Book review: The Framley Examiner by Robin Halstead

The Framley ExaminerThe Framley Examiner by Robin Halstead

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A friend lent this book to me many years ago and I loved it so much that I bought a copy. It is completely bonkers and fun. There is absolutely NOTHING serious about it.
I like to dip into it every so often when I need cheering up. I love the small ads pages. The ad for ‘Can’t you Breathe Little Bear’ had me in stitches. I love the town names too, especially Effing Sodbury.
This is very British and very, very silly. Sometimes you need that.

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Book Review: Max Seventeen: Firebrand by Kate Johnson

Max Seventeen: FirebrandMax Seventeen: Firebrand by Kate Johnson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I read the first Max Seventeen book, I raved about it for days. It took me a while to get around to reading this one because… well, it’s a sequel and you know what they say about sequels. On the other hand, I LOVED Max. Plus, Space pirates.
I picked up the book and within the first few pages I was completely sucked back into the world of Max, Riley and the crew of the Eurydice. This second book has the same breakneck pace and energy as the first. There’s a ton of violence, cool space tech, a fair bit of sex (off page) and giant spiders. Max is still Max and in this book you get to see a bit more of her sister Priti and a lot more of Captain Orpheus (hooray!).

It’s a glorious, fast and fun space romp. If you like things like Firefly or Killjoys, you’ll love this.

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Book review: Christmas at the Little Village School by Jane Lovering

Christmas at the Little Village School (Choc Lit)Christmas at the Little Village School by Jane Lovering

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This arrived on my Kindle yesterday and I read it as fast as I could. Jane Lovering’s books are an auto buy for me.
Lydia teaches at a school in a tiny village, alongside her fellow teacher Jake. She’s prickly and sharp edged, especially when it comes to Jake. Jake is big and kind without being a pushover. They’ve been tasked with organising the school play at short notice. Given the kids, Christmas, plaster of Paris decorations, an old people’s home and a mysterious man called Gareth, things take a turn for the interesting.
There’s a twist. You find out why Lydia is so prickly part way through the book. It’s kinda hard to tell you about it without giving things away, so I won’t. You’ll just have to read it and find out.

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Book review: The Little Village Christmas by Sue Moorcroft

The Little Village ChristmasThe Little Village Christmas by Sue Moorcroft

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wanted a nice, Christmassy read and this book delivered exactly that.
Alexia is an interior designer working on a community project in the village. When disaster strikes the project, she rolls up her sleeves and gets on with salvaging what she can.
Ben had been very badly hurt (emotionally) and is going through a messy divorce. He’s been a little reclusive, but has stepped into village life in order to help with the community project. I especially liked Ben because he’s a beta male. Hooray for beta males. He does act like a prat at times, but it’s always understandable in context.

There are lots of animals in this book, including an injured owl called Barney (who is quite a character).
It’s a fabulous way to return to Middledip.

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Book Review: Back To Reality by Mark Stay and Mark Oliver

Back to Reality: The feel-good novel of the year!Back to Reality: The feel-good novel of the year! by Mark Stay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve listened to the Marks’ podcast (The Bestseller Experiment) for a year and I was keen to read the book to see if it was any good. And it was!
It’s a fast and funny time slip type story. 42 year old Jo (with her unhappy life) suddenly finds that she’s swapped bodies with 24 year old Yohanna who is really Jo from an alternate reality. They have to get back into each other’s bodies before their time runs out and one of them dies.

Having listened to the podcast I felt weirdly affectionate towards this book even before I started it, like I’d watched this story grow up, and there are certain bits (like the character names) that popped out as Easter eggs. This added an extra dimension to the story for me.

This is a nice, feel good story with the right balance between fantasy and realism. Also, there is, as promised, a funny bit with a cow.

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Book review: Pincers of Death by Toby Frost

Pincers of Death (Space Captain Smith Book 6)Pincers of Death by Toby Frost

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This latest installment of the adventures of Space Captain Smith and the crew of the John Pym is a return to form with battles and jokes and a cracking good yarn. It had me laughing out loud in places.
Best enjoyed with a nice fortifying cup of tea. Jolly good show.

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Book review: A New Life For Christmas by Liam Livings

A New Life For ChristmasA New Life For Christmas by Liam Livings

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a cute, cheesy Christmas novella. It’s basically the plot of the film The Holiday. Oliver is the English guy who has been pining over someone who clearly isn’t interested. Kyle is the work-obsessed uptight American one who can’t cry. They swap houses for the Christmas holiday and meet their ideal partners.
All four guys are really sweet, as is the story itself. It’s refreshing to read an m/m novel that fades to black for the sex scenes.
It promises a feel good, fun, Chirstmas story and it delivers exactly that.

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Book review: Inferno by Dan Brown

Inferno (Robert Langdon, #4)Inferno by Dan Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an interesting book – Robert Langdon has lost is memory, he has to solve a number of puzzles whilst being chased by people who are trying to kill him… except no one is quite what they seem to be.

It was high action all the way and there was quite a lot of interesting discussion about the population explosion and the limited amount of resources the Earth has. I think, if you’re familiar with Florence, Venica and Istanbul, you’d get a lot out of this book (I’ve only been to two of those places).

All in all, a good fun read. High octane, lots of descriptions of architecture, lots of puzzle solving.

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Book Review: The Importance of Book Cover Design by J. D. Smith

The Importance of Book Cover Design and FormattingThe Importance of Book Cover Design and Formatting by J.D. Smith

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked up this book because I wanted to know what to look for in a book cover – what was good practice, what info did a cover designer need. Also, since I was thinking of putting together some covers for short stories myself.
It is interesting and informative and gives me an idea of what goes into the design of a cover. With book covers the actual making of the cover (the messing around with image manipulation software) is the easy bit. The difficult bit is getting the design part right. This book covers things like font pairing, font placement, contrast etc.
If you’re working with a designer, it also gives you a good handle on what your cover designer is talking about.

It won’t tell you HOW to do it, but will tell you what needs doing. I now have fewer unknown unknowns about book cover design.
A useful book all round.

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