Chess by Stefan Zweig (Review)

Chess by Stefan Zweig


On a cruise ship bound for Buenos Aires, a wealthy passenger challenges the world chess champion to a match. He accepts with a sneer. He will beat anyone, he says. But only if the stakes are high. Soon, the chess board is surrounded. At first, the challenger crumbles before the mind of the master. But then, a soft-spoken voice from the crowd begins to whisper nervous suggestions. Perfect moves, brilliant predictions. The speaker has not played a game for more than twenty years, he says. He is wholly unknown. But somehow, he is also entirely formidable


Well this book was very much a wild card for me. I spotted this book hidden on a bookshelf of much bigger books whilst on holiday in Hay on Wye and although I had never heard of the author I felt drawn to the story. At only 76 pages this book was a quick read for me that I completed in one sitting and it was an interesting read. 

The narrator of the book is an Austrian who is on the cruise ship bound for Buenos Aires. The cruise ship also has on board a world famous chess player called Czentovic who will happily play a game of chess if the money is right. The narrator tells us of how Czentovic is challenged by a wealthy man and so the game of chess begins. However, just as it looks like Czentovic has won, a stranger lends some helpful advice to the wealthy man. After that the narrator finds out all about the stranger and why he is so good at chess.

This short story is beautifully written and is concise and just the right length. I sometimes find that a short story feels rushed and leaves you wanting a longer story but this one is paced perfectly and leaves you satisfied you have read a short story with no details missing. I really enjoyed this story and I plan on reading more books by Zweig. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons.


Purchase Links

Book Depository | Waterstones | Wordery

(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 ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Stefan Zweig was one of the world’s most famous writers during the 1920s and 1930s, especially in the U.S., South America, and Europe. He produced novels, plays, biographies, and journalist pieces. Among his most famous works are Beware of Pity, Letter from an Unknown Woman, and Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles. He and his second wife committed suicide in 1942.

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Wish You Were Dead by Peter James (Review)

Wish You Were Dead by Peter James


Wish You Were Dead is a Quick Read short story from bestselling author Peter James. Roy Grace and his family have left Sussex behind for a week’s holiday in France. The website promised a grand house, but when they arrive the place is very different from the pictures. And it soon becomes clear that their holiday nightmare is only just beginning. An old enemy of Roy, a lowlife criminal he had put behind bars, is now out of jail – and out for revenge. He knows where Roy and his family have gone on holiday. Of course he does. He’s been hacking their emails – and they are in the perfect spot for him to pay Roy back . . . 


I got this book because I saw a review of it on bookstagram and thought it sounded good and I do enjoy the occasional quick read. This is also my first book by Peter James and it will definitely not be my last. 

I flew through this book and not because it was a quick read, I just could not put it down. Detective Roy Grace is on holiday but after a long and arduous drive where his son drives him mad with the constant “are we there yet?” The drive ends with a disappointing location which looks nothing like what was on the website and something more out of a horror film. Grace’s wife wants to leave straight away but there is no way Grace is doing anymore driving. 

The first mystery that faces them is where Jack is. Jack is meant to already be at the house but he isn’t and because of no phone line and no phone signal they have no way of contacting him. However, it soon becomes clear that Jack’s absence is not the only odd thing the family are encountering. Somebody else knows where Grace and his family are on holiday and this person is far from savoury and will soon make an appearance. 

The story moves very quickly which is to be expected due to the book being a quick read but this just added to the tension in my opinion. I really enjoyed this book and will be getting more books about Detective Roy Grace. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons. 


Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(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 ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Peter James is a UK number one bestselling author, best known for his crime and thriller novels. He is the creator of the much loved detective Roy Grace. His books have been translated into thirty-seven languages.

He has won over forty awards for his work, including the WHSmith Best Crime Author of All Time Award. Many of his books have been adapted for film, TV and stage. 

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The Unhappiest Lady in Christendom by Alison Weir (Review)

The Unhappiest Lady in Christendom by Alison Weir


Henry VIII’s third queen is dead, leaving the King’s only son without a mother and the country without a queen. And as preparations are being made for Queen Jane’s funeral, her stepdaughter, the Lady Mary, laments the country’s loss.

