenges my logically wired brain.  My brain isn’t a fan of accepting that things exist outside of this dimension, and if I do read books erring towards the side of fantasy my brain always shouts “but how would that work?” or “but why?”.  But somehow with The Things We Learn When We’re Dead, this voice was quiet, it accepted quickly the setting of the book, it was happy with the plot and more importantly, was unquestioningly connected with Lorna Love and her tale for the duration.

This is a wonderfully quirky book with so much character, from the moment we meet Lorna we are given a wonderful insight into her mind.  Seeing things through her eyes we learn of events from her childhood and growing up in North Berwick in Scotland, but we also discover her new life aboard HVN with God and the crew of the dysfunctional spaceship.  She is a character that I think many readers will be able to connect with, there’s a very likeable quality to her and I certainly felt that I could share her emotions as I read on.
The way that this book is written shows a great skill by the author, the plot is clever and so magnificently woven together.  When Lorna recounts a tale from her younger years it links perfectly with what is happening in current time and the anecdotal comments that pop in her head add to the delightfully humorous narrative.
With such a light-hearted and humorous approach to serious ideas, this book gives readers pause for thought and leaves them pondering life and choices.  The overarching theme of acceptance is a huge part of this book, as is the idea that the decisions we make play a part in more that just our lives, impacting on others around us.

I must admit that I fell a little in love with this book, it was so enjoyable to read and it’s one that I may well go back and reread at a later date (you know it’s a good book when I want to do that!).  I would wholeheartedly recommend this book, I absolutely loved it!

You can buy a copy of The Things We Learn When We’re Dead via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 


Giveaway

Charlie Laidlaw has kindly offered to sign a proof copy of The Things We Learn When We’re Dead as a giveaway for you lucky readers!  How brilliant is  that?!  To be in with a chance of winning a copy, just leave me a wee comment below telling me which celebrity you might want to look like if you were aboard HVN.

Competition is open to UK entries only (sorry guys, due to postage costs going to have to keep this as UK) and competition will close on 11th October.  Winning entry will be drawn in the usual fashion – first name out hat 🙂

Good luck!!

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51euwynaiil

Published: 18 May 2017

 

Description:

LOCAL GIRL SWEPT OFF HER FEET
Mild-mannered publicist Holly Phillips is unlucky in love. She’s embarrassed beyond belief when the handsome stranger she meets in a bar turns out to be ‘Ultimate Man’ – a superpowered hero whose rescue attempt finds her hoisted over his shoulder and flashing her knickers in the newspaper the next day.
But when Holly’s fifteen minutes of fame make her a target for something villainous, she only has one place to turn – and finds the man behind the mask holds a lot more charm than his crime-fighting alter-ego.
Can Holly find love, or is superdating just as complicated as the regular kind?

My Thoughts & Review:

There’s just something so lovely about picking up a book by Jenny Colgan, you know from the moment you start reading that there will be laughter and fun as well as a few more serious moments.
“Spandex and the City” is wonderfully humorous from the opening chapter, poor Holly Phillips finding her chances of a love life aren’t helped by having her knickers splashed over the front pages and on social media.  Her night starts innocently enough, a much needed night out with her best friend Gertie when a band of masked robbers descend upon the bar and demand valuables, phones etc.  These raids aren’t the first that the town has endured and without fail the local superhero Ultimate Man is soon in the vicinity to save the day, unfortunately when he rescues the damsel in distress (or distressing damsel) he throws her over his shoulder to lead her to safety not realising her knickers are on show for all to see.  Holly is mortified when people recognise her face in the picture and attracts some unwanted attention because of this.

The raids continue across the town, and as luck would have it Holly usually ends up being in the same place, as does Ultimate Man.  The pair share a few conversation at their unplanned rendezvous, and from there a budding romance of sorts forms.

“Spandex and the City” is different from Colgan’s other novels, yes there is a love story in here, but there is also a lot more to this novel than some readers may expect.  The superhero and science fiction elements in this novel are well written and it has a feel of an updated superhero tale.  Characterisation is really good, Holly is a funny and charming character that oozes warmth and humour.  Her exchanges with her best friend Gertie as well as those with Ultimate Man are wonderfully crafted and very enjoyable.  Ultimate Man is a little bit of an enigma, very alluring and interesting but I have to agree with Holly’s remarks about his name, it doesn’t sound the greatest!  The evil mastermind was a fantastic character, one with many sides it would seem but how many of them were true?

