Chris Parish

Book Review: Feed Thy Enemy by Sue Parritt

Hello and welcome to Sue Parritt and the blog tour for her novel, Feed Thy Enemy.

In this heart-warming narrative based on a true story, a British airman embarks on a plan that risks it all to feed a starving, war-stricken family. 

Thirty years after serving in World War II, middle-aged Rob’s holiday plans see an unforeseen change that leads him on a coach tour of Italy. Struggling with post-war PTSD and depression, he reluctantly agrees to the journey – and sparks a dream that plunges him into long-stifled memories.

Set in Europe, Sue Parritt’s Feed Thy Enemy is an account of courage and compassion in the face of trauma. When Rob’s flashback delves into his attempts to save a famished family with a series of increasingly daring raids on his army’s supply stores, will he trigger suppressed remembrances of past war, love, and sacrifice – and find the strength to confront them in the present?

Feed Thy Enemy follows the life of Rob, a tail gunner in the RAF during the second world war.

Now an old man, he is haunted by the actions and memories of his past, suffering from frequent bouts of depression and insomnia.

When a holiday with his wife and friends is changed at the last minute he winds up going to Italy and is forced to face the memories of the time he spent there in Naples during the war and the Italian family he befriended.

Rob is a haunted man. I have some experience of depression and PTSD and I couldn’t help but empathise with him, the author doing a superb job of expressing the isolation and depth of his condition.

The story is not all doom and gloom though by any means, as it details how he went to great lengths (and considerable risk) to help an Italian family who only a short while ago would have perceived him as the enemy.
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Book Review: Black Matter by GD Parker

The future is now… it’s terrifying!!!

Humanity locks jaws with the ever-increasing human desires towards highly advanced technological innovations making the world a dangerous place.

Unanticipated horrific consequences unfold for Tommy McGregor when he partakes in a new high-tech innovation to enhance his health and wellbeing.

He thought it would make him healthier, better looking and live forever…DI Valentina is out of her comfort zone when she’s tasked to track down a killer, unknown to her, hidden behind a digital mask.

The future has already fallen upon humanity as she soon discovers, nothing is as it seems anymore as society embarks in technology that’s already here.

A terrifying mystery, it feeds your imaginative mind’s eye – a fast-paced “whoisit” thrilling crime, novel that will leave you guessing until the end, (or will it?) As it leaves the hairs on your arms stand on end as you uncontrollably turn each page in this 3 part series.

Black Matter is the debut novel from British born author Gareth Parker.

It is a glimpse into a very near future where technology is deeply ingrained, in some cases physically, into our lives.

The story follows Tommy, a young man in his early thirties who makes the decision to have a medical implant placed in his brain which will allow him to monitor his health more accurately.

Little does he know that this is slightly more sinister than advertised.

A pretty good read. It takes a few pages to find its feet. For me, it did feel like a debut novel to begin with.

However, as it progresses and it gets into the rhythm it starts to flow nicely.

The characters are, on the whole, pretty believable and I felt that I had a good feel for the main ones by the time I was about a quarter of the way through.

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Blog Tour: Out of Bounds by Val McDermid – Review

Outofbounds blog tourI’m pleased to be welcoming Val McDermid to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for her new novel, Out of Bounds. This is the latest novel in the Inspector Karen Pirie series and has been released today by Little, Brown.

There were a lot of things that ran in families, but murder wasn’t one of them . . .’

When a teenage joyrider crashes a stolen car, a routine DNA test could be the key to unlocking the mystery of a twenty-year-old murder inquiry. Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie is an expert at solving the unsolvable. With each cold case closed, justice is served. So, finding the answer should be straightforward, but it’s as twisted as the DNA helix itself.

Meanwhile, Karen finds herself irresistibly drawn to another case, one that she has no business investigating. And as she pieces together decades-old evidence, Karen discovers the most dangerous kind of secrets. Secrets that someone is willing to kill for . . .

Out Of Bounds is the latest instalment of McDermid’s successful Karan Pirie series of crime thriller novels. The story follows Inspector Karen Pirie of Police Scotland’s Historical Case Unit. When a teenage joy rider in a stolen car ends up in hospital his DNA casts new light upon a twenty two year old cold case, but finding the answers are never as simple as they should be and getting to the bottom of this problem is a complex and twisty task.

In the meantime Karen is drawn to another case, stepping on toes and winding people up in the progress as it is not her case, when an apparent suicide has her digging into a decades old bombing from the IRA era.

