The Old White Truck written by Phillip Percy and illustrated by Dale Percy

The Old White Truck by Phillip Percy
The Old White Truck
by Phillip Percy (Goodreads Author)
Reviewed by
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice* Jones

Nov 09, 2014  ·
EXCERPT: ‘Every single morning before the birds wake up,
Mr Mills of Venice Street starts up his old white truck. ..’
THE BLURB: The Old White Truck is a quirky and amusingly illustrated snapshot of what makes small-town New Zealand tick. The Old White Truck is based on the real comings and goings of Mr Mills and is a tribute to Mrs Mills’ legendary home made scones!

Making early morning bread deliveries around the town of Martinborough in his old white truck, Mr Mills discovers a most delicious aroma. After delivering the final loaf of bread to the final door, and with growing excitement, he traces the smell back to his own front door.


MY VIEWS: Another wonderful tale from the author of Mr Phelps’ Fish Truck, Phillip Percy and illustrated by his father Dale.

This book follows the old white truck and it’s driver, Mr Mills, as he delivers bread around the NZ town of Martinborough.

This is a lovely toddlers/new readers tale that rhymes, accompanied by delightfully detailed illustrations.

The author and his family live in Martinborough, and Phillip wrote this book after Mrs Mills arrived on their doorstep with a batch of freshly baked scones to welcome them to the neighborhood when they were moving in. Phillip said he ‘wrote this little story to recognize her generosity and to capture a slice of life that typifies living in small town New Zealand.

The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards

The Devil's Work by Mark  Edwards
The Devil’s Work
by Mark Edwards (Goodreads Author)
reviewed by


Picture this: it is a warm and sunny late winters afternoon and I am curled up in the sunshine reading the final 20% of The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards. A gentle breeze stirs the curtain and the edge caresses my neck. I shriek. Leaping from the chair I drop my Kindle and spin around to see who is going to strangle me.

It happened.

Seldom have I ever had such a strong physical reaction to a book. Mark Edwards had my heart pounding and my imagination working overtime. He even disturbed my sleep. Hence I am up writing this review at 2.30 am instead of battling sleep filled with menace and shadowy figures.

THE BLURB
It was the job she had dreamed of since childhood. But on her very first day, when an unnerving encounter drags up memories Sophie Greenwood would rather forget, she wonders if she has made a mistake. A fatal mistake.

What is her ambitious young assistant really up to? And what exactly happened to Sophie’s predecessor? When her husband and daughter are pulled into the nightmare, Sophie is forced to confront the darkest secrets she has carried for years.

As her life begins to fall apart at work and at home, Sophie must race to uncover the truth about her new job…before it kills her.

Mark Edwards has done a superb job with both his characterisation and the plot. Written over two timelines, the years 2000 and 2012, he cleverly intertwines the stories to create the maximum suspense and suspicion. He even had me suspecting peripheral characters!

This is not the first book I have read by this author, but it is definitely the best.

Thank you to Thomas and Mercer via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page for an explanation of my ratings. This and other of my reviews can also be viewed at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2101128986?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Half Past by Victoria Helen Stone

Half Past by Victoria Helen Stone
Half Past
by Victoria Helen Stone (Goodreads Author)
reviewed by


EXTRACT: ‘She wanted to be back in Chicago. Back in her apartment. In her bed. In her marriage. She wanted to wake up, dry and warm, and realize the past six months had been a bad dream. A nightmare that didn’t make any sense in the morning. Why had she come back to Iowa? And how could Jeff possibly hate her so much? It was nonsense. Jeff didn’t hate anyone. And what utter foolishness to think her sweet steady mother wasn’t her mother at all.

THE BLURB: At forty-five, Hannah Smith is at a crossroads. That’s her spin on it. The reality is she’s divorced, jobless, and moving back to her family home in Iowa to keep an eye on her mother, who’s slipping into dementia. Her return stirs up the same unnerving sense of disconnect Hannah has felt since childhood—always the odd girl out, the loner outshone by her two older sisters. Hannah knew the feelings of hurt would come back. But she never expected fear. Because when her mother looks into her eyes and whispers, “You’re not my daughter,” Hannah is beginning to believe it’s not just the rambling of a confused woman.

