Category Archives: Book Reviews

A Dangerous Crossing

 

 

A Dangerous Crossing

by Rachel Rhys

1939, Europe on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd leaves England on an ocean liner for Australia, escaping her life of drudgery for new horizons. She is instantly seduced by the world onboard: cocktails, black-tie balls and beautiful sunsets. Suddenly, Lily finds herself mingling with people who would otherwise never give her the time of day.

But soon she realizes her glamorous new friends are not what they seem. The rich and hedonistic Max and Eliza Campbell, mysterious and flirtatious Edward, and fascist George are all running away from tragedy and scandal even greater than her own.

By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and life will never be the same again.

 

Lily shepherd is travelling to Australia, taking advantage of a government assisted place programme. She has to spend two years in domestic service when she arrives, but nevertheless she is looking forward to her new life and new adventures, hoping it will help her escape events from her past life.

The ocean liner provides an existence bubble away from the protocols of real life; class boundaries blur and unlikely friendships are struck up.

Set in the period leading up to WWII, many of the ship’s passengers are trying to escape the impending war and their own dark secrets. As the voyage goes on it becomes clear that something tragic is going to happen.

I absolutely adored this Agatha Christiesque tale of decadence and intrigue. The sights, sounds and smells of this ocean liner are brought brilliantly to life by clever, astute writing of the highest order. The stop-overs at the various countries immerse you in the crowds, the bustle, the cultures; you don’t just read this book: you feel it and experience it.

The characters are wonderful, Lily, who is at the heart of the story, trying to escape her demons and forge a new life; Max and Eliza, first class passengers who befriend Lily; the unstable George Price, with fascist leanings; Maria, a Jewish woman fleeing Europe and its impending war; and brother and sister Edward and Helena Fletcher who are also harbouring secrets.

The cover of the book is just perfect, the huge liner about to take over everyone’s life and one of the passenger’s (Lily?) so small looking up to a new life, yet seemingly up to her neck in water.

I am not sure how you would describe this book; it’s not classic murder/mystery with suspects, more historical drama with intrigue. However you describe it, it is wonderful, an absolute gem and highly recommended.

The Intrusions

 

 

The Intrusions

by Stav Sherez

When a distressed young woman arrives at their station claiming her friend has been abducted, and that the man threatened to come back and ‘claim her next’, Detectives Carrigan and Miller are thrust into a terrifying new world of stalking and obsession.

Taking them from a Bayswater hostel, where backpackers and foreign students share dorms and failing dreams, to the emerging threat of online intimidation, hacking, and control, The Intrusions explores disturbing contemporary themes with all the skill and dark psychology that Stav Sherez’s work has been so acclaimed for.

Under scrutiny themselves, and with old foes and enmities re-surfacing, how long will Carrigan and Miller have to find out the truth behind what these two women have been subjected to?

 

The first thing to say about this book is that it is fabulous: I mean truly fabulous.

The second thing to say is that it is scary: and I mean truly scary.

The book is set in Bayswater, London; temporary home to a transient population. When a resident in one of the hostels goes missing and her friend goes to the police, D.S. Geneva miller wants to investigate, but her boss D.I. Carrigan is sceptical until he is called to a murder site and the victim turns out to be Anna, the missing resident.

Carrigan is already in trouble with his superiors over past misdeeds, so when the case seems to be mired, he has to reluctantly accept the services of profiler, Ed Hoffman. They are not the best of friends.

The net is spread far and wide, encompassing countries, drugs,computer crime and social media.

I loved the characters of Carrigan and Miller, they worked so well together, and Geneva is my favourite name ever! All the characters are well-drawn and come across as real people; no copy and paste cliches here.

A book that is grounded in reality is always going to be unsettling and the premise here is extremely chilling. It will make you think every time you turn on your computer or go onto social media: how easy would it be for this to happen?

This book is such a wonderfully written, intelligent crime thriller. The layers of the crime are peeled away with subtlety to reveal twists, but also to deepen your understanding of the characters involved.

This is my first Stav Sherez novel; I have no idea how this has occurred, but I am off now to grab hold of his first two books and really hope that it’s not too long before his fourth is out.

Deep Down dead

 

Deep Down Dead

by Steph Broadribb

Lori Anderson is as tough as they come, managing to keep her career as a fearless Florida bounty hunter separate from her role as single mother to nine-year-old Dakota, who suffers from leukaemia. But when the hospital bills start to rack up, she has no choice but to take her daughter along on a job that will make her a fast buck. And that’s when things start to go wrong. The fugitive she’s assigned to haul back to court is none other than JT, Lori’s former mentor – the man who taught her everything she knows … the man who also knows the secrets of her murky past.

 

Lori Anderson is a bounty hunter and is desperate for work to pay for her sick daughter’s medical bills. When she is offered a job for great money, she has to take it even though it involves bringing in her old mentor, J.T. – a man she has a lot of history with.

J.T. is the ‘outlaw’ that Lori has to bring to justice. He has his reasons for doing what he has done and those reasons become apparent as the story unfolds, and we follow the characters on a chase across America, ending up in a theme park in Florida, where all their lives are in danger and they have to work together to survive.

