fiction and other writing

Archive for February, 2015

The Truth Finder – 5 Stars by Lesley Hayes

TF CoverToday I woke up to find this fabulous review of my young adult novel, The Truth Finder.

5.0 out of 5 stars An enthralling read, 21 Feb. 2015
Lesley Hayes (Oxford, UK) – See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Truth Finder (Future Earth Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Knowing this book was primarily aimed at young adults, I wondered how much I would enjoy it, but within a very few pages I was gripped by the narrative. Although the story in this future world is set in the fifth millennium there are fascinating parallels with our modern age. I couldn’t help feeling that Vrail’s gift (which doesn’t always seem such a gift to him, especially when he first recognises its wider impact) is almost a natural extension of the instant connection we have now via social media, where in a sense we do constantly ‘read each other’s minds.’ In this future world there are other unusual talents that have possibly developed from brain experiments conducted in the ruined past: a growing number of ‘visualisers’ can shape-shift and create deceptive illusions for others. Those who have been born with this gift are feared, exploited, and persecuted in a world still not ready to accept the potential transcendent leap. I loved the curious juxtaposition between a reimagined antediluvian civilisation that has grown out of the ashes of a destroyed 21st century world, and a futurist society which has retained many of its technological advantages while functioning within a largely feudal system. Penny Luker manages with great skill to pull this off without too many obvious flaws of logic – or perhaps I was so enthralled by the story that I threw logic to the wind and went with the flow. The character of Vrail is superbly drawn. He grows into adulthood retaining the integrity he has developed as a child, learning at his father’s knee the responsibility that comes with his telepathic powers. I felt for him, having lived my own life as something of a truth finder. Intuition can be a double-edged sword, and Vrail’s talent is in demand by the forces of both the good and the powerful. Seeing into the perverted depths of an evil mind while assisting in the pursuit of a particularly vile criminal takes Vrail to some dangerous edges, both mentally and physically, and these events are well drawn, realistic, and beautifully written. The storyline presents a number of dilemmas for Vrail, which are cleverly resolved by the end. Nevertheless, as a reader there is relief in realising that in some ways his story is only just beginning. This is the first book in what I guess could be as long a series as Penny Luker’s imagination can stretch. I feel certain that any young adult who reads this will be eager to read more. I am impressed, and highly recommend this book.


I’ve read one of Lesley Hayes books called Oxford Marmalade. There’s a link to that book here. You can find my review on this blog. I was so impressed with the writing, the characters and the stories and I’m looking forward to reading more from this author. It’s great when you find a new author, whose writing you love. Do check out all her books on Amazon. I’ve added a few more links below.
The Drowned Phoenician Sailor
Round Robin
Without a Safety Net


Book Review: Oxford Marmalade by Lesley Hayes

Oxford MarmaladeOxford Marmalade by Lesley Hayes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a beautifully crafted book of short stories, but it is unusual in that one or more of the characters you meet in one story, crop up in the next.
All the stories are character led and set in and around Oxford. The tales cover marriage, betrayal, love and communication – or lack of it.
It is a short book, well-written and presented. I would have loved to have known what happened to a number of characters, e.g. Piers, who was a reserved perfect gentleman, but had an underlying and unspent passionate side. The fact that the author has left this reader wanting more is a credit to her excellent storytelling skills.

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Book Review: The Institute by Kayla Howarth

The Institute (The Institute #1)The Institute by Kayla Howarth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Institute is a place where Defectives live out their lives away from the rest of the population. Many Defectives are aggressive so it is thought safer to isolate them in this way. Allira’s brother, Shilah, is a Defective. He knows the future before it happens and Allira and her father are determined to keep Shilah out of the Institute. Allira wishes her mum was around but her mum has been missing for years and then her best friend Ebbodine, also goes missing.
School friends Drew and Jax have a car accident and Allira rescues them. Jax dies and Allira becomes friends with Drew.
In this story all children have to visit the Institute once a year. When the next visit occurs it is announced that every young person will be given a blood test, which will show whether or not they are a defective. Allira is frightened for her brother, but is that her only problem?
This is a well written tale of the future, where the characters are clearly drawn and the places are easy to visualise. The reader gets a profound sense of the injustice of the treatment of Defectives.
The author has written an ending that sets up the continuation of the story in book 2, The Resistance.
I highly recommend The Institute as a great YA novel.

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Book Review: One Night in the Hill Country by Felipe Adan Lerma

One Night in the Hill CountryOne Night in the Hill Country by Felipe Adan Lerma
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a quick read as it is a novella and yet it covers some important social issues, such as child abuse and discrimination against immigrants.
Sam, a recently ex-police officer, is called by Katarina because her son Zilker has lost a kitten. Although Sam knows there’s little chance of finding the kitten, she offers to take Zilker and his brother to Central Texas to search for it, and she ends up taking their two cousins as well.
It is a pleasant day out and the party bump into Sheriff Mike Sullivan, who is relevant later on in the story. Continuing with their search for the kitten, Sam and the children visit Rolf and Tara’s vineyard, but all is not what it should be and they are in great danger.
This story is well told and the author has a confident ‘voice’. The characters and places are clearly drawn and some of the events make you hold your breath.
One Night in the Hill Country is an excellent book and I recommend it as a ‘must read’.

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The English Sombrero by Doug Goddard and Anthony Randall

The English SombreroThe English Sombrero by Doug Goddard and Anthony Randall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The English Sombrero by Doug Goddard and Anthony Randall

This is the story of a self-absorbed, twenty six stone man, who ignores his wife’s concerns about his health, but takes on a £250,000 bet with a stranger to run a half marathon in the following year.
He has to give up smoking, lose half his body weight and achieve the marathon in less than an hour and a half. I feel at this point I should write, ‘Don’t try this at home’. Don Simmons, the main character, however has help in the form of advice about his diet, a personal trainer and has a doctor on hand, once he starts the running training. He also takes a year off work, moves to Spain and leaves his three children at home with his wife, who unbelievably just carries on adoring him.
There are some pretty far-fetched events that happen on his journey but I won’t tell you about them in case I give too much away. Nevertheless this is a well written and compelling tale and the reader does come to care whether or not Don will be successful.
I’m happy to recommend this book which will give you a light-hearted and enjoyable read. I particularly like the title.

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