11 February 2015

Moving House...to Red-Penn Reviews

I have selected wordpress.com to host this book review blog

I appreciate having the followers I have gathered here, and visiting your blogs here.

I hope you will pop across to the new location to join Or follow my posts there.
You do not have to have a wordpress account to follow my review posts by email.

When I am satisfied the moving truck has carried everything across,
the wordpress site will become its own domain.

The new site is at ... https://RedPennReviews.com
This blog is as good as defunct, so look to the new site for current reviews and content.
Thank you - Lynne

10 January 2015

Honeyville by Daisy WAUGH

Honeyville Cover

Publisher:Harper Collins UK, 2014

For Pete’s sake – all I have to do for a review is read the book. That’s what I do. 

But Daisy Waugh’s clever intertwining snippets of history among her fiction had me in a non-fiction fanaticism – reading parallel research of the actual events and characters and following the interplay between fact and her fiction with fascination.

Of course I fully read the book before hitting the Internet – and then I read it again. And again. Four times in all, so fascinated was I both by the plot, and Waugh’s craft of building an historical event into a fictional tale. Her inclusion of historical realia ('The Nice People of Trinidad' as written by Max Eastman and published in The Masses, July 1914) hits home the significance of the events in the period in which the novel is set.

She brings together a seemingly disparate group of people (Dora the hooker, Max Eastman the journalist, Inez the näive librarian and Xavier her homosexual brother, and Laurence the double-dealing mercenary) and lets us follow their social and sexual interplay as they deal with the famed Ludlow massacre in Colorado.

It is against this factual background that Waugh’s characters play out their parts; Dora (herself in near slavery to the madam, Phoebe) meets and makes an unlikely but lasting friendship with Inez, who bursts with often short-lived enthusiasm for schemes to “improve” someone’s lot in life – Dora’s, the mother of a young union clerk, the miners and Unionists. Her schemes bubble to nothing, her mind is a-bulge with fantasised versions of reality, she is both duplicitous and gullible. Her enthusiasm sweeps her into romance, misadventure, foolishness – and all the while Dora, her brother, and her potential mentor try to keep up with Inez’s version of reality.

Twenty-odd years later, these three meet again in California, with the chance to finally deliver to Max Inez’s final letter, the content of which Dora and Xavier have for years believed they knew. In a delightfully crafted twist, the letter reveals more information than any need to know.
This, my first encounter with WAUGH’s work, most certainly will not be my last. A diamond among the dross of historical fiction.

. . . . . . . . .
 (For those of you not yet familiar with US history of late 1800-early 1900s–some background:
Trade Unions were unwelcome in industry – any industry – which used back-breaking, soul-breaking labour to produce wealth for the investor. Workers in many industries – including the coal mining of Colorado – were so near to being enslaved by their employers as to never mind the difference. Housed meanly, forced to pay for provisions from the company stores at inflated prices, no schooling, medical treatment available at exorbitant prices only while the miner of the family was fit enough to mine, and if not all thrown out without redress.
The socialism movement aim was to create trade unions, as the only channel through which employment conditions and wages were to be negotiated, setting minimum wage and safety conditions among other factors. Leading figureheads travelled America, speaking in industry towns to encourage the workers to strike until better conditions were achieved and or trade unionism was permitted. Popular among the workers, these speakers were regarded by the companies as sedition in the making, and the companies brought in not only “scab” workers to continue production but also armed private armies (detective or security agencies, or simply eager firearms handlers) to both protect the scabs from the strikers but to also make pre-emptive attacks on the strikers’ rough camps to force them back onto near-slavery.)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  • ISBN: 9780007543861
  • ISBN 10: 0007543867
  • Imprint: Harper Collins
  • On Sale: 20/11/2014
  • Format: Audiobook
  • Pages: 689
  • List Prices:
    • PaperBack £7.99; from HarperCollins, and from Amazon 
    • eBook £3.99 from Harper Collins
    • AudioBook £13.99; from your usual AudioBook outlets 

Has this review helped you decide to purchase? Then please give it a Rating 
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Thank you - Lynne.

31 December 2014

VIVIENNES BLOG, by NZ author Stephen LEATON (release mid-January '15)

Cover image by Nick Fedaeff

Stephen K. LEATON

It was a lot easier to read and enjoy Vivienne’s Blog than it has been to write this review. Not wanting to sell it short, I actually spent time refining my understanding of the genres mentioned among the publisher’s material: thriller, chilling suspense, fantastical, psychological thriller, or mystery.

The book’s designer has helped us readers by using alternate fonts, to show Vivienne’s internal thoughts as distinct from her blog entries, or her letters to her ex-husband, to whom her blog is directed.

One of the fascinations is – what is she remembering as real, and what is a fantasy, a psychotic memory, a deranged version of history and truth? As she seeks to both preserve her “Faerie” bloodline and to “punish” her ex-husband and his second wife, we are swept into the maelstrom of her mind – and the suspense is very, very real. Is the baby safe with her? Will she be captured before any danger comes to her or the child?

