Sunday, 17 December 2017

Stargazey World

This is a new novel from published author Christine Dawe. It's something of a departure for Christine Dawe, an author of a number of popular social history books, Stargazey World is a novel aimed at readers who are aged 9 to 11 years of age.

It's a brilliant fantasy novel which is illuminated with flashes of brilliant good humour.

It tells the story of Sheena Robinson who is described as a feisty Scouser. Sheena's a good girl, though she does wish she could concentrate a bit better at school, plus there was the problem with her very wayward green hair. however, Sheena didn't suffer bullies gladly and she employed her ready with to put one over on them.

But then Sheena has to travel to Cornwall for her cousin's wedding. She stays at a cottage where she shares a bedroom with Carys, who is a little bit of a tomboy. And she also shares the bedroom with a whole host of talking animals who live in or on the wallpaper of the bedroom.

The animals take the two girls on an amazing adventure to Stargazey World, a world that is influenced by the amazing imagination and muddled up thinking of Sheena.

However, all is not well in Stargazey World and Sheena and Carys eventually find themselves facing injustice and wickedness when they are attacked by a group of weird beings. Including a nasty leather wearing rockstar who goes by the name of Thunder and his crazed and very dangerous sister, Lightning.

They also have to face a hoard of other equally bizarre and evil creatures, as they attempt to thwart them with the assistance of the wallpaper animals.

It's a must buy Christmas gift for every girl out there. It's published by Matador at £7.99 and can be bought here


Disruption is a very interesting novel from the pen of prolific author Mary Withall.

It's an extremely well-written account of  the time in the early 1840s when there was the Disruption in the Church of Scotland, when a large number of dissident clergyman were dismissed from their roles as clergymen.

One such personage is James Bantrie who, in common with many fellow dissenters, found themselves thrown out of their comfortable lifestyle and forced to seek alternative employment.

Bantrie and his family journey to a tiny parish on the Isle of Orchy, which is off the Argyll coast. The chief occupation of the islanders is the slate quarrying.

Doctor Alexander Beaton also turns up in the village of Eisdalsa. But he is not a newcomer, he is returning home, fully expecting to inherit his father's medical practice and to seek the hand in marriage of his childhood sweetheart.

However, he is heartbroken to discover that, in his absence, not only has his older brother managed to secure the ownership of their father's medical practice for himself, he has also taken Alexander's sweetheart for his own bride.

With nothing in Eisdalsa for him he replies to an advertisement for settlers at the recently established colony of Otago in New Zealand's South Island.

However, when the new settlers arrive after an eventful sea voyage, they find that they are less than welcome in the newly established town of Dunedin, as, despite what the advertisement promised,  it is far from ready to receive any new settlers. 

The novel is based on detailed research undertaken by archivist and author Mary Withall. This included the detailed letter books of the doctor who had been appointed to the Easedale quarries in the 1890s.

It's a warm and compelling account of the trials and tribulations of the Scotish people who, in the 1840s, were instrumental in the settlement of New Zealand. Although, points out Mary Withall, this is not a period of Scottish history that has been well