My Review of The House of York by Terry Tyler

Recently I read Kings and Queens (review here) and Last Child (review here) by Terry Tyler and enjoyed both books immensely. I'd hardly finished adding my reviews to Amazon and Goodreads when I realised that she was about to release The House of York and as soon as it was published I downloaded it with my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

The House of York is one of the best novels I've read this year.

What a fantastic book. I loved reading every page of it. The combination of family drama, romance, mystery and an historical framework based on the Wars of the Roses makes for a gripping read with so many twists and turns you can't put it down.

Really well written

as you'd expect from this author but the best I've read yet from Terry Tyler. She has used the same format in The House of York as she did in the two novels mentioned above. Each chapter is told by one of the main characters and so, as the narrative moves forward, the reader's perspective shifts depending on who is telling the tale. This works really well and results in characters who are realistic and totally convincing. As each chapter unfolds they present their take on the story as though they're chatting to you on the phone and from early in the novel the reader is immersed and engrossed in the emerging plot.

From the book description:

The House of York is a contemporary family drama, spanning the years 1993 - 2014. Widowed single mum, Lisa Grey, and wealthy businessman, Elias York, are young and madly in love. A recipe for happiness? But Lisa is marrying into a complicated family. Her new sister-in-law doesn't want to know her. Middle brother Gabriel's marriage suffers under a cloud of infidelity and gambling debts, while the youngest, Richard, keeps his dark secrets well hidden—and his wife suffers in silence. Lisa and her mother are bonded by their powerful intuition, but dare not voice their fears about York Towers—or certain members of the family... Love and loss, abduction, incestuous desires and murderous intent form the basis of this compelling saga in which horrors float just beneath the surface, to bring forth a shocking outcome.

Sounds so intriguing, doesn't it?

And it is. Inspired by events from the era of the Wars of the Roses how could there not be intrigue by the bucket load. The historical references aren't as overt as they were in the two previous family sagas but are sufficient to give an extra dimension of interest. My own knowledge of this part of English history is sketchy and mostly based on the writings of Philippa Gregory and Shakespeare's Richard III (great film adaptation in 1993 starring Ian McKellen as Richard) but after reading The House of York I'm going to read more about this fascinating period. The characterisation remains largely true to historical fact but the course of events is less determined by history than it was in the Tudors sagas. As a construct to help tell a tale this fusion of the contemporary with the historical is highly effective and unusual.

The ending is completely unexpected.

It's sinister and leaves your imagination working overtime. It's here where there is the strongest resonance with the historical background of the novel. There is a very dark side to this novel too which is explored honestly but without gratuitous detail. This greater depth makes The House of York the best Terry Tyler novel I've read so far. Highly recommended and hope there are more novels in this style in the future. You can find details of this and all Miss Tyler's other novels on her Amazon Author Page.

My Review of Girl on a Train by AJ Waines

Whenever I browsed in the Kindle Store in recent months it wasn't long before The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins popped up and eventually I succumbed and took a look at the book page. Over eight thousand reviews and more than half of them five star was an impressive recommendation. 
However, £5.70p seemed a hefty price tag and I returned to browsing and noticed Girl on a Train by AJ Waines with a very creditable two hundred plus reviews and available for no further charge in Kindle Unlimited.
Some of the reviewers pointed out that this book wasn't the best-selling book of a similar title and I wondered if it could be a copy-cat book trying to cash in on the Hawkins success. But closer investigation indicated that the girl with the definite article on the train was a completely different story to the other version so I downloaded Girl on a Train and started reading.

From the book description:

Journalist, Anna Rothman, knows what suicide looks like - her own husband killed himself five years earlier. When Elly Swift, an agitated passenger beside her on a train, leaves a locket in Anna’s bag before jumping onto the tracks, Anna starts asking awkward questions. But everything points to suicide and the police close the case. Anna, however, believes Elly’s fears for Toby, her young nephew, missing since being snatched from St Stephen’s church six months ago, fail to explain the true reason behind Elly’s distress. Through a series of hidden messages Elly left behind, Anna embarks on a dangerous crusade to track down Toby and find Elly’s killer. But nothing is as it seems and Anna opens a can of worms that throws into question even her own husband’s suicide - before the threads of the mystery converge in an astonishing conclusion.

