Mystery review: ‘Duplicity in Dorset’ by Clara Benson

Mystery review: ‘Duplicity in Dorset’ by Clara Benson

A cracking read, definitely the best Freddy yet. In this, the fourth book of the series, he finally leaves London behind and sets off for a pleasant country house party with various members of his family (headed by the Duke and Duchess of Purbeck) and an array of other eccentric characters. What with a body in the library, a stolen necklace, secret passages and lots of guests creeping about in the middle of the night, this is perfect murder mystery escapism. Here’s the plot: the Duke and Duchess of Purbeck are hosting a party to celebrate the twenty-first birthday of their daughter, Ro, at which she will wear the famous Belsingham pearl necklace. But several of the guests have pasts they wish to conceal, which makes things awkward when the trouble-making Professor Coddingham is found murdered with the pearls in his hands. Freddy has his own difficulties with his present […]

Posted December 5, 2017 by PaulineMRoss in Review / 0 Comments

Review: ‘White Silence’ by Jodi Taylor

Review: ‘White Silence’ by Jodi Taylor

What on earth to say about this mish-mash of a book? It’s a hot mess of episodic vignettes that supposedly tell a complete story, but feel as if they were written by several different people, and with an ending (using the word in its loosest sense) that almost reaches book-to-wall levels of annoyance. The premise is wonderful – the heroine, Elizabeth Cage, has a seemingly unique talent to see the colours surrounding people, like an aura. From these colours, she can identify mood and other characteristics in people. She quickly learns to keep a low profile and not attract attention to herself, and she marries a rather dull but loving man who gives her the sort of low-key life she’s looking for. This part of the book is excellent. Sadly, it doesn’t last long. When her husband dies, Elizabeth discovers that he was not what he seemed to be, and […]

Posted November 26, 2017 by PaulineMRoss in Review / 1 Comment

Review: ‘Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase’ by Louise Walters

Review: ‘Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase’ by Louise Walters

This is one of those books with a great premise let down by less than perfect execution. It’s ambitious – a dual-timeline story, with the grandmother in the second world war and her granddaughter in the present day. Each woman has her own story, but needless to say they have echoes of each other and eventually overlap. The grandmother’s story is by far the more interesting to me. Dorothy is married to Albert, a working class man she married as much to escape her mother as for any other reason. Mother then casts her off for marrying beneath her. The marriage seems dogged by tragedy, with a succession of miscarriages followed by a stillbirth. When war breaks out, Albert takes off, leaving Dorothy alone, where she falls under the spell of a young Polish airman. Modern woman Roberta works in a new and second-hand bookshop, leading a pretty dull life, […]

Posted October 29, 2017 by PaulineMRoss in Review / 2 Comments

Review: ‘Forsaken Kingdom’ by J R Rasmussen

Review: ‘Forsaken Kingdom’ by J R Rasmussen

This book has all the elements of epic fantasy that I’ve poked fun at in the past. You know the sort of thing – the lost heir to the kingdom, the enchanted sword (which has a name, naturally), the school for magic, the trusty sidekicks… I should have hated it, but instead I inhaled it almost at one sitting. Why? Because it’s so much fun. And there are positively no boring bits. The book starts in the most awesome way imaginable. Wardin Rath is a prince, whose uncle and father have just lost a war. Wardin is the last of his line, and will be the object of the victorious king’s searches until he’s found. And then killed. But Wardin is somewhere very special, the last Magistery in the kingdom, the sole remaining repository for magic in the land. If Wardin is tracked down there, not only his own life […]

Posted October 27, 2017 by PaulineMRoss in Review / 0 Comments

Review: ‘Beguilement: The Sharing Knife #1’ by Lois McMaster Bujold

Review: ‘Beguilement: The Sharing Knife #1’ by Lois McMaster Bujold

This is an awesome book. As a fantasy, the setting is brilliantly evoked, so that it feels utterly real, and the magic is suitably intriguing. But don’t be fooled: this is a romance through and through. Apart from a few high-action moments, which are mostly designed to throw our hero and heroine together, the plot is pure romance – the accidental meeting, the turning away because they’re on different sides of the cultural divide, the crisis that unites them, the nursing back to health, the long-drawn-out courtship and so on and so on. The premise of this world is that there are two kinds of people. One kind has no magic. They’re farmers, living on settled plots of land, patriarchal and with a largely pre-industrial way of life. The other kind, the ones with magic, are called Lakewalkers (because they are constantly moving around the perimeter of the massive lake […]

