Saturday 10 March 2018

Book Review: Assassins Hunted by Rachel Amphlett

Assassins Hunted (The English Spy Mysteries #1) 

Assassins Hunted by Rachel Amphlett
Series: Book 1

Publisher: Saxon Publishing
Publication Date: 8th January 2018
Pages:  186
Format Read: eBook
Source: Author

Mother. Widow. Spy.

Eva Delacourt has been in hiding for three years after her fiancée was assassinated in cold blood outside the British embassy in Prague.

She thought she was safe.

But someone in the mysterious Section has betrayed her, and now she’s on the run for her life, sworn to protect the six-year-old boy she adores.

Her enemies are closing in, and the odds are not in Eva’s favour. For Eva, the nightmare is just beginning…

Assassins Hunted is the first part in an ongoing story involving Eva Delacourt. The story will be continued in book 2 of the English Spy Mysteries, Assassins Vengeance.

The English Spy Mysteries is a new concept by acclaimed crime fiction author, Rachel Amphlett. Combining fast-paced thrilling reads with episodic delivery in the vein of TV shows 24, Alias, and Spooks, series one is a must-read for fans of Robert Ludlum, Vince Flynn, and James Patterson.

                                                         My thoughts:

Assassins Hunted is the first in a new series by Australian Crime writer Rachel Amphlett.

Eva Delacourt has been in hiding since her fiancé was killed three years ago. However someone has found out where she is and they want her dead. Thinking the leak may be from the inside and not knowing who she can trust she turns to new CIA operative Nathan Crowe to help her escape.

All Amphlett’s books are a must read for me. I know straight away they will be enjoyable, suspenseful and well written. Amphlett has the reader on the edge of their seat never quite knowing what will happen next. The story has plenty of action and some great twists.

The first instalment in the English Spy Mysteries Series doesn’t disappoint. Told in an episodic style and ending on a cliff hanger it will have readers eager for book 2, Assassins Vengeance.

Content: no coarse language , no sex, low level violence

 My rating: 4 of 5 stars

                                                     About the author:


I write crime fiction and spy novels, most notably the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series, as well as a number of standalone crime thrillers.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, my writing influences include Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. I'm also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Angela Marsons, Robert Bryndza, Ken Follett, and Stuart MacBride.

I'm a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for my debut novel, White Gold, being sold to Fanucci Editore's TIMECrime imprint in 2014, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag in 2017.

This review is part of the Booklover Book Review Aussie author challenge 2018

Thursday 1 March 2018

Book Review: Dead Ernest by Frances Garrood

Dead Ernest 

Dead Ernest by Frances Garrood

Series: no
Publisher: Sapere Books
Publication date: 1st March 2018
Pages: 292
Format read: ARC eBook
Source: publisher


 No one had expected Ernest to die, least of all Ernest…

Ernest Bentley was a pillar of the community. But when he suddenly dies of a heart attack his wife Annie refuses to have the words ‘beloved husband’ added to his gravestone. Their son, Billy, is exasperated with his mother and worries about how she will cope on her own. Unwilling to take time out of his own busy schedule to take care of her, he enlists the services of the local vicar, Andrew, to keep an eye on her.

Before she knows what is happening, Annie finds herself telling the vicar things she has kept hidden for years. Dark secrets that had plagued her sixty-year marriage to Ernest.

When Annie’s estranged granddaughter, Ophelia, turns up for a visit, the two bond over their mutual contempt for Billy and his controlling behaviour. But when Ophelia meets Andrew, the unhappily married vicar, things start to get very complicated…

What is the truth about Ernest? Why is Annie behaving so strangely now that he is dead? And how can Andrew reconcile his growing feelings for Ophelia with his respect for his marriage and his religion?

Spanning from the Second World War to the present day, Dead Ernest is a poignant, moving and, at times, very funny look at what really goes on behind closed doors in the ordinary lives of ordinary people.

