Posted in Blog Posts, Book Reviews

My Top 5 Horror Books

Do you like to be scared? Not the oh-my-gawd-there’s-a-madman-with-an-axe-chasing-me-down-the-corridor type of scared, but the ‘safe’ scare of a good horror film or book, the type of scare where the monster stays safely inside the cinema or the pages of your book? I do. While you’d never catch me on a rollercoaster, the thrill ride of literary or filmic horror is something I actively seek out. With this in mind, and in the belief that I’m not alone in this, I thought I’d share with you my top five favourite scary books and films. This post will be about the books and I’ll share my scary movies next week. Continue reading “My Top 5 Horror Books”

Posted in Blog Posts, Book Reviews

West Seattle Blues by Chris Nickson

Book 2 of Emerald City TrilogyWest Seattle Blues is the second outing for music journalist Laura Benton. Set several years after Emerald City, Laura is now married with a son who is almost walking and a husband in the book business. She still works, albeit not as much as she used to, writing reviews and doing occasional interviews. When the editor of The Rocket calls Laura and asks her to contact old country singer Carson Mack (great name), who thinks his life story would make a good book, Laura isn’t convinced.

She goes to see Carson and when he realises she’s the one who solved the murder of Craig Adler, he convinces her to help him find the son he has never known. Of course, this book coming from the pen of crime writer Chris Nickson, murder and intrigue soon come knocking at Laura’s door and she finds herself yet again pulled into the dangerous side of Seattle life.

I like Laura. She is a strong independent woman who is doing her best in her new role as wife and mother. She adores her son and works hard at being the  best mother she can. Her life is very different from the way it was in her last outing and Nickson portrays her struggle with desiring part of her old life, and the guilt this causes her, well.

The author shows his love and experience of Seattle on every page. He never shoves his intimate knowledge down the reader’s throat, but uses it to lend a very real sense of place to the world the story inhabits.

I loved Carson Mack. I want to listen to his music, so well and believably has he been written. In fact, each character has been written with great attention to detail and as a reader, I couldn’t help but root for, or against, each one. The only exception to this is Laura’s husband, Dustin. He is well written, yes, but…I’m not convinced he is the man the Laura Benton I knew from Emerald City would have married. But perhaps it is the character’s conventionality that Laura was attracted to after the shocking events she experienced then.

Regardless, this is a well written crime novel from a writer in command of his craft, well paced, expertly plotted and peopled with characters I cared about. I can’t wait for the final book in the Emerald City trilogy.

Posted in Book Reviews

The Quick by Lauren Owen

The QuickI love a book which conjures me away to a different time, a different life and The quick, the debut novel by Lauren Owen certainly ticks those boxes.

Brother and sister James and Charlotte live in Yorkshire where, in the absence of parents (a dead mother and disinterested father), they are looked after by household staff. Charlotte, the elder of the two, teaches James to read and write and together they explore the sprawling grounds of their house. When their father dies the purse strings are tightened, and while Charlotte goes to live in reduced circumstances in a cottage on the grounds with Mrs. Chittering, their father’s relative, James is sent off to school and university. James’s ambition is to become a writer and he heads to London where he shares rooms with Christopher, a rather louche and urbane young man.

As the months go by, the men’s friendship deepens and when accompanying his friend to his mother’s home for dinner, James is introduced to Christopher’s family and quickly realises that something is very wrong. And when the gentlemen from the Aegolius Club get involved, matters go from bad to worse.

The story is told from various viewpoints. As well as James and, later, Charlotte, we enter the heads of a sycophantic scientist (via his notebook), a young urchin girl and a wire-walking adventuress (via her diary). While this device works well in filling in a lot of backstory, I found that I felt somewhat removed from the experiences of the various characters. At one crucial point of the story we leave James’s point of view and never return to it and this is where, in my opinion, the book falls down. I’d have preferred to go back to his story at least once more and felt that I had been left hanging, unsatisfied.

Having said this, each character is drawn well with their own voice, the language is beautiful and Owen’s new take on an old genre – I won’t tell you more because I don’t want to give any spoilers – is interesting and fresh. The title is attention grabbing and I think that when you find out exactly what – or who – the quick are you may, as I did, find the irony in that title.

A very competent book and I look forward to reading more from this talented new writer.

The quick is published on April 3rd 2014.