But, only a month later, the King has begun his search for a new wife. Will Mary accept this new queen, or will she be forced to live in the shadows of Queen Katherine, Queen Anne Boleyn and Queen Jane for ever?


I have read all the main novels from the Six Tudor Queens series but I have still got the short ebooks to finish off. This little short kept me occupied whilst I sat and waited after my second vaccine. 

This book begins at the death of Queen Jane and is told from the perspective of Lady Mary. Lady Mary loved Queen Jane because Queen Jane welcomed her and reunited her with her father and was a Catholic so when Queen Jane died Lady Mary was very upset and also felt sorry for her baby brother Prince Edward. 

Through this short book we see Mary work through her grief but also see her worry about what will happen to her next, now that Queen Jane is no longer there to be her friend at court. We also see that Mary’s health is not great in this book and that she is plagued by tooth ache. 

The main books from this series are all based on the wives of Henry VIII so it is nice to have a small book based on Lady Mary and to see her thoughts and feelings of her life as the daughter of Henry VIII. Her father hasn’t made life easy for her but Mary still loves him and wants to spend time with him but now she has a new worry in the form of a possible new step mother.

I really enjoyed this short story and I would love Weir to write a full book for each of the children of Henry VIII. I just really wanted this story to be longer. I give this book 3 out of 5 Dragons.


About the author

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.

Stories To Make You Smile edited by Fanny Blake (Review)

Stories To Make You Smile edited by Fanny Blake


A seriously entertaining collection of feel good stories guaranteed to put the smile back on your face written especially by ten bestselling novelists:

Jenny Éclair

Mark Watson

Veronica Henry

Eva Verde

Richard Madeley

Katie Fforde

Dorothy Koomson

Vaseem Khan

Helen Lederer

Rachel Hore

From a hilarious race against time to a moment of unexpected eavesdropping, from righting wrongs in rural India to finding joy in unlikely places, these stories are all rich in wit and humour, guaranteed to lift your spirits and warm your heart.

Stories to Make you Smile is a co-commission between The Reading Agency and Specsavers as part of World Book Night 2021.


I noticed this book appearing on my bookstagram a great deal this month so I thought I would give it a go. The plus side is that it is free on kindle and I can never refuse a free book. 

This book did not take me long to read, I read the first three stories whilst having a nice cup of tea and finished the rest of the book today during the nice sunny bank holiday weather. The book could easily be read in one sitting though and each story takes less than ten minutes to read. 

I love the idea of this book and was excited to read it but I will be honest that I was rather underwhelmed with some of stories and actually had to reread two to remind myself what they were about. My favourite story is probably the first one Behind My Fat Back by Jenny Ecalir, I just really wanted to tell the main character ‘good on you!’. 

Job Opportunity by Richard Madeley I found rather funny and it made me have a little laugh and it was made even better to find out it was a true story. Some of the stories like The Wrong Cake and Schooled I just found a little ridiculous. 

All in all it was a good read that filled a gap whilst having a nice cup of tea and a biscuit. A quick read at only 143 pages long but rather underwhelming that I give 3 out of 5 Dragons. 


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Gods of Risk by James S. A. Corey (Review)

Gods of Risk by James S. A. Corey


As tension between Mars and Earth mounts, and terrorism plagues the Martian city of Londres Nova, sixteen-year-old David Draper is fighting his own lonely war. A gifted chemist vying for a place at the university, David leads a secret life as a manufacturer for a ruthless drug dealer. When his friend Leelee goes missing, leaving signs of the dealer’s involvement, David takes it upon himself to save her. But first he must shake his aunt Bobbie Draper, an ex-marine who has been set adrift in her own life after a mysterious series of events nobody is talking about.

Set in the hard-scrabble solar system of Leviathan Wakes and Caliban’s War, Gods of Risk deepens James S. A. Corey’s acclaimed Expanse series.


This story is based around a character that we have not met before in the previous books but we have met his aunt, who is Bobbie Draper. David Draper is sixteen and under a lot of pressure to get a good placement at university but he also has a secret and that secret is that he is secretly making drugs for a drug dealer. 

