Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

Book Review – Killing Time in Cambridge by Philip Cumberland

A book review and a Q&A, thank you for your kindness and generosity Eva.

Eva Jordan

“AI is likely to be either the best or worst thing to happen to humanity”­­––Stephen Hawking

This month I interviewed local author (to me) Philip Cumberland (see here), who is also one of the coordinators and founding members of a local U3A Writing Group, Whittlesey Wordsmiths. As well as a contributing author of several anthologies written by the group, Philip has also recently published his debut novel, KillingTime in Cambridge, and this is my review.

The story opens with an axe wielding knight of old, dressed in full body armour, clanking down the corridor of a software company, who then hacks down the office door of the managing director, demanding to know who the ‘master’ is. The poor MD then has a heart attack, the knight disappears, and a short time later the building is besieged by medieval catapults. At this juncture, we are introduced to…

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Eva Jordan in conversation with writer Philip Cumberland.

A fantastic review from the outstanding author Eva Jordan.

Eva Jordan

This month I’m chatting to local author Philip Cumberland. As one of the founding members of a local writing group, Phil reached out to me several years ago to ask if I’d be interested in reviewing a book the group had put together called Where the Wild Winds Blow: an eclectic mix of fact and fiction, featuring short stories, poems, and memoirs, contributed by the various members of the Whittlesey Wordsmiths. Honoured, I said I’d love to. Since then, Philip has released his own debut novel, Killing Time in Cambridge, which was also my choice for this month’s book review.

Welcome Phil, thanks for being my guest. Can you tell everyone a bit about yourself?

Thank you for inviting me, Eva.

I grew up in Huntingdon and have lived in Cambridgeshire all my life, the last thirty-five years in Whittlesey.

I was originally a motor mechanic, then an…

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Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche a review

Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche

Some of us of a certain age and with a certain sense of humour have a great affection for Monty Python’s Flying Circus. There is a sketch in one episode featuring a fictional, (hopefully fictional) Australian University and the induction of a new member of staff. For the sake of simplicity and to avoid confusion everyone on the teaching staff has to be called Bruce. Having established the protocol with the new staff member they go on to sing the Philosopher’s Drinking Song. It starts with; “Aristotle, Aristotle, was a bugger for the bottle and was very rarely sober”, the lyrics continue through a list of philosophers and their supposed drinking habits. At a certain point, Nietzsche gets a mention, “There’s nothing Nietzsche couldn’t teach yer about the raising of the wrist.”

I was looking through some books on the local supermarket’s charity shelf; you take a book and leave a donation, there among the books was Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, in remarkably good condition I handed over 50p and took it home. A week or so ago I listened to part of a lecture my daughter was watching on Zoom, she is studying for a PhD and due to the Covid problems most lectures are online. As her broadband was being unreliable at the time she watched it at our house, one point the lecturer made was that a thesis should be clearly structured and easy to read.

I wish Neitzsche had been given this advice or if he had been, followed it. To say it was badly written would be an understatement. It rambled, digressed and seemed full of contradictions often within the same paragraph, some of these paragraphs consisted of one long rambling sentence several lines long. As a philosopher, a man of ideas you would think he would want his thoughts to be accessible, not so Nietzsche.

This is a translation from the original German and has one assumed been edited; that a translator couldn’t make it any more readable speaks volumes; it was obviously beyond their comprehension too.

Whereas most scientists willing credit those who have gone before them, Newton said. that he was able to see further as he was able to stand on the shoulders of giants. Not so, Nietzsche, he has no one’s shoulders to stand on apparently and if they were there, no need to stand on them, such is his arrogance. He dismisses Darwin’s work without a shred of evidence, it doesn’t fit in with his view of the world. Supposedly as a “man of reason” he seems to seriously fall short in that department, unresearched theories are asserted as fact without any evidence to support them for example, he dismisses Socialism without any reasoned argument.

He was blatantly a misogynist, a supporter of a master race and a ruling elite, again without any research to support his assertions. Although it is fair to say that he was in many respects racist, he wasn’t, certainly if this book is a reflection on his views anti-Semitic.

There is much within the book that gave ammunition to those of the National Socialist movement in 1930s Germany, Hitler probably read out sections of this book in some of his speeches.

I wish in many respects I hadn’t wasted my time reading this book.