                                                   My thoughts

Ernest has died, suddenly and unexpected. However, Annie isn’t exactly stricken with grief. She knows how a recently widowed woman should act so she goes through the motions for her son. Sometimes she forgets Ernest is dead. They had been married for sixty years so it would be only natural to occasionally wonder why he is late for dinner.

Annie’s son, Billy, asks the local vicar to drop in and see how Annie is fairing. Annie doesn’t really want him there and Andrew, the vicar, doesn’t particularly want to babysit the old woman but an unlikely friendship occurs and both start to look forward to the ensuing visits. Annie begins to confide in the vicar telling him secrets she has kept hidden; some for as long as sixty years.

Annie’s story moves back and forward between present day and her earlier life in the 1940’s as a young wife and mother. A story about what goes on behind closed doors told in a sensitive way and is not too graphic.
Ophelia, Annie’s granddaughter has a small side story of her own which was quite touching even if I couldn’t see the reason for its inclusion.

In telling Andrew her deepest kept secrets Annie has been able to free herself to live her own life.
Annie’s escapades with Ernest’s ashes give for some quite humorous moments in an otherwise solemn story.
Some input from the committees that Ernest was involved with, such as people saying how wonderful, helpful and friendly he was, would have given the reader a better comparison of his two facades.

The writing is straightforward and uncomplicated. I would have liked more emotion portrayed in the story. To grab readers the story needs to be emotionally charged, heartbreaking or heartwarming. We need to hate characters, love characters, desperately needing to know what they will do next.

Garrood has written an empathetic, honest and candid story of life spent in a stringently controlled environment ruled by fear.

Dead Ernest is a moving look at marriage and family life as it was for some in the 1940’s and 1950’s and how it compares to today’s society.

                                               About the author

 I first started writing as a child; mainly poetry, but there was one horrific novel (mercifully, never finished) in which a woman gives birth to a hideously deformed child in a thunderstorm. While I was bringing up my four children, I began writing and selling short stories to magazines before the enforced immobility following a fractured spine gave me the time to tackle my first novel, Dead Ernest
My main career was in nursing, but I also trained and worked for many years as a relationship counselor with Relate. Widowed in 1992, I re-married and now live with my husband in Wiltshire, where I enjoy riding my horse in the beautiful Pewsey Vale, reading, writing, singing in our large church choir and keeping up with my grandchildren. I also write regularly to a prisoner on Texas Death Row and do local voluntary work with homeless and vulnerable adults.
All my books are very strongly relationship-based. My writing has also been affected by my widowhood and my experiences with my Relate clients, and my books sometimes include issues of death and bereavement. Strangely (and not by design) they all seem to include pet animal funerals (not a subject which normally occupies my mind!).

To read more reviews of Dead Ernest please check out the other blogs on the blog tour.

Friday 23 February 2018

Book Review: Tonk and the Battle of the 200 by Jon Mann

Tonk and the Battle of the 200 

Tonk and the Battle of the 200 by Jon Mann

Series: The Adventures of Tonk #1

Publisher: Desert’s Memory Publishing
Publication date: 14th January 2018
Pages: 266
Format read: eBook
Source: from publisher


 Tonk isn't your average squirrel. While most squirrels live out their lives in the safety of their home tree, little Tonk is curious. He wonders what is out there beyond the End of Things. What lingers over the horizon? What has he never seen?
One day he hears of a magical flying squirrel whose coat is as white as snow. She is held captive in a place called "The San Diego Zoo", and Tonk knows his time has come.
Leaving his family behind, he sets forth on a dangerous journey to rescue the legendary squirrel with the hope that he, too, can learn the secret of flight. Along the way he makes friends with Bogey, a crusty old jackrabbit: El Curador, a Mexican museum mouse; and Pockets, an alarmingly awkward pelican. Together they forge a trail across a treacherous urban landscape to the mysterious place where the creature has been imprisoned against her will.
Once there, Tonk and his brave friends wage war against the enemies who have imprisoned the white squirrel. In doing so, Tonk becomes much more than the simple creature he is -- he becomes a hero.
After all, who says you have to be big to make a difference?

