Thursday, 26 September 2013

Some short books read recently

All books by facebook friends and bought after they promoted them there!

Brief Encounters by Kate Harrison
Not really a book - just a short story included with the start of another novel, but it was free so who's complaining? Hope's on a train, on a surprise trip arranged by her sister, and is dreaming (or is she?) about the various men who've passed through her life, coming to terms with the end of each relationship.
Enjoyable, but as I said, very short. I would have preferred it to be included with other short stories - I never read the starts of novels included with other books.

The Blue Rinse Brigade by Douglas McPherson
A set of four stories, originally serials, about four elderly ladies who are helping the local police catch murderers. They're not your usual blue rinse ladies - one's ex MI5, one's ex-police chief, etc. They know what they're doing, and they do it better than the local constabulary.
I really enjoyed this. It raced along - the perfect light read that you don't have to think too hard about. Bit Scooby Doo in places but why not? Could have done with a better proof-read as I spotted quite a lot of mistakes but that unfortunately is pretty common in self-published ebooks.

Ten Weeks to Target by Della Galton
Janine has 10 weeks to fit into her outfit for her niece's no-expense-spared wedding so she starts going to slimming classes. There she meets gorgeous Pete who has a lot of weight to lose (as well as a wife, before Janine can get to grips with him...)
Lovely little book which I read in one train journey, and which is probably the perfect example of an ebook novella. Should we call them enovellas, I wonder?

Woman Walks Into a Bar by Rowan Coleman
Another perfect little novella. I really liked the structure of this one - single mum Sam is trying to find a new man through internet dating (set up by her daughter). Between the story of Sam's everyday life we get the stories of the dates. There's 'the one who lied about his age', 'the one who never showed up' etc. And Sam's backstory - her horrendous experiences at school and her later abusive relationship with her daughter's father - is very neatly dropped in. Really keeps you turning the pages.

Novel: Plan it, Write it, Sell it by Lynne Barrett-Lee
Great little how to book, which does what it says on the cover. Lynne's an advocate of the planning approach, building your novel from the inside out. I definitely work better with a plan, and am going to try to do more planning with my next novel.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Read recently and failed to blog about

I'm behind with this blog. But I must keep it up otherwise I forget what I've read, or what I thought of what I've read. It's me age, you see.

The Burning of Bridget Cleary by Angela Bourke
A true story, about an horrific killing in Ireland at the end of the nineteenth century, when country people still very much believed in fairies. Not sure where I heard about this book but I'm interested in Ireland, fairies, magic etc so decided to give it a go. Poor Bridget was unwell, and for some reason her husband and other relatives got it into their heads she'd been taken away by the fairies and a changeling left in her place. To try to oust the fairy they dosed her with herbal medicines and then held her over a fire. When she eventually died they buried her in a shallow grave. Her husband still expected her to appear riding on a white horse out of the nearby fairy fort...

This book is a very detailed account of the events before and after Bridget's death, and an in depth discussion of the belief systems prevalent in Irish villages at the time. I did find it quite fascinating but I also found it too long. The author had clearly done a lot of research but had included it all in the final book - eg endless transcripts of what was said at the trial which I ended up skimming over.

Secrets and Rain by Cally Taylor
In total contrast, this book was far too short! It's an anthology of prize-winning and published stories by a wonderful writer. The stories all have a theme of hope after loss, and all were beautifully written.

Nowhere to Hide by Alex Walters
I hosted part of Alex Walters' blog tour for this book, so bought the book at that time. It's taken me a while to get round to it. I don't normally read thrillers but I'll read anything that's well written so was happy to give this a go. Very enjoyable, pacy book, but there was a lot of mentions of back story which I eventually worked out referred to Alex's earlier book, Trust No One, and indeed some Amazon reviewers recommend reading that one first.

That aside, I did enjoy this book and it kept me turning the virtual pages. Marie has been sent undercover to work for someone who is connected with a criminal gang, though she can't quite see why this particular person needs so much attention. She's got some suspicions about her own boss, too - is he straight or is he in the pay of the gangland boss? There have been lots of murders of people on the periphery of the underworld, and Marie needs to find out whether they're all connected or not. When smooth, handsome Jack Brennan joins the team she thinks she's got an ally against her boss, or has she? At home, Marie has a different set of problems in the form of her increasingly disabled partner, Liam. The book was full of twists and turns and although I suspected that some of the goodies would be baddies, I didn't guess all the final chapter twists. If you like thrillers, you'd enjoy this one a lot.

Attention All Shipping by Charlie Connolly
And now for something completely different. A friend recommended this, and I bought it along with 2 others by this author. I loved And Did Those Feet which I read first. This one, in which the author visits all the shipping forecast areas around Britain in one year, was just as quirky and amusing but not as interesting historically.