Archive for the Netgalley Category

Book review: Dead Lions by Mick Herron

Posted in Authors, Books, Netgalley with tags , , , , , , , on March 8, 2018 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake


John Murray

This is book two of the Jackson Lamb series based on said Lamb and the M15 failures he looks after in Slough House. This book although published originally a couple of years ago, is very timely as it involves Russian sleeper agents coming  into action to cause a terrorist threat. River Cartwright is dispatched to seemingly quiet Cotswold village to root out Russian agents, whilst Jackson Lamb is on the trail of a killing of an old colleague…

One of the great talents of Mick Herron is to leave one part of the story on a cliff-hanger, then when you rejoin that part of the story again you are often surprised at the outcome. The main characters are believable and in Jackson Lamb you have what appears to be an overweight tramp, whereas in fact he has a cunning mind and can spring into action, only on his terms though.

I highly recommend these books and I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Book review – Bring Me Back by BA Paris

Posted in Books, Netgalley with tags , , , , , , , on March 7, 2018 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake


HQ [Publication date 08.03.18]

BA Paris had a hit with her last novel ‘Behind Closed Doors’ and now we have her new novel, ‘Bring Me Back’.

This one is based around Finn McQuaid who is still getting over the disappearance of his girlfriend Layla twelve years ago when they stopped in a lay-by. The chapters flit to the past and present day, where Finn is now engaged to Layla’s sister Ellen (that in itself may sound slightly weird to some readers!). BA Paris is good at building the tension as various parts of Finn’s present day life start to unravel and it is a classic ‘page turner’. You may however guess one of the twists towards the end of the novel.

It certainly won’t disappoint her existing fans and will doubtless make her some new ones.

Slow Horses by Mick Herron

Posted in Books, Netgalley with tags , , , , , , on February 21, 2018 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake


John Murray [First published 2015]

I picked up this one as a ‘Read it Now’ on NetGalley and I am glad I did. ‘Slow Horses’ is the first book in the Slough House series of modern day espionage thrillers based on Jackson Lamb.

Jackson Lamb presides over Slough House, a dumping ground for members of the intelligence service who’ve messed up, be it a terrorist training scenario that went wrong or leaving vital data on a tube train. The book starts off with an agent called Cartwright who’s leading a terrorist training scenario goes wrong and it is only having a retired spook as a grandfather that saves his career, well stops him being dismissed and instead assigned to Slough House. The plot (based around a domestic terror plot to carry out a beheading live on the net) keeps you reading on, maybe not as intricate as a John Le Carre, but certainly with the same page turning ability as a Le Carre. Jackson Lamb is a very much a rogue character and you do get to find out what caused his fall from grace that landed him at Slough House.

Mick Herron should be on your ‘must read’ list for any readers of well written and plotted espionage/spy fiction. Right, now I am off to hunt down book two in the series…

Betrayal by Stewart Binns

Posted in Books, Netgalley with tags , , , , , , , on January 22, 2018 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake


Penguin [Publication date 08.02.18]

I have read the Crusades series by Stewart Binns and enjoyed those. ‘Betrayal’ is a stand-alone novel by him set in Belfast in 1981. It focuses on Jim Dowd and Maureen O’Brien, special forces soldiers, who are ordered to go undercover, infiltrate one of the city’s most dangerous Catholic neighbourhoods the Ardoyne, and carry out orders that will pit them against not only the IRA but members of their own forces and spymasters.

It is a fast paced read, with plenty of action and although it lacks the subtlety of say Le Carre or Deighton, Binns has a decent go at a spy/espionage thriller. The description of Belfast at the height of the Troubles are graphically described, particularly the effects on the day to day life of its citizens. Binns also pops in bits of history throughout the novel to give the reader some background and the glossary gives further details on various organisations and events involved in Northern Ireland.

Another highly readable novel by an author now on my ‘must read’ list.

Bryant and May – The Wild Chamber by Christopher Fowler

Posted in Authors, Books, Netgalley with tags , , , , , on October 20, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake


The latest instalment of the series featuring the elderly detectives Bryant and May and their colleagues in the Peculiar Crimes Unit (PCU). The wild chambers in the title refers to the various parks in London, which feature heavily in the book as Christopher Fowler continues to give potted histories and oddball facts about London and its peoples through the ages. Indeed Arthur Bryant has vivid hallucinations following some lifesaving treatment and meets various characters in these who help him solve the case, including a cameo by a young Queen Elizabeth II.

