The Summer of Madness by Alexander Raphael (Review)

The Summer of Madness by Alexander Raphael

About the author

Alexander Raphael was born and bred in London, though as he is half-Mexican grew up with an awareness and understanding of other cultures from a young age.

He’s always been a big fan of short stories in particular.

Blurb

In the summer of love, or rather of madness, a whole set of stories are emerging. But there is one that has got everyone talking. When Kurt decides to win back his ex-girlfriend with the help of a literary classic, he sets off a string of events that will build to a dramatic finale.

Review

I spotted this story on Hayley’s blog Rather Too Fond of Books and was very intrigued so I downloaded it straight to my Kindle for a weekend read as I do enjoy a short story.

At only 27 pages I read this in one sitting and absolutely loved it. This short story is about a man who has taken his girlfriend for granted and has now lost her and he is doing everything in his power to get her back. After everything else has failed he has one final go to win her back with a grand gesture.

This short story is beautifully written and was a joy to read. I adored the use of Wuthering Heights in the book as it is one of my all time favourite books. The plot was really clever and unlike anything I have read before. I really liked the character Judy and was really hoping she would get her dream come true.

The ending of this book left me smiling from ear to ear and thoroughly pleased that I had read the book. I highly recommend this short story to everyone, it will take less than half an hour to read and was a true page turner. I give this short story 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths (ARC Review)

The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths

About the author

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Elly Griffiths was born in London and began her career in publishing, she then turned to writing full time. In 2016 she won the CWA Dagger in the Library for her work. Griffiths lives in Brighton with her family and the cat Gus.

Blurb

PS: thanks for the murders.

The death of a ninety-year-old woman with a heart condition should absolutely not be suspicious. DS Harbinder Kaur certainly sees nothing to concern her in carer Natalka’s account of Peggy Smith’s death.

But when Natalka reveals that Peggy lied about her heart condition and that she had been sure someone was following her…

And that Peggy Smith had been a ‘murder consultant’ who plotted deaths for authors, and knew more about murder than anyone has any right to…

And when clearing out Peggy’s flat ends in Natalka being held at gunpoint by a masked figure…

Well then DS Harbinder Kaur thinks that maybe there is no such thing as an unsuspicious death after all.

Review

This is my first non-Dr Ruth Galloway book from Griffiths and I was so excited when I discovered I had been granted my request to read it on NetGalley.

Peggy Smith has died but has she been murdered? Peggy is also a ‘murder consultant’ who helps authors with the crime writing. As the story goes on more murders happen and the mystery thickens.

I’m not sure why but I struggled to get into this book and it just did not move along as I would have liked it to. I really liked the characters Harbinder and Neil and really liked their working relationship. However I disliked her repeatedly comparing Neil to a type of animal and thought it was unnecessary and rather mean of her. I also enjoyed the fact Harbinder still lived at home with her parents and the family dog Sultan.

The character that really grated on my nerves was Natalka. She really drove me insane. I found her very arrogant and self centred. I didn’t mind Benedict and Edwin and thought that they were both interesting and rather endearing characters, especially Benedict who was once a monk and now owns a coffee shop. But the whole concept of Natalka, Benedict and Edwin running off trying to solve the crime just came across as ridiculous and really they should have been arrested for meddling in a murder case. I think it was the whole storyline of this book that put me off as it did just come across as all a bit fanciful.

I still liked elements of this book and will admit I did not see the conclusion of the book at all. I will read the first book with Harbinder in and give the series another shot but sadly this book was just not for me. I only give the book 3 out of 5 Dragons.

Thank you to NetGalley and Quercus Books for allowing me to read and review this book.

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The Iliad by Homer (Review)

The Iliad by Homer (translated by Alexander Pope)

About the author

Homer is the presumed author of the Iliad and the Odyssey. There are loads of legends regarding the life of Homer however, what we can definitely confirm about him is his centrality to ancient Greek culture.

About the translator

Alexander Pope (1688-1744) is considered one of the greatest English poets, and the foremost poet of the early eighteenth century. He is best known for his satirical and discursive poetry, and his translations of the Iliad and the Odyssesy.

Blurb

The Iliad in Classical Attic; sometimes referred to as the Song of Ilion or Song of Ilium) is an ancient Greek epic poem in dactylic hexameter, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy (Ilium) by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles.

Review

I have been meaning to read this for many years and have finally got around to it and so I chose Alexander Pope’s translation that I had also used for a recent assignment.

Although I had never read this in its entirety before I am well aware of the story and have loved anything Greek Myth based since I can remember.

It took me a while to get into this as I must admit I found the translation rather stilted to begin with. However, once I got into the style I really began to enjoy the text and was happily reading it whenever I could.