She is not unintelligent – she reads body language expertly. She plans. She is never taken by surprise, but can make mistakes. At times expressing herself lucidly, yet at times rambling and erratic, we are “in the air” – puzzled as we wonder – what is real and what is Vivienne’s reality?

And as the story and her life ends – Leaton drops us a chilling bombshell.
(Move along...no spoilers here)

Publisher: EUNOIA Publishing Ltd
Date Available: 2015 (mid-January)
ISBN: 978-0-9941047-9-3 Paperback, perfect bound
ISBN: 978-0-9941047-1-7 Leather cover, stitched, ribbon tied, illustrated.
Also will be available in Kindle.

Find your Booksellers NZ outlet here

R.R.P $NZ 34.99 p’back; $NZ 45.00 deluxe edition;
RRPs will vary according to medium, sales channel and purchasing nation.

Has this review helped you decide to purchase? Then please give it a Rating

You can also Share it on the online channel of your choice.

To comment if you are the first: click on the "No comments" hot spot, and the comment window will open. Tell us all about what You thought of the book as a read, or of Leaton as a writer in this novel.

Thank you - Lynne. - and have a Happy New Year

30 December 2014

The Killing Season, by Mason CROSS

Carter Blake is a bit of a mystery  He specialises in locating people who don’t want to be found, and certainly has skills and thought processes to make him good at his job. 

Hang on, it’s not a job – he’s not employed salary-wise – he accepts contracts, so he’s a free agent. We don’t know Blake’s background - is he ex police? Ex military? Ex Secret Service?

Blake is called in by the FBI to assist in locating a death row escapee, serial killer Caleb Wardell. SAC Walter F Donaldson sets Dave Edwards (“Assistant Special Agent”) in charge of the man hunt, with Special Agent Elaine Banner to work with Edwards and Blake.

Unsurprisingly when you get to know him, Blake prefers to use his own methods. Banner sticks with him as he heads in the directions he’s certain Wardell would have taken, while Edwards stubbornly takes the conservative, tried-and-true procedures and heads in the wrong direction.

Add interplay with Russian mobsters, whose attempt to free Wardell’s transport companion gave Wardell the opportunity to get away. They’re not too pleased about Wardell killling their objective either.

Blake works by getting inside the head of the one to be caught. But he arrives at the right locations at the wrong time: too late to prevent a murder or massacre. Wardell enjoys both – a particular target or a random set of victims.
Mix in politics and bad politics, manipulation of Wardell himself, and his of Blake, a fake FBI agent, and you have a pot-pourri of things rotten.

What makes this a great book is Cross letting us see different characters’ points of view – it adds to one’s understanding of the character, and of his/her motivation and processing of the events. It’s a method well handled, and I will definitely be looking for the next novel. Killing Season is the first of a Carter Blake series, so there’s a reason for buying it, then The Samaritan, expected in 2015.

Publisher Orion Books, for Hatchette UK Co
© Mason Cross 2014
ISBN 978-1-4091-4567-7 paperback
Also available as hard cover and ebook editions

Find your Booksellers NZ outlet here

29 December 2014

Pop Goes the Weasel, by M J ARLIDGE

Pop Goes the Weasel,
(featuring D. I. Helen Grace)

Like crime TV? Like Silent Witness?
Arlidge wrote for that series,
and you’ll love Arlidge’s Pop Goes the Weasel.
In this crime thriller, Arlidge has continued to focus the story around the character he first created in ‘Eeny Meeny’–Detective Inspector Helen Grace: "I wanted a female protagonist who was different from anything I'd seen before–more interesting than the people she was tracking."
(SoundCloud: Richard & Judy Book Club)

He has written not a linear plot, but near parallel scenes featuring the different characters in the tale, and it works well. The plot covers revenge, spousal and child abuse, prostitution and gang control, and intermingled with the criminal element are snippets of the private lives of the police investigation team

Men turn up dead – and butchered. Their hearts are delivered to their places of work – unlike the first victim, for whom the delivery is made to his home. D I Grace finds her investigation is made difficult by the new Detective Superintendant, Ceri Hardwood, who is keen to advance her career by piggy-backing on the successes of her team. Then there is the callously ambitious crime reporter, using fair means or foul to access information about the progress of the investigation, and leads towards a headline maker to bump her career. All the while, frustrated but loyal team members follow Grace’s hunches, tracking down leads and people for interview, as they work steadily to resolve the mounting body count and their own domestic issues.

This is more like watching a television production – descriptive passages set the scene, bring action to life, reveal emotions...than reading. No chapter is longer than it need be to present the scene. The tale is tight, and all the more vivid for it. We watch how the British police proceed through an investigation, as they work within the law (with one or two stepping outside for a quick result) to track and trace online and real world activity of suspects or leads.