The book certainly lives up to the intriguing description 

and soon becomes one that is difficult to put down. The story has several unexpected developments and all is not as it seems at the outset so the reader is puzzling throughout as to how the various elements of the plot will fit together.

Anna and her friends are interesting characters 

who evolve complex relationships as the story progresses. Anna herself is clearly still disturbed by her own bereavement and her views are affected by this although not always in the way that they first appear. I didn't particularly like the dialogue of two of the subsidiary characters as it seemed over-exaggerated but this is only a minor criticism.

Overall a good read 

and an author to look out for. Her author page says that AJ Waines was a psychotherapist for fifteen years working with ex-offenders from high-security institutions. She is fascinated by secrets and lies, crimes of passion, devious motives and anything hidden under floorboards! Definitely, if Girl on a Train is anything to go by. Details of all books by AJ Waines can be found on her Amazon Author Page.

How to enjoy Kindle books without buying a Kindle

Much of the time I download the ebooks I read from the Amazon Kindle Store.

I use the basic, cheapest Kindle which only weighs six ounces and is ideal for a bed-time read.

Recently I bought an iPad mini and I've put the Kindle app on it so I can read on that as well.

The app works just as well as the Kindle; in fact the search facility is much better with the touch screen.

So, if you want to read Kindle books but don't want the expense of buying a Kindle, just go to this page on the Amazon site and download the free app for your preferred device. As well as iPad there's an app for laptop, P.C., phone, tablet etc. Just follow this link to the Kindle Store and start reading some fantastic indie published ebooks at very reasonable prices.

My Review of The Photographer's Wife by Nick Alexander

This was the first title I've read by the best-selling author Nick Alexander. With over a thousand mainly positive reader reviews on Amazon, The Photographer's Wife is one of twelve novels he's published. The Case of the Missing Boyfriend was his first big Kindle hit, reaching number #1 in the Kindle chart and remaining in the top ten for over six weeks. It was the 27th best-selling ebook in the UK for the whole of 2011. In addition The Half-Life of Hannah has been named by Amazon UK as the 4th bestselling indie title of all time, and both it, The French House, and The Photographer's Wife have reached the Number One spot. I got this impressive information from Nick Alexander's Amazon author page which lists all his titles.
Actually I found The Photographer's Wife when I was browsing the Kindle Unlimited bestsellers and it was at number 2. 

The book description was really intriguing: 

"Barbara – a child of the Blitz – has more secrets than she cares to admit. She has protected her children from many of the harsh realities of life and told them little of the poverty of her childhood, nor of the darker side of her marriage to one of Britain's most famous photographers. With such an incomplete picture of the past, her youngest, Sophie, has struggled to understand who her parents really are, and in turn, Barbara sometimes worries, to build her own identity. When Sophie decides to organise a vast retrospective exhibition of her adored father's work, old photos are pulled from dusty boxes. But with them tumble stories from the past, stories and secrets that will challenge every aspect of how Sophie sees her parents."

The Photographer's Wife truly lives up to the hype: it is a fantastic novel. 

The two strands of the story gradually unfold and come together. It's a tale of emotional highs and lows and the author skilfully draws the reader right into the minds of the characters. It's a difficult novel to set aside because the characters are so real and the dilemmas they experience so enthralling. From the stultifying, post-war, small town world of the opening chapters to the fashionable, contemporary art world of the story's conclusion, every page of The Photographer's Wife is a pleasure to read.

There are details of all Nick Alexander's books on his Amazon Author Page and I will definitely be reading some more.

Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

Regular readers of my bookblog (are there any?) will be accustomed to my swapping blog layouts from time to time. I alternate between the Blogger Dynamic View in tiles and a Simple layout in glorious technicolour. There seems to be some correlation between my changing styles and the changing seasons and as we're now well into Autumn I've gone back to a Simple view.

