Dear Mr Pop Star by Derek Philpott & Dave Philpott

Dear Mr Pop Star by Derek Philpott & Dave Philpott

For more than a decade, Derek Philpott and his son, Dave, have been writing to pop stars from the 1960s to the 90s to take issue with the lyrics of some of their best-known songs.

But then, to their great surprise, the pop stars started writing back…

Dear Mr Pop Star contains 100 of Derek and Dave’s greatest hits, including correspondence with Katrina and the Waves, Tears for Fears, Squeeze, The Housemartins, Suzi Quatro, Devo, Deep Purple, Nik Kershaw, T Pau, Human League, Eurythmics, Wang Chung, EMF, Mott the Hoople, Heaven 17, Jesus Jones, Johnny Hates Jazz, Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, Chesney Hawkes and many, many more.

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

Having read a lot of novels lately, the opportunity to read something easy to pick up and put down whenever a few minutes presented themselves to me was really appealing. And this collection of hilarious missives between the Messers Philpott and their pop music victims provided the perfect opportunity for this. A tome of around 100 letters and responses from a host of global music stars, Dear Mr Pop Star is the ideal choice for an easy reading light-hearted book.
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The letters range from the amusing to the amusingly absurd, but always questioning the lyrics of some of the most popular songs spanning the better part of three decades. In some of the scribblings the Philpott’s question the songs, dissecting chorus and verse for hidden meaning. In others, our intrepid music fans intentionally apply wrong meaning to songs to fantastic comedic effect. In other cases the authors have let their imaginations run completely wild amusing (or maybe infuriating) the artists. In all cases, the net result is some amusing correspondence between all parties.

There are a number of postcard thoughts aimed at other artists which in their own right make for entertaining interludes between the more substantial letters and their responses. While some of the to and fro was less entertaining to me, this is most likely down to my own ignorance of the artists in question and their respective bodies of work. With that said, this mirthful book contains plenty enough artists that I think almost any reader would be hard pressed not to find entertaining communique between the authors and musicians they are familiar with. To have had an opportunity to enjoy a light read that can be picked up for just a few moments at a time and find hilarity with in the majority of the pages is something I don’t often get given my usual leaning to a dark novel made this a most welcome and funny diversion!

My rating:
goodread

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The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.

The request seems odd, even intrusive – and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.

Emma

Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant – and it does.

Jane

After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street, she is instantly drawn to the space – and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror as the girl before.

I won a copy of this book as part of a competition.

The Girl Before offers up a psychological thriller with a different direction from the norm. Told from the perspective of our two protagonists – Emma and Jane, the reader is taken on a journey through their lives. Two women with troubled pasts for very different reasons, Emma and Jane are both seeking new homes to move on and rebuild their lives. Written in a past and present format, following the narratives of Emma, the girl before, and Jane in the present in a parallel style as they both progress through a similar story.
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Seeking somewhere new to live that ticks all their requirements – safe and secure for Emma, survivor of a violent home break-in, away from schools with no reminders of children for Jane who is still coming to terms with the stillbirth of her daughter – is proving difficult for both women. That is until the estate agents loosely mention a house available for a low rental price, pristine, pure, technologically advanced, an architectural masterpiece. Neither woman can resist enquiring further about this piece of heaven, a second chance for them. But this property brings a huge catch.

The owner and architect, a mysteries man with a sad history of his own, has very exacting standards and almost overbearing list of rules that any prospective tenant must agree to abide by. And then, there is the application process. Nothing like the usual, an enormous questionnaire needs to be filled out as part of the process asking all sorts of seemingly benign questions. But what price for the perfect home? But not all is rosey at One Folgate Street, a property with a host of secrets and skeletons in the closets.