A lovely light hearted read with plenty of laughter – just what I’ve come to know and love from Jenny Colgan!

My thanks to Hayley Camis for recommending this book and inviting me to be part of the blog tour.

You can buy a copy of “Spandex and the City” via:

Amazon
The Book Depository
Wordery

 

Follow the blog tour!

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Copy provided by Ebury Publishing in return for an honest review

 

Description:

How far would you go to find THE ONE?

One simple mouth swab is all it takes.

One tiny DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.

A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love.

Now, five more people take the test. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…

A psychological thriller with a difference, this is a truly unique novel which is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

My Thoughts & Review:

Ashamedly, this is the first book that I have read by John Marrs, quite how I’ve managed to miss his books previously is beyond me, perhaps it’s because there are so many good books out there at the moment that as a reader I am spoiled for choice?  Yes, that’s why, we shall use that as my excuse, but thanks to a very interesting description and some recommendations from wonderful fellow bloggers in TBC I thought I would check this one out.

The idea that there is a genetically perfect match out there for each of us is an intriguing one, but I can’t help but feel it’s a little scary too.  How many people if faced with the chance would take the test?  And of those who took the test, who would open the results?  Would you still take the test if you were in a committed relationship?  What would you do if the person you are with turns out not to be your perfect match (genetically)?
The concept of this is explored so fully by Marrs in this novel, cleverly he writes from the perspective of more than one character allowing the reader to experience the quandary at hand.

At first I had my reservations when I saw that there were numerous different characters all narrating, each telling their story about how this genetic test plays a part in their life and how it’s far reaching repercussions impact on those around them.  But I quickly changed my mind as I was hypnotised by the enchanting charm of the writing.  The pace of this is relentless in the sense that you cannot stop reading, you don’t want to stop reading.  You want to know what each character will do about the situation they have found themselves in.  The revelations that are unveiled are wholeheartedly shocking in places, and each is bigger than the previous one.  The twists that are cleverly woven into this are the work of sheer genius – not once did I suspect what lay ahead and found myself staring at the book in awe but also slightly terrified at what I was reading.  I should add “terrified” was more in the sense of how intricately well the plot worked, how characters played out certain scenes etc.

There are so many things I would love to say about this book, but that would really be doing you a disservice.  This is definitely a book that deserves to be read and enjoyed, it’s evocative, it’s clever, it’s heart wrenchingly oppressive in places and takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride of human behaviour.

I shall be hunting out other books by this author, his style of writing was a joy to read and even when the subject was of a more sensitive nature he handled it carefully and respectfully.

You can buy a copy of The One here.

 

About the Author:

John Marrs is a freelance journalist based in London, England, who has spent the last 20 years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines.
He has written for publications including The Guardian’s Guide and Guardian Online; OK! Magazine; Total Film; Empire; Q; GT; The Independent; Star; Reveal; Company; Daily Star and News of the World’s Sunday Magazine.
His debut novel The Wronged Sons, was released in 2013 and in May 2015, he released his second book, Welcome To Wherever You Are.
In July 2016 came his third novel A Thousand Small Explosions.

For more information about John’s books follow him on Twitter @johnmarrs1

 

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doorways-cover

Published: 13 October 2016
Reviewed: 24 November 2016

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Urbane Publications in return for an honest review

 

Description:

The Otherside: a world that exists on the outskirts of our own, hiding in plain sight and living within our shadows. Shielded from humanity, the Otherside is watched over by the BTCO, a highly secret government agency whose agents are the few humans who possess “The Knack,” a genetic anomaly that allows them to see the truth of existence. Franklyn “Bermuda” Jones is the BTCO’s finest agent, the only human to have passed to The Otherside and returned. Gifted with the ability to physically interact with The Otherside, he reluctantly stands between both worlds, pining for the life he had to leave behind. Teamed with the Otherside warrior, Argyle, the two of them are assigned a case of a missing woman, vanished under peculiar circumstances. As Bermuda delves further into the disappearances, he uncovers a threat to humanity that will not only break the truce between the two worlds, but render them both obsolete.