Pounds, Shillings and Pence

In addition to Indie books I read mainstream published books on my Kindle although I sometimes resent the price charged for ebook versions. As a Kindle publisher I know how low the costs of ebook publishing are. Some of the trad pubs prices are ludicrous. After watching the TV adaptation of Sadie Jones' The Outcast I really wanted to read it and paid three pounds something to download it. The novel was even better than the adaptation allowing a far deeper exploration of the tormented soul of poor Lewis. But after the success of the TV series and the consequent resurgence of interest in the book the price for the ebook has been raised to £6.17 which seems a bit steep to me.
I think it's annoying that VAT is charged at 20% on ebooks in the UK when print books are zero rated. Can't understand the logic in that. Amazon put "Unlike print books, digital books are subject to VAT" on every price list but I'm not sure the general reading public is aware of the hefty mark-up.
At the end of the ebook version of The Outcast there's a sample of another Sadie Jones novel, Fallout.
I read the sample, enjoyed it and downloaded the ebook into my WTBR folder. Fallout cost about three quid too but now, only a couple of months later, is priced at £5.69. Fallout was great and I recommend it highly. This is what is written for the book description: "London 1972. Luke is dazzled by the city. It seems a world away from the provincial town he has fled along with his own troubled past, and his new life is unrecognisable – one of friendships forged in pubs, candlelit power cuts, and smoky late-night parties. When Nina, a fragile and damaged actress, strays into his path, Luke is immediately drawn to her and the delicate balance of his new life is threatened. Unable to stay away from her, Luke is torn between loyalty, desire and his own painful past, until everything he values, even the promise of the future, is in danger…". Sounds great, doesn't it? However, much as I enjoyed reading Fallout I wouldn't have paid £5.69 for it.

Free Ebooks

Which brings me onto free classics. Did you know that you can choose from over 50,000 titles and download any for free in a variety of formats from the Project Gutenberg website?
I've been reading The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers which I got as a free Gutenberg download. The book was written in the early years of the twentieth century and is credited with being the prototype spy novel. It's an exciting read although the florid style takes a bit of getting used to.

Kindle Unlimited

At the moment I'm reading The House of York, the new release from Terry Tyler. I'm about 20% in and really enjoying it. I think she's written another winner! I've borrowed The House of York on my Kindle Unlimited subscription. This is proving to be well worth the monthly £7.99 fee and I've read some really good titles from the KU list. You can find The House of York at and if you pay for it, it's a very reasonable £1.99p.

Last Child by Terry Tyler

A few days ago I posted a review of Kings and Queens by Terry Tyler (click here if you missed it) and said I was going straight on to read the sequel, Last Child.

Which I did.

And it was great!

The story of the Lanchester property empire continues into the next generation after the death of Harry Lanchester, the charismatic protagonist of Kings and Queens.

Harry's legacy is passed on to his children. Thirteen year old Jasper views the directors of Lanchester Estates as Harry Potter characters, and finds out that teenage love affairs are no fairytale. Isabella, the eldest daughter, is lonely and looking for love and returns from a holiday in Spain with more than a  suntan. Impulsive, independent Erin dreams of the continuation of her father’s work.

Once again the narrative is passed between the main characters giving a different viewpoint in each chapter which moves the plot strongly forward. The opening pages concisely summarise events thus far which serves as a good reminder for readers who don't continue straight on from Kings and Queens or as an introduction for any readers who've decided to start reading here.

Actually, I couldn't put this book down and kept snatching quick reads every time I had to do something else. The device of using historical personalities and events as the framework for the novel works really well once again. If the reader is familiar with the era this creates dramatic irony which really enhances the plot. However anyone reading the novel who doesn't have these insights won't be short-changed as it's such a well written and engaging family saga.

The author has used the Tudor history really effectively but makes adjustments where necessary to avoid the contemporary plot becoming strained and contrived. This has been done especially well at the end of the novel where there is a surprise every few pages and the conclusion leaves the reader making their own decisions about what might happen next.

I loved the way the relationships between various characters were explored and evolved. The author has used her trademark reality style to make her characters come alive and zing. The writing is clever, original and compelling and the whole two-book saga is a totally enjoyable read. Highly recommended and I'm looking forward to the next one!

More details of Last Child and all Terry Tyler's other books on her Amazon Author Page.