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I read a lot of books and I write about them on here. Mummy Geek is sometimes a guest blogger....people seem to love her.....Oh and you can find me on Twitter.....@book_geek_says. Shortlisted for Blog of the Year by the 2015 Love Stories Awards...THANK YOU!!

Thursday 28 March 2013

Review: Death of a Citizen: A Matt Helm Novel

Publisher: Titan Books
Price: £ 7.99

Well that was a cheeky quick little read of a book and what a spiffingly enjoyable one it was too! At the beginning of the book, part of me wished I had read it before The Wrecking Crew as it is the first book in the Matt Helm series. It does set up his world and him as a person, however, apparently after this one they can be read in any order as they are all stand alone. Anyway, I said I wished I had read this one first when I started the book...however, as I got into it, it didn't seem to matter so much. I got in to the action and the story and the whole rush of the book. I also think that as I have read another Matt Helm book, I read this one with a different perspective. 

Once again, despite the age of the book, the action, the story and everything else feels timeless. But once again the attitude towards women feels a little old school..but you can once again forgive that, especially because of Tina (apparently I really like saying Once Again). SHE IS A FAB CHARACTER. I know you are probably not meant to like her one bit but I thought she was amazing. She's a real match for Helm and is a worthy opponent. She also has some serious balls.

I actually started to like Helm in this novel. You could see where he came from, see more of who he is and was. You could see that he does have a heart somewhere and does actually care about people and things. I was glad that I realised these as really disliking the main character of a series does end up sucking! Once again, as the books are written in the first person, they feel like a diary to an extent, however, as Helm is an author, it partly feels like he is writing down his experiences for the commercial market...good shizz.

Oh oh, and I know some of Texas really well (including San Antonio) so it was GREAT to have a book set in places I know! BOOM!

Another cracking action read that will no doubt be enjoyed by many! Great decision to relaunch these books Titan!

Happy Reading

Book Geek

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Review: Splinters

Publisher: Timeline Books
Price: £ 8.99

A bloody cracking collection of short stories from the wonderful JD'L. I'm going to do my usual and just say a few words on each story in turn.

Creeped me out so much there are no words. How such a short story could make me so bloody on edge is incredible! Impressive and skillful writing there indeed!

Lights Out
I ended up being thankful that the hotel bed was solid and had no underneath! HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO WRITE IN SUCH A WAY THAT REALLY DOES GET IN TO YOUR BRAIN AND CREEP YOU OUT TOTALLY?? HOW>??

Altar Girl
Never, ever hope you get what you wish for, just never, ever. Great observations on life but with such dark undertones! AMAZING.

The Quiet Ones
Once again, completely and totally unnerving in every way  Also, another style of writing was adopted. This has been the case the whole way through. Such an eclectic collection and so intelligently written.

The Unwrapping of Alistair Perry
How does JD'L think up these amazing pieces? Really how, this one has so far been the most intriguing and compelling of them all.

The Mango Tree
Just a really really sad story...bit circle of life-y.

Armageddon Fish Pie
A bizarrely up lifting story and I have no idea why....I think it was the power of the language used over the topic being discussed.

Completely mental and amazing and drug induced!

Rhiannon's Reach
Bloody thanks, now I'm even more scared of the sea than I was originally! Very powerful story that cultivates emotions!

Son of Porn
Massive juxtaposition to the previous story...an incredible leap! Whole different tone, world and sentiment all round. It made me have a weird dream about being a hermaphrodite.

What They Want (What Aliens Really, Really Want)
This was like mini short stories all in one short stories bringing together loads of different alien encounters and stories and fears! The observations in part 4 were amazing!

The Food of Love
God, love is a total bitch...it all ends in the same state of resentment...well done on a true observation of life! BOOM!

If you want to get to know, JD'L or Timeline Books or Big Green Books better then they are all linked to other bits and bobs...go nuts.

Happy Reading...you really need to read this collection!!!

