Archive for book review

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.

Three Gruff Goats Meet Some Unexpected Visitors: A mashed-up fairytale by David Atkinson

Posted in Books, Family life with tags , , , , on February 12, 2018 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake


The book is loosely based on the Three Billy Goats Gruff, although David Atkinson adds in a few guest appearances from other well known fairy tales. There are a few good puns in the text and Fay Ford’s illustrations enhance the overall book greatly. My nine year old son enjoyed it as much as I did and to be fair he is more the target audience!

The only downside to the book is that it is over too quickly! There is definitely a scope for a series of books like this that shake-up traditional fairy tales. Maybe the Three Little Pigs (who pop-up in this book) with a twist on the wolf…

Glory Hunter by Brian Darling

Posted in Books, Football, Stoke City, Stoke City FC, The Premiership with tags , , , , , on February 12, 2018 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake


Brian Darling is a glory hunter in that he was raised in Rugby and chose to support Stoke as they were going through a purple patch in the early 1970’s when he started supporting Stoke.

His memoir recalls not only watching Stoke, he adds in his career in the banking world which may not be of interest to some, however he gives an interesting insight as to how banking has changed over the years. Fear not though as football is the main focus and Stoke fans will enjoy the highs and lows mentioned in the book. Be it the classy players we have had like Jimmy Greenoff, Mark Stein, Ricardo Fuller, Gordon Banks and Peter Shilton to name but a few to a few donkeys like Keith Scott.

You don’t need to be a Stoke supporter to enjoy this book, as Brian gets onto the printed page the joy of seeing your team win and the abject despair when you get relegated or lose a big cup game (losing to Man City in the FA Cup final still hurts…)

Highly recommended for Stoke fans as a must read and for any lover of football fan memoirs.

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.

Book review: THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW by AJ Finn

Posted in Authors, Books with tags , , , , , on January 2, 2018 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake


HarperCollins UK (Publication date 26.01.18)

Debut psychological thriller from AJ Finn, who has been gaining rave reviews from some big name authors.

The story focuses on child psychologist Anna Fox who has not left her home in over ten months due to a life changing event, that is slowly revealed through the course of the book. She spends her days online, in particular a forum for fellow agoraphobics, and watching her neighbours, especially when a new family the Russells move in. The book really gathers pace once Anna hears a scream from the Russells’ house and then all manner of events are set in motion. You’ll have to read the book as no spoilers here, save to say the ending will catch many surprise.

It is a classic page turner, I wanted to keep reading a few pages more just to see what happens – a sign of a good psychological thriller. Downside is that a couple of twists you can guess, however it is a highly readable debut and looking forward to the second novel from this author.

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.