Too Good To Be True by Ann Cleeves (Review)

Too Good To Be True by Ann Cleeves

About the author

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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.

Blurb

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 . . .

Review

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.

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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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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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 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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The Dolphins, the Whales and the Gudgeon by Aesop (Review)

The Dolphins, the Whales and the Gudgeon by Aesop

About the author

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Aesop (c. 620-564 BCE) was a Greek fabulist and storyteller credited with a number of fables now collectively known as Aesop’s Fables.

Blurb

Aesop’s animal fables are some of the earliest stories ever told, thought to have been composed by a slave in Greek antiquity and giving glimpses of a world that is harsh, pitiless and yet also eerily familiar.

Review

Having never read Aesop’s Fables I thought reading this little book of just some of them would be a good introduction to them and now I will be honest I desperately want to read the complete book.

I started reading this little book thinking that I would dip in and out of it but I could not put it down. I just loved every fable and could not believe how relatable they still are for the modern day. These fables will never age in my opinion.

Aesop was clearly a man who had met a lot of people and seen a lot of life to have come up with so many of these very true fables. I really loved how most of the fables used animals instead of people and these animals did not follow the traditional stereotypes of animals so in The Ageing Lion and the Fox the lion is sly and cunning and the fox is the clever one who works out what the lion is doing. Where usually we think of a lion as a brave and noble creature, Aesop is telling us not to judge a book by its cover.

I loved this little book and it took me a tea break to read it. The book made me laugh, it made me smile and it made me think. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons and I highly recommend it to everyone.

Purchase Links

 Waterstones

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The Fall of Icarus by Ovid (Review)

The Fall of Icarus by Ovid

About the author

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Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BC-17/18AD), known as Ovid in the English speaking world, was a Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus.

Blurb

Enduring myths of vengeful gods and tragically flawed mortals from ancient Rome’s great poet. Ovid tells the tales of Theseus and the Minotaur, Daedalus and Icarus, the Calydonian Boar-Hunt, and many other famous myths.

Review

I really enjoyed this little book and I thought the translation flowed well. This little book contains lots of well known myths and legends that are a joy to read.

I had a teacher at school who loved the Fall of Icarus and told it to us often and reading it brought back a lot of fond memories.

The myths flowed well from one to the other and were easy to read.

I loved this book and I found it a wonderful glimpse into Ovid’s Metamorphoses. I have given this book 5 out 5 Dragons.

Purchase Links

 Waterstones

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The Gates by Richard Pierce (Review)

The Gates by Richard Pierce

About the author

Richard Pierce is an English author who was born in Doncaster and educated in Germany and St John’s College, Cambridge. He now lives in Suffolk with his wife and four children. As well as writing he also paints, administers to two charities and writes poetry.

Blurb

Six short stories for self-isolation.

Review

I was very excited when I saw Richard Pierce mention this collection of short stories on his Twitter and headed straight over to Amazon to buy the stories. I loved Dead Men that Pierce sent me when I first started blogging to read and review.

I love the idea of these stories that Pierce has published for the time during lockdown and that it is staying at a cheap price of 99p.

The first short story Future History I must admit was not my favourite, I struggled to follow it. I understood the idea of it but I found it hard to get into. A rather scary vision of the future I must admit.

Voices I really enjoyed, the memories that the man was looking back on were so descriptive and it really was fantastic story telling. I also felt quite sorry for him at the end.

The Dig. Now I will be honest this story came across as very Philip K. Dick to me it really reminded me of his Electric Dreams which I just love so this story was right up my street. The idea of a man digging to make precautions for the future was excellent. This was my favourite short story in the set.

The National Fraud. This story was very sneaky and I must admit highly enjoyable. It was a very interesting take on Polling day for an election.

The Gates. Another fab story and rather puzzling, I must admit I read this one twice as it intrigued me so much. It left me asking a lot of stories and I desperately want to know more. What war? Who are the dead? Why can’t he leave? So many questions!

The Unrecognised. This story was wonderful and I will be honest I had a little cry at the end. This is a beautiful love story and really well written. The man was a real character and his relationship with his cat was very cute. The image of this 90 year old man still keeping his wife’s nightdress on her pillow even though she has been dead for 10 years was beautiful.

Overall, I loved this book, it took me about an hour to read and was perfect for helping me spend an hour not thinking about lockdown. It was beautifully written and had an interesting variety of stories. I highly recommend this book because it really does have something for everyone. I give this book 4.5 out of 5 Dragons just because I could not get into the first story. Thank you Mr Pierce for a beautiful set of short stories.

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Festive Spirits by Kate Atkinson (Review)

Festive Spirits by Kate Atkinson

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About the author

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Kate Atkinson was born in 1951 and is an English writer of novels, plays and short stories. She is the creator of the Jackson Brodie detective novels. She has won the Whitbread Book of the Year in 1995 and in 2013 and 2015 she won the Costa Book Awards.

Blurb

Three Festive Stories

Review

This was a nice short read of only 68 pages and although I read it in one sitting it can easily be dipped into.

The first story is called Lucy’s Day and it is all based on Lucy a mother of four who has given up her top career job to look after her family and in a way look after her elderly cleaner who doesn’t do much cleaning anymore and really just needs company. This is just one day in the hectic life of Lucy and out of all the chaos it shows the Christmas spirit coming through and that no matter how busy you are over Christmas you can still take time to appreciate the magic of it all.

The second story Festive Spirit was my least favourite of the three. I really hated the ending of this story, I found it disappointing and frustrating. I was hoping for so much more from this story and it just felt like a major cop out at the end.

The third story was my favourite. It showed that, for some, Christmas can be a lonely affair and also a time of bad news. However, it also showed that Christmas can be the time of contemplation and planning new beginnings. My favourite part was when Gerald was walking Dog and came along to the church; it really warmed my heart. This story was truly beautiful and it brought a little tear to my eye.

I gave this book 3 out of 5 Dragons because I just did not enjoy the second story. However, the first and third story make this book a well worth read and I highly recommend it.

Purchase Links

Book Depository

Waterstones

 

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