Book Geek

Sunday 24 March 2013

Review: No Way Back

Publisher: Corvus
Price: £ 12.99

When you start reading this book you will be hooked after the first few pages, all you will be able to think is WOW!!! The prologue leads you down one bloody weird path and you have no idea in hell where you will end up...hell is a possible option though. The pages are going to be turned from the word go as there is no hint as to what will happen next. The whole thing is intriguing and weird and wonderful and rather scary and unnerving.

This is deffo a fast paced page turner however, the joy that I experienced wasn't to be experienced throughout the entire novel. As things became weirder, they also became more transparent and the intrigue waned. I read a lot of books in the crime thriller genre so maybe, I just caught on, maybe I just have a brain for these types of books. 

Don't let that spoil your enjoyment though. This is an intelligent book and the author has indeed written about what he knows, software companies and business. I just feel that the crime thriller element was added as an after thought and there are too many things left up in the air and not satisfactorily concluded...for me anyway. You may feel different.

But, on the whole, an enjoyable and gripping read...defo one for the holiday I think

Happy Reading

Book Geek


Review: The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

Publisher: Hutchinson
Hardback: £ 12.99

In my younger years I went through a period where I read a lot of black literature from Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou and many other fantastic authors. This book deserves the same standing and attention as the books by the authors mentioned above.

The novel is heartfelt and tragic and warm and enticing from the very beginning. Once becomes so emotionally involved with all the characters, and you can tell that AM has a great level of feeling for them all. The stories and experiences are all very different but they all affect and involve Hattie and her husband and many, many children. They are the stories of growing up as a black person in the USA.

Race, gender, sexuality and class are all discussed and nothing is shied away from. This is a wonderfully honest, candid and open book that leaves nothing to chance and leaves no stone unturned. The whole book is engaging and interesting but so devastatingly upsetting at times that you just don't know what to do.

The message and importance of family is driven home, nothing is as important as family. Your people is a phrase that is always repeated and which catches me in that one place every time it is said.

A beautiful book that will no doubt touch every reader.

Happy Reading

Book Geek

Friday 15 March 2013

Review: The Final Testament

Price: £ 8.99
Publisher: John Murray

I'm not religious, I don't have faith. I do however have great admiration and at times feel jealousy towards people who do. Faith appears to give people a solid grounding, something to believe in, turn to for solace, advice and in times of thankfulness and happiness. This book picks up faith as we know it, questions it, turns it on its head and forces you to think about what it means for you.

The book is written in a gospel style, each chapter has a persons name and it's their account of what they experienced with Ben, the supposed Messiah. It's basically the story of Ben from when he reenters society from wherever he has been, and begins changing the lives of many, many people. Frey very successfully adopts a different voice for each character, the persona and tones are hugely thought through.

I can see how this book could cause a lot of contention and make a lot of people rather disgruntled and rather pissed off. It looks at traditional religion and turns it on its head. It questions the place that traditional religion has in today's modern world. It looks at how faith and religious prophesies, beliefs and books need to be updated and adapted as the world's in which they were founded and created no longer exist. It basically tells you that along with the rest of society, religion needs to evolve. This is something I believe also, and it's a very apt topic to think about as the new Pope comes in to office (I don't know if that is the right word), and many catholic beliefs and other religious beliefs are put under scrutiny.

I don' believe this book will be foe everyone but it was certainly one for me and I will indeed be mulling many things over because of it!