This poem is absolutely wonderful. It has love, sex, violence, friendship and much more. Oh and it also has some very interfering Greek Gods who can’t help but meddle in the Greek and Trojan affairs.

The war between the Trojans and the Greeks begins because of Paris stealing Helen from Menelaus, or Helen went willingly depending on your take of events. Menelaus goes to his brother Agamemnon who immediately uses the situation to go to war on the Trojans who he has long wanted to conquer. Achilles the half man half god hero is the main character in this tale who goes to war with Agamemnon. Achilles does not take being told what to do well though and causes many problems for Agamemnon, including refusing to fight in the war for a very long time.

This is essentially a love story and not a love story about Paris and Helen. This is the love story of Achilles and Patroclus. Patroclus is everything that Achilles isn’t. He is a much better man, he is loving and he hates to see all the death caused by the war, he wants to help stop this war. Achilles on the other hand is too proud and when his pride is injured he refuses to help and does not care about the damage it causes.

Overall, I can see why this book has lasted through the centuries as I absolutely loved this book and I really want to read other translations of the text to see how different translators treat the story. I give this book a big 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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Dear NHS: 100 Stories to Say Thank You, edited by Adam Kay (Review)

Dear NHS: 100 Stories to Say Thank You, Edited by Adam Kay

Blurb

Created and edited by Adam Kay (author of multi-million best seller ‘This is Going to Hurt’), ‘DEAR NHS’ features household names telling their personal stories of the health service. Contributors include Joanna Lumley, Naomie Harris, Kate Tempest, Lee Child, Tanni Grey Thomson, Bill Bryson, Trevor McDonald, Jack Whitehall, Michael Palin, Stanley Tucci and many, many more.

Review

I had this book preordered as soon as I heard about it and I couldn’t wait to read it when it arrived. I love the idea of this book, celebrities, people we know so well, tell us their stories and thank you’s to the NHS in the format of stories, poems, essays and letters.

The first celebrity’s story is Graham Norton and I was hooked and could not put the book down. I loved how heart felt some of these stories were and how most people wanted to give their sincere thanks to the NHS. They also didn’t just thank the doctors and nurses, they thanked all the NHS staff, the porters, cleaners, everyone.

Some of my favourite stories were by Graham Norton, David Tennant, The Hairy Bikers, Stephen Fry, Dame Jacqueline Wilson and many more. This book really was an emotional rollercoaster. One minute you are almost crying and the next minute laughing at someone like Jonathan Ross getting a lollipop for being brave even though he is an adult.

There sadly were a few in this book that spoiled it for me. Some like Frankie Boyle who used his story as political rant and Jamie Oliver who promoted his own recipes and website. Some celebrities were just too self obsessed for me in this book and I really didn’t think that this wonderful book was the time or place.

I really did enjoy this book but because of certain people it was slightly ruined for me. However, I still recommend this book to everyone who loves the NHS and the fact that every copy bought gives a donation to the NHS is even better. I give this book 3 out of 5 Dragons.

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(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you)

 

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The Chateau of Briis: A Lesson in Love by Alison Weir (E-Short Review)

The Chateau of Briis: A Lesson in Love by Alison Weir

About the author

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Alison Weir was born in 1951 and is a British writer of history books, and latterly historical novels, mostly in the form of biographies about British Royalty.

Blurb

1515 – Dressed in wine-coloured satin, with her dark hair worn loose, a young Anne Boleyn attends a great ball at the French court. The palace is exquisitely decorated for the occasion, and the hall is full with lords and ladies – the dancing has begun. Anne adores watching the game of courtly love play out before her eyes, though she is not expecting to be thrown into it herself. But moments later, a charming young man named Philippe du Moulin approaches to ask for her hand in the dance. And before she can resist, so begins Anne’s first lesson in love.

Review

Another short story from the Six Tudor Queens series and I must admit I really enjoyed this one. It was somewhat more satisfying than The Tower is Full of Ghosts Today as that just left me feeling a bit frustrated with the story.

This is a wonderful little story but it was a little emotional rollercoaster. Anne Boleyn has her first lesson in love in this story and although it is only something Weir has made up it would explain a great deal about Anne Boleyn’s character. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her at times.

This little glimpse into Anne’s life in the French court is wonderful and full of detail. I throughly enjoyed it but again found it was very short, just a few extra pages and I would have been happier but it is a perfect little novella to read between Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession and Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen. I have given this story 4 out of 5 Dragons.

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The Tower is Full of Ghosts Today by Alison Weir (E-Short Review)

The Tower is Full of Ghosts Today by Alison Weir

About the author

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Alison Weir was born in 1951 and is a British writer of history books, and latterly historical novels, mostly in the form of biographies about British Royalty.