This is the first book from this series which I have read and I am pleased to say that it stands on its own very well, as relevant and concise backstory is provided as required in a subtle way unlikely to frustrate those already familiar with it.

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Book Review: Smoke by Dan Vyleta

Smoke

W&N, 7th July 2016

Smoke opens in a private boarding school near Oxford, but history has not followed the path known to us. In this other past, sin appears as smoke on the body and soot on the clothes. Children are born carrying the seeds of evil within them. The ruling elite have learned to control their desires and contain their sin. They are spotless. It is within the closeted world of this school that the sons of the wealthy and well-connected are trained as future leaders.

Among their number are two boys, Thomas and Charlie. On a trip to London, a forbidden city shrouded in smoke and darkness, the boys will witness an event that will make them question everything they have been told about the past. For there is more to the world of smoke, soot and ash than meets the eye and there are those who will stop at nothing to protect it . . .

Imagine a world where sin were rendered visible by smoke; where evidence of your deeds and intents was visible for all to see. Large cities like London are hives of sin and corruption, wrapped in smoke and stained with soot, where the common people are forced to live in the thick of it while the very wealthy move out into the countryside away from the corruption and into the fresh air where their own smoke can dissipate.

The children of the wealthy are schooled in how to be mindful of their thoughts and actions so as not to smoke and it is in once such school that  the story starts.

Thomas is a young boy who until very recently was home schooled, until a powerful sponsor secured his place at a well-respected school outside of Oxford. On a school trip into London to observe the sinful city Thomas sees something which causes him to question the true nature of smoke.

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Book Review: The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan

TheWakingFireFor decades the lands of the Ironship Syndicate have been defended by the Blood-blessed – men and women able to channel the powers contained in the potent blood of wild drakes. Elite spies and assassins, their loyalty has established the Syndicate’s position as the greatest power in the known world.

Yet now a crisis looms. The drake bloodlines are weakening, and war with the Corvantine Empire seems inevitable. The Syndicate’s only hope of survival lies with the myth of a legendary drake, whose powerful blood might just turn the tide of the war – if it even exists.

The task of hunting down this fabled creature falls to Claydon Torcreek, a petty thief and unregistered Blood-blessed. He’s handled many valuable things in his time (most of them illegal) but nothing as priceless as his nation’s future.

The Waking Fire is a fantasy book set in a world split between the Empire and the Ironship Syndicate. Among the people a precious few are able to draw power from the blood of Drakes (a creature with striking similarities to Dragons, indeed the series is titled the Draconis Memoria or Dragon’s Memory)

This gives them abilities beyond the norm, such as telepathic communication, superhuman strength and speed, the ability to create fire and telekinesis. These people are called the Blood-blessed and they are the top spies, assasins and operators for the largest company group, the Ironship Syndicate.

However, they face a problem – the potency of the drake blood is reducing and drake bloodlines are getting weaker, and with war with the empire becoming inevitable they set out to find a mythical breed of drake which could well turn the tide. The story follows several arcs, the primary being the story of Claydon Torcreek, an unregistered Blood-blessed who is forced to work with the company tasked with tracking down this fabled creature.

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Blog Tour: The Hiding Place by John Burley – Review

90636-4We are happy to be welcoming back John Burley to Novel Kicks today and his blog tour for his novel, The Hiding Place. The e-book was released by Avon on 30th July 2015 with the paperback following on 27th August 2015. Here’s a little about the book:

Dr Lise Shields works alongside some of the most dangerous criminals in America. As a psychiatrist she goes further than many, trying to work out what motivates these depraved and deadly individuals. When she gets close to one patient, Jason, she realises that his story isn’t black and white, and perhaps they’ve got the wrong man. But in letting Jason in, and believing his story, Lise soon realises she has put herself in terrible danger as she uncovers secrets, lies and unanswered questions. Is Lise living on borrowed time? And when she reaches the point of no return – where will she hide?

The Hiding Place is set in a psychiatric hospital in the US which houses some of the most deadly prisoners in the country. It’s a dead-end where none of the patients ever leave as they are all guilty and incurable.

Dr Lise Shields works with some of the most difficult. One day a transfer patient arrives with no paperwork and no patient history. This patient, Jason Edwards, causes Lise to ask questions and seek answers to perceived injustices leading her further and further down the rabbit hole, into a web of concealed truths and covert observation.

Laura had read No Mercy, the previous novel by John Burley and had really enjoyed it so I was looking forward to reading The Hiding Place.