My Thoughts & Review:

Science Fiction is not a genre I tend to read very often, the speculative nature of the genre jars with my analytically driven mind and I find that I don’t enjoy these books as much.  That being said, when I heard about Robert Enright’s Doorways I was intrigued enough to give it a try, the idea that there was a thriller/mystery woven into the Sci-Fi plot was enough to tempt me into giving it a go.

The protagonist Franklyn “Bermuda” Jones is an interesting character, one that possesses a gift (more a curse in his opinion) that means he can interact with “Others”, lifeforms from another existence.  Unfortunately for Bermuda, he is one of the few who can so more often than not he looks mad, talking to himself.  In actual fact he is usually speaking to Argyle, his partner, his sidekick, his “Other”.  The concept of the detective speaking to an “unseen” entity reminded me somewhat of a tv series I enjoyed as a youngster “Randall & Hopkirk (deceased), the detective working in tandem with his unseen partner who was instrumental in his solving cases with a wonderful comedic element.
The dynamic of Bermuda and Argyle is well written, for all intents and purposes you could be reading their dialogue and seeing two human detectives in an office or other setting, the sarcastic edge to their exchanges is both humorous and entertaining.  But there also seems to be a genuine bond between these two characters, coupled with a strong element of care.

Essentially a story about good versus evil, the fight between the two is surely a messy one.  Vividly described fight scenes play out across the pages, damage done to buildings, Bermuda and Others with some serious weaponry and incredible brute force.  The violence in these scenes is not so graphic that it will put readers off and if anything the fluidity of the descriptions means that the reader can watch the scenes play out in their mind clearly.

The concept of “The Otherside” was interesting, and the characters were fascinating but there were a few wee bits that I found harder to get onboard with, however it’s probably more a personal thing given that I have a penchant for reading thrillers and real crime genres – my mind wants to make sense of things and likes details to be as real to life as possible.  This does not detract from a great book however, and I do think that should Robert Enright want to expand his Bermuda Jones story to a series of books he would do so with great ease.  His writing is great, there is intelligence and skill in the writing, a great groundwork in place to lead into another novel and best of all a character (well two if you count Argyle) that readers are invested in.  I do hope there are more books to come, I may not be fully converted to being a fan of Sci-Fi, but I am definitely a fan of Enright’s writing!

You can buy a copy of Doorways here.

About the Author:

Rob Enright was born and raised in North London and resides in Bushey, Hertfordshire. Working as a HR System Administrator for a charity by day, he spends his evenings and weekends writing (or playing his WiiU).

In March 2015, Rob self-published One by One on Amazon, a violent, revenge thriller which was critically acclaimed, breaking into the top 50 books on Amazon on release. One year later, One by One leapt up to #3 in Kindle Crime and back into the top 50 on Kindle.

Rob has signed with Urbane Publications and his second book will be released in Autumn 2016. DOORWAYS will be the first in an ongoing series about an agent, Bermuda Jones, struggling to keep a hidden world from taking over our very own. A dark, urban sci-fi, which will be available Oct 2016.

For more information about Rob and his upcoming books, then feel free to check him out on social media:

Twitter – @REnright_Author
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/robenrightauthor

Website coming soon. Along with news of the next project….

 

 

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51hwtrnqkal

Author: Leslie W P Garland

Published: 2 December 2015
Reviewed: 18 September 2016

4 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by the author in return for an honest review

 

Description:

Comprising four intriguing novella length contemporary stories, which contain mystery, a hint of the supernatural or paranormal, together with a passing nod towards philosophy and religion – though in these modern fairy or folk tales the fantastic doesn’t happen in some remote fantasy world, but right here in this one, in very ordinary, almost everyday circumstances!

The tales are:-

The Little Dog

And I saw an angel standing in the sun”

Is told by Bill, a retired forester, and takes the form of most of the stories in our lives, namely, that we have no idea that we are living a story until later when previous events suddenly seem to fall into place and make some kind of sense. Bill recounts a week in his early working life when, paired with an older, unsavoury and unpopular colleague, they find a little dog sitting beside the forest haul-road way out in a remote part of the forest. What is the little dog doing there? As the week progresses Bill finds himself becoming emotionally attached to it while also becoming increasingly concerned about just who is his objectionable workmate, and when he notices that the little dog is no longer present at its usual spot his concerns heighten, as he cannot help but feel that his workmate has something to do with the dog’s disappearance. Although a troubled Bill has a conversation with his local priest and learns of the nature of sin and evil, he remains blind to that which is right in front of him. However the very next day events suddenly take an unexpected turn and the young naive Bill starts to learn some awful truths.