                                                        My Thoughts 

Tonk and the battle of the 200 is a lively tale of adventure, curiosity and wonder. And a reminder to follow your dreams.

Tonk is not your average American squirrel, content to live their life in one tree never venturing farther than the weather vane on the carriage house, he dreamt of sights and sounds far away. Tonk stared out at the mystery that was the horizon and wondered what he would find at the End of Things.

One fateful day Tonk hears about a place where every animal from every continent is held captive. Inside this place is the white squirrel who can fly. Tonk thinks how wonderful it would be to fly. He could fly to the End of Things. Tonk sets out to find this prison, made by man, and ask the white squirrel to teach him to fly. Along the way he will face many dangers and make new friends. His quest for knowledge turns into a quest for freedom.

Mann has written an extraordinary adventure story with an underlying theme of death. Tonk, the squirrel, sees death around him and also has a scrape with death himself when the neighbourhood cat pounces on him.
”Some hunt, and some are hunted. Some feed, and some are fed upon. This is simply the way it is. The natural way of things.”

On his adventures Tonk meets Bogey, The Jackrabbit, who is a whole lot more worldly wise than little Tonk. Bogey saves Tonk’s life more than once as they encounter the perils of man-made machines, pets and predators.

Mann doesn’t humanise his characters. They are still very animalistic by not understanding how things in the human world work and not being able to read signs even though Bogey thinks he can which gives rise to some very funny animal names and also explains the title of the book.

The story tells the reader how the animals feel. They have a fear and hatred of humans. All humans are evil and everything they do is evil. The zoo is a terrible prison and all the animals are unhappy.
"There is no dignity to be found inside a cage, not for any living creature, including man. But for wild creatures of the earth, captivity means the loss of everything, including self.” “Once brought to that place, animals never see the outside world again. They die there!”

The writing is complex and literary and at times a little macabre.
”The dogs tore into them as if seeking nothing more than bloodshed and carnage.” “The bodies of the dancing *Tethin were flung across the concrete, their blood splattering the grass, the stench of their entrails filling the air.”

Authorial intrusion is used consistently to make the reader feel more connected and quite often gives a humorous aside to a sometimes sombre tale; for instance when the author suggests to the reader to look up a certain word in the dictionary.
A story to stretch the imagination and the vocabulary as well.

I would place this book in the same category as Watership Down – the “Not quite appropriate children’s books.” And as Watership Down was, The Battle for the 200 will be read and remembered by children and adults alike.

Content: animals die in this story
Recommended for 10years + though not for the highly sensitive child.

*Tethin – the name by which the squirrels regard themselves.



Saturday 10 February 2018

Aussie Author Challenge for 2018

This year I will be joining the annual Aussie author challenge hosted by Book Lover Book Reviews

 The challenge has three levels as listed below. I will be trying my best to attain WALLAROO level.

Read and review 3 titles written by Australian authors, of which at least 1 of those authors are female, at least 1 of those authors are male, and at least 1 of those authors are new to you; Fiction or non-fiction, any genre.
Read and review 6 titles written by Australian authors, of which at least 2 of those authors are female, at least 2 of those authors are male, and at least 2 of those authors are new to you; Fiction or non-fiction, at least 2 genre.
Read and review 12 titles written by Australian Authors of which at least 4 of those authors are female, at least 4 of those authors are male, and at least 4 of those authors are new to you; Fiction or non-fiction, at least 3 genre.

Stay tuned to hear about some great reads by Australian authors.

