Thursday 29 January 2015



Native American History, Adventure

On Amazon UK HERE

You can read a fascinating interview with Zoe about her research for this series, on A Woman's Wisdom blog HERE

What a wonderful story!  This is a real adventure, one of those that keeps giving hope, only to plunge the reader into that 'oh, no, it's all going to go wrong' fear a moment later.  

The third in the series telling a fictional version of the true story of the forming of the Great League of the Five Nations (the Iroquois), this is the most exciting so far, as Two Rivers and sidekick Tekeni struggle cross land and water to deliver the message of peace to the various tribes, encountering resistance on the way.  It's also an amazing two pronged love story, though, as young warrior Tekeni and his love Seketa search for each other, and the great Messenger of peace, Two Rivers, comes to terms with his love for Onheda.  Be prepared for tears in your eyes at about 90%, but I won't give away any more!

There is a marvellous quality to Zoe Saadia's writing in these stories that I can't quite put my finger on; it's as though the 'voice' could be a native American telling this tale around a camp fire; I suspect she might have been one such in a past life!  The narration is so clear, the prose never contrived.  The ending, the coming together of the Great Law is incredibly moving, and, as in the previous book, made me wish I lived in this simpler time with these people.  It made me sad, too, thinking about what happened to them in more recent history, though that is perhaps not to be dwelt upon in a review of this book.  I am sure it will make you feel the same, though.  

Excellent, and I hope I shall get to read the last in the series before too long, after which I shall want to read the People of the Longhouse series, too.  

TWO RIVERS (part 1 of the series) by Zoe Saadia reviewed HERE

ACROSS THE GREAT SPARKLING WATER (part 2 of the series) by Zoe Saadia reviewed HERE

THE HIGHLANDER by Zoe Saadia reviewed HERE

BEYOND THE GREAT RIVER by Zoe Saadia reviewed HERE

Monday 26 January 2015

LOSING HEART by Donna Brown

3 out of 5 stars


On Amazon UK HERE 

Reviewed by me as part of Rosie Amber's book review team

I'll start by saying that this is a terrific plot, a great idea.  Helen has a heart transplant but gets more than she bargains for when the mother of the donor invades her life.  Marion Chambers does so in such a way that at first the reader feels sorry for her, then thinks she's a bit full-on, then realises that there's a lot more to her than meets the eye.  That was good - I didn't expect it.  Losing Heart would make a great thriller film (something like The Hand That Rocks The Cradle) - or a novel.  The problem with the book I've just read is that it's crammed into novelette length.

We find out at the beginning of the story that Helen is having an affair with her doctor, Jack.  There is no build up to this, or explanation for why she is being unfaithful to her husband other than a basic lack of communication.  Helen comes over as a cold, selfish person who cares only about herself and her own needs, from what I could tell from the brevity of the narration, as does Jack, who keeps reassuring Helen that she is perfect and has done nothing wrong, despite the fact that she appears to consider her husband and Marion Chambers nothing more than irritating inconveniences.  When Marion's behaviour becomes more bizarre and overwhelming, however, she has a personality u-turn and just accepts it.  There are some excellent opportunities for development, with a story line that is reasonably well thought out, but it just felt so rushed, as if I was reading a first or second draft, or something with the bare bones written down that is waiting to be fleshed out into a novel.  Period breaks are given with small horizontal lines, but in some cases just plunge straight back into another scene without it being clear who is talking or what is going on.  

To sum up, it was good enough for me to get to the end to see what happened; it has potential but needs more work and attention to structure, I think.  Sorry I couldn't be more positive about it; people who like a quick read that concentrates on events rather than character development might enjoy it more.

Sunday 25 January 2015


5 out of 5 stars

Native American history, adventure

On Amazon UK HERE 

Reviewed by me as part of Rosie Amber's book review team

This is the second in the Peacemaker series, a fictional account based on fact, about how the Great League of the Iroquois was formed.  More than a few scholars agree that the latter day USA constitution was influenced by this Great Law of Peace.  I'll just mention that it's important to read the first in this series, Two Rivers, first.  It's a while since I read the first one so I had to recap, after which the two stories flowed together.