Happy Reading

Book Geek

Thursday 14 March 2013

Indie Series: Being published by Timeline Books

How I got published by Timeline Books from the lovely Joseph D'Lacey

I first met Simon Key, co-owner of The Big Green Bookshop early in 2008. I was on tour in The Meatwagon, promoting my debut novel MEAT when we stopped at his shop so I could sign some stock.
The shop was full of volunteers preparing the premises for their grand opening a few days later. I remember Simon and his business partner, Tim, climbing into the Meatwagon and grinning at what we’d done to it. In a way, Simon and I started our new careers at the same time – him as a bookseller and me as an author. We got on well that first day and he went on to read MEAT – and pretty much everything else I’ve written – often talking about my work or reviewing it on The Big Green Bookshop’s blog.
Since then, I’ve been back to the shop for an event or two – I launched the chapbook Echoes there with William Hussey and Mathew F Riley, the co-curators of Horror Reanimated.
At some point recently, without me really noticing, Simon got into the publishing business. His first book was Greg Stekelman’s London Tales, a limited edition hardback that has all but sold out.
In early 2012, he got in touch with a proposition for me:
“I want to publish you,” he said.
This was rather lovely because, at the time, I’d been through three years of author blues. My primary publisher had rejected the novel to follow Garbage Man. There were issues getting paid. Then my publisher went out of business. Meanwhile, I’d been unable to sell any of my work anywhere else. Lean times that made me wonder if I should quit and find a real job.
It’s quite a rare thing for a publisher to approach an author. It’s more commonly the other way round and is rife with disappointment, as any author will tell you. So for Simon to ask me to publish something of mine was a little slice of heaven.
Obviously, I needed to think it over quite carefully first but when that nanosecond had passed I said:
In fact, it might not have taken as long as that.
On nothing more formal than a virtual handshake, Simon suggested a short fiction collection and I said:
- Again.
Over the next two or three months, I sent him every short story I’d written over about eleven years. Somewhere between forty or fifty tales, I think.
A few weeks later we met in the Big Green Bookshop, each with a list of what we wanted in the collection. Our lists were almost identical. Within minutes we agreed the Table of Contents and began to make other plans for the book including cover art ideas, who might assist with editing and proofing, who would print it etc.
We had a number of titles in mind and put them to a vote on the Timeline Books blog. Splinters won. Other competitions followed, including one for a cover art design and a chance for people pre-ordering to snag a huge stack of goodies. The winner was the person who found a unique Tarot death card, specially designed by Robin Stevenson, tucked into their copy of the book.
Everything about working with Simon was entertaining and fun. No idea was too far-out to give it a try. Splinters has sold well and continues to do so. It’s a book I’m terrifically proud of and a chapter of my publishing life that I’ll always cherish.

Monday 11 March 2013

Review: The Wrecking Crew

Publisher: Titan Books
Price: £ 7.99

This book has torn me!! Torn me and my opinion completely!!! Wahhh!!!

Let me start from the beginning...

This is a rerelease of a novel written in the late 1950s and printed in the early 1960s. It's a post war spy thriller. I was expecting a cross between old school Bond and a bit of a more old school feel Jason Bourne. Also, as it was set in a post WW2 world I was expecting it to feel dated. The action and the events and even in most cases the technology, didn't feel dated in the slightest. The novel can be easily pictured and read without thinking it's a bit too old and outdated for enjoyment. This was an excellent point.

The part that did seem dated was the attitude towards and development of female characters. This was the only point that tore me, but I think, as this is a novel of the 50s it is to be expected. Helm is a total misogynist. His attitudes and treatment of women drove me mental and it made me rather angry as I believe there is the possibility that some of the author's own opinions are in there too! Booooo to them both.

If you get past the above women issues though, the story is excellent. There is all you want from an action packed spy thriller and more. It's fast paced, intriguing and keeps you turning pages. There are elements of Bond in there and elements of Bourne and the novel also contains its own unique something.

Defo a book to get your teeth stuck in to if you are a fan of the spy genre, and if you fancy an enjoyable and easy read. This isn't the first in the series....I do have that one but wasn't aware there was an order....but do not worry, they read as independent stories apparently and reading them out of order will not affect enjoyment at all.

Happy Reading

Book Geek

Thursday 7 March 2013

Review: The Shuffle

Publisher: The Big Hand
Price ebook: £ 2.04

You want short stories? Here you REALLY get your moneys worth. I'm not going to go through them all as I usually do and pass comment as there are loads and it'll take a yonk so I'm going to comment on the collection as a whole!