J.P. Delaney has created a piece of work in The Girl Before that really grabs you by the collar and drags you in from the start. The alternation between a portion of Emma’s story (the past) and then the following chapter flipping to the corresponding part of Jane’s story (the present) could so easily have fallen down before things started if not done well, confusing the reader. I was so thrilled to discover that Delaney has got this so right – as a reader I felt like I could connect the dots between the two stories. As with many of the psychological thrillers I have read, The Girl Before is dark, with secrets waiting to be uncovered and more twists and turns than a Formula One circuit. I was sure there was going to be some curve balls and was almost ready for it, yet I still didn’t see the ending that came – something that makes this book a real winner for me.

My rating:
goodread

The Girl at the Bar by Nicholas Nash

The Girl at the Bar by Nicholas Nash

Her sudden disappearance in the midst of a high-stakes quest to cure cancer between two rival billionaires sets into motion an inexplicable chain of events as the bodies start to pile up.

No one knows why she disappeared. The race to find answers ensnares everyone around her, one of whom is a deeply disturbed psychopath lurking in the shadows.

Is Rebecca still alive? What happened to her? Who did it? And why? Questions about her vex everyone looking for answers. No one can be trusted and no one is above suspicion…

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

As mystery novels go, The Girl at the Bar makes for an interesting read. When down on his luck ex-city trader Ragnar meets a beautiful woman, Rebecca, at a bar he begins to believe his fortunes might be turning around. Things really heat up when the evening returns to his apartment. That is, until the morning comes and Rebecca is gone with not so much as a goodbye.The Girl At The BarRagnar is left to wallow in his own self-pity as realisation sets in that it was just a fling, or so he thought. NYPD come knocking on his door in relation to the disappearance of a successful medical researcher that Ragnar appears to be the last person to see. Rebecca is missing. Something sparks within him, and he strives to find her himself.

As the story develops and more horrific crimes occur, suspect becomes detective enlisting help from Rebecca’s colleagues, ex-boyfriend and people from her past in a race against time to save her from becoming the latest in a string of increasingly brutal murders.

The pacing is good, moving between the kidnapper, the police investigation, Ragnar and Rebecca’s colleagues, while still being easy enough to follow. At no point do the different strands confuse each other or inadvertently reveal the identity of the culprit. Motives are well laid out leading to anyone of a number of possible suspects all with potential reasons. The only thing that lets the book down for me is some of the text itself. Sometimes passages repeat an idea or even a phrase is repeated within the same page just reordering the same words. A minor detail that did detract from my enjoyment of the book, but still an overall good read.  

My rating:
okaybook

Nasty Cutter by Tim O’Mara

Nasty Cutter by Tim O’Mara

Danger gets a little too close to home for ex-cop Raymond Donne . . 

When his fathers’ former law partner, Harry Stover, is murdered while being celebrated as Williamsburg, Brooklyns’ Man of the Year, ex-cop turned schoolteacher Raymond Donne fights his old police instincts and vows to stay out of the investigation. That is until his childhood home is broken into and one of his students is threatened.

Has a decades old case of his father s come back to haunt the Donne family? Could the murder have something to do with the victim s charitable work connecting low-income kids with business leaders in Williamsburg? Raymond never has liked unanswered questions, and when the answers come a little too close to his home and school, he decides he s not above giving the cops a little unwanted help.

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

Nasty Cutter is a crime novel from author Tim O’Mara and the fourth in the Raymond Donne Mystery series. I first encountered Tim O’Mara thanks to a collection of three short crime novellas by three different authors. I enjoyed his writing then, so when the opportunity to read a full length novel came up I was interested to give it a go.
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When a lawyer known for his voluntary work with underprivileged children is murdered at his own benefit dinner, Raymond Donne does all he can to leave his cop instincts behind him. The questions surrounding who might want to kill this philanthropist capture him early on, leading Raymond and his reporter girlfriend on a race to find the culprit. A decades-old crime from the lawyer’s past rears its head as a factor in the mysterious murder.