David is like any other gifted teenager, he is hard working and desperate for the placement of his dreams that he knows will also make his family proud of him. David is also the typical moody teenager and he particularly is not keen on having aunt Bobbie staying in the house. David also has a crush on Leelee who is always with the drug dealer and dreams of one day being her boyfriend. This crush leads to trouble for David when he decides to save her from her fate.

I must admit I can’t believe how much weight lifting she does in this short story, every time we see her she is lifting weights, I have no idea how she finds the energy. She also seems to do a lot of arguing with her brother but to be honest he seems to be the one doing the provoking and does come across as rather a know it all who thinks his job is the hardest job there is and that being a marine is nothing compared to being an engineer. 

Although the story is based around David we do get to see how Bobbie is faring after the events of Caliban’s War and as the story goes on we see how Bobbie makes her mind up about a few things and these decisions are helped along by her involvement with her nephew.

This is a great little short story that I enjoyed reading and it was fantastic to read about Bobbie again. I give this story 4 out of 5 Dragons.


Purchase Links


(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 ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

James S. A. Corey is the pen name of fantasy author Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, George R. R. Martin’s assistant. They both live Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Butcher of Anderson Station by James S. A. Corey (Review)

The Butcher of Anderson Station by James S. A. Corey


A new story set in the world of The Expanse. One day, Colonel Fred Johnson will be hailed as a hero to the system. One day, he will meet a desperate man in possession of a stolen spaceship and a deadly secret and extend a hand of friendship. But long before he became the leader of the Outer Planets Alliance, Fred Johnson had a very different name. The Butcher of Anderson Station.


We first meet Fred Johnson in Leviathan Wakes and we soon realise that he has a past and this short story tells us what that past is. 

I really enjoyed reading this short story as it shows what made Johnson join the OPA and become an advocate for their cause. It also introduces us to Anderson Dawes who is a member of the OPA and we get a brief introduction to his character as well which is really interesting.

I already know the story of Johnson from watching the TV series but it was really heart breaking to read the story of the slaughter of the workers and families of Anderson station. 

I read this short story in one setting and really enjoyed it as it filled in a bit of background story. The more I read of this series the more I fall in love with the writing. I give this story 5 out of 5 Dragons.


Purchase Link


About the author 

James S. A. Corey is the pen name of fantasy author Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, George R. R. Martin’s assistant. They both live Albuquerque, New Mexico.

My review of Leviathan Wakes.

Midwinter Murder by Agatha Christie (Review)

Midwinter Murder by Agatha Christie


There’s a chill in the air and the days are growing shorter… It’s the perfect time to curl up in front of a crackling fireplace with this winter-themed collection from legendary mystery writer Agatha Christie. But beware of deadly snowdrifts and dangerous gifts, poisoned meals and mysterious guests. This compendium of short stories, some featuring beloved detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, is an essential omnibus for Christie fans and the perfect gift for mystery lovers.


– The Chocolate Box

– A Christmas Tragedy

– The Coming of Mr Quin

– The Mystery of the Baghdad Chest

– The Clergyman’s Daughter

– The Plymouth Express

– Problem at Pollensa Bay

– Sanctuary

– The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge

– The World’s End

– The Manhood of Edward Robinson

– Christmas Adventure


I chose this book as one of my Christmas reads and I was so pleased I did because I thoroughly enjoyed this book. 

I absolutely love Poirot and Miss Marple so it was wonderful to read some short stories that include them. Poirot always makes me laugh as he really is such a big head but never seems to see it. Miss Marple on the other hand always comes across as an interfering old woman but of course she is also a genius who can work out any mystery. 

My favourite stories from the book were Sanctuary, Christmas Adventure and The Clergyman’s Daughter. These stories were wonderful reads and really shone out for me from the other stories.

I loved this series of short stories and they really put me in the mood for Christmas and went particularly well with a nice mug of hot chocolate. I highly recommend this book to either dip into or read in one go and give the book 5 out of 5 Dragons.


Purchase Links

Amazon | Book Depository

(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 ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Agatha Christie (1890-1976) was an English writer known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections. She also wrote the world’s longest running play, The Mousetrap. She also wrote 6 novels under the name Mary Westmacott.