So many facets of human life are cleverly constructed, analysed and observed by RB. Sometimes darkly disturbing, sometimes very weirdly and sometimes so normally it's laughable. RB is clearly a very talented and intelligent writer as not only are many topics and themes looked at from death to love to sex to philosophy but many literary techniques and styles are used. The conversational (be they one sided), pieces were fantastic and were my particular favourite. The recurring professor theme/stories kept you grounded in the book and kept you thinking.

I really feel very oddly about this collection, as if it is trying to tell me something. I think I'm going to have to mull it over for a while before I pass any more comment on it.

Happy Reading

Book Geek

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Review: The Lost Soul

Publisher: Canvas Books
Price: £ 6.99

Seriously, tell anyone about this review and I will kill you....this could totally ruin my rep....

I usually really don't get on with books that look and sound like this. Usually I despise them...on this occasion I have been led in a totally different direction.

This is obviously part of a series, but the fill ins/recaps meant I didn't feel at all like I had missed a thing. This book can be easily read as a stand along and enjoyed to the max. 

I love supernatural shizz, I want to be supernatural in somewhat so the witches ruled. I bloody love witches and magic and all that. The plot had death and murder and grit, so for me, it meant I could deal very easily with the girly aspects, which were very contained and very few. HUZZAH! Girly aspects in novels usually totally piss me off.

I don't think I can choose one character as my fave. They were all cracking in their own right, some were funny, some were evil, some were plot constructs, some were full of depth and integral to the whole thing. The only character I didn't get on with was Malcolm, he annoyed me intensely! Oh, oh, the abundance of red headed characters is spiffing by the way! YAY for red heads!!!!

This may not be your usual read (defo isn't mine) but it's so worth a shot! I am so glad I have read it. I really enjoyed the whole thing, and I think I'll give more books that I think are 'too girly' a chance in the future because of it. Pick this book up and kick back, it's a quick and easy read without half as much mush as you would expect.

Happy Reading

Book Geek

Sunday 3 March 2013

Review: Sister

Publisher: Piatkus
Price: £ 6.99

Boy Geek works with Editor Beswetherick's husband and weirdly I'd spoken to EBH about this book not that long before I read it. SMALLLLLLL WORLD!

The book is written VERY cleverly. It pulls you in from the word go. It's written in Bee's voice. It's written to Tess, her sister, the missing sister. As it is addressed to someone it feels as though it is addressing you and really does grab you from the very start. Well done indeed RL!!! The Mr Wright sections/witness statement were hugely intriguing, as they are post events, they provide you with cliff hangers and probing/intriguing statements! Very intelligently done.

You start to build a real bond with Bee and you begin to go on the personal discovery journey that she goes on with her (cheesy I know, sorry). This, again is a brilliant literary technique. The only thing that got me was the moment of predictability that appeared. HOWEVER, THANK GOD, the whole book was rescued by a fantastic plot/literary/writing twist and show of skill! BOOOOOOOM! I was so so so so so so pleased that RL saved the entire book with this event. I enjoyed the book so entirely thoroughly that I was over joyed when it was saved at the very end and I didn't have to put it in the 'could have been a fantastic book list'.

Oh, and Pudding is a wonderful, wonderful cat! YAY FOR PUDDING.

If you like crime/thrillers, read this book. You'll enjoy it thoroughly, it's a great read. I know this is a short review and I haven't said much but I am so so so so so scared that I'll give something away, and I really don't want to because it is a fantastically constructed piece of literature.

Happy Reading

Book Geek

Friday 1 March 2013

Indie Series: 15 Questions with...Cutting Edge Press

The lovely Mr Paul Swallow of Cutting Edge Press has answered 15 of my weird and wonderful questions! I love these guys, they publish some amazing books! The ones I have read so far are:

- Blue Murder at the Pink Parrot
- The Tattooist

Each one has been fantastically wonderful and I think you should all read them, I can't wait to read more from these dudes! Oh, and follow them on Twitter if you are there..GREAT people! @CuttingEdgeBks

Now, on with the Q+A!!!