So readable just as an adventure story on its own, Across the Great Sparkling Water (the body of water later to be known as Lake Ontario) is fascinating in that it tells so much about the customs of the time, and the day to day living - and yes, yes, it made me want to go back in time and live amongst them, as all good historical fiction should do.  A time and place when life was lived according to the rules of nature only, but with civilised regimes set in place for the efficient survival of communities.

The Great Peacemaker, named Two Rivers, is marvellously multi-faceted, single-minded in his mission to bring about ruling councils and end the warring between the nations, yet so human, too; unlike others of Zoe Saadia's books that I've read, this one contains an element of love and passion of the more mature variety which is very convincing, as Two Rivers fights his feelings for a woman, concerned that it will distract him from his cause.  Okay, I admit it; I ended up fancying him myself!

There are other terrific characters in this story: Tekeni, from the first book, a young man who accompanies Two Rivers on his journey; Onheda, a fierce and independent young woman trying to return from a kind captivity to her own people; Hionhwatha, the strong, proud, displaced leader of the Onondaga people, and Jikonsahseh, a wise old woman.

This is an excellent series, so well written and easy to read and sometimes quite amusing, too.  I can't recommend it too highly, and I am just off to Amazon to buy the next one!

TWO RIVERS (part 1 of the series) by Zoe Saadia reviewed HERE

THE GREAT LAW OF PEACE (part 3 of the series) by Zoe Saadia reviewed HERE

THE HIGHLANDER by Zoe Saadia reviewed HERE

Wednesday 21 January 2015

THE KILLING KNIFE (Tales of the assassin without a name) by Scott Marlowe

 4 out of 5 stars

Novelette, fantasy, adventure, dark humour

On Amazon UK HERE

Reviewed by me as part of Rosie Amber's book review team

This is a novelette sized book, rather than full length.

The nameless assassin lives in a fantasy world that reminded me a little of those described in Game of Thrones, particularly the lands of Pentos, Bravos, etc, over the seas.  This is not to say it is in any way a copy of such; I mention this just to give an indication of the type of location.  For those unfamiliar with Game of Thrones, think a combination of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves mixed with ancient Rome, perhaps!

I liked the structure of this book.  The Killing Knife is actually three stories in one, all linked, as are other installments in the series, also available.  I thought the beginning was excellent, and liked the first, short story the best, though they are all well written, intelligent and amusing.  The nameless assassin is an oddly endearing sociopath, I suppose; the way in which he considers himself apart from and superior to most other beings is artfully illustrated.  The only time he shows a little emotional connection and vulnerability is when he is in the vicinity of Liz, his former lover and some time partner in crime.

Marlowe is a talented writer who clearly understands how to hold the reader's attention, and I would recommend this to anyone who likes tales of fearless, alpha male type adventurers told with a smooth wit. 

THE GODDARD AFFAIR by Scott Marlowe reviewed HERE 


Thursday 15 January 2015

A CRY FROM THE DEEP by Diana Stevan

3 out of 5 stars

Mystery, romantic suspense, diving

On Amazon UK HERE 

Reviewed by me as part of Rosie Amber's book review team

I was looking forward to this book, as it deals with the subjects of reincarnation and time slips between the 19th century and the present.

It’s a very good story idea, it’s well thought out, feasible, and there are no plot holes or errors of continuity.  The (American) English is perfect, and the proofreading was virtually faultless, which is always a big plus.  The subject matter of diving for historical artefacts is extremely well researched; I read in the back of the book about how much work the author had done on this and was impressed; it will probably appeal to anyone who is interested in this subject.

So why only three stars?  

I found the narrative rather old fashioned.  The romantic side of it is a bit Mills and Boon, with the occasional throwing in of something more ‘earthy’ that seemed a little incongruous.  It was predictable - as soon as handsome Daniel Costello was introduced I guessed the outcome.  I found the delivery and dialogue a tad wooden throughout; aside from Hennessey, the brutish head of the diving team, one character’s dialogue was indistinguishable from another’s, with a relaying of information as opposed to painting a portrait of the person.  Ms Stevan has used regional dialect accurately, but I never had the feeling of different ‘voices’, and could not see any of the people in my mind’s eye.