Many crime novels ratchet up the tension and the action as the story progresses. Clues are uncovered, suspects put in the frame and the pace progresses. Tim O’Mara brings something different to the genre with Nasty Cutter. Following Raymond Donne, an ex-cop turned school dean, makes for a slower pace. Rather than following the almost scripted police procedural tropes, Nasty Cutter moves at a calmer pace. Research is the name of the game, and uncovering clues is sometimes accidental.

There are numerous moments where tension is built through implied or actual threat, but overall O’Mara keeps things calm and evenly-paced throughout with a likeable, real cast of lead and supporting characters that all help to lend an interesting and engaging dynamic to what is a good, fun crime novel.

My rating:
goodread

The Warrior With The Pierced Heart by Chris Bishop

The Warrior With The Pierced Heart by Chris Bishop

Monk turned warrior Matthew marches ahead of King Alfred to Exeter, to herald the King’s triumphant return to the city, marking his great victory at Edington. It should have been a journey of just five or perhaps six days but, as Matthew is to find to his cost, in life the road you’re given to travel is seldom what you wish for—and never what you expect. Chris Bishop deposits readers into the middle of Saxon Britain, where battles rage and life is cheap. An early confrontation leaves Matthew wounded, but  found and tended by a woodland-dwelling healer he survives, albeit with the warning that the damage to his heart will eventually take his life. Matthew faces many challenges as he battles to make his way back to Chippenham to be reunited with King Alfred and also with the woman he wants to make his wife. This is an epic tale of triumph over adversity as we will the warrior with the pierced heart to make it back to those he loves, before it is too late.

 

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

Taking a trip back in time Chris Bishop transports readers into the heart of Saxon-era Britain. Roving bands of Viking raiders roam the countryside clashing with Saxon warriors and torching and pillaging farms, homesteads and settlements as they go. On his way to bring news of the victorious return to Exeter of King Alfred Matthew leads his forces on a shortcut through the forest which quickly turns into a bloody and fatal Viking ambush. Left for dead, Matthew survives the wholesale slaughter of the men under his command. Found by a Pagan healer, he is taken away to be cared for and nursed back to health.
IMG_0622His recovery is blighted by strange Pagan happenings and capture by a ragtag band of Viking slavers. This early pace whetted my appetite, raising my expectations of a bloody battle-filled tale across the Saxon-British landscape. As events unfold the potential for action is never far away. Unfortunately it never quite materialises. The story moves along well, and definitely gives a taste of what the world was like during the Saxon/Viking times. But I didn’t feel like it moved beyond a flavour.

Matthew, through the course of events in the story has a crisis of faith, calling upon it to help him through the dark times he encounters. His moral compass and his faith certainly seem to guide him through his troubles. Matthew and those he meets along the way find themselves in a variety of situations before he reunites with the King to whom he is fiercely loyal.

While The Warrior With The Pierced Heart is an entertaining enough read, I hoped for more in the way of descriptive, emotive battles where the prose transports the reader right into the thick of things. The ending brought more questions than answers. Presumably these will be cleared up in future books, but as this book worked as a stand alone book, it is a real shame that things were left unanswered.

My rating:
okaybook

We Have Lost The Plot by Paul Mathews

We Have Lost The Plot by Paul Mathews

London, 2046. The movie industry is coming to town for the launch of the FAB movie awards. But when British president and former actor Zayn Winner loses a screenplay he’s written that parodies fellow world leaders, all Hollywood hell breaks loose. That’s the cue for long-suffering presidential spokesman Howie Pond to be handed a leading role in the hunt for the missing script.

To add to the movie mayhem, British intelligence identifies a possible plot to sabotage the FABs ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Howie’s secret-agent wife, Britt, is tasked with identifying the plotters and averting a real-life Hollywood disaster.

Along the way, Howie and Britt encounter actors, actresses, movie moguls and more, as they’re both sucked into a story that sees them – and the people around them – lose the plot on more than one occasion.