This is one action-packed thriller with characters that you really want to spend time with. Lori is such an original heroine; female bounty hunter and single mum. She is both feisty and warm, she is a character that you are rooting for from the start.

J.T. is a fabulous character, just the right mix of strong and determined and compassionate and caring. The relationship between himself and Lori hums along.

Steph Broadribb has written a compelling book that is a full-on page turner and unlike some action thrillers, it is not at the expense of character development. You need to make sure that you have plenty of time when you start reading this book because you really won’t want to put it down.

Published by Orenda Books

 

Prankenstein On Tour

 

 

Prankenstein On Tour

by Andy Seed

The third instalment of this fantastic series is finally here! Soapy Thompson’s dad wins a world cruise for a family of five and Soapy convinces his parents that best friends, Arvo and Loogi should come along to stop him going mad with boredom.As they cruise past the East coast of Africa there is a great commotion in the dead of night and Soapy discovers that pirates have boarded the ship and taken two hostages – his parents – and are demanding GBP1m in cash. Soapy knows that his only hope is to unleash Prankenstein – his prank-crazed alter-ego and the adventure out at sea really begins.

 

This is the third book in the Prankenstein series, about Soapy Thompson, a young boy with an alter ego. I haven’t read the first two in the series, but as I am doing an event with author Andy Seed, I thought it only right that I should acquaint myself with the latest book, and I am very glad that I did.

Soapy, his mum and dad and his two friends go on a cruise, where things start to go wrong almost immediately, and Soapy has to call on Prankenstein to sort out the mess. Unfortunately, once Prankenstein has been released he is a very difficult character to get rid of. And his antics leave you roaring with laughter.

When Soapy goes missing,it is up to his two friends Arvo and Loogi, and the two girls they meet on the cruise, Minty and Ursule, to try to save the day.

This is a fabulous read for all children aged between 7 and 11. But I strongly suspect that if you have a reluctant boy reader then this could be the series to get them interested.

There is humour on every page. I personally loved the characters of Arvo and Loogi, from Estonia, and the dialogue between them and Soapy is hilarious.

As well as the humour,the story of the boys’s adventures is extremely readable. Which is a big help if you are a parent helping your child with his/her reading.

I would highly recommend this series, and although this book can be read as a standalone, I think children would love to start at the beginning with Prankenstein and follow his adventures through the series.

 

 

Andy Seed is an author and poet, living in North Yorkshire. He writes memoirs, funny poems and humorous non-fiction books as well as all sorts of things for teachers. Andy’s most popular book for adults is All Teachers Great and Small and his most popular book for children is a non-fiction book, The Silly Book of Side-Splitting Stuff, which won the 2015 Blue Peter Best Book with Facts Award.

The Last Photograph

 

 

The Last Photograph

by Emma Chapman

He walks into the living room and June is dead. He centres her, checking the light. Focusing, he clicks the shutter. He’ll ask himself later, if he knew. It’s easy to say that he had acted without thinking, out of instinct. Rook Henderson is an award-winning photographer, still carrying the hidden scars of war. Now, suddenly, he is also a widower. Leaving his son Ralph to pick up the pieces, Rook flies to Vietnam for the first time in fifty years, escaping to the landscape of a place he once knew so well. But when Ralph follows him out there, seeking answers from the father he barely knows, Rook is forced to unwind his past: his childhood in Yorkshire, his life in London in the 1960s and his marriage to the unforgettable June – and to ask himself what price he has paid for a life behind the lens …Gripping, evocative and unforgettable, The Last Photograph is a story of a life shaped by trauma and love – and the secrets that make us who we are.

 

When Rook’s wife, June, dies suddenly, he flees the country to go back to Vietnam where he was a photographer during the war, leaving his son Ralph with nothing more than an email informing him that his mother has died.

Ralph chases after his dad wanting answers, but Rook is looking for his own answers. Revisiting his old haunts and old friends, he tries to come to terms with what happened to him there so many years ago.

The book moves backward and forward in time, starting when Rook met June in their hometown in the north of England. June, desperate to be an actress, pushes Rook into a move to London when she sends some of his photographs to the editor of the Times. Once they get to London they find that things are not as easy as first thought. So when Rook is given a job as photographer in the Vietnam war, they feel he must take it.

The book is as much about the relationship between Rook and June as it is about the war. June feeling incredibly alone without him and having given up on the acting work, makes some friends that Rook just can’t identify with and a chasm appears in their relationship.

When Rook comes home for good after a traumatic experience the couple move to the countryside to try to ground themselves. They have their son Ralph, but nothing seems to bring them closer.

This is an emotive book, dealing with the trauma affecting people during wartime, not only the people in Vietnam but those left behind as well. The two main characters, Rook and June are extremely well-rounded. Rook, the naive young man heading out to Vietnam, and June the headstrong young lady who knows exactly what she wants. We watch them develop and turn into different people as life takes its toll. Rook is deeply affected by events that happened during the war and also in his childhood. Whilst June comes to realise that life isn’t as easy as she thought, but her character comes through in her fight for her relationship.

Having had the pleasure of Emma Chapman visiting Urmston Bookshop, I have seen the amount of research that was done and how much she loves Vietnam and its people. This shines through on every page of her book.

This is a very well written book that deserves to be widely read.