It’s the truth.

Now Hannah’s following the trail of a family mystery to the dark coast of Big Sur, where years ago a lie was born—and buried. As frightened as she is to unearth it, Hannah knows this is the last chance she has before her past—and all its terrible secrets—are lost forever

MY VIEWS: Half Past by Victoria Helen Stone took me by surprise. It is good. It is damned good. Very damned good. I was expecting something a little Schmaltzy, with a fair bit of romance thrown in. Don’t ask me where I got this idea. I just had it, okay? Instead I got this emotionally raw, absorbing story of family relationships that kept me glued to my Kindle from start to finish.

Stone is actually romance novelist Victoria Dahl, which I did not know until I read ‘about the author’ at the end of the book. Not that I have ever read anything by either of her names. But after publishing more than 25 romance novels, her work has taken a darker turn under a nom-de-plume. Go Victoria!

Stone has given us a wonderfully complex but very real character in Hannah Smith. Growing up she had pushed boundaries and always wanted more. More answers. More freedom. She had fought hard against the restrictions her parents placed on her. She’d run off, walked away, skipped out on her obligations. And now at 45, she’s still doing it. Still walking away from things, running away. Turning her back and moving on. Still wanting more. …..Half Past is a good reminder that we should be careful what we wish for. A glowing 4.5 ☆

Thank you to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Half Past by Victoria Helen Stone for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page for an explanation of my ratings. This and other of my reviews can also be viewed at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2125855091?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes

The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes
reviewed by


EXCERPT: ‘As she moved along, stately but sure, like the Lusitania departing from Liverpool, she thought she recognized a figure out of the corner of her eye. It gave Florence a start. Did he know she would be at Victoria? The man was slight, angular and frayed at the edges – a wooden life raft to her ocean liner. His back was half turned away and his hat was pulled down low so that she couldn’t be sure if he had seen her. Florence picked up the pace, her heart quickening. She spotted her Porter up ahead, waiting patiently by her bags, and she calmed herself. She had only to get on the train; in less than twenty minutes she’d be on her way. ….It was not long before the guard blew his final whistle. The train moved off, slowly at first, then gathered momentum steadily until, by the time it reached the first tunnel, it was rolling down the line at full speed. That was the last time anyone saw Florence Nightingale Shore alive. ..’

THE BLURB: It’s 1919, and Louisa Cannon dreams of escaping her life of poverty in London, and most of all her oppressive and dangerous uncle.

Louisa’s salvation is a position within the Mitford household at Asthall Manor, in the Oxfordshire countryside. There she will become nurserymaid, chaperone and confidante to the Mitford sisters, especially sixteen-year-old Nancy – an acerbic, bright young woman in love with stories.

But then a nurse – Florence Nightingale Shore, goddaughter of her famous namesake – is killed on a train in broad daylight, and Louisa and Nancy find themselves entangled in the crimes of a murderer who will do anything to hide their secret . . . ‘

MY VIEWS: I didn’t realize, when I began The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes, that it is based on a real murder. It was not until I reached the end of the book and read the author’s historical note, that I discovered Florence Nightingale Shore actually existed, that she was god-daughter of the famous woman herself, and that she was indeed attacked on the Brighton line Monday 12 January, 1920 and died a few days later of her injuries. Nobody was ever found guilty of her murder.

The Mitford Murders is a captivating blend of fact and fiction. Newspaper reports of the interviews conducted with the witnesses at the Inquest have been used to recreate the events. People, including Florence’s friend Mabel, the Mitford family and their servants, also have their roots in reality, although some things have been changed for the benefit of the novel.

Fellowes has captured the atmosphere of the early 1920s splendidly. The war is over, but nothing has quite returned to normal. There is a shortage of men; many physically and psychologically wounded soldiers have returned home to nothing, wondering what it was all for. Life is nothing like we know it. The British class system is still very evident. Poverty is a way of life for the lower classes where survival is all, violence and intimidation a way of life . But then again, perhaps nothing has really changed after all, only fashion and technology.