Friday 9 February 2018

Book Review: Jorie and the River of Fire by A.H. Richardson

Jorie and the River of Fire 

Jorie and the River of Fire by A.H. Richardson
Series: Book 3
Publisher: Self Published
Publication date: 1st August 2017
Pages: 288
Format read: paperback
Source: Author via Book Publicity Services


 When Jorie and Rufus are reunited after a year, each one having gone abroad to France and Germany to study language, they are summoned to help their beloved friends below the Tarn to rescue the Great Wizard, who has been kidnapped. With no idea where he has gone, the children dive back into the Tarn, back to the land of Cabrynthia. Taking the Magic Stones with them, they set out immediately to find the Great Grootmonya, soon learning that he has been imprisoned in a cell atop a steep mountain in the evil land of Shyloxia. Their mission is fraught with fierce fights and entanglements as Rufus learns that his beloved dragon, Chook, also has been kidnapped. How does one kidnap a dragon? It isn't easy, but their wicked adversary, the grim and gruesome Lord Fodomalk, is very resourceful. The children encounter many frightening adventures in a terrible inferno fraught with belching volcanoes and the terrifying River of Fire. And don't overlook some angry creatures and the poisonous butterflies. It is a race against time. Can the duo get to the Wizard in time, as he grows weaker with each passing hour? How do they cross the fiery River? And where is Chook? Throughout all of this, Jorie and Rufus soldier on, desperately and bravely, using their magic Stones and their warmth and affection for one another shining like a steady beacon. Join this brave pair and enjoy their adventurous journey through a magical kingdom under the Tarn.

                                                         My thoughts

I was very excited to receive the latest edition in the Jorie series.

Jorie and Rufus are now 13 years old and even though Aunt Lettie says she’s a young lady now and should be putting all thoughts of dragons behind her Jorie is still eager to see Rufus again and start on a new adventure.

Jorie and the River of Fire is the third book in the Jorie series and I’m saying “series” here because I’m hoping this isn’t a trilogy. I’m not ready to let go of Jorie and Rufus just yet.

The Lord of Cabrynthius, Grootmonya, is missing believed held captive by the evil Lord Fodomalk in the land of Telanzid to which only access is across the river of fire. Telanzid is a new land introduced in this book. A land on the far side of Shyloxia that is hot, dry and arid with fires burning and active volcanoes. These other worldly lands are accessed via a Tarn on the land of Jorie’s Aunt Letitia. The children enter the Tarn say the magic words and are whisked away to the new worlds.

Jorie is still cheeky, lively and talkative as ever but she is always polite. Jorie and Rufus work together for a common goal as they embark on this dangerous and unpredictable journey unaware of the perils that lay ahead, the unexpected dangers, the creatures they might meet, the good and the bad. Lord Fodomalk with calculated cunning will do everything in his power to thwart the children’s plan to rescue the Great Wizard.

The children come across Trovods (rat like people), trolls, elves, shape shifting dragons, the egg shaped people of Doonian and the deadly Daggadi (a huge metal butterfly with jaws of iron).

The imagery is vivid and the story moves smoothly between the world of the Tran and the real world. Aunt Letitia , Colonel Horsfall and housekeeper, Bessie, feature more in this book and make for some amusing moments and add old world charm as a little romance starts to develop between Letitia and the Colonel.

Jorie is the heroine of the series but it’s not all about Jorie. Rufus has his fair share of smart ideas and brave moments.

The Jorie series is one of the best 6 years+ children’s series I’ve read.
If your child only reads one book this year make sure it’s from this series!
I received a review copy via Book Publicity Services.

 My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Age level: 6 years +
Read my review of Jorie and the Magic Stones here
Read my review of Jorie and the Gold Key here

                                                  About the author
 13907840 A. H. Richardson is a treasured storyteller, whose unlimited imagination conjures up challenging and unforgettable characters, both good and evil, daring children everywhere to delve into their imaginations and learn to rely on courage and bravery to win the day.
Born in England (yes, there are dragons there too), the author has always loved tales of flying and mythical magical creatures. She once tried to pin wings on her pony, quite sure that he could then fly!
She is the daughter of the famous composer, Clive Richardson, who always encouraged her to wite, even as a small child. She paints and sculpts, plays guitar, trained dressage competitions, is a linguist and acted on stage, film and television.