This was a great read – Arlidge’s style had me stuck to his pages over two days until finishing it. That doesn't happen often.  I would question only one element – the body count mentioned at the end of chapter 35 seemed one short.

 But then, I've not read it a second time. Yet...
If you want a fast-paced, intriguing set of puzzle pieces to fit together, this is the book for you.

 (A third in this series is scheduled for release in February 2016.)

Publication: data
Buy it at...
Publisher: Penguin (11 Sep 2014)
Paperback edition: 432 pages
ISBN-10: 1405914955
ISBN-13: 978-1405914956
Online: Booksellers NZ

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FACE OFF, edited by David BALDACCI

David Baldacci, editor
Pairs of favourite crime authors “face off” against each other to write their own favoured characters into a single short story.
Each of the eleven stories – some written as separate sections, some via distance collaboration – allows the distinctive traits of the characters to remain true to their origins. This reader ripped through the book avidly, then re-read it more closely.
For fans of either a writer or a crime series character, this compilation will delight as the character has to work with another author’s character.
Crime story readers who’ve not yet met a particular crime author will find this an ideal avenue into new reading.

The proceeds of this book are to go towards the International Thriller Writers group, and is not their first compilation (Look for Thriller, 2006; Thriller 2, 2009; Love Is Murder, 2012).
As Editor, David Baldacci gives an overall introduction to the work involved in the ITW and its publications, and brief author biographies.

1. Red Eye has Dennis LEHANE’s Patrick Kenzie and Michael CONNELLY’s Harry Bosch working together.
2. In the Nick of Time has Ian RANKIN’s Rohn Reburs and Peter JAMES’ Roy Grace working together.
3. Gaslighted has R.L. STINE’s Slappy The Ventriloquist Dummy appearing with Douglas PRESTON and Lincoln CHILD’s character Aloysius Pendergast.
4. The Laughing Buddha has M. J. ROSS’s Malachi Samuels alongside Lisa GARDNER’s D. D. WARREN.
5. Surfing the Panther has Steve MARTINI’s Paul Madriani with Linda FAIRSTEIN’s Alexandra Cooper.
6. Rhymes With Prey has Jeffrey DEAVER’s Lincoln Rhyme with John SANDFORD’s Lucas Davenport.
7. Infernal Night has Heather GRAHAM’s Michael Quinn with F. Paul WILSON’s Repairman Jack.
8. Pit Stop has Raymond KHOURY’s Sean Reilly with Linwood BARCLAY’s Glen Barclay.
9. Silent Hunt has John LESCROART’s Wyatt Hunt with T Jefferson PARKER’s Joe Trona.
10. The Devil’s Bones has Steve BARRY’s James Rollins with James ROLLINS’s Gray Pierce.
11. Good And Valuable Consideration has Lee CHILD’s Jack Reacher with Joseph FINDER’s Nick Heller

Publisher: Hatchette New Zealand
Date: © International Thriller Writers, Inc, 2014
ISBN 978-0-7515-5492-2

 Find your nearest Outlet here

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06 November 2014

The Hunter, by Tony PARK

The Hunter, author Tony PARK

Publisher: MacMillan, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-74261-427-4

RRP: $A 29-99
Also available as an eBook

Australian author Tony Park has lived in Africa by choice, and The Hunter is his eleventh novel set in that great continent. His love for Africa’s way of life, its bush and wildlife come through the story boldly and vividly.

The Hunter is Hudson Brand, a Safari guide and sometime private investigator – it is people he hunts, and wildlife he loves. The blurb on the back cover is misleading – the story line is far more complex than it would have you believe, with counter-twists which offer surprise and shock, as he follows snippets of sightings to trail a woman who is the beneficiary of a possible life insurance fraud. Some sections are told from his target’s POV, and even so, the final reveal is not easily foreseen.
He himself is subject of a South African police hunt, wanted “for questioning” about murders of prostitutes in South Africa and Zimbabwe. He has to stay one step out of their reach as he continues his pursuit of the fraudster.

There are many side-lines, all threaded through and around this basic thread: two sisters, victims of parental abuse, one a victim of abuse by her sister’s unfaithful and kinky husband; a brother and sister - burglars and thieves trying to get money for their mother’s medical costs; two red-neck brothers - one with a penchant for murder.

“But wait – there’s more”... the turns and twists of these people are not the only interactions which pump life into the story. The novel is at its best when focussing on the wildlife, and on the action.
A few proofing errors have slipped through, but they will not jar most readers out of the world in which the novel takes them. The love-making scenes seem to be dropped in as an afterthought – they contribute little to the story – but I suppose the author is trying to draw in all sorts of readers.

“Closure” – a US catchword for resolution of a character’s goal or predicament – comes gracefully in a natural event, and it feels as if the author had at that point written himself into a hole, and came up with a convenience to help the characters, if not the story.
An interesting (two-day part-time, for me) read, worthwhile for Park’s fans.

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