The Mitford Murders is a captivating read. Fellowes, perhaps best known for her Downtown Abbey books, is very good at what she does. This is, apparently, the first book of a new series,one I am looking forward to reading.

Thank you to Hachette Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page for an explanation of my ratings. This review and others can also be viewed at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2125151750

Heads or Tails by Damien Boyd

Heads or Tails by Damien Boyd
Reviewed by


EXCERPT: The tide was up to Harry’s neck now; that much was visible from the shore. His head was tipped back, his mouth open, and he was fighting to keep his chin above the water with his last gasp. His eyes were wide open, tears mixing with the seawater. Harry was conscious enough to know what was happening to him. Dixon shook his head. He was watching a man’s life ebbing away on a flood tide and there was nothing he could do to stop it.

THE BLURB: A man has been mutilated and left to drown on the incoming tide, handcuffed in his van. With the murder bearing a striking resemblance to a string of sadistic killings carried out with surgical precision in 1990s gangland Manchester, it can mean only one thing: the killer is back.

Transferred to the Major Investigation Team, DI Nick Dixon is assigned a new partner and sent to Manchester. Meanwhile, the gruesome murders in Somerset continue.

Convinced of a connection with the unsolved gangland killings, and with the odds stacked against him, Dixon takes the ultimate gamble, determined to bring the killer to justice before it’s too late.

But is it the same killer? If so, why has he resurfaced now? And how many more must die?

MY VIEWS: Firstly, Heads or Tails by Damien Boyd is book #7 in the DI Nick Dixon series. I have not previously read any of the preceding books in the series. Heads or Tails contains the occasional reference to past crimes that are not explained, and the relationships between characters are obviously long standing ones. Although not fully understanding references to past occurrences does not really impact on understanding or enjoying the plot of Heads or Tails, it probably would be advisable, if at all possible, to read the series in order from the beginning to get the most out of it. But, if not, it is still a good read as a stand alone.

Heads or Tails was a good read, but nothing very special. It is a well written British police procedural/ crime novel with good characterisation. It flows smoothly, is an easy read and even has a couple of OMG! moments that give added interest – including what the book title refers to. But it never really gripped me. There wasn’t that special ‘tingling ‘ feeling that means I would put on my ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ hat and, when I was finished, rush off to order the rest of the series. If another book in the series was to fall into my hands, I would definitely read it, but I won’t be going out of my way to find it.

Thank you to Thomas and Mercer via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Heads or Tails by Damien Boyd for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own, therefore if you enjoyed the excerpt, please pick up a copy of Heads or Tails. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page for an explanation of my ratings. You can check out this review and others at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2123273695

Friday Favorites

Looking for something to read over the weekend?

Nothing on your book radar that is screaming “read me!”?

Check out my Friday Favorite  – it may not be new, it may not even be by an author you have ever heard of, but it will be a book that has captured both my imagination and my heart.

OWEN MULLEN’S debut novel Games People Play has been long-listed for Bloody Scotland McIlvanney Crime Book Of The Year 2017. It is the first in the Charlie Cameron Glasgow PI  series of three  (so far).

This book just totally blew me away when I first read it, and continued to do so on each subsequent reading. I have read it a total of four times so far and recommend it to everyone I know. And just because I don’t ‘know’ you, dear follower, doesn’t mean I want you to miss out on what could possibly be your read of the year.

THE BLURB: Thirteen-month-old Lily Hamilton is abducted from Ayr beach in Scotland while her parents are just yards away.

Three days later the distraught father turns up at private investigator Charlie Cameron’s office. Mark Hamilton believes he knows who has stolen his daughter. And why.

Against his better judgment Charlie gets involved in the case and when more bodies are discovered the awful truth dawns: there is a serial killer whose work has gone undetected for decades.

Is baby Lily the latest victim of a madman?

For Charlie it’s too late, he can’t let go.