This book is a well written and throughly enjoyable psychological thriller. All the clues are there from the start but I didn’t see the end coming until a few pages from the end. It kept me turning the pages and drew me through the book, always tempting me on a page further. The mystery of the novel drew me in.

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Blog Tour: Obsession in Death by JD Robb

9780349403632

A crisp winter morning in New York, in a luxury apartment, the body of a woman lies stretched out on a huge bed. On the wall above, the killer has left a message in bold black ink: FOR LIEUTENANT EVE DALLAS, WITH GREAT ADMIRATION AND UNDERSTANDING.

Eve Dallas is used to unwanted attention. Famous for her high-profile cases and her marriage to billionaire businessman Roarke, she has learned to deal with intense public scrutiny and media gossip. But now Eve has become the object of a singular and deadly obsession. She has an ‘admirer’, who just can’t stop thinking about her. Who is convinced they have a special bond. Who is planning to kill for her – again and again.

With time against her, Eve is forced to play a delicate – and dangerous – psychological dance. Because the killer is desperate for something Eve can never provide – approval. And once that becomes clear, Eve knows her own life will be at risk – along with those she cares about the most.

 

This is the first of J.D Robb’s books I’ve read and I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised. On opening the book I saw that it is the latest in a very long line of books all named along the same theme, {something} in death, so I was not sure how easy it would be to get into without knowing any of the characters. It turns out that my concerns were ill-founded. The book stands well on its own and although it references what I assume to be events from other books, prior knowledge it not required.

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Review: Dead Man Walking by Paul Finch

His worst nightmare is back… Dead Man WalkingAs a brutal winter takes hold of the Lake District, a prolific serial killer stalks the fells. ‘The Stranger’ has returned and for DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg, the signs are all too familiar. Last seen on Dartmoor ten years earlier, The Stranger murdered his victims in vicious, cold-blooded attacks – and when two young women go missing, Heck fears the worst. As The Stranger lays siege to a remote community, Heck watches helplessly as the killer plays his cruel game, picking off his victims one by one. And with no way to get word out of the valley, Heck must play ball…

When the review copy of this landed on my doormat and I read the blurb on the back I instantly decided that this would be the next book I would read. Although I have not read any of the other DS Heckenburg thrillers, I was not left in the dark as the book stands well on its own and the writer fills you in on any critical information from the other books in a very slick way that feels natural.

The story centres around a small village in the lake district and their two person police team including ex-big city police officer DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg who is looking for the quite life but ultimately fails to find it, as a serial killer starts picking off the villagers one by one. Continue reading

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Review: Age of Iron by Angus Watson

age-of-iron-final-cover.jpgage-of-iron-final-cover.jpgage-of-iron-final-coverAge of Iron by Angus Watson.

Released on 2nd September 2014 by Orbit Books.

Dug Sealskinner is a work-shy mercenary traveling south to join up with King Zadar’s army. But he keeps rescuing the wrong people.

Now Dug’s on the wrong side of the thousands-strong army he hoped to join – and worse, Zadar has blood­thirsty druid magic on his side. All Dug has is his war hammer, one small child, and one unpredictable, highly trained warrioress with a lust for revenge that might get them all killed . . .

 

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this book. I have read quite a lot of historical fiction by writers such as Bernard Cornwell, but almost without exception these have been based on post-Roman times so this was my first excursion into the heart of pre-Roman, Iron Age Britain.

I have to admit that I was a little put off by the cover. For some reason the stern looking, unwashed man on the front lead me to think that the novel would not be as good as I discovered it to be.

My first thought upon reading the opening chapters was that the characters seem very modern; they speak and act just like we do today, just with the odd Pagan god thrown in for a curse word every now and then. I found this a little unsettling at first, Continue reading

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Review: The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

Long EarthThe Long Mars was released by Doubleday, June 2014. 

2040-2045: In the years after the cataclysmic Yellowstone eruption there is massive economic dislocation as populations flee Datum Earth to myriad Long Earth worlds. Sally, Joshua, and Lobsang are all involved in this perilous work when, out of the blue, Sally is contacted by her long-vanished father and inventor of the original Stepper device, Willis Linsay. He tells her he is planning a fantastic voyage across the Long Mars and wants her to accompany him. But Sally soon learns that Willis has ulterior motives …

Meanwhile U. S. Navy Commander Maggie Kauffman has embarked on an incredible journey of her own, leading an expedition to the outer limits of the far Long Earth.