The point of view changed from Catherine to Daniel on a few occasions, and this new outlook made the story perk up.  My attention was also renewed when Catherine began to unravel the mystery, in Ireland; I thought the Irish section was the best, and I imagine well researched too (I’ve never been to Ireland, so can’t say).  However, I felt this could have been done in a much more intriguing way, perhaps with alternating between past and present so that we knew more about Margaret and James; the piece set in the 19th century is so brief that I had all but forgotten about it by about a third of the way through. The mystery would have been far more compelling if it had been unleashed gradually, rather than the reader being told more or less everything at the very beginning.  Throughout the book there was too much exposition (dialogue used to give necessary background information, executed in an contrived manner) and ‘telling, not showing’ (delivering statements to tell the reader what a character is like, rather than allowing a picture to build up via his/her speech and behaviour, and others’ reactions to them). 

To sum up – it’s a fairly competent debut novel, but for me it fell flat.  However, a review can only ever be one person’s opinion, and readers who like a more conservative approach to dialogue and predictable romantic developments might well enjoy it very much; I see that it has other, more postive reviews and I imagine the author’s style will develop.  I’d like to thank Ms Stevan for supplying a review copy of this book, and wish her luck in her writing career.  

Wednesday 14 January 2015

BANKERS TOWN by Joel Hames

 3 out of 5 stars

Thriller, financial

On Amazon UK HERE

I was a bit disappointed by this - it was one of those books that I buy just through seeing a tweet! Fabulous title, cover and the phrase 'not everyone will make it to drinks on Friday' in the blurb which was what really sold it to me.

My fault, I suppose, for making my mind up what a book was going to be like. I'd imagined a sharp, fast, very readable adventure/thriller (The Job and The Big Picture by Douglas Kennedy come to mind) but whereas the writing style is slick, polished and witty, I felt it was far too long-winded, with financial details that will perhaps only be of interest to those who live in this world, or certainly who know a lot about it. I felt it presumed too much knowledge on behalf of the reader. I had to force myself to read and absorb some of the detail so I would understand the plot, but felt as if I was reading a boring text book at times.

Having said all that, it's well written in other ways and the character of Alex Konniger is an excellent one. However, I do think that the inclusion of so much financial minutiae has removed this novel's mainstream blockbuster potential, and slipped it into 'niche market'. For anyone who loves this sort of book, though, I'd say that Bankers Town would be massively up your street.

Sunday 11 January 2015

MR CLASSICAL by Warren Fielding

4 out of 5 stars

Zombie apocalypse, short story

On Amazon UK HERE


I read the first novel in the Great Bitten series (Outbreak) and loved it (see below for link).  Mr Classical is the first of a series of long-short stories showcasing some of the individuals the protagonist of Great Bitten, Warren Fielding, meets on his quest to stay alive during a zombie apocalypse in southern England.  It's a really neat idea, showing how different people deal with the catastrophe, not necessarily the heroes of such stories who have all the bright ideas and manage to survive.

Monty is a conservative man who loves classical music and lives in a quiet apartment block alongside elderly, lone and similarly conservative neighbours.  The story starts as the terrible news breaks about what is happening throughout the country; Monty is waiting for his lover, Alec, and his only concern is that they should be together.  Mr Classical has a distinctly amusing side, as Monty comes up against denial about their situation amongst his co-residents, makes ill-advised plans for safety and comes to terms with certain truths about himself.

From 74% you can read the beginning of 'Great Bitten: Outbreak', which I highly recommend.  

I felt Mr Classical could do with a copy-edit and a final proofread to remove grammatical and punctuation errors, and perhaps a final re-draft to tighten it up, but the tale itself is very clever and unusual, sad and amusing in turn, and I am sure it will be enjoyed by all fans of this genre - and it has a nice little twist at the end, as all short stories should have!

GREAT BITTEN: Outbreak by Warren Fielding reviewed HERE 

GREAT BITTEN: Survival by Warren Fielding reviewed HERE


Wednesday 7 January 2015

MAD WORLD by Kate L Mary

About 4.8 out of 5 stars

Zombie apocalypse

On Amazon UK HERE 

Definitely the best of the trilogy, which got better as it went along!

What made Mad World superior to the first two parts was, I thought, the inclusion of the alternate points of view of the two main characters, Vivian and Axl. Axl's my favourite character in it, and it was great to see the chain of events from his point of view, as the group's supposed safe haven falls apart. The 'voices' of him and Vivian were very different, as were their attitudes to the other people in the group.

