Monday, 30 March 2015

Amsterdam Calling by Tom Benson

At the moment, my cat Clicquot is my main inspirations. Although he does frequently interrupts me by walking over the keyboard, he is providing me with some great ideas too. I'm currently working on a book named Conversations with Tom. It started out as a series of short cat stories, but it is now more developing in a novel with a progressing story line. I still have masses of work to do before it is anywhere near to publication, but it is just a case of writing all these ideas down. However work and the increasing number of book reviews I'm doing are getting in the way. Talking of book reviews and Toms, here is my review of Amsterdam Calling. A recommend if you're going to Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Calling by Tom Benson

I like the way this story started in three different locations before the separate threads converged in Amsterdam. The book is part thriller, part romance. The blossoming romance between the two main protagonists Crystal and Dan develops during their research into her family. They’ve met by chance and because Dan feels an attraction to this American woman he helps her track down her remaining living relatives. They delve into her family’s history while he shows her the sights. Dan, a Scottish investigative journalist is laying low in Amsterdam after exposing a criminal gang. Neither knows that they are both being followed by people who intent to harm them.
I looked forwards to reading this book by Scottish writer Tom Benson, as I lived the first 20 years of my life in Holland (or the Netherlands as Tom correctly points out) before moving to Scotland. I’ve visited Amsterdam on many occasions, but after starting this book it became clear the writer knows this city better and that I should pay Amsterdam another visit. Tom has done his research well and it shows he loves the Dutch capital. However I found all the detail got in the way of actual plot of the thriller, which I would’ve liked to be more fleshed out.
I would love to take this book with me on my next visit to Amsterdam. I think this book will be most enjoyed as a travelling companion to Amsterdam and a light holiday read.

Friday, 27 March 2015

The Institute by Kayla Howarth

This week I've been reading young adult science fiction. This one was a bit different from the rest as it was well written and had plenty of action. I might be getting a bit to old to read about angst ridden teenagers but I certainly recommend this to a younger audience.

The Institute by Kayla Howarth

In a future where the population has been decimated by disease and a nuclear explosion, some humans have come to possess special powers. The authorities deem these people to be defective and have started to round them up and place them in The Institute to be cured of their dangerous abilities.
Allira Daniels lives with her father and ‘defective’ brother Shiloh. They move around a lot and Allira has perfected living her life being almost invisible. Then one night she helps two car crash victims and everything changes.
Kayla Howarth is on familiar territory with a dystopian society where being different is not tolerated, but what makes this such an entertaining read is the main character Allira. She struggles with putting herself before others, harbouring a secret while falling in love for the first time. She is narrating the story and we experience her thoughts, fears and insecurities first hand. Her love life is complicated to say the least which leads at times to hilarious situations. She is a sympathetic character I could easily relate to. The story moves at a quick pace and I was glued to my kindle for hours at the time. There is plenty of action and a great ending that sets the book up for the sequel.
What I liked about the book is that even though it is set in the future, it still is a society we easily recognise. People still ride the train and use telephones which made this story easy to follow and relate to. The characters are well drawn out and believable. I certainly look forwards to reading the sequel.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Beneath the Rainbow

This week has been unusually wet and cold here on the Côte d'Azur and I think even my cat has caught a cold. The poor thing has been sneezing and sleeping more than usual. I do feel sorry for him, but we both rather like this new cat that just wants to crawl on your lap and cuddle. I'm sure he'll be soon back to tearing the wallpaper of the wall and putting his teeth into anything that moves.
So with this Clicquot needing less attention, I've been motoring on with reading books and here is the next 5 star review:

