Monthly Archives:: June 2017

Mystery review: ‘A Case of Conspiracy in Clerkenwell’ by Clara Benson

June 28, 2017 Review 0

Book 3 of the new Christie-esque murder mystery series by the author, featuring Freddy Pilkington-Soames rather than Angela Marchmont, which gives the books a very different flavour. Angela was very much a lady, so her sleuthing was conducted over cups of tea and genteel dinner parties, whereas Freddy is a man about town, and there’s a certain amount of creeping about in the middle of the night, and he gets physical from time to time. Unlike Angela, there’s no mysterious past to be gradually revealed, and Freddy’s very much London-based. I’m rather hoping he’ll escape the town setting at some stage; I miss the country house setting of so many of Angela’s stories.

However, this outing for Freddy has a good array of eccentric characters in the ladies of the Temperance Society and the (mostly) gentlemen of the Communist Alliance, who share the same local community hall. When one of the ladies is stabbed with a paper knife, Freddy is roped in by British Intelligence to investigate both the murder and a revolutionary plot.

I never quite got the communists straight in my head, so I had very little clue what was going on there, but it didn’t matter much. The plot unfolds in the regular way, with a great deal of dry humour, Freddy’s usual willing but bumbling style and some implausible drama at the end, before all is revealed, plots are foiled and the day is saved. I’m not a big fan of the spies-and-revolutions theme of this series, and I’d much rather return to the body-in-the-library country house style, but this is still a totally enjoyable read. Four stars.

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New release (and other Brightmoon news)

June 22, 2017 Findo Gask's Apprentice, News, Publishing/marketing 0

I’m delighted to tell you that the 8th book in the Brightmoon world, Findo Gask’s Apprentice, is now available. You can buy it at the special new-release price of just 99c, or borrow for FREE with your subscription to Kindle Unlimited or Prime. Click the Buy! button above to buy or borrow from your local Amazon, or click here for more information about the story.

I had so much fun writing this book (dragons at last!), and I’m thrilled to share it with you. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Watch out for The Dragon Caller in the autumn (and yes, there’ll be even more dragons!).

Other deals coming up soon…

To celebrate the release of Findo Gask’s Apprentice, I’ve got discounts on some of the other books in the series coming up, too. Here’s a list, so make a note in your diary if there are any Brightmoon books you haven’t read yet:

The Fire Mages: FREE NOW until Sun 25 June

The Dragon’s Egg: 99c on Sat 1- Sun 2 July

The Fire Mages: FREE again Sun 16-Wed 19 July

And don’t forget that The Plains of Kallanash is always just 99c.

And in other news…

The May giveaway is over – thank you for all your entries. I’ve loved finding out who your favourite characters are. Most popular was… the dragon! No surprise there, but votes were also received for Garrett, Kyra, Drina, Ly-haam, Allandra and Drusinaar. Congratulations to winners Jane Woods, Suzanne Swift, Maria Janney, Renee Mergott, N Carroll and Anne Monteith.

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Fiction review: ‘Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight’ by Alexandra Fuller

June 12, 2017 Review 0

Another book group read that I would never, ever have chosen for myself, but I enjoyed it, on the whole. It’s a memoir, describing the author’s life growing up in Africa in the 70’s and 80’s, a time of great transition, including civil war, land seizures and the gradual erosion of white dominance. It’s an unflinching look at the realities of daily life for one extraordinary family, for whom the word disfunctional was probably invented. For me, it was uncomfortably too unflinching, but one has to admire the author’s clear vision of the reality of the times – the casual racism, the poverty, and dear lord, the many and various horrible ways to die or (if you were very, very lucky) merely be extremely ill, repeatedly.

The greatest triumph of the book is the glorious evocation of Africa in all its physicality. To say you felt as if you were there doesn’t quite do it justice. The lyrical passages describing the scenery, the wildlife, the plants and smells and sounds of the continent are exquisite, but towards the end of the book I did begin to tire of them just a little. The people are described more by their actions than anything else (and very odd they were too, sometimes).

The story-telling is episodic, and reads as though the author simply made a list of all the most memorable events of her childhood, and then fleshed each one out to a greater or lesser degree. Some are very short indeed, and it makes the book feel quite jerky and choppy. There are some pretty tragic events, too, so be warned.

There was a lot more I would have liked to know, especially about the family – what sort of background did they come from? Why were they in Africa at all? And why did they think the children were better off living with all the dangers of driving through mine-fields to go to school, for instance, when they could have been safe at boarding school in Britain? Nevertheless, this was a fascinating read. Four stars.

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#SPFBO news: brackets!

June 1, 2017 SPFBO, The Dragon's Egg 0

The #SPFBO competition hasn’t officially started yet, but there’s already quite a buzz about it, and a number of bloggers are getting into the spirit by looking at the entrants for themselves and trying to guess what might make the final cut of 10 books from the starting grid of 300.

Blogger M D presley is one who’s been trying to pick likely winners, and he’s started a ‘brackets’ contest to run alongside the main competition. The idea is to come up with your own selection of three books from each blogger’s batch of 30. The winner is, presumably, the one whose choices are closest to the actual picks.

Now obviously there’s no way of predicting how the individual bloggers will react, so the game becomes an exercise in how to approach the problem Just how do you pick? By covers? Blurbs? First chapters? Throw darts at a list? You can see M D Presley’s thought processes and choices on his blog here (and yes, he did include The Dragon’s Egg in his list!).

 

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