I thought the relating of the action really stepped up in this book; I could visualise it more. It's got everything - near death misses, hopeless situations, tragic losses, the satisfaction of revenge; there's quite a lot of moral stuff going on in it too, I think, if you read between the lines a bit. Some of the reviews on .com said that there was too much love/sex stuff between Vivian and Axl, but I disagree; for a start off there wasn't all that much, and it was all very real, their feelings for each other adding to the urgency of every situation. It also added hope; that people could find times of happiness under such circumstances.

I was delighted, when I got to the end of the book, to read that part 4, Lost World, will be out in April. Kate Mary, I want you to tell me IMMEDIATELY it comes out! There's so much more story to be told - this one could keep on running. 

BROKEN WORLD (part 1) by Kate L Mary reviewed HERE

SHATTERED WORLD (part 2) by Kate L Mary reviewed HERE 


Sunday 4 January 2015


4.5 out of 5 stars

Zombie Apocalypse

On Amazon UK HERE

I liked this one better than the first book in the series, Broken World, because it had more of the author's own ideas in it and less that were obviously inspired by The Walking Dead. It was interesting to see how different personalities adapt to the new circumstances, all of which I felt was pretty realistic, especially in the way that every day worries still come to the fore - just things like, for instance, heroine Vivian's fear that her beloved Axl will fancy the former movie star who happens to be holed up with them!

Axl's a great character - Kate Mary doesn't say much to describe him but he really comes across, a sign of smart writing. I love the relationship between him and Vivian; you can feel the passion between them. I also like how Vivian softens towards his obnoxious brother, Angus, whose more positive characteristics start to shine through in this second book.  Oh, and how could you not love Hadley, the aforementioned movie star?  Clever not to have portrayed her as spoilt, with a sense of entitlement.

The only negative I can see in the book is the inclusion of a meeting with a person from one of the characters' pasts (I don't want to say any more), which I thought was completely unfeasible, far too much of a coincidence. It actually made me say, "Oh, come ON!" out loud! But I enjoyed this, it's jolly good and the tension really works - onto the third one!

Broken World (part 1) by Kate L Mary reviewed HERE

MAD WORLD (part 3) by Kate L Mary reviewed HERE

Friday 2 January 2015


4 out of 5 stars

Zombie apocalypse

On Amazon HERE

I did enjoy this - more in some parts than others but I've just had to buy the next one in the series, so it must have been fairly good!

It's the usual end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it stuff, but I liked how the start showed the last remants of order; very eerie how those broke down. Broken World is told in the first person by the main character, trailer-trash-with-a-brain Vivian, who first teams up with two redneck guys, the rather scary Angus and the rather sexy Axl. The story has all the good snippets of hope and despair, with the characters' gradual realisation that the situation is far more terrifying than they realise. It's sharp and spare in the prose style, which I like. My favourite character is the aforementioned sexy Axl.

I got a bit bored at about 65% when the story became a bit too much of a faux The Walking Dead (the missing child, the pregnant woman, the coming across of a mixed group with token ethnic minorities, the token old guy with the wisdom of years, the fella with limited but useful medical knowledge, even down to the young Asian guy who says 'I'm Korean' when someone refers to him as Chinese), but then it picked up again with the inclusion of a selfish billionaire all the characters (and the readers) can love to hate. I do get that stories of this type will have certain similarities, after all! The ending was fab - for people who don't like cliffhangers (so that you will have to buy the next book) this might be irritating, but I don't mind that format - it's only like a cliffhanger at the end of a TV series.

The only other minor moan I have is the amount of characters with similar names, which makes for confusing reading: Al, Axl, Angus, Anne, Ava.

Yes, it's good - if you like zombie apocalypse books I'd say it was definitely worth a read. Well, I'm about to start the next one, anyway!

Shattered World (part 2) by Kate L Mary reviewed HERE

Mad World (part 3) by Kate L Mary reviewed HERE

Lost World (part 4) by Kate L Mary reviewed HERE

NEW WORLD by Kate L Mary reviewed HERE

FORGOTTEN WORLD (book 6) reviewed HERE