Friday Face-Off – 5th June 2020

Friday Face-Off – 5th June 2020

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week’s Friday Face-Off theme is a cover depicting flight: “The Guide says there is an art to flying”, said Ford, “or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.” This week I’ve gone with Prelude to Space by Arthur C. Clarke.

And the winner is… COVER B!

In the week I sat transfixed to the TV watching the Falcon 9 launch, it felt only fitting to look for a cover with a spaceship. I have always been fascinated by space flight. Cover B just speaks to me, it screams of the era of the space shuttle.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s theme is a cover featuring a cage or prison: “It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”

Friday Face-Off – 29th May 2020

Friday Face-Off – 29th May 2020

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week’s Friday Face-Off theme is a cover featuring a silhouette: “As we drifted away from the Tower Bridge, I saw a single silhouette standing against the bright lamplight.” This week’s book is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

And the winner is… COVER D!

I love the simplicity of this cover. The monochrome cover. The little flashes of red. The design work all nodding to a circus theme. This is a cover that would catch my eye on a shelf in a bookshop.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s theme is a cover depicting flight: “The Guide says there is an art to flying”, said Ford, “or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”

Sanctuary of Lies by Chad Bishop

Sanctuary of Lies by Chad Bishop

There are 4.7 billion searchable sites make up 10% of the web, the other 90% is dedicated to the “Dark web”. Within that environment there is a thriving economy where everything is for sale: Sex, Armies and Code for hire. Well-known companies buy and sell for governments and NGO’s (non-governmental organizations). They appear as a benign legal boutique companies and consultants, but their true purpose is to be the middlemen/cyber lynchpin for these illicit goods and services.​

ISABELLA NUNEZ owns a computer firm in Brooklyn with her lover JACOB COSTA. Accepting her infertility they have a blue nose pit bull called Justice as their “child” and live simple lives as techy nerds. Isabella’s idyllic life is shattered when several days after her lover’s ex-wife, SIMONE JOHNS, reported death, Simone sends Jacob an email to come save their child, he didn’t know they had.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author in exhange for an honest review.

The opening of Sanctuary of Lies had me hooked. An act of terrorism with the potential to shut down the skies of the world. I had high hopes for an action packed cyber thriller from that part onwards. Sadly that’s not what I got. I struggled to keep going as the story limped from one thing to the next. The moments of tension were all too predictable, not nearly as tense as they should have been.

From that explosive opening, we hear little more about that subject. It seems to have been all but forgotten, or at least mentioned in different contexts. I struggled to invest myself in the characters. There was little to like or loathe about any of them – the good guys or the bad. They felt somewhat flat and insipid.

I struggled to engage with the plot. For all the tension ramped up at the beginning of the book, the story didn’t deliver. It seemed to meander all over too much. The tense moments weren’t as tense as they should be. Nothing occurred with the sense of urgency the situations merited. The worst part for me came at the end. The only real reference back to the climactic opening was a castaway one liner. It felt a real shame given the potential the book had in the opening.

My rating:

An Interview with Paul Mathews

An Interview with Paul Mathews

Today’s guest author is a “Quite Funny Guy” and has written not one but two comedy thriller / mystery series. The first, the We Have Lost series takes place in a near future United Kingdom and follows the trials and tribulations of government employee and wannabe secret agent Howie Pond. The second series takes place in the fictional British countryside town of Upper Goosing – European Murder Destination of 2015 – a town with an unsettlingly high murder rate that trades on its gory past. This series follows Detective Clinton Trump, an investigator with delusions of grandeur with ego of unimaginable proportions. You’ll find reviews for all of these books here on Books and Beyond Reviews. Today, please join me in welcoming Paul Mathews to the blog!

Books and Beyond Reviews: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Paul. I’ll start with some ice breaker questions to help us get to know the man behind the comedy. First up, if you could choose any two famous people to have dinner with who would they be?

