Audio Review – Shilling and Sixpence Investigate by Nigel Fairs

Every now and then something really special comes along from Big Finish. After two listens in as many weeks I can safely say that Shilling and Sixpence Investigate is one of the best things they’ve ever done.

Set at Morlington Hall in Cornwall at the beginning of WW2 this is a classic whodunnit style murder mystery. The origins of the characters and story are stage shows which Nigel Fairs has produced for many years, albeit with the comedy leanings turned down a notch.

It’s cleverly plotted and pulled of with aplomb. There are some genuinely shocking twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. The end of the last story just screams second series. It can’t be left like this, it just can’t!

The set takes the form of eight thirty minute episodes with a real classic feel and is definitely a production that rewards repeated listens, especially after the HUGE twist at the end.

The cast are absolutely incredible throughout. Celia Imrie and David Warner are on fine form as Lavinia Sixpence and Desmund Shilling. Louise Jameson is predictably on form. Special mention must go to Abi Harris who convincingly pulls off eight distinct characters. It’s a wonder to behold. Likewise Rebecca Crinnion plays multiple roles with skill. Appearances by Matthew Waterhouse, Lisa Bowerman, Samuel Clemens, Max Day, Radley Mason and Suzanne Proctor, along with Nigel Fairs himself must make this one of the best ensemble casts in any format. I deliberately mention everyone because of the fabulous and convincing job they do on bringing this story to life. Incredible stuff. buy it now from Big Finish. And join me in waiting with bated breath for series two.


Book Review – Under The House by R.S. Hill

I was unsure what to expect with this story. It sounded like a horror story and although it did have elements of horror it had detective and supernatural elements too. It is mainly a story of people and their struggle to get to grips with the atrocious crimes of The Hitchock Hacker, a notorious child killer.

The human element of the book is handled really well by Hill. These characters feel very real and you sympathise with them. They really drive the story forward.

The story itself was full of twists and turns and felt like a Stephen King story crossed with Poe. Dark and foreboding but human at heart.

Fans of character driven supernatural horror will love this story.

Check it out now on Amazon.

Under The House

Book Review – Wild Card (The Spirit Callers Saga #1) by OJ Lowe

I received this book a while back. The trilogy collected into one book was the longest book i’d come across in a long time.

The first book in the trilogy Wild Card is a great introduction to what I assume is an epic series. It feel like a beginning, like there’s lots more to come.

My first impression of the set up of the book was that it reminded me of a cross between Pokemon and The Hunger Games. Its actually so much more than that.

A lovingly created fantasy world of intrigue and excitement filled with devious characters. It’s difficult to judge what the characters motivations are. Good or evil.

The set up of the Centenary Calling Challenge Cup is interesting and well crafted from the beginning and the building of excitement is tangible.

Convincing characters, exciting situations and the feeling that you are seeing only a small snapshot of a very large world is what makes this epic so intriguing. Definitely one i’d recommend.

Check it out now on Amazon.

Wild Card (An epic science-fantasy thriller): The Spirit Callers Saga #1

Book Review – Mind in the Gap by C.R. Dudley

If someone tells me a story is thought provoking or mind bending then count me in.

I’ve looked forward to this book since it was first announced months ago. Having read Fragments of Perception (It’s bloody awesome, check it out) I was intrigued what Dudley had planned next. But could Mind in the Gap deliver?

The answer is an emphatic yes. In fact, I’d say it was better than Fragments. The stories are surreal, short, sharp shocks that transport you to possible futures and are full of bold visions. There are hidden connections throughout the 14 stories that would definitely reward repeated reads. I definitely haven’t spotted them all.

The thing that stands out about this collection for me, is how much fun the author is having. Sure, it’s metaphysical and tackles some huge issues but it feels to me like a real labour of love. An outpouring of a very clever and very creative mind. It’s literally bursting with ideas and has left me questioning the nature of reality.

Mind in the Gap is the best short story collection I’ve read this year and I can’t wait to read it again. I think good fiction, for me, has to effect the reader in some way to be considered a success; Mind in the Gap has made my life better by it’s very existence.

Highly recommended.

Mind in the Gap

Book Review – The Women Who Lived by Christel Dee and Simon Guerrier

First impressions count. As I slipped this beautiful book out of the package I instantly fell in love with it. The colours, the art and the premise immediately stole my heart.

That it was created by the fantastic Christel Dee and Simon Guerrier makes it even more appealing. The admiration that the pair have for the show is unmistakable. This is a real love letter to the show.

The artist selections will likely be familiar to anyone with more than a passing interest in the Doctor Who Twitter community and it’s fabulous to see them collected here. There’s some seriously talented people in this fandom!

This is a high quality, well written, funny and heartwarming book. Buy it now and your life will be a little bit better because of it. I know mine is.

Book Review – Complicated Blue by P J Whittlesea

Forget everything you think you know about witches! Complicated Blue rips up the rulebook and does things it’s own way. As does Anaïs Blue. And you’re going to fall in love with her.

It’s a bold and brave story that will make you laugh but there are also sentimental sections that jab at the emotions.

Anaïs Blue is a lovely character to get to know. So well drawn that I really felt that I knew her by the end of the book. This is surely the first of many adventures.

And what an adventure it is. Witches, ghosts, hell hounds and all manner of other nasties run amok all over this story. I found myself thinking this story and cast of characters would fit well in a Discworld novel by the late great Terry Pratchett.

If you want a funny heartfelt new book to keep you warm at night now the summer is over you couldn’t go far wrong with this.

Find it over at Amazon now.

Complicated Blue: The Extraordinary Adventures of the Good Witch Anais Blue: Volume 1 (The Good Witch Anaïs Blue)

Audiobook Review – Rock Bottom (Second Chances Book 2) by Jason Ayres

I love a time travel story. Jason Ayres is becoming the master of telling them. This is the second book in the Second Chances series which is a spin off from Ayres’ Time Bubble series.

The main character, Kay is down on her luck. She lives above a chippy and is strapped for cash. She’s lost touch with her daughter following a breakup and she’s relying more and more on alcohol to keep her going. A visit from a guardian angel, which takes the form of her younger self, could be just what she needs to get her back on the straight and narrow.

I really felt for Kay in the opening chapters. Her life was out of control and I found myself really rooting for her as the story progressed.

The guardian angel gives her the chances to go back and re-live several days from her past. It’s important to note that in terms of time travel we are talking about fixed points in time from Kay’s perspective. She can go back and re-live days from her past but nothing she does will effect the future. It is later revealed that these other versions of the days she does re-live are multiple universes and credit to Ayres for giving a little roundup of what happened to each different version of Kay’s life at the end of the book.

As a child of the 90s I find Ayres work particularly relatable. It’s full of nostalgia and is impeccably researched.

I enjoyed the way a particularly nasty character developed into something a lot more sinister and the way Kay ultimately dealt with him.

I loved this book as much as the first book. I can’t wait to read the next one.

Highly recommended!

Check it out now in Amazon. Audible version available too.

Rock Bottom (Second Chances Book 2)