Born to be Naughty (Hanna the Guardian of Nature)

Born to be Naughty (Hanna the Guardian of Nature Book 1) by Hina Nauman

A delightful story for 7 to 12 year old children.

Hanna is really a kind-hearted little girl, but she is lonely and because she is lonely and has no one to play with she gets into all sorts of mischief.

Hanna is a strong-minded little girl who lives in Pakistan with her mother and father. She has an assortment of relatives and woe betide any relative she doesn’t care for. Her antics will make you laugh out loud.

Hanna shows her kind and caring side when she finds an injured bird. With her mother’s help she nurses it back to health. She needs to spend so much time looking after the bird that it seems her naughty days are over. That is until ….!

I won’t spoil the story. You must buy the book if you want to know what happens. I guarantee you will enjoy her antics.

A lively book where the culture shines through allowing me an insight into Hanna’s life.

The Fourth Corona Book of Horror Stories

The Fourth Corona Book of Horror Stories ed. Lewis Williams

After a long hiatus due to the powers-that-be naming a virus after them, Corona Books are back with a fabulous new selection of horror stories designed to emulate the great Pan Books of Horror. This anthology is a selection of different styles and tropes; something for everyone. You may find that not every story is to your taste, but all are well written and deserve a read.

I have to admit to having a story in this anthology, but this review is about those I am privileged to sit alongside. Most of the authors have impressive lists of credits to their names and it shows in the calibre of the stories included here.

My favourite is Here, Piggy, Piggy by Florence Ann Marlowe. Every horror book needs a witch and this one is a very modern lady who gives out a punishment to fit the crime. This is followed closely by There is a Man in Edith’s Home by Sam Rebelein, and Darla and the Clown by MM Scheier but then I love a psychological horror.

The Best Weapons in the World by Wondra Vanian is a wonderful new spin on an old trope as is The True and Short Life of a Werewolf by Augustus Stephens. If I say any more I’ll spoil the endings. You must read them for yourself.

A Stopover in Burden by Adena Graham may have been done before but I was touched by the feeling of desolation she managed to convey in the story. I felt as if I was there with Saul.

This is a modern anthology with new writers deserving of their place in the literary world. If you are looking for entrenched tropes and huge names you will not find them. If you are looking for fresh ideas and new names to follow then step right in and read, read, read.
There are others in the series, check them out while you’re at it.

The Calibre of Death

The Calibre of Death by Alison Lingwood
Tempers run hot when Staffordshire villagers, concerned at the development of the HS2 rail link, attend a protest meeting. Unfortunately only the next day one of their opponents is shot dead having cancelled an important meeting due to her car breaking down after being tampered with.

DCI Timothy heads up the case, while struggling with added pressure at home when his young sister-in-law comes to stay due to problems within her immediate family and Pippa and Harriet are struggling with a fashion show and a fast-growing business.

When Aasa, the HS2 representative is shot all investigations look for her killer. Unfortunately they takes them in the wrong direction.

There are many strands to this story which knit together to form a perfect twist. An excellent read which will keep the pages turning long after you should have put the lights out. A definate 5 star read.

Books at St Andrew’s

St Andrew’s Curch in Porthill kindly hosted a Book Fair to which Corona Books was invited. As well as many previously loved books local authors are welcomed to chat about their craft and to sell their own books. As usually we were treated like visiting royalty – you just can’t beat a homemade cake.
A big thank you goes to all those who worked hard to organise the event and to quote a well known phrase – ‘I’ll be back’.

There will be a new horror anthology by Corona Books in the autumn. The Fourth Corona Book of Horror Stories is out on October 1st and is full of exciting new stories by up and coming writers as well as those branching out into new territory. Check it out and be sure to be ahead of the queue.

Echoes of Home

Echoes of Home by Matt Rayner
I bought this book for a number of reasons. I do love a good ghost story, I live near to and know Stoke-on-Trent, my daughter loves camping in the wilds of Scotland and finally, Matt had bought one of my books so I thought I’d return the compliment. I’m glad I did.
Life was in the doldrums for Leslie Wills a young man from Stoke-on-Trent so when a generous offer comes along through his brother he accepts. He eagerly begins his long-distance journey to the Scottish Highlands of Elphin, a settled village that sits huddled amongst the dominating mountains. Its people are welcoming, and the beauty of the land is great. However all is not what it seems, and Leslie begins to discover another reality, one from the troubled past full of secrets and suspicions until a harrowing experience uncovers the truth from that time. I have always appreciated that the Scottish people had reason to hate the behaviour of the English throughout history and this is highlighted in this novel in the overbearing and cruel nature of the landowner and his friends during the famine in the eighteenth century.