This is, without doubt, the worst book I have ever read, a fellow reviewer on Amazon summed it up in one word, “Nonsense.”

I couldn’t disagree with that at all.

Unleash Your Dreams Written by Stephen Oliver a review.

Unleash your Dreams written by Stephen Oliver

After reading several self-help books of which this is one, I was sceptical. Most of those I had read promised much but delivered very little in the way of help.

Stephen thought there was a gap in the market, a gap between planning and implementation. While there is any number of books about setting goals; grand plans and ideas remain just that; unless there is a clear strategy to turn those plans, ideas and dreams into reality.

Unleash your Dreams is different it gives clear guidance, with links to further useful tools and forms online. It clearly explains the way forward in clear unambiguous language and is an easy read.

Mr Oliver has brought his experience in writing guidance manuals and teaching, often complex subjects to this useful book with great effect.

If you want to unleash those dreams; lose weight, write a book, run a marathon or have settled on some other goal, this is the book to help you make your dreams a reality.

This is the link to Stephen’s blog: http://stephenoliver-author.com/books/

Cambridge Black by Alison Bruce, a review.

Cambridge Black written by Alison Bruce

I find it is always a balancing act when writing reviews, trying not to spoil the plot for would-be readers but giving some sense of what lies between the book’s covers.

Cambridge Black is the seventh in Alison Bruce’s DC Gary Goodhew series. I am sure most readers will like myself have read some, possibly all of the preceding books and have a familiarity with the characters.

The story centres around three quest’s, Amy’s for the truth concerning her father’s conviction for murder, Sue Gully’s search for her father and Gary Goodhew’s hunt for those responsible for his grandfather’s murder.

The story is well-plotted and paced.

Cambridge is as all the Goodhew novels the setting for Cambridge Black. Alison Bruce has a great affection for the city which shows in the writing. I enjoy the familiarity of many places in the story, probably something I share with other fans.

I thoroughly enjoyed the twisting turning story as DC Goodhew and the team pursue the perpetrators of a current and simultaneously two other historic unsolved cases. The writing as always is exceptionally fine, the descriptions and scene-setting excellent. I was racing through the pages towards the end as the story reached its nail-biting climax.

This was retiring DI Marx’s last case; I hope it won’t be the last case for DC Gary Goodhew too.

The Authorised Guide to Grunty Fen (Gateway to the East) by Christopher South. A review.

The Authorised Guide to Grunty Fen by Christopher South

I was at Niche Comics Bookshop in Huntingdon a few weeks ago delivering copies of my books, when my gaze fell on The Authorised Guide to Grunty Fen by Christopher South.

Dennis of Grunty Fen was a celebrated resident of this unusual place and appeared weekly in conversation with Christopher South on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire. When I managed to listen to them I was usually reduced to uncontrollable laughter, accounts of Hereward the Wake and his racing punt, the undiscovered vaults beneath Ely Cathedral are just two of the incidents discussed by Dennis and Christopher. There is many, many, many, more each one a gem.

This book gives an account of the area its architecture and inhabitants, it is a long time since I laughed so much that the tears rolled down my face. The Grunty Fen in this book has only mild exaggerations of some of the buildings in the fens. Rusting corrugated iron, railway sleepers together with leaning buildings of all shapes and sizes are not uncommon. The book contains many excellent drawings by John Holder enhancing visually the pictures so eloquently painted in words by the author.

Day to day life in this remote area of the fens is described in detail. For example, the importance of rhubarb both as a staple part of the diet and a means of communication is carefully described as are local competitive sports, Drain Rodding as a sport is unique to the area.

Sadly Dennis, Pete Sayers, is no longer with us but his spirit lives on I am grateful for the pleasure he and Mr South gave me. Even now there are pilgrims asking directions to Grunty Fen from the surrounding villages in search if not of Dennis but Potts Garage, Mrs Edwards at the Post Office, The Wolseley Hen Coop Car and of course Dennis’s home the LNER carriage. Visitors are advised to be wary of Feral Nuns on Vespas.

This book is a wonderful reminder of Sunday mornings on Radio Cambridgeshire, the world is a poorer place without Dennis and the community of Grunty Fen.