Will the screenplay be found before Britain is embarrassed on the international stage? Can the plotters be unmasked before the dramatic denouement? Find out, in this latest crazy, comedy adventure from British drama king Paul Mathews!

I purchased a copy of this book for my personal reading.

The self-titled Quite Funny Guy Paul Mathews is back with the fifth outing for hapless presidential spokesman Howie Pond and his long-suffering secret service agent wife Britt. Having already lost the president, the pelicans, the coffee and the chihuahuas Howie has the dubious pleasure of unearthing a missing movie plot. But this isn’t any old plot, but one written by ex-actor of questionable talent and current British President of even more questionable ability, Zayn Winner. A movie plot with so many stereotypes it has the power to upset world leaders everywhere.
39809491As if that isn’t enough of a headache, Britt finds herself trying to uncover an unknown plot from unknown aggressors towards the very first Film Awards of Britain. With little to no information to go on thanks to the ineptitude of her colleague Lorraine Grayson, Britt has a race against time to uncover the plot and foil it before it ever gets off the ground.

Mathews’ fifth outing manages to tick all the boxes that have made the previous four books so entertaining in my view. Twists, turns, hilarity and intrigue abound in We Have Lost the Plot with familiar co-stars returning to support Howie and Britt including President Zayne Winner, First Lady Electra and media man Conor O’Brean, along with a new lineup of colourful figures.

We Have Lost the Plot carries on in a familiar vein as the previous books in the series with a glut of 007 references and in-jokes, classic British self-deprecating humour and plenty of jokes at the expense of the movie business. Britt works with her usual dogged attitude to uncover a plot that could very well derail the very first Film Awards of Britain, while Howie works with his usual displeasure and desire to make it to his next meal to try and locate a potentially explosive film script penned by the less-than-diplomatic President Winner.

I have had the pleasure of reading all of the books in Paul Mathews’ “We Have Lost” series. This latest instalment does not disappoint. The characters are true to form, the story is littered with characteristic humour and is brilliantly written. Five books in and the series is as entertaining as it was from the outset!

My rating:
goodread

Bindings & Spines by R. M. Ridley

Bindings & Spines by R. M. Ridley

A fifteen year old boy sees it as his duty to rid Edinburgh of the scum that prey on the innocent people of the city. He finds that to punish the guilty he must first face fear,loss and betrayal.

He will soon discover things aren’t always as they seem, and there are other people who have uses for a young killer as well as bigger forces at play.

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

Bindings & Spines brings together two genre of books that I am very much a fan of; those being fantasy and mystery. More accurately it follows the urban fantasy genre. R. M. Ridley’s work is the second full-length novel in his White Dragon Black series following private investigator and magical practitioner Jonathan Alvey.
33226908In this world, the use of magic often draws on the life energy of the practitioner. This slowly eats away at their being. As a promise to a close friend, we meet Alvey suffering the withdrawal effects of going cold turkey from magic. A routine case seems to fall his way: a simple tail to prove extramarital activities. Unfortunately for Jonathan, nothing turns out quite so simply.

Aside from dealing with a particularly unpleasant gnome-like infestation in his office, the case itself is anything but what it seems to be. What unfolds is a tale of deceit, jealousy and subterfuge; an attempt to defraud someone of their inheritance. On top of all of his other trials and his ever-changing withdrawal symptoms, the town of New Hades is also suffering from the failed attempts of an aspiring necromancer that Jonathan Alvey is tasked with resolving.

Ridley’s urban fantasy is a fantastic ride with a somewhat dark sense of humour. I loved the character of Jonathan Alvey. He is undeniably damaged and knows it, but will do his best to please those he cares about and to protect those who cannot defend themselves. The world woven throughout the book is grimy and dirty with an underlying threat. So well created it feels alive. And I cannot help but picture the character of Alvey as the version of John Constantine from DC Legends of Tomorrow (actor Matt Ryan) as I read the book. I hope to discover more Alvey stories in the future from Ridley.

My rating:
goodread