This is a complex narrative giving a different slant to the modern ghost story. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was as stunned by the final revelations as was Leslie. 

After thought; I’m not sure I relish the thought of wild camping in Scotland after reading it! Scary.

Stains of Suspicion

Stains of Suspicion (DCI Christopher Timothy Book 4) by Alison Lingwood.

DCI Christopher Timothy is back at work part-time after an attack left him unconscious for months. Unfortunately this brings him into conflict with his partner as he tries to make sense of his new place within the team. On top of this murder doesn’t stop to allow him to sort himself out and a body is found in a car park covered in a tarpaulin. While cause of death appear to be natural, the circumstances of its resting place muddies the waters quite a lot. To add to the mystery the man who thought he was identifying his sister found that she wasn’t!

The family involved has many diverse characters that made me angry, irritated, sad, concerned, sorry – all the emotions good characters should do as you read their stories. I seriously could have smacked one or two of them! Brilliant.

If you like a character led intriguing story then this is for you.

A Wild Kind of Justice

A Wild Kind of Justice (Book 3 in the Christopher Timothy series) by Alison Lingwood

A survey conducted on a building site over a defunct coal mine in north Staffordshire reveals part of a human body.
Christopher Timothy, now a Detective Chief Inspector, is put in charge of the investigation, but things take a tragic turn for him, his family and an old acquaintance.
Not everyone is who they seem to be in this twisty tale of rape, murder and attempted murder. While even Pippa is regarded with suspicion at first the culprit is much closer than anyone realises putting the whole Timothy family in danger.
Different story threads are woven together to form a complex whole with a frightening twist. This book is an absolute page turner and I’m afraid I put the light out rather late in the night – or should I say early in the morning!

The Bridport Dagger

The Bridport Dagger by Alison Lingwood
The Bridport Dagger (DI Christopher Timothy Book 2) by [Alison Lingwood]I couldn’t wait to start reading the second novel to feature DI Christopher Timothy so picked it up as soon as I’d finished the first book.
It is now 2 years on and DI Timothy is now married Pippa who he met in A Portal to Murder.

Chris and his wife Pippa arrive in Dorset for a well-earned holiday, but find it interrupted by two deaths which occur in separate parts of the country. DI Timothy is drawn into the investigation and works alongside an unknown team to investigate the local death. However he soon finds he has to delve back over forty years, and expose a further tragedy, in order to make sense of the mysterious events that link all 3.

This is another character-led page-turner fuelled by twists and turns in the investigation. It ends in a neat twist which I didn’t see coming.

I like the thread involving the Timothy family interspersed with the action. It gives the characters depth and shows their human qualities amid the sordid technicalities of the crimes they seek to untangle.

If you like a human crime story this is for you. I’m definitely giving it 5.

Portal to Murder

Portal to Murder (DI Christopher Timothy Book 1) by [Alison Lingwood]Angela is a bored, middle-aged spinster, unattractive, friendless and in a mundane job. She is approached on the internet by someone who tells her he is an ex school friend called Kevin and is doing well in Canada. Concerned that her boring existence will not hold his interest, she weaves a fabric of lies, becoming more and more obsessed with her fantasy life.

Unfortunately Kevin is not who he says he is. He is using Angela for his own nefarious ends and the relationship between the two of them has dire consequences for those around them.

Portal to Murder is an intricately woven story linking a series of crimes in one particular neighbourhood. I became wholly wrapped up in Angela’s lust for a better life. Unfortunately she goes about this in an entirely inappropriate way and the fact that she becomes linked, albeit unknowingly, with local criminals means that all does not end well.

This is the first of a series of books involving DI Christopher Timothy and subsequently his family. I read this after reading a book by a well-known crime writer and have to say I preferred Alison’s story telling. I felt it moved at a faster pace and drew you into the story creating an empathy with the characters and a need to keep turning the pages long after lights-out. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading the next.

If you enjoy character-led crime fiction then I would wholly recommend this book.