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Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The Beauty Chorus

By Kate Lord Brown

‘The Beauty Chorus’ is a moving, and ultimately uplifting, story of three young women who did their bit during the Second World War by ferrying fighter planes up and down the country.

Evie, Stella and Megan are three very different young women who are thrown together on their first day working for the ATA. We follow them through the story finding out how they get on with their flying duties, but also sharing the ups and downs of their emotional lives.

Interweaved with the fictional story are flashes of history involving real historical figures including the legendary aviator Amy Johnson and none other than Winston Churchill. I felt that this aspect worked really well and gave the book an added dimension.

The story is rich with period detail, and clearly well researched although it doesn’t feel at any point as though the research is intruding on the story. Although I’ve read quite a bit about WW2 both in fiction and non-fiction, I wasn’t aware of the work of the ATA, so for me this was a further element of the story that held my interest.

I found the story gripping and I finished it in a couple of sessions as I didn’t want to put it down until I’d found out what was going to happen next. The mix of romance, adventure and intrigue was perfectly blended into a satisfying whole.

‘The Beauty Chorus’ is the sort of novel where the characters are so likeable and real that you can imagine the story going on after the book has finished.

For a very enjoyable romance with the added interest of a fascinating historical backdrop, I highly recommend this novel.

Reviewed by Helen M Hunt

Kate Lord Brown talks about ‘The Beauty Chorus’ now over on my writing blog ‘Fiction Is Stranger Than Fact’.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The Lovers Of Pound Hill

By Mavis Cheek

‘The Lovers Of Pound Hill’ is a very clever, very entertaining story with several sub-plots and an amazing array of characters.

It centres around how the village of Lufferton Boney is shaken up and turned on its head by the visit of young archaeologist Molly Bonner who has returned to follow up on work begun by her grandfather many years before.

The story bursts with quirky characters, hidden motives and mysteries. It is fast moving, intriguing and with many plot lines and issues that aren’t resolved right until the very end.

The story is a colourful patch work formed of episodes told through the eyes of a number of different characters. Many of the characters are loveable, some less so, but all are very human: apart from Montmorency who’s a cat.

I loved this book. It is full of fun and humour but has an underlying message that is ultimately emotional and very moving. It follows the themes of love and how it endures, and how the past can impact on the future. It also encompasses religion, superstition, history and even poetry in a fabulously rich narrative.

If you want a book that will grip you, hook you into a complex mystery and ultimately leave you smiling, I strongly recommend this one.

Reviewed by Helen M Hunt

'The Lovers Of Pound Hill' was published by Hutchinson on 5 May, and I would like to thank them for sending me a review copy.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Bite Club

By Rachel Caine

Tor.com did a poll on Facebook recently asking what authors do you always look forward to and read? Well, Rachel Caine is one of mine. 'The Morganville Vampires' series is one of my guilty pleasures. It is one of the exceptions to my, "I don't read romance" rule. The romance is always front and center and though I love Michael and Eve, they take a bit of a backseat to Claire and Shane. Claire is the heroine of this series because despite her lack of physical power she is strong. She uses the weapons she has to stand up for people and vampires even when she cannot explain why to herself or others. It’s just who she is and that one part of her always makes even the vampires pause.

'Bite Club' was so good that when I was about 60 pages from the end I became very concerned that this was the end of the series. I had to go to Rachel Caine's website to see if there was a hint of how many books there were in the series. There were some serious roadblocks that popped up that worried me. This one was a take on fight club. The gang gets seriously in over their heads and, of course, has to worry about staying one step ahead of Amelie and Oliver. There are some shocks, return of some old enemies along with the unearthing of some new ones. I have to admit that Myrnin is one of my favorites and he did not disappoint.

One note is that the book is written so that you cannot just jump into it and understand who people are or what is going on. You definitely know that you have missed something if you have not read its predecessors. This far into the series it does get pretty difficult to try and write each book so that it can stand on its own. But, the fortunate thing is that it is a great incentive to reading the entire series. 'The Morganville Vampire' series is just one of those series where at some point you have to start all over and start from book one, 'Glass Houses'.

Unfortunately, I loaned mine out and will have to buy it again, but, it’s worth it.

Reviewed by Lady Techie

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Dead End

by Leigh Russell

Regular followers of Bookersatz will know that I really enjoyed Leigh Russell’s previous books, ‘Cut Short’ and ‘Road Closed’, so I was thrilled to be sent a review copy of this one as well.

For this story we stay with DI Geraldine Steel who appeared in the first two books and we find out more about her personal life as well as following her on a new case that has her tracking down a very sinister murderer indeed.

Like Leigh Russell’s other books, ‘Dead End’ gives us characters we can care about. In particular, the family of the first murder victim, Abigail Kirby, are sensitively portrayed and the fate of her daughter Lucy forms a sub-plot as gripping as the main plot.

As ever, the plot is cleverly thought out, gripping and convincing. Geraldine’s colleague DS Ian Peterson come into his own in this story and we also have another authentic cameo of the complicated DCI Kathryn Gordon.

This novel strays into some very grim territory. A sadistic murderer with dark motivations and a plot that leads a number of characters into serious peril will keep you on the edge of your seat.

I couldn’t put this book down. I had to keep reading to know how the case would be solved, but also how Geraldine would fare because like other readers of this series, I now care about her as an ongoing character.

You can read my review of ‘Cut Short’ here, and my review of ‘Road Closed’ here. I, for one, can’t wait for the next Geraldine Steel story to come out. Watch this space.

Reviewed by Helen M Hunt