His demons won’t let him.

MY REVIEW:

Games People Play by Owen Mullen
reviewed by Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice* Jones


I love this book! It is breath-taking. It is unputdownable. There is not one dull or mediocre moment in this book. Quite simply – it is brilliant!

The characters captivate and entrance. I felt their pain, their indecision, their joy. Secrets, lies and infidelity abound.

“Four and a half weeks after they walked on the sand swinging their child between them, the family was damaged beyond repair, destroyed by guilt and betrayal. ”

Mark and Jen Hamilton’s decision to take 13 month old daughter Lily to Ayr Beach for the day was one they would live to regret. Jen’s decision to take one final swim in the cold waters was one that would almost kill her – more then once. For while Mark races into the water to save his wife from drowning, then resuscitates her – someone abducts their daughter, left sitting in her pushchair on the sand.

When the distraught father turns up at Glasgow PI Charlie Cameron’s office and begs him to help, Charlie gets involved against his better judgement. Finding missing people is what Charlie does. But not kids. Never kids. But Mark Hamilton believes he knows who has stolen his daughter. And why. And he is desperate for someone to help him.

A child’s body is discovered on Fenwick Moor, then another in St Andrews. Neither is Lily. There is a child killer on the loose. Is Lily another victim?

I honestly can’t believe this is a first novel. Both the quality of the writing and the plot are outstanding. More please Mr Mullen!

Thank you to Owen Mullen for an ARC of Games People Play in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

P.S. I have never done this before (well not so soon anyway!)….but I am reading this book again. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I have picked it up and am re-reading it….slowly this time, and savouring every lovely moment! Going back and re-reading passages, rolling the writing around in my mind and really appreciating it. First read through I just had to know what happened! This is appreciation time. Am I enjoying it any less because I know the outcome? NO! In fact, if I could, I would award it 6 stars this time around.

Wow! This has just made the best-seller list. well done Owen Mullen!

Enjoy your weekend read. And please let me know what you think of Charlie Cameron PI, and Owen Mullen’s debut novel. Over the coming months, I will also review the second and third books in the series, Old Friends and New Enemies, and Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.

But don’t feel you have to wait on my reviews to read his other books. You can check out the author and his books on https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14949607.Owen_Mullen

Or https://www.amazon.com/Owen-Mullen/e/B01BJSFIU8/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Have a great weekend, and happy reading!

 

Every Dead Thing by John Connolly

Every Dead Thing by John Connolly
reviewed by


EXCERPT: The patrol car arrived first on the night they died, shedding red light into the darkness. Two patrolmen entered the house, quickly yet cautiously, aware that they were responding to a call from one of their own, a policeman who had become a victim instead of the resort of victims.
I sat in the hallway with my head in my hands as they entered the kitchen of our Brooklyn home and glimpsed the remains of my wife and child. I watched as one conducted a brief search of the upstairs rooms while the other checked the living room, the dining room, all the time the kitchen calling them back, demanding that they bear witness.
I listened as they radioed for the Major Crime Scene Unit, informing them of a probable double homicide. I could hear the shock in their voices, yet they tried to communicate what they had seen as dispassionately as they could, like good cops should. Maybe, even then, they suspected me. They were policemen and they, more than anyone else, knew what people were capable of doing, even one of their own.

THE BLURB: Hailed internationally as a page-turner in a league with the fiction of Thomas Harris, this lyrical and terrifying bestseller is the stunning achievement of an “extravagantly gifted” (Kirkus Reviews) new novelist. John Connolly superbly taps into the tortured mind and gritty world of former NYPD detective Charlie “Bird” Parker, tormented by the brutal, unsolved murders of his wife and young daughter. Driven by visions of the dead, Parker tracks a serial killer from New York City to the American South, and finds his buried instincts — for love, survival, and, ultimately, for killing — awakening as he confronts a monster beyond imagining…

MY COMMENTS: When I closed this book on the final page, I went and lay down in a darkened room. I was spent, drained, depleted, amazed, stunned and awed. I needed to let the characters take their leave, to leave me in peace. Every Dead Thing is not an easy book to cast from ones mind. Like Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker, I could sense them there, shadows in the room wanting to be heard, as I read.