The PCU are tasked with catching a possible serial killer who makes their kills in the parks of London. In the background the PCU’s arch enemy Leslie Faraday plots to close the PCU down and all the PCU characters are back including Bryant’s suave partner John May, along with constables Colin and Meera with their ongoing ‘will they, wont’ they’ become an item. There is an added character this time as an exchange German policewoman, Steffi Vesta, joins the team hoping to pick up some good policing tips!

Christopher Fowler cleverly uses the characters in his books to make comments on the current social and cultural landscapes in London, a city he loves and that comes across in his writing. If you have never read a Bryant & May novel you are missing out and this is a good a place to start as any. They are a winning mix of ‘cosy crime’ with a supernatural edge and a good dose of humour.

Book review: Overkill The Untold Story of Motörhead by Joel McIver

Posted in Books, Get Ready To Rock!, Netgalley, rock n roll with tags , , , , , , , on October 9, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake


Omnibus Press [Publication date 21.08.17]

The original book was published in 2011, however since Lemmy’s death back in December 2015 the book has been re-issued as an enhanced eBook. Basically it adds a newly written chapter covering Motorhead from 2011 to date, plus you can click on links within the book to Spotify playlists of Motorhead classics and band’s influenced by them. A pretty neat idea, although if reading off a Kindle you’d need Wi-Fi access for Spotify.

The book gives a potted history of Motorhead, covering all their albums – although once you hit the mid-90’s onwards not much is said about the recording process, an album’s reception etc. Joel McIver is a big fan of the band and draws on three of his interviews with main man Lemmy for much of the text, along with fellow writer’s interviews with Lemmy and past and former bandmates including Phil Campbell, Mikkey Dee and Eddie Clarke. There is some repetition of themes, particularly Lemmy’s collection of Nazi war memorabilia and his lifelong hate of heroin. The band’s history is only touched upon briefly in many parts and you do want to read more at some stages, although the band’s interviews give a good idea of what they thought about a particular album and the various record labels the band has been on. Like many 70’s bands Motorhead were royally screwed by record labels in their early days and suffered from endless rehashed live and compilation albums  that often detracted from the band’s newer albums and songs.

For a concise overview of Motorhead this book does the job and do make sure you read Lemmy’s ‘White Line Fever’ as well.

Some Fantastic Place by Chris Difford

Posted in Authors, Books, Classic albums, Netgalley, pop, Pop rock with tags , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake


W&N [Publication date 31.08.17]

Chris Difford is the lyricist to Glen Tilbrook’s music and arranging in Squeeze, a band who have split up twice and now since reforming again in 2007 seem to be enjoying a purple patch both in terms of touring and making new music.

Chris’s memoir is very much written from the heart as he describes his struggle with alcohol and bouts of depression, and the effect this had on his personal life. However, he comes across as a positive soul and one that is grateful for what he has. There are of course plenty of tales of Squeeze and how they rose to fame in the late 70’s and early 80’s with a string of hit singles.

His musical life outside of Squeeze is given insight including his time as helping coral the lyrics for Bryan Ferry. He also felt like Bryan Ferry’s chauffer at the time! He also worked on lyrics with Elton John and became good friends with him, which helped a band Chris was mentoring the Strypes, who signed to Elton’s Rocket Music Management in their early days. His solo career is covered, although not as extensively as Squeeze.

You do get a little insight into the relationship between him and Glen Tilbrook, something that has remained constant throughout the years since when they first met back in 1973.

Reading about Squeeze it is pretty amazing they are still going, as at one time in the 90’s they seemingly had a revolving door on drummers and keyboard players. Luckily for music fans the Difford and Tilbrook axis on which Squeeze turns remained and the Squeeze story continues as they have a new album ‘The Knowledge’ out in October.

Chris Difford has penned an honest account of his life in and out of Squeeze, where he is very honest about his past mistakes and his struggles with depression and drinking. Highly recommended for both fans of the band and anyone wanting to see how the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle isn’t all glitz and glamour.

Review by Jason Ritchie