Blurb

Jo, historian and long-term admirer of Anne Boleyn, takes a group on a guided tour of the Tower of London, to walk in the shoes of her Tudor heroine. But as she becomes enthralled by the historical accuracy of her tour guide and the dramatic setting that she has come to love, something spectral is lurking in the shadows . . .

Review

I am sure I have read this little story before but I don’t know where from as I have never owned it. I do not mind though as I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this little story again.

I have always been fascinated by the history of the Tower of London and have often thought it is probably the home to many ghosts so this little story is right up my street.

This little story centres around a tour group who Jo is in charge of and she books a special tour guide to take them all around the Tower. This tour guide is dressed up like Anne Boleyn and looks incredible, everyone is impressed. As the tour progresses though a spectral figure is spotted in another group.

I really enjoyed this story but it was just too short! Seven pages just wasn’t enough. I was begging Weir to make it longer but sadly no. I loved the detail in this story, the detail of the Anne Boleyn lookalike tour guide’s dress was fantastically described and had me hooked. I can sadly only give this short story 3 out of 5 Dragons because it was just too short for me.

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The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths (Review)

The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths

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About the author

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Elly Griffiths was born in London and began her career in publishing, she then turned to writing full time. In 2016 she won the CWA Dagger in the Library for her work. Griffiths lives in Brighton with her family and the cat Gus.

Blurb

Everything has changed for Dr Ruth Galloway.

She has a new job, home and partner, and is no longer North Norfolk police’s resident forensic archaeologist. That is, until convicted murderer Amyas March offers to make DCI Nelson a deal. Nelson was always sure that March killed more women than he was charged with. Now March confirms this, and offers to show Nelson where the other bodies are buried – but only if Ruth will do the digging.

Curious, but wary, Ruth agrees. March tells Ruth that he killed four more women and that their bodies are buried near a village bordering the fens, said to be haunted by the Lantern Men, mysterious figures holding lights that lure travellers to their deaths.

Is Amyas March himself a lantern man, luring Ruth back to Norfolk? What is his plan, and why is she so crucial to it? And are the killings really over?

Review

Firstly, I will be honest and say that I am a Dr Ruth Galloway addict. I haven’t read all of the books yet but I try and buy a new book as a treat to myself as often as possible. This one is book 12 in the series and was a massive surprise to me because it has moved on quite a bit from book 11. Ruth now has a new job, a new house and is now with a new partner. This was quite a shock for me after where book 11 left Ruth but a nice surprise.

Ruth is her usual self in the book and now she has what appears to be the dream life but as you read it you can’t help but wonder if she is really happy?

Nelson is trying to solve a murder case where the suspect March is already in prison but will not admit to being guilty of the murders. He later agrees to tell Nelson where other bodies are if he talks to Ruth. Ruth agrees which leads to Ruth and Nelson working a case together again.

As the case developed I must admit I did not see the end result coming and it was a massive surprise how it turned out. What didn’t surprise me was what happened at the very end of the book.

One of my favourite characters in the Dr Galloway series is Cathbad and I must admit I would have liked to have seen a bit more of him in the book. I always love a Cathbad ritual of some kind and sadly that was lacking in the book.

Overall, I absolutely loved this book and could not put it down. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons and highly recommend it to all crime and thriller fans.

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All The Lonely People by Mike Gayle (ARC Review)

All the Lonely People by Mike Gayle

About the author

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Mike Gayle was born and raised in Birmingham. After graduating from Salford University with a degree in Sociology, he moved to London to pursue a career in journalism and worked as a Features Editor and Agony Uncle. He has written for a variety of publications including The Sunday Times, Guardian and Cosmopolitan.

Mike became a full time novelist in 1997 following the publication My Legendary Girlfriend. Since then he has written thirteen novels and his books have been translated into more than thirty languages.

Blurb

Hubert Bird is not alone in being alone.

He just needs to realise it.

In weekly phone calls to his daughter in Australia, widower Hubert Bird paints a picture of the perfect retirement, packed with fun, friendship and fulfilment.

But Hubert Bird is lying.

The truth is day after day drags by without him seeing a single soul.

Until, that is, he receives some good news – good news that in one way turns out to be the worst news ever, news that will force him out again, into a world he has long since turned his back on.

Now Hubert faces a seemingly impossible task: to make his real life resemble his fake life before the truth comes out.

Along the way Hubert stumbles across a second chance at love, renews a cherished friendship and finds himself roped into an audacious community scheme that seeks to end loneliness once and for all . . .

Life is certainly beginning to happen to Hubert Bird. But with the origin of his earlier isolation always lurking in the shadows will he ever get to live the life he’s pretended to have for so long?

Review

I was so excited to start this book and it did not disappoint although I did struggle to get into it to begin with. This book was an emotional rollercoaster that also had some surprises thrown into the mix that had me very surprised.