And that ending. …..but I get ahead of myself.

Connolly’s writing is described as ‘lyrical’. It is all of that and more. He writes with beautiful words and phrases that resound in my mind, that I return to and read again, that I roll around in my mouth and my mind like a fine wine. Beautiful words and phrases that are far removed from the dark acts they describe; and because of their beauty, words that make those acts even more starkly horrifying.

He uses devices, tactics in his writing that, with other authors, have me gnashing my teeth. But Connolly makes them work to his advantage and had me eagerly turning the pages. The man is a master at his art.

And the ending? With all the twists, turns, subplots, reminiscences and meanderings down country lanes throughout the book, I NEVER SAW THAT COMING!

I have randomly read a number of the books in the Charlie Parker series over the years, but never this, the first in the series. Now I am motivated to read them all again, in order this time.

Thank you to Atria Books via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Every Dead Thing by John Connolly for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page for an explanation of my ratings.

You can also see this review and others at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2120368383

Smelly Bill Stinks Again by Daniel Postgate

Smelly Bill Stinks Again by Daniel Postgate
reviewed by


‘Bill was clever, tricky, tough,
And nobody was smart enough
To get that rascal in the tub
And give his fur a soapy scrub. …’

That is until the dog-sitter comes to stay. Great-Aunt Bleach is every stinkers’ enemy. Bill calls on his equally stinky pals for help. Can they defeat Great-Aunt Bleach and her shampoo wielding friends?

Another beautifully illustrated book written in rhyme to enchant children. And adults.

I see that there is a whole range of titles in the Smelly Bill series, just waiting for me to buy.

The Secrets You Keep by Kate White

The Secrets You Keep by Kate White
The Secrets You Keep
by Kate White

Reviewed by


EXTRACT: ‘I wake to the smell of smoke.
It’s faint, but enough to rouse me, and I jerk up in bed, eyes wide open. For a few seconds, I freeze there, propped on an elbow and trying to make sense of it. What’s burning?
I start to shove my legs out of bed, but the top sheet fights me. I have to wrench it loose from the mattress so I can force my feet to the ground.
As my eyes adjust to the dark, I realize that I’m not at home. I’m in a hotel room. I’ve been traveling on business. ..yet I can’t remember where. The burning smell intensifies, boring into my nostrils and propelling my head back. Panic surges through me. Fire, I think. Fire…..’

THE BLURB: What would you do if you realized that your new husband, a man you adore, is keeping secrets from you—secrets with terrifying consequences?

Bryn Harper, an accomplished self-help author, already has plenty to deal with. She’s still recovering from a devastating car accident that has left her haunted by recurring, smoke-filled nightmares. Worse still, she can’t shake the ominous feeling her dreams contain a warning.

In the beginning, Bryn’s husband Guy couldn’t have been more supportive. But after moving into a new house together, disturbing incidents occur and Guy grows evasive, secretive. What the hell is going on, she wonders? Then, a woman hired to cater their dinner party is brutally murdered.

As Bryn’s world unravels—and yet another woman in town is slain —she must summon her old strength to find answers and protect her own life. Her nightmares may in fact hold the key to unlocking the truth and unmasking the murderer.

With unexpected, riveting twists, The Secrets You Keep is an utterly compelling psychological thriller that once again showcases Kate White’s extraordinary storytelling talent.

MY VIEWS: Ultimately, The Secrets You Keep by Kate White was a disappointing read. In the first chapter, which should have engendered a sense of fear and urgency, it felt heavy and unwieldy, mostly I think because of the author’s choice of words. Who tries to ‘shove’ their legs out of bed in an emergency? I would fling or at least swing mine out, tangled in the sheet or not. I would ‘shove’ my feet in my boots, or even perhaps my slippers. Similarly, I found the phrase ‘so that I could force my feet to the floor’ another odd one. Personally, my feet would be flying across that floor to the door whether I knew where I was or not. It felt like the author was trying too hard and, as a result, missed the mark completely.