Paul Mathews: As I write murder mysteries, I’ll choose one living and one dead person, if I may. In terms of the deceased, it would have to be my favourite author, Douglas Adams, because he was a unique talent with such a surreal sense of humour. Douglas also loved food which would mean that if he was throwing the dinner party, I’d be guaranteed an excellent meal, as well as a steady stream of after-dinner anecdotes. Someone who’s still able to eat dinner? Maybe Greta Thunberg, because nobody like her has come along before and made such an impact at a young age. She’s also very tiny, so if I was paying, the bill would be manageable!

BaBR: If you could hang out with any cartoon character, who would you choose and why?

PM: Dangermouse was one of my favourites when I was a kid. Along with his trusty sidekick, Penfold, there were a formidable crime-fighting team. And they were funny, but not always in a predictable ‘Tom and Jerry’ slapstick way. They could probably solve some of my murder-mysteries a lot quicker than Detective Clinton Trump!

BaBR: I was always fond of a bit of Dangermouse. Classic, comedic crime-fighting capers! If you could see one movie again for the first time, what would it be and why?

PM: I saw the original Terminator movie on a VHS recorder when my brother’s friend brought it round during some exam revision (I think that’s what happened – we’re talking more than 30 years ago). Initially, I was only half-watching it – it was during the day and my parents were at work, so it was on in the background. But I started to become fascinated by the Terminator character. There was just so much tension, it was amazing. And it has that whole ‘Can mankind make it?’ thing going on. Very appropriate, given the world’s current predicaments.

BaBR: Would you rather travel back in time to meet your ancestors or to the future to meet your descendants?

PM: As I don’t have any direct descendants (I only have a cat and dog and they’ve both been neutered!), I guess it will have to be time travel to the past. I’d be interested in visiting a brewery that my father’s grandfather and great-grandfather ran in Surrey in the mid-19th-century – purely because I’d get free beer!

BaBR: And now, the final question before I move on to talk about your books. Who is your favourite author?

PM: I’ve already mentioned Douglas Adams so I suppose my next favourite author is me..! As I never tire of saying, I’ve read all my novels at least ten times and thoroughly enjoyed them all. It may sound odd but I still laugh at all my jokes. I do forget some of what I’ve written and they are the best laughs. It’s a bit like going back in time to when you wrote them. Your past self can really surprise your future self

BaBR: When you set out to start writing, did you always know that it would be comedy thriller / mystery novels, or did you eventually arrive at the genre?

PM: I wrote some short murder-mystery plays for amateur groups before I started on novels, as well as two full-length comedy plays, so comedy mystery / thrillers seemed the most natural genre for my books. I’ve always been interested in comedy writing since I was at school. Sadly, back then, there were zero opportunities for people like me. But self-publishing via Amazon opened up the world of novel-writing to me. It was a natural progression from playwriting and that previous experience means snappy dialogue is one of my strong points.

BaBR: Of Clinton Trump and Howie Pond, which do you identify with the most?

PM: The character of Howie Pond is definitely who I identify with the most. He has elements of my personality (I was always fond of popping to the pub at lunchtime for a Guinness!) and I worked as a UK Government press officer for 16 years, so a lot of what Howie Pond has to suffer in the ‘We Have Lost’ series as a presidential spokesman is loosely based on those experiences. I probably share Clinton’s general lack of patience with the world. I think we all think of ourselves as undiscovered geniuses, so maybe that as well!

BaBR: With two series under your belt, will your next book be something different, or do you have plans to carry on the tales of Clinton or Howie?

PM: I’ve decided to write a completely different comedy novel for my next effort. Entitled ‘An Accidental Royal Kidnap’, it will be a mystery of sorts but it’s more of a modern comedy adventure. It will follow a week in the life of recently-dumped London schoolteacher George Nearly after he finds a real-life princess face down on his living-room rug the morning after his 39th birthday party. You will see everything from George’s point of view and won’t know what anyone else is thinking or feeling – other than what George perceives that to be – which adds to the general sense of confusion about what is going on. It will include all the usual pondering on life, the universe and everything that my other novels include but this time it will be firmly based in modern-day reality. Well, not completely – there won’t be a global pandemic for George to contend with but apart from that, it will be the real world.