A story of good and evil, and retribution.

The Crow

“Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.”

This story, which centres on our almost desperate desire to leave something to mark our lives upon this earth, is told as a history recounted by Dave, of the time when he, as a child, was taken by his mother to a hospice where he met a dying and embittered old Irish priest known as Mad Father Patrick, who told him about the school days and subsequent rise of a local councillor, Reginald Monday, and of his (Monday’s) involvement in the construction of a dam which flooded a valley. Father Patrick’s increasingly mad tale is told with a blend of biblical quotations, philosophical musings and wild fantasy, but how does it end and just why is he so bitter?

A sad, poignant story of misunderstanding, bitterness and blame.

The Golden Tup

“But whom sent I to judge them?”

Can evil be in a place? The tale opens with Verity, a farmer’s wife, recalling how a young couple were arrested a few years previously for killing their new born baby. How could such a nice young couple have done such a dreadful thing? Through a series of flashbacks we learn how they had created their rural idyll, how an enigmatic man had come into their lives and how their idyll and relationship had gradually fallen apart – how, with references to Milton’s Paradise Lost, their paradise was lost. Gradually the young wife reveals a dreadful past, but Verity realises that she is holding something back, but what? What is the terrible truth that caused her and her husband to kill their baby?

A dreadful tale of a young couple’s paradise being cruelly taken from them by latent evil.

The White Hart

“Not everyone who is enlightened by an angel knows that he is enlightened by him.”

Told by a likeable male chauvinist, bachelor and keen fell-runner, Pete Montague recalls three strange incidents which he initially thought were unconnected. The first is his encounter with a little albino deer which he found in the forest when he was out for a jog. The second is that of a chance meeting with a beautiful, young but somewhat enigmatic girl in a remote chapel, and of their conversation in which she told him of the tragic story of the daughter of the family which built it. And the third incident ……

A happy ghost story, if there can be such a thing!

My Thoughts & Review:

This is an interesting collection of tales, novellas if you will that are similar thematically, each contains a mystery of sorts and has links to good and evil.  This was a step away from my usual crime thrillers or contemporary fiction,  but something I am very grateful for having had  the chance to read.

With beautiful descriptiveness in each story the reader is transported to the settings, whether it’s being able to envision the logging scenes in The Little Dog, or the forest in The White Hart.  The detail in these tales is truly wonderful, and really adds an authenticity to each one.
The dialogue used in the tales is also wonderful, I especially liked where a local dialect  was used and the author took a moment to add parenthesis, I felt that this added to my enjoyment of reading the tales, particularly where I felt that I had learned something new.  With detail about accents I felt I could hear the narrators voice, a very lovely touch.  However there were a couple of occasions where I did lose track of which voice I was hearing but I think that was perhaps more down to reader error than anything to do with the writing.

A very enchanting read, and very much a book to read as a break from day to day life.  Extremely well written, the stories are well thought out, an excellent cast of characters that are multidimensional and interesting – even the flawed characters are enticingly interesting!

The idea behind the tales being stories recounted by friends in the local pub is one that really appeals to me, reminds me of listening to family friends at a gathering or sitting listening to folk tales that my grandfather told me as a youngster.  The ease at which the writer recounts these tales makes for an enjoyable and captivating read.

You can buy a copy of The Red Grouse Tales here.

About the Author:
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Leslie Garland was born in 1949, qualified as a Chartered Civil Engineer and worked for several years on projects in the UK, the Far East and Africa. During this period he won the Institution of Civil Engineers “Miller Prize” for a paper on tunnelling. Changing times resulted in a change in direction and after qualifying as an Associate Member of both the British Institute of Professional Photography and the Royal Photographic Society he started his own stock photograph library and wrote for the trade press. An unexpected break in his Internet connection fortuitously presented the time to make a start on a long cherished project of a series of short stories, and the first two of “The Red Grouse Tales” were drafted. Two more have followed and he is now working on a second batch of tales. He lives with his wife in Northumberland.

More information is available on www.lesliegarland.co.uk 

I would recommend reading the “Inside Info” on the author’s website about each of the tales, it provides wonderful background as to his ideas behind each tale but also gives great food for thought.

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