Once I got past the first chapter, I actually started to enjoy the book, finding it holding my interest until just before the halfway point where it took an extremely predictable turn that just killed it for me. After that? It just failed to re-engage me.

The plot and characters both suffer from a lack of development. There is no real depth to either. I’m afraid that I found this book neither compelling nor thrilling. At 2.5☆ there was nothing to encourage me to look for more to read from this author.

Thank you to Canelo via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Secrets You Keep by Kate White for review. All opinions expressed in this review are personal and entirely my own. Therefore if you enjoyed the extract, I encourage you to go ahead and read this book. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page for an explanation of my ratings.

This review and others are also available on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2097795292

Concerning Blackshirt by Roderic Jeffries

Concerning Blackshirt by Roderic Jeffries
Concerning Blackshirt
by Roderic Jeffries

 

This is the third book by Roderic Jeffries that I have read, but the first of the Blackshirt series and, liking-wise, it falls right in the middle with a 3.5☆ rating.

AN EXTRACT:  ‘ “Dead! How? ”
“He had an accident late last night. He was unfortunate enough to fall in the river, which as you know runs past his garden. He must have fallen, knocked himself unconscious, then have rolled in the river and drowned. He was inclined to be a little careless.”
It was all too obvious that these men did not stand for the slightest incompetence. If one of their members failed, then he was eliminated. It wasa ruthlessness foreign to the English mentality.
“Who killed him?” asked Verrall.
“The Coroner will bring in a verdict of accidental death. ”
“That’s not what I asked. ”
“Mr Verrall, you do not seem to realize your position. You appear to treat the matter as though it were a bit of a lark – something to break the monotony of ordinary existence. At the moment, you are alive. I assure you, an accident can quite easily be arranged.”‘

THE BLURB: Richard Verrell is looking forward to a quiet weekend in Kent.

It certainly starts out that way – that is until he wanders across his host’s fields for a spot of rough-shooting.

Coming across a little garden shed, he’s amazed to find an immense ‘blower four and a half’ Bentley inside.

Arriving back at the house, he convinces himself that something isn’t right and returns to the shed accompanied by his host.

To their horror, they find themselves under heavy gunfire before the Bentley roars to a hurried getaway.

Unhurt, they manage to scurry to safety to another nearby shed – where Verrell trips over the body of a dead man.

Would any man ask for a better incentive to rush headlong into an affair that does not in the least concern him? Certainly Blackshirt would not.

But then Blackshirt is … Blackshirt.

Chasing women, money, revolvers and dangerous secrets, Blackshirt sets out to get to the bottom of his gruesome discovery…

MY VIEWS: If you like a fast paced spy thriller set post WWII complete with wonderful cars, car chases and lots of action and subterfuge, then Concerning Blackshirt is a must on your reading list. I salivated over the Bentley and the description of its performance, although my personal dream car is the 1938 Alfa Romeo 6C 2300B Mille Miglia Spyder.

There were numerous things that I liked about this book, which more than compensated for my general dislike of spy novels. Of course there were the cars, of which the author spends quite a bit of time describing both the appearance and the performance. I learned a new word-  bolide ‘, which when taken in the context of the Bentley, means ‘missile ‘. There is also the era in which it is set, which I gather is the late 1940’s, perhaps early 1950’s. There is the absolute ‘Englishness’ of it, the language, the attitudes, the class system, still very much in evidence, though obviously on the decline in this book. And the characterisation, which is superb.

Verrall, the central character, is a best-selling author by day with the alter-ego of Blackshirt, a daring and most wanted criminal by night. He is described as having the mischievous nature of a man who has never grown up, and admits that he is happiest when faced with danger. It is not enough for him to merely write about crime and spies, he must live it.

Thank you to Endeavour Press for providing a digital copy of Concerning Blackshirt for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page for an explanation of my ratings.

Please check out this and other of my reviews at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2119244897