BaBR: Do you envisage any future books breaking away from the comedy thriller / mystery genre, and if so, what other genre would you be keen to try your hand at?

PM: As a Douglas Adams fan, comedy science-fiction would be the natural choice. I did a lot of planning for one, a couple of years ago, but dropped it eventually because I just couldn’t generate enough enthusiasm to write it. I think, once you’re established as a writer in a particular genre, it’s best not to travel too far from your literary home. And outer space is probably a little too far for me.

BaBR: Have you drawn events in either book series from anything in particular from your life or things you have heard, or have they all been entirely thought up?

 PM: I drew on my experiences of working in government, where there are lots of self-important people who often border on incompetence, while the smarter people tend to pick up the pieces. A small number of characters are also based on people I worked with in that environment. But the storylines are all completely original. ‘We Have Lost The President’ was a good choice of title for a first novel and after the election of Donald Trump as US president I think it’s the kind of scenario – a president going missing – many people would like to see happen in the real world!

BaBR: Thank you for taking the time to answer my weird and wonderful questions and I look forward to whatever your next book may be!

Friday Face-Off – 22nd May 2020

Friday Face-Off – 22nd May 2020

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

Things look a little different today! I am playing around with the new WordPress editor, and trying something different for the layout of the covers. Let me know if you prefer this to the old layout that showed one cover under the previous.

This week’s Friday Face-Off theme is a cover featuring a cabin: “It is good to know that out there, in a forest in the world, there is a cabin where something is possible…”. For this theme I’ve gone with Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.

And the winner is… COVER E!

Another classic I’ve not read but am very aware of. Cover E is really quite powerful. It really encapsulates the time period for me, and the life experienced by those in slavery.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s theme is a cover featuring a silhouette: “As we drifted away from the Tower Bridge, I saw a single silhouette standing against the bright lamplight.”

To Kill a Shocking Bard by Paul Mathews

To Kill a Shocking Bard by Paul Mathews

When Upper Goosing’s premier poet, Percy Bishe, expires after scoffing a jumbo cream horn in the Tourist Trap café, foul puff-pastry play is immediately suspected. However, there’s a not-so-sweet surprise in store for Detective Inspector Clinton Trump, when his newly promoted deputy, Sergeant Dinkel, is handed the case and Clinton is left on the side-lines like a piece of stale shortbread. Will our detective genius manage to muscle his way into the investigation? Is Sergeant Dinkel up to the task of tracking down the bard’s killer? And will the murderer get his just deserts? Find out, in this final, lip-smacking Clinton Trump Detective Genius adventure!

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author.

To Kill a Shocking Bard brings the Clinton Trump detective trilogy to a close in spectacular style. Local poet Percy Bishe dies in mysterious circumstances, chowing down on his last ever jumbo cream horn during a poetry night in the Tourist Trap Cafe. Fingers are pointed in every direction. Is the baker guilty? The proprietress of the cafe losing customers whenever the poetry group meets? Was it rival poet Byron Lourdes? Or could the culprit be any one of a number of possible suspects with the slightest of reasons to kill him off?To Kill a Shocking Bard Paul MathewsSergeant Dinkel takes charge of the heinous murder much to the disgust of Detective Inspector Clinton Trump, Sout East England’s greatest investigator. While Dinkel heads out to investigate Upper Goosing’s latest murder, the bumbling detective stumbles his way through his own efforts to grab the glory all for himself. As the two cases converge through mishap and fluke another deadly situation befalls the investigative partners.

The third and final book in the trilogy rounds things off nicely. It’s full of comedic events and black humour as per the first two books in the series. The bumbling investigators and the outrages twists make this an entertaining read. There are plenty of little references to Paul Mathews’ We Have Lost series of books, and to himself, always in a humorous and self deprecating manner.

Though vastly different to the We Have Lost series, the Clinton Trump trilogy have been entertaining, silly, dark and enjoyable in equal measure. With Mathews moving on to a new series with new characters, I look forward to seeing what he produces next.