For Joshua, the crisis he faces is much closer to home. He becomes embroiled in the plight of the Next: the super-bright post-humans who are beginning to emerge from their ‘long childhood’ in the community called Happy Landings, located deep in the Long Earth. Ignorance and fear are causing ‘normal’ human society to turn against the Next – and a dramatic showdown seems inevitable . . .

 

The Long Mars is the third instalment of the Long Earth series by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter.

It’s set several years after the second book. A general summary of the story is that, following a massive natural disaster on Datum earth, there is a mass relocation of people out into the stepwise worlds. It follows three main story arcs, the first is a long distance trek into the far reaches of the long earth, another across Mars and a third one to find an emerging breed of humans who exhibit intelligence far superior to our own.

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The Illusionists Blog Tour – Review

The IllusionistsThe Illusionists by Rosie Thomas.

London 1870.
A terrifying place for a young, beautiful woman of limited means. But Eliza is modern before her time. Not for her the stifling if respectable conventionality of marriage, children, domestic drudgery. She longs for more. Through her work as an artist’s model, she meets the magnetic and irascible Devil – a born showman whose dream is to run his own theatre company.

Devil’s right-hand man is the improbably named Carlo Bonomi, an ill-tempered dwarf with an enormous talent for all things magic and illusion. Carlo and Devil clash at every opportunity and it constantly falls upon Eliza to broker an uneasy peace between them. And then there is Jasper Button. Mild-mannered, and a family man at heart, it is his gift as an artist which makes him the unlikely final member of the motley crew.

Thrown together by a twist of fate, their lives are inextricably linked: the fortune of one depends on the fortune of the other. And as Eliza gets sucked into the seductive and dangerous world her strange companions inhabit, she risks not only her heart, but also her life…

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Quick Spotlight – Uglies

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books (29 Mar 2012)

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books (29 Mar 2012)

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Set in the future, in a time when people live in small independent cities and everyone is pretty. Well not at first, but on your sixteenth birthday you are given an operation to turn you from an ugly into a pretty. For 15-year-old Tally Youngblood, this day cannot come quick enough. That is, until she meets another young girl named Shay, who is not so eager to get the operation. Tally quickly learns that all is not as it seems and that being ‘Pretty’ may come with a price.

I quite enjoy reading young adult books, as they are often fantastic and supernatural; easy reading with lots of action and this book did not disappoint. I read it in a night as I just had to keep turning the pages to find out what would happen next. The characters are well-formed but not overly complex and the storyline is predictable yet very well delivered; all the things to look for in an easy, fun read. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. So much so that I went out and bought the sequels.

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The Manhattan Puzzle by Laurence O’ Bryan

manhattan puzzleChris reviews The Manhattan Puzzle by Laurence O’ Bryan (published by Avon, October 2013.) 

The story follows Isabel Ryan in her attempt to find and free her husband, Sean Ryan, who has been framed for murder by the top American Bank he works for so as to cover up some very mysterious goings on. Isabel’s journey to solve the puzzle Ryan was working on will take her from her home in London to caverns under Manhattan Island.

I enjoyed the book. Although there are two books which precede this one, The Istanbul Puzzle and The Jerusalem Puzzle, it isn’t necessary for the reader to have read them to understand this book. There are references to things from the other books but they are explained within their required context, allowing the book to sit on its own. Similar in style to Dan Brown, Laurence O’Brian writes a well paced story which keeps drawing you on with its short chapters and regular cliffhangers, maintaining the readers interest while not bogging them down with unnecessary subplots.

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Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

Rising Steam by Terry PratchettRising Steam by Terry Pratchett published by Doubleday, November 2013.

I have long been a great fan of the writings of Terry Pratchett, not just his Discworld works but everything he has done. 

His latest offering, Rising Steam rose to the occasion and is a thumping good read. Steam is coming to Ankh-Morpork, much to the dismay of the Patrician, and this wonderful new invention will change the lives of everyone it touches.

The book follows the opening days of the steam engine, from one man’s shed in a small village, to a race against politics across the plains and into Uberwald.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it in just over a day. It was un-putdownable. It is wonderful to see the evolution of Discworld continuing and I really like the ‘cameo’ appearances from many of the characters whom I have come to love from other books in the series. Continue reading

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25th October 2013

220px-Geoffrey_Chaucer_(17th_century)Geoffrey Chaucer died on this day in 1400. He is widely considered to be the father of English Literature. Some of his works were adapted by the BBC. The series was called The Canterbury Tales.

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