Beneath the Rainbow by Lisa Shambrook 

If I stuck to my usual genre, I would have missed this little gem. I’m so glad my review group took me out of my comfort zone. I just started reading this book without knowing anything about it because I was asked to do a review, and I’m so glad I did.
The author did not pick an easy topic. The death of a young child and its aftermath has been handled with great sensitivity and Lisa Shambrook has managed to create a beautiful story that brought a few tears to my eyes. But I wouldn’t say this is a depressing book, far from it. This is a story about living through difficult times but eventually letting go and embracing life again with the help of remembering the joyful times.
I can tell that the author is a keen gardener by the knowledgeable descriptions of the many flowers in the story, which are so important to the young road accident victim Freya and her mother. I thought the bluebell illustration at the start of each chapter was a lovely touch.
I also think faith is very important to this writer as she places Freya in heaven to look down on her grief stricken family, but I wouldn’t class this as a religious book. That said, I don’t think this book would look out of place in a Christian book shop or school. I highly recommend this book to readers of all persuasions.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015


It has been quite a day. Not only was it glorious sunny weather and did I get to finish the excellent untamed by Steven Jeral Harris while getting a tan, I also got two five star reviews from my fellow reviewer group members. So I feel all warm and glow for more than one reason.

One thing I do wonder now I read a lot of self published books; why the hurry to publish? If you want to sell a product, do you not want it to be the best it can be? I sometimes get taken aback by the amounts of mistakes I spot. I'm a Dutch woman who has to speak French all day for work. I know my English is less than perfect. Maybe that is why I'm maybe less complacent than an English or American writer and sought the help of a professional before I put my work out there. Anyhow I never include that the book has 'editing' issues in my review as that can be corrected in the Kindle age. Plus I'm still angry at all my teachers who just took their red pens to correct spelling but failed to give me any feedback on my writing!

Untamed by Steven Jeral Harris

This book gripped my by the throat like the supernatural beast from the very first chapter and didn’t let go! This is a supernatural thriller of the best kind, exciting, very scary at times, but with well written believable characters.
Iva Hill is a teenage girl plagued by illness and insecurity. She thinks that her life will change little when her mother gets a new job and moves her to New York State. It is the town her mother grew up in and she gets re-acquainted with her uncle Frank, a local detective. He is investigating a gruesome murder that leaves him bewildered and worried. Iva’s mother enrols her in the local college. Things take an unexpected positive turn and slowly Iva begins to make friends and thinks she is getting the life she always wanted; a normal one. But the town is hiding a dark secret and Iva’s new found ‘normality’ puts her in grave danger. The-worried-mother versus girl-reaching-adult hood relationship is well described and you can feel the warmth, but firstly and foremost this is an exciting book with lots of action. I would recommend this for young adults, but with a warning that there is swearing, violence and a torture scene, but nothing that shocked this not-so-young adult.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Twist In The Tale by Matthew Williams

I'm always a sucker for a freebie, so I downloaded it ages ago to my kindle when it was available for free. I read it while commuting to Monaco in 2013. To say that this review was long over due is an understatement. However the book is very, very short, so the review too is rather brief. But hey you had a post from me yesterday.

Twist In The Tale by Matthew Williams

This is a bundle of short stories, each with a twist at the end. They are written from a number of different perspectives, an interesting mix of first and third person views. Mr Williams’s style is light and breezy and I read the book during a few train commutes, for which short stories such as these are ideal.

Monday, 16 March 2015


You might have spotted some changes recently. Firstly I thought I’d better change the heading of my blog. The line ‘as she struggles to write the follow-up’ was outdated. The follow-up to Language in the Blood, Blood Ties, came out in January.

If you recently visited my Amazon page you may have noticed that the cover of Language in the blood has changed from this:

To this:

I believe that I should explore every avenue of book promotion. I have little faith this will work but I gave advertising on Amazon a shot. I was very surprised that they rejected my campaign. It took a bit of back and forth but the reason they rejected the campaign was the design of my cover. It fell foul of their blood and violence rules. (What!) A toy dog lying on a marble floor smeared in ketchup was judged to graphic. I used their software to design a new suitable cover and now the campaign is running and having very little effect as predicted. I did like Amazon KDP’s cover design software and probably will use it again as it was just so easy to get a professional look in very little time. So which cover do you prefer? I hope to go back to the original as it had a very distinct look that I carried forwards to book 2 and sums up the quirky nature of the books.