The character of Hubert Bird is a wonderful one, you just can’t help but love him and also feel dreadfully sorry for him at times. Hubert came to England from Jamaica to find a better life and instead he found low paid work and racism. However, he also found Joyce. Joyce and Hubert loved each other through all the odds and their love remained strong, even when it meant Joyce’s family throwing her out and never allowing her back.

This story finds Hubert who has had one too many knocks in his life and so has chosen to isolate himself from everyone including his best friend Gus. Now Hubert spends his days with Puss the cat and a weekly phone call from his daughter Rose who lives in Australia but Hubert tells Rose he is never home and always out with friends so when she says she is coming home for a visit Hubert has to find friends quick so Rose doesn’t find him out.

In walks my next favourite character Ashleigh and her young daughter Layla. Ashleigh is a young single mother who goes knocking on Hubert’s door and she doesn’t give in till she has made Hubert her friend.

This story is so endearing and very true in so many respects, there are many lonely people in this world and because of the speed everyone lives their lives these people often get forgotten and left behind. This book highlights that things can be done to help these lonely people if people take the time to help.

Gayle’s writing in this book is beautiful and how he moves from the past to present is flawless. I highly recommend this book to everyone who is looking for a beautiful story with a wonderfully poignant meaning. I really enjoyed this book but it did take a while to hook me in, although once I was hooked I could not put it down. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons. Thank you to NetGalley and Hodder and Stoughton for the ARC.

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(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you)

 

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Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession by Alison Weir (Review)

Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession by Alison Weir

About the author

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Alison Weir was born in 1951 and is a British writer of history books, and latterly historical novels, mostly in the form of biographies about British Royalty.

Blurb

The young woman who changed the course of history.

Fresh from the palaces of Burgundy and France, Anne draws attention at the English court, embracing the play of courtly love.

But when the King commands, nothing is ever a game.

Anne has a spirit worthy of a crown – and the crown is what she seeks. At any price.

Review

The life of Anne Boleyn is well known and one that has always had me fascinated. I will be  honest I know I shouldn’t like Anne Boleyn because of what happened to poor Katherine of Aragon but I don’t think anyone can pin that all on Anne Boleyn because Henry VIII would have divorced Katherine in the end as he was quite determined to have a son.

The moment I started reading this book I could not put it down and I absolutely loved what Weir did with the story of Anne Boleyn and I ended up seeing Anne in a very different light. Anne Boleyn was a well educated and very refined young woman. Her experiences in the courts of Burgundy and France set her up wonderfully to be a star in the English court and of course the King could not help but notice her.

Anne was the victim of ambition, her family’s ambition and her own. Weir showed Anne determined to keep her virtue intact but wanting the crown more than anything. Anne could see she could help make changes in the church, she could help the people if she was queen. However, things were also against her.

I really felt sorry for Anne in this book, she thought she could make changes but instead things were twisted against her and she had no way of surviving. The other element I enjoyed was how Weir showed Anne’s relationship with her daughter Elizabeth and it was different to what I expected but made a lot of sense.

At the end of this book I will be honest I cried my eyes out and it really left me feeling quite cold at the end. I knew the outcome obviously but how Weir ended the book was astonishing and very haunting, it is something I will not forget.

Weir really triumphed with this book and I will admit it is one of my favourite reads for this year and I can’t wait to read the next one. I highly recommend this book to all historical fiction fans and give this book a massive 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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The Blackened Heart by Alison Weir (E-Short Review)

The Blackened Heart by Alison Weir

About the author

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Alison Weir was born in 1951 and is a British writer of history books, and latterly historical novels, mostly in the form of biographies about British Royalty.

Blurb

Margery Otwell, a self-made gentleman’s young daughter, gets her first taste of courtly life when she takes up a position as chamberer to Lady Peche of Lullingstone Castle. Dances, music, feasting – and a seduction – follow, and Margery learns the rules of courtly love the hard way.

Saved from disgrace by the kindly Sir John Peche, Margery finds herself at court waiting on Queen Katherine. Little does Margery know that she is already a pawn in a game of power, irrevocably bound to the fall of the lady she will come to love as her mistress, Queen and friend.

Review

My first thought about this E-Short was what a wonderful connection between the two main books about Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, it really helped bring the two books together.

I loved the character of Margery Otwell and really felt for her. She loved, she suffered but she always had hope in heart. Margery was lucky and because of Sir Peche she began serving Queen Katherine and in Queen Katherine she found a true friend who she would defend with her life.

This story really left me thinking and the story stayed with me for many days after reading it. For something so short it really was a moving narrative. Not much is known about Margery Otwell other than she was a lady who served Queen Katherine and Weir created a wonderful story for her which linked the reports about the black mass found on Queen Katherine’s heart at her autopsy. I give this story 4 out of 5 Dragons and I thoroughly wish it had been longer.

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