Stevie Carroll (stevie_carroll) wrote,
Stevie Carroll

Books Read and Listened To Part One

I've read a fair few short eBooks this past couple of weeks, so here's a double batch of reviews.

Brat Farrar
by Josephine Tey
Published by SIMON & SCHUSTER
Audio book
ISBN 9780684803852

In this tale of mystery and suspense, a stranger enters the inner sanctum of the Ashby family posing as Patrick Ashby, the heir to the family's sizable fortune. The stranger, Brat Farrar, has been carefully coached on Patrick's mannerism's, appearance, and every significant detail of Patrick's early life, up to his thirteenth year when he disappeared and was thought to have drowned himself. It seems as if Brat is going to pull off this most incredible deception until old secrets emerge that jeopardize the imposter's plan and his life.

I have vague memories of the TV adaptation, back when I was a young thing, but as it's not out on DVD I have no way of comparing that to this, the original. Brat is deep down a good bloke, who having returned to England after running away as a teenager, just wants to stay in the country and work with horses. The Ashby family's home of Latchetts enchants him, and he falls for the family, with the exception of his supposed twin, early on, constantly at war with himself over whether it is better to tell them the truth of who he is or first find out what really happened to Patrick. It took me a long time to work out the mystery, but once the facts were revealed, they all held together well. A splendid tale.

Queen & Commander
by Janine A. Southard
Published by by Janine A. Southard
ISBN 9780988646834


On a world where high school test scores determine your future, six students rebel. They’ll outrun society as fast as their questionably-obtained spaceship will take them.

Rhiannon doesn’t technically cheat the Test. She’s cleverer than the computers that administer it, and she uses that to her advantage. She emerges from Test Day with the most prestigious future career possible: Hive Queen.

Gwyn & Victor are madly in love, but their Test results will tear them apart. Good thing Rhiannon is Gwyn’s best friend. Rhiannon can fix this. Queens can do anything.

Gavin is the wild card. Raised off-planet, he can’t wait to leave again… and he’s heard of an empty ship in orbit. The Ceridwen’s Cauldron.

Both Luciano and Alan fit in the system. They don’t need to leave. Only their devotion to Rhiannon spurs them to join the Cauldron’s crew.

Spaceships. Blackmail. Anywhere but here.


I supported this book through Kickstarter, and I've known the author a long time. I don't know about the US version, as I bought the UK edition (and kudos for producing two editions with US and UK English spellings respectively throughout), but I did spot a couple of copy-editing glitches early on. YA SF is always a bit hit and miss for me: I tend to be a worldbuilding obsessive and want to know 'why?' far more than I suspect many of the intended audience. That said, the characters are hugely believeable, and there are some lovely little touches that come only from having a bunch of highly intelligent teenagers take a spaceship with no experience of how to fly one. My only other complaint is that the book ends on too much of a cliffhanger. Worth checking out for the Welsh aspects and for some of Rhiannon's wilder schemes to get out of sticky situations.

All in One Basket
by Deborah Devonshire
Published by John Murray Publishers Ltd
Print book
ISBN 9781848546387

Entertaining, instructive, thought-provoking and hilarious, the unmistakeable voice of Deborah Devonshire rings out of this volume which combines her two collections of 'occasional' writings - Home to Roost and Counting My Chickens. The pieces are broad and eclectic in their subjects, ranging from treasures unearthed while the kitchen was being redecorated, musings about the reason for the reworded town sign, tourism at Chatsworth, a ringside view of both John F. Kennedy's inauguration and funeral, and the value of deportment. No matter what she's writing about she is always affectionate, shrewd and uproariously funny.


I'm an unashamed fan of Debo Devonshire, and this book definitely didn't disappoint. I'd read some of the stories before, in other works, and I don't always agree with her opinions, but her insights are always fascinating. This book comprises two of her earlier collections, along with three pieces which haven't been collected together before. Delightful illustrations by the author's son-in-law, Will Topley, complement the humour in the stories perfectly. Where else but Windsor Castle could one leave a priceless tiara under a seat all evening and still find it there at the end of the dance? Then again, who would dare steal a tiara from the woman who once played the leading role in a WI play wearing the full set of the Devonshire Diamonds?

It's not all posh frocks and jewels, however. As promised by the titles of the colected works, we also get stories of chickens, reviews of books about chickens, and tales of adventures at agricultural shows. Not to mention the difficulties of travelling from the Scottish Islands to Oxford in wartime on a third class railway ticket (with a goat! which had to be milked in the First Class Waiting Room!). Recommended for everyone else who loves Great British Eccentrics.

Healing Hearts
by Liz Crowe
Published by Decadent Publishing Company, LLC
ISBN 9781613334454

Jay Longmire had it all -- a successful business, a beautiful wife, two loving children. But one normal Sunday evening in Ann Arbor everything was ripped from his arms at knifepoint. He has retreated to Traverse City to hide from the world, nursing his physical and emotional wounds and trying to cope with mind-numbing guilt over his inability to protect his family.

Abby Powers serves him coffee he never drinks and has become obsessed with the movie-star handsome but melancholy man. And the anticipation of his appearance every day takes her mind off her own messy life.

What begins as a near desperate physical connection out of the blue develops into a friendship that has the potential to heal two damaged hearts. But Jay is terrified to love again. While Abby's fierce independence forces them both to acknowledge the deeper relationship they both desire, but that remains just out of reach.


The first book in a series, where I admit I was more interested in the later stories, and so far it seems that the stories are only linked by theme. However, I've enjoyed Liz Crowe's stories before, and was a little disappointed that this one didn't live up to the heights of some of her others. A couple of uncharacteristic typos caught me out early on, and I really couldn't warm to either of the protagonists. The epilogue felt a little tacked-on too, as if the reader was thought to need a happy ending rather than just the prospect of one.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
by Heather Long
Published by Decadent Publishing Company, LLC
ISBN 9781613334591

For single mom and widow Melody Carter, six months passed since an IED ripped her life apart. Everyone is sympathetic and offers platitudes of comfort and support. Everyone thinks they know why she’s grieving, but Melody isn’t mourning her broken heart. She’s ashamed to be grateful her abusive husband won’t hurt her anymore and scared for her child. Born with a mild heart defect, her daughter needs lifesaving surgery and with her funds tight and her emotional scars tighter, she’s running out of options. When she receives an offer for assistance from Mike’s Place, can Melody put her faith in the men her husband called friend?

Have you ever woken up, day after day, to discover your body’s betrayal?

Marine Captain, Joe Anderson Cooper, received the Silver Star for Valor when he led his unit through heavy fire to rescue fellow Marines. Despite numerous injuries, the Captain refused medical aid, insisting that the medics attend others. A broken back and shattered bones put Captain Cooper in a wheelchair and every day is a battle to keep his recovery on track and his sanity intact. When a single mom moves in to the apartment next door to his and he recognizes kindred—damaged—soul, can he overcome her fear and be the man she’s always needed?

Can these two lonely souls rise to the challenge or will their scars trap them forever?


The second book in the Challenge series, and much more in line with my preferences than the first. In fact I may have to check out the author's other stories about Marines, even though that's not usually my thing. The characters just clicked with me, as well as with each other, and it was lovely to see a hero who was able to deal sympathetically with a heroine's past experiences in a way that neither diminished them or drew attention to them. He was also excellent at acknowledging when he needed to delegate to someone else while also guiding her towards doing the same. I might have liked a different upbeat ending, but that's just me.
Tags: audio books, ebooks, goodreads, print books, reviews
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