Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

Paranormal City by Stephen Oliver a review

Paranormal City by Stephen Oliver

Paranormal City is unlike any other city or maybe it isn’t, it could be that this city is also here; unseen in the city we inhabit but hiding in plain sight, sharing its existence but in a different way to the one it lives within.

Paranormal City’s inhabitants walk our streets in a form of normality we recognise, rubbing shoulders with the daily commuters, sharing our places and lives but they are in some way different. These are the werewolves, shapeshifters, vampires, cyborgs, demons and creatures which only become strange to us when assuming their other, true hidden identity. 

Paranormal City becomes the battleground of a titanic struggle between strange forces and creatures. It is a fascinating tale and a damn good read.

Hopefully, these creatures are purely a work of fiction.

Great stuff Stephen, more, please.

Stephen’s Paranormal City is available to buy on Amazon

Silent Voices by Ann Cleeves a review.

Silent Voices by Ann Cleeves

This was my first read of a novel featuring Vera; Ann Cleeves’ DCI Vera Stanhope, as seen on TV, as it says on the cover of this edition of the book. Vera is presented to us, warts and all. Brenda Blethyn is a supremely confident actress to be able to portray this woman so accurately.

The plot is dense, convoluted and engaging, drawing me in from the first moment. After her morning swim, Vera finds the body of a young woman in her local health club’s steam room.

The characters are well-drawn, the descriptions of places and people believable. However, what I found was most interesting, that despite being presented on television with a very believable version of Vera, I found a different Vera in the book. A woman who entered my imagination on her own terms. This for me was extraordinary, although the television Vera is good, I preferred the Vera of my imagination.

It was for me a quick read I wanted to know how the story ended and who the murderer was, I hadn’t worked it out.

A thoroughly good read. I am becoming a fan of Ann Cleeves.

Only to Sleep by Lawrence Osborne, a review.

Only to Sleep by Lawrence Osborne

Raymond Chandler’s shoes are very difficult to fill. Philip Marlowe, Chandler’s hero is someone who has inhabited the imagination of all those who have read Chandler’s novels. My Marlowe will be different to everyone else’s Marlowe but our own original has its own presence.

‘Poodle Springs’, Chandler’s unfinished novel was completed by Robert B Parker and worked well for me; I have since discovered that Parker wrote another Marlowe novel, ‘Perchance to Dream.’ This is one I will seek out and read.

Marlowe is engaged by The Pacific Mutual Insurance company to investigate the death by drowning of Donald Zinn; before the million dollar payout is made to his widow.

Donald Zinn is an all too easily recognisable pastiche of a contemporary character, one who it appears has followed a similar career path to Zinn’s.

It was a good idea to base the action in Mexico; the location of Zinn’s demise.

Only to sleep didn’t work well for me, perhaps it was taking Marlowe out of his time and place; California’s, the thirties, forties and fifties or maybe at 73 Marlowe just hadn’t aged well. I didn’t recognise him even as an older version of himself

Other Chandler and Marlowe fans may enjoy this book; it just wasn’t a good read for me.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, a review.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

The title intrigued me.

 I had collected The Midnight Library from my daughter’s, to bring home, she was returning it; it is my wife’s book. I asked her if I could read it.

The story is Nora Seed’s.

Nora lives in Bedford, regrets and depression have inhabited Nora’s life, a life she decides to end the day the things she holds most dear are destroyed around her.

Nora then finds herself in a most unusual library; its librarian is Mrs Elm, the kindly, chess playing, librarian from her schooldays. Mrs Elm helps Nora find the books to help her understand life, her own in particular.

The journey through the books in the library is fascinating, each book adds to Nora’s own story, giving her new insights and understanding into not just her life but life itself. Woven into the story is the theory of the multiverse, something that with even my very vague knowledge of physics; fascinates me.

This is the most exceptional book I have read in a long time. It is a beautiful and moving story.

Blood Sympathy by Reginald Hill, a review

Blood Sympathy by Reginald Hill

This, so far the only one of Reginald Hill’s books I have read.

Despite watching Dalziel and Pascoe on television I wondered whether Hill was of Caribbean heritage, a quick search on Google revealed that he wasn’t. Hill’s choice of a black hero, dealing with the racism of some police, made me think that he could have been a black writer.

It is difficult to write about a Private Eye, Raymond Chandler is always looking over your shoulder. Without the influence of him and Dashie;l Hammett; the genre I’m sure would be less widely populated.

This is Joe Sixsmith’s first outing, forced by redundancy as a result of his employer’s downsizing and middle age, to find something new, Joe embarked on a career as a Private Investigator. Having spent a lifetime in engineering, this was a strange choice.

Joe is a loveable character, harassed by his anxious Aunt Mirabelle, longing to see her nephew settled into the bosom of a suitable wife. His aunt’s matchmaking is just one of many problems; Joe has to deal with as he stumbles his way through cases of drug smuggling and murder.

I do not know if Hill’s fictional Luton is close to the reality of Bedfordshire’s, the one with an airport bearing the same name but it is nonetheless one that works.

I enjoyed this book immensely and will seek out more of Joe Sixsmith’s adventures.

A Bird In The Hand by Ann Cleeves, a review.

A Bird in the Hand by Ann Cleeves

Generally, I only watch a few hours of television a day if at all. Mostly it is crime dramas that attract my attention and they occupy most of my viewing time; my daily ration of dodging the adverts while trying to follow the plot.

I often watch Vera, a series featuring DCI Vera Stanhope as its main character, gradually becoming aware of the name of the Vera books author, Ann Cleeves. Ann is the creator of the programme’s characters. After a recent stint of writing at the local library, (I work better there) I sought out her books happening on her very first; A Bird in the Hand.

It is a very good read, excellent in fact, tightly plotted and populated with well-drawn, interesting characters. The thread that binds both the story and its characters together is bird watching, particularly the community known as “Twitchers”.

When the murdered body of a young twitcher is discovered in the Norfolk coastal marshes; George Palmer-Jones, a retired Home Office investigator is asked to help solve the crime. George is an elderly bird watcher respected by the bird watching community and knowledgeable about the people and their habits. Assisted by his wife Molly, George embarks on discovering the truth behind the brutal killing, we accompany the pair as they tour the country chasing sightings of rare birds while hunting the killer.

It is a brilliant first novel, as it was then. I now know there are many, many more books by Ann Cleeves, for me to read.

I have found a new sweet jar and I will dip into it whenever I can.

The Green Horse written by Stuart Roberts a review

The Green Horse written by Stuart Roberts

Although many of us have heard of the Spanish Inquisition few of us know much about it. The suppression of Islam and the forcible removal of Muslims, the Moors, as Spain violently re-established the supremacy of Roman Catholicism was one of Europe’s darker chapters.

Stuart has set his story in Pamplona, famous for its Bull Run and the area around it. The story is a classic tale of good versus evil, referencing the events of the turbulent and violent times when the Moors were the subject of the most horrendous cruelty. It is a fascinating blend of fantasy, psychological thriller and a love story.  

The book engages from the start and takes on a journey backwards and forwards in time, exploring the very nature of life and humanity.

A good, interesting and thought-provoking read.

The Green Horse is available on Amazon

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.

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