There is actually a place called Grunty Fen
This was Grunty Fen in 1648 before much of the fens was drained

To learn more about Grunty Fen and its most celebrated resident, Dennis visit: https://www.dennisofgruntyfen.co.uk/

To find out more about the wonderful bookshop that is Niche Comics Bookshop, visit: https://huntsbooks.co.uk/

The Promise by Alison Bruce, a review.

The Promise by Alison Bruce

I am gradually reading all of Mrs Bruce’s Gary Goodhew books, The Promise is number six of seven.

Each succeeding book is better than the one preceding it; a difficult accomplishment when the first one, Cambridge Blue is so good.

The brutal murder of a homeless man, known to DC Gary Goodhew, prompts his early return to work while still recovering from injuries received during his last case. Cambridge is the setting for this and the books before it, is captured perfectly; the plot is intricate and convoluted, the characters are well drawn, the ending unexpected.

It is a really difficult book to put down until you have finished reading it I have ordered Cambridge Black and I am looking forward to reading it. It has The Promise of being an excellent read.

Meet Me in the Treehouse by Kelly Tink, a review.

Meet Me in the Treehouse

I confess Romantic Fiction is not a genre I would normally read, “Meet me in the tree house” is the first ever book of romantic fiction I have tried.

Kelly’s book is a well written, well crafted novel, exploring Emma’s grief and her accommodation with loss. The grief is for a dead friend. The loss is that of her marriage, itself another form of grieving. Grieving for the hopes, plans and dreams of a future now gone. Emma hesitates to form new relationships or revisit old ones; she is wary; worried that the history of her failed marriage may repeat itself.

We follow Emma as she tries to reconstruct her life and move on from a troubled past, it is an interesting journey and for me an informative one.

Kelly has I understand started on a second book, I can’t wait to read it.

Meet Me in the Treehouse is available on Amazon

Meet Me in the Treehouse

The Backs Written by Alison Bruce a review.

The Backs written by Alison Bruce

Alison has become one of my favourite authors and I am gradually reading her Gary Goodhew series. I say gradually with good reason. I enjoy her writing and read the books one at a time with an interval in between each one, so I enjoy each one as a fresh read.

“The Backs” is number five in the series and number six “The Promise” is sitting on the shelf ready for my next special occasion.

The Backs, as is all of Alison’s books, the ones I have read so far, set in and around Cambridge. I am familiar with the city and the surrounding area. For me, this familiarity is a bonus.

Following a violent scene-setting prologue the action moves what was for the story the present day, the Gog Magog hills at night, a burning car and the discovery of a gruesome murder.

Jane Osborne’s return to Cambridge sets the story off in another direction and the plot weaves around several different strands. DC Gary Goodhew and the team he belongs to gradually, start to untangle the events leading up to the murder and hitherto undiscovered crimes of the past. In the process darker, secrets emerge from their hiding places.

As with all Alison’s novels (the ones I have read so far), the characters are well-drawn and the plot multilayered, as each layer is lifted more is revealed underneath. Each time the reader thinks they may have an inkling of who the villain may be or the possible outcome the ground shifts underneath.

All in all a damn good read.

The Scent of Guilt by Tony J Forder, a review.

The Scent of Guilt by Tony J Forder

This is the second of Tony J Forder’s books featuring D I Bliss and his partner Detective Sergeant Penny Chandler.

Newly returned to Peterborough after twelve years away policing organised crime, DI Bliss joins the Major Crimes Team and immediately is thrown into a brutal murder enquiry. The murder appears to be the latest in a series. Bliss very quickly spots a possible link between a series of rapes and murders.

Penny Chandler now promoted to Detective Sergeant joins the enquiry as the rapes she has been investigating seem linked to the murders.

The search for the serial killer and rapist then becomes a desperate race against time to apprehend the culprit before he can add to his growing list of rape and murder victims.

The enquiry involves a trawl through old cases and incidents. When a pattern emerges a trip to the U.S.A. becomes a necessity to follow old leads. Bliss and Chandler know they are up against a deadline but don’t know what it is. Speed and accuracy are needed, the plot twists and turns as the desperate search accelerates to a cliff-hanging conclusion.

A satisfying, engaging, read, the characters are well-drawn and apart from the U.S.A., the settings are familiar to me.

Excellent, thank you, Mr Forder.

Degrees of Darkness is the next in the series and I shall be obtaining it before very long.

The Scent of Guilt is available on Amazon and from bookshops.

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