 

My rating:
goodread

Friday Face-Off – 15th May 2020

Friday Face-Off – 15th May 2020

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week’s Friday Face-Off theme is a cover that is pink. For this theme I’ve gone with Don’t Believe It by Charlie Donlea.

Cover A:

Don't Believe It Charlie Donlea 1

Cover B:

Don't Believe It Charlie Donlea 2

Cover C:

Don't Believe It Charlie Donlea 3

Cover D:

Don't Believe It Charlie Donlea 4

Cover E:

Don't Believe It Charlie Donlea 6

Cover F:

Don't Believe It Charlie Donlea 7

And the winner is… COVER A!

I struggled to find a book with a range of covers for this theme. But Cover A really caught my eye. That vibrant pink sky is incredible, and a little ominous too.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s theme is a cover featuring a cabin: “It is good to know that out there, in a forest in the world, there is a cabin where something is possible…”

Friday Face-Off – 8th May 2020

Friday Face-Off – 8th May 2020

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week’s Friday Face-Off theme is a cover from  a graphic novel. Today I am dipping into Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez’s Locke & Key series.

Cover A:

Locke & Key 1 Joe Hill Gabriel Rodríguez

Cover B:

Locke & Key 2 Joe Hill Gabriel Rodríguez

Cover C:

Locke & Key 3 Joe Hill Gabriel Rodríguez

Cover D:

Locke & Key 4 Joe Hill Gabriel Rodríguez

Cover E:

Locke & Key 5 Joe Hill Gabriel Rodríguez

Cover F:

Locke & Key 6 Joe Hill Gabriel Rodríguez

And the winner is… COVER A!

Technically I’ve cheated this week by picking covers within a series rather than different cover versions, but I’ll live with that. I watched the Netflix series recently and absolutely loved it. So much so I immediately bought Volume 1. I quite like Covers D and F, but A wins it for me. That house is imposing and ominous. It also looks pretty similar to the one in the series. I am really looking forward to reading this series!

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s theme is a cover that is mostly pink.

Friday Face-Off – 1st May 2020

Friday Face-Off – 1st May 2020

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week’s Friday Face-Off theme is a cover that features a cat: “I meant,” said Ipslore bitterly, “what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?” Death thought about it. CATS, he said eventually. CATS ARE NICE.” I’ve gone for The Shining sequel, Doctor Sleep by Stephen King.

Cover A:

Doctor Sleep Stephen King 1

Cover B:

Doctor Sleep Stephen King 2

Cover C:

Doctor Sleep Stephen King 3

Cover D:

Doctor Sleep Stephen King 4

Cover E:

Doctor Sleep Stephen King 5

Cover F:

Doctor Sleep Stephen King 6

Cover G:

Doctor Sleep Stephen King 7

And the winner is… COVER C!

I read and absolutely loved this book. A worthy sequel to a fantastic novel. The cat in the book is somewhat ominious, a portent of things soon to come. Something about the cat in C is ethereal, ominous in a way. I love the way it seems to materialise out of the smoke. And the piercing blue eyes are mesmerising.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s theme is a cover from a graphic novel.

Friday Face-Off – 24th April 2020

Friday Face-Off – 24th April 2020

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week’s Friday Face-Off theme is a cover that features armour: “Pretty armour doesn’t make a warrior.” This week I have picked The Red Knight by Miles Cameron.

Cover A:

The Red Knight Miles Cameron 1

Cover B:

The Red Knight Miles Cameron 2

Cover C:

The Red Knight Miles Cameron 3

Cover D:

The Red Knight Miles Cameron 4

Cover E:

The Red Knight Miles Cameron 5

Cover F:

The Red Knight Miles Cameron 6

And the winner is… COVER D!

Honestly, any one of these could have won it for me this week. I really liked them all. D edges it though. The composition is fantastic. The metalic heavy looking gauntlet grasping that large sword, the rich red cloak billowing, and the red splashes of blood on the metalwork. Eye catching, and intriguing. I love it.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s theme is a cover that features a cat: “I meant,” said Ipslore bitterly, “what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?” Death thought about it. CATS, he said eventually. CATS ARE NICE.”