Posted October 5, 2017 by PaulineMRoss in Review / 6 Comments

Review: ‘Terms of Enlistment’ by Marko Kloos

Review: ‘Terms of Enlistment’ by Marko Kloos

Oh boy. Military Sci-fi. Not something I would ever choose for myself, but I’ll try anything once. This is a mega-seller, so it must be hitting the spot for a lot of people. I have no point of comparison, but it seems to me like a well-written book of its type.The world-building is superb, and I never once doubted any aspect of it. The military stuff – well, if you like blow-by-blow battles, lots of explosions and guns and general mayhem of the blowing-stuff-up category, and a succession of we’re-all-doomed moments – this book is for you. The characters? Not much depth, and to be honest I didn’t much care if any of them lived or died, even the hero. There was a love interest of sorts, but not a romance by any stretch of the imagination. But really, that’s not what it’s all about. It’s the set-piece battles that […]

Posted August 26, 2017 by PaulineMRoss in Review / 1 Comment

Author answers 23: What is your favourite point of view and tense to write in and why?

This is a fun question, because until not so long ago, my answer would have been: you what? Point of view? Tense? Errrr… It was only when I’d finished my first novel and introduced it to the harsh and unforgiving glare of an online critique group that I discovered just how little I knew about writing. That book, I discovered, was written in third person limited, past tense. With my second book, I moved on to first person past tense, and there I stayed for several more books. What’s the difference? With third person (’she climbed the stairs’), there’s an immediate distance between the reader and the character. The reader is on the outside, observing the character’s actions. With first person (’I climbed the stairs’), the reader is right inside the character’s head. Now, it’s perfectly possible to convey a character’s inner thoughts and feelings in a vivid and visceral […]

Posted August 13, 2017 by PaulineMRoss in AuthorsAnswer, Writing musings / 0 Comments

Author answers 22: Barring a zombie apocalypse, is there anything that could make you stop writing?

Wow, it’s more than a month since I posted anything here! No, I’m not dead, folks, just embroiled in summer holidays. So lots of catching up to do. On to a long-delayed authors answer question: could anything make you stop writing? Of course. Death, serious illness, a whole swathe of troubles affecting me or my family would do it. Writing is an indulgence, for me, but it’s not something I regard as an inseparable part of my life. Making up stories in my head, yes, that’s me, it’s something I’ve done all my life and it will probably be the last thing to go when senility overtakes me. But writing those stories down? Fun to do, and even more fun to publish, but not essential to my well-being. Footnote: Authors Answer is the brainchild of blogger Jay Dee Archer, of I Read Encyclopedias For Fun. You can read the answers […]

Posted August 11, 2017 by PaulineMRoss in AuthorsAnswer, Writing musings / 0 Comments

Sci-fi mystery review: ‘Gingerbread Man’ by Lee Strauss

Sci-fi mystery review: ‘Gingerbread Man’ by Lee Strauss

This one took me by surprise. Because I’d downloaded it for free some time back (more than a year ago, in fact), I had no idea why I’d been attracted to it or even what sort of book it was. I simply opened it and began to read, and at first it seemed like fairly standard fare: a college campus, some geeky students doing typical geeky student things, a rape, a murder, bla bla. And then things veered sharply off in a very different direction and I got interested. It’s not surprising I was confused. The full title is “Gingerbread Man: A Marlow and Sage Mystery Thriller (A Nursery Rhyme Suspense Book 1)”, and the Amazon categories are the expected mystery and thriller variants. But buried in the book’s description is the truth: this is Science Fiction Mystery Romantic Suspense, and it uses the conceit of alternate (or parallel) worlds […]

Posted July 3, 2017 by PaulineMRoss in Review / 0 Comments

Fantasy review: ‘The Royal Companion’ by Tanya Bird

Fantasy review: ‘The Royal Companion’ by Tanya Bird

I have no idea what to make of this. I don’t even know what genre it is. The author says it’s a romance, and categorises it as medieval and Regency, which niggles at my tidy mind – how can it be both? Regency – no way. It has nothing in common with the historical Regency or fictional representations of it. In fact, I discovered it as an advert on the page of one of my own Regency romances, very out of place among the Pride and Prejudice fan-fiction that’s normally advertised there. But since the ad worked on me, I suppose it’s an effective strategy. But this is definitely not a Regency book. The medieval part, on the other hand, I can just about see – there’s a king and a whole royal family, there’s a castle, the nobility indulge in boar hunting, archery and tournaments, the usual things. But […]

Posted July 2, 2017 by PaulineMRoss in Review / 1 Comment