Christmas Murder: A Chilling Short Story Collection by Val McDermid (Review)

Christmas is Murder: A Chilling Short Story Collection by Val McDermid


The Queen of Crime Val McDermid is a master of the dark and sinister story, and these powers are demonstrated in full force in Christmas is Murder, a festive collection of chilling tales.

From an irresponsible baron whose body is discovered beneath a silver birch tree, to an author who is haunted by the spiteful presence of a jealous writing partner, the characters McDermid conjures are enigmatic and dangerous, never above suspicion.

Follow Tony Hill and Carol Jordan as they track a deadly killer who is preparing to strike on Christmas Day, and lose yourself in a festive exclusive – a recently unearthed case for a classic detective duo, set as the lights are going out across Europe.

These evocative, atmospheric tales will shock and delight. This is the perfect book to curl up with as the frosty winter draws in and each night gets darker than the last, written by one of our greatest living crime writers.


I was so excited to see this book and immediately ordered it off Waterstones. I love a good Christmas murder mystery but sadly I was rather disappointed with this book.

The first thing I really disliked was the fact that a lot of these short stories seemed like they should have been longer but that McDermid had just removed chunks of the story to make it shorter. They jumped around too much and there was no development which even in a short story should be present.

The second thing that got on my nerves was the fact that some of the stories basically had nothing to do with Christmas and even if they did the link was tenuous at best. For a Christmas murder mystery book this was a disappointment for me.

I did however like some of the stories, my favourite was The Girl who Killed Santa Claus. This story was wonderful and a really good short story and was a welcome change from the rest of the short stories.

I am afraid I have only given 2 out of 5 Dragons to this book and I will be honest and say that I will not be reading another Val McDermid book as I just did not enjoy her writing.


Purchase Links

Amazon | Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones

(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 ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Val McDermid is a No. 1 bestseller whose novels have been translated into more than thirty languages, and have sold over eleven million copies. 

She has won many awards internationally, including the CWA Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year and the LA Times Book of the Year Award. She was inducted into the ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame in 2009 and was the recipient of the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for 2010. In 2011 she received the Lambda Literary Foundation Pioneer Award. 

She writes full time and divides her time between Cheshire and Edinburgh.

Too Good To Be True by Ann Cleeves (Review)

Too Good To Be True by Ann Cleeves

About the author


Ann Cleeves was born in 1954 and is an English crime writer. She has won the Duncan Lawrie Dagger and her Vera and Jimmy Perez novels have been dramatised as TV detective series. She currently resides in Whitley Bay.


Too Good To Be True is a gripping Quick Read from Ann Cleeves, featuring Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez from the bestselling Shetland series.

When young teacher Anna Blackwell is found dead in her home, the police think her death was suicide or a tragic accident. After all, Stonebridge is a quiet country village in the Scottish Borders, where murders just don’t happen.

But Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez soon arrives from far-away Shetland when his ex-wife, Sarah, asks him to look into the case. The local gossips are saying that her new husband, Tom, was having an affair with Anna. Could Tom have been involved with her death? Sarah refuses to believe it – but needs proof.

Anna had been a teacher. She must have loved kids. Would she kill herself knowing there was nobody to look after her daughter? She had seemed happier than ever before she died. And to Perez, this suggests not suicide, but murder . . .


I love the Quick Reads books and have discovered quite a few authors that I enjoy from reading books from this series and this book is no exception. My parents are massive Ann Cleeves fans but I will be honest I have never read any of her books but looking for a short read for the weekend I came across this book and promptly began reading.

Although this is only a short book and I easily read it in one setting I really liked the character of Jimmy Perez and would love to read more books about this character. He worked out the case brilliantly even though the policeman who was in charge of the case missed some pretty obvious things and really should have had his wrists slapped for his sloppy policing and just jumping to the easiest conclusion. Perez is obviously a deeply caring person who will do anything for family and that was really moving to read about even if it was only hinted at.

The story contains the question of was it a suicide or a murder and Perez is left to work it out but as he is trying to unravel the mystery there is a sinister figure that is clearly watching him.

This story had everything: mystery, suspense, crime and much more. I loved this book and will definitely be reading more by Ann Cleeves, hopefully the parents will allow me to borrow some of their copies. A fantastic short read that I read in one sitting and I highly recommend to all crime fiction fans. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons.

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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.


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.


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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