1. What do you consider to be the most controversial book in the CEP collection?
In terms of content and context I have to say Jonny Gibbings' Malice in Blunderland. It's a definite yeast-spread type of book with its deliberate loose spellings and freefall grammar. The joke goes further with a deliberate typo on the jacket credits, the crazy price of £9.43 and Chapter 1 starting on the left page. That said, it has been picked-up by an independent film maker and shooting starts very soon so perhaps its appeal is not as off-the-wall as I thought.

2.What made you start CEP?
We felt that there was room for an independent publisher willing to take risks and give first-time authors a chance. The 'big boys' seem to be playing safe both in terms of their authors and the subject matters raised. Most is rather twee. We are anything but!

3. Do you consider yourselves 'Indie' publishers?
Very much so - indeed the tag on our website is 'fiercely independent'. It's great to be able to publish stuff that we feel passionate about without apology. Obviously I want our books to sell but more important is that we give our authors the chance to have their voice heard. It's a struggle sometimes to speak loud enough to be made out over the babble of the famous author dross but it is working - we get fan letters!

4. Do you fancy any of your authors?
Hah, that would be telling eh? Tempted to say Jonny - a ruggedly handsome chap with a good heart so what's not to like? Perhaps Ruth Ramsden - passion and kink with a dash of wicked humour - that's the person and her books. Or maybe Elson Quick? His/her identity is a mystery so he/she can be anybody I like when I like.

5. If you HAD to work for any other publishing house, which one would you choose?
Tricky. I've worked in the corporate houses and didn't like it much so I'd have to say Quercus. Excellent books, great ethos.

6. What is the number one thing you look for in a book when considering publishing it?
Just one? Again tricky to say. It has to move me I suppose and make me forget the world outside. This can be because of the writing style, the subject matter, the 'voice' of the characters. It's a series of boxes I suppose but ultimately I have to have the feeling I got when I met the love of my life - that indescribable sensation that you can't really describe but you have no idea how you functioned before you felt it. If a book can do that then it has 'the power' and it's my duty to share.

7. What is the worst plot line you have ever been sent?Now that would be mean to say. The author would be sure to recognise their plot. I was not hugely impressed by a novel that involved a guy getting aroused and having sex with plants in public parks but it'll maybe find a home somewhere ...

8. Have you ever promised to publish someone's book to get what you want?To get what I want? Actually I can say yes to this one. Often the first book we publish is done because I want the second one!

9. What advice would you give people seeking a publisher?Be tough as old boots. Take rejection on the chin and hold onto your belief in your book. Be polite, research the publisher or agent before submitting and follow the submission guidelines to the letter.

10. Ebook or a hard copy?We do both and I am a huge fan of e-books. The only problem is that there is no way to show what you are reading on your e reader. To a point this is great - you can read porn on the train (being careful not to let your 'feelings' show of course) on the other hand it has killed those moments when a random person comments on the book you have in your hand and you feel connected. I get a huge thrill when I see someone with a copy of a book I've worked on. E-readers have taken that away from me.

11. What is the most embarrassing book you have ever read?I am not easily embarrassed. Lust by Geoff Ryman made me squirm - it was too close to my own thoughts and experiences to feel comfortable. It felt like the author had access to all areas,and yes, I mean ALL areas. A very intimate book.

12. Best place to read a book?Anywhere you can. I think while travelling on a crowded train or while waiting for a delayed flight maybe. Somewhere you are obliged to be physically but need to disengage from the act of being there.

13. What one book do you ALWAYS recommend to people?That's another mean question as it depends who I'm with. At Swim Two Boys by Jamie O'Neil would be high up there though. Sublime writing, challenging, poetic and hits the spot on every reading level.

14. What is in the pipeline for CEP?Some damned fine books coming of course and the launch of CEPe. E-book publishing with a twist. Watch out for news in late April.

15. Red or white wine?
Out of choice it's red but I never say no to white with bubbles.

As an added bonus here is the CEP HOUND!!!!! Miss Bonnie Barcko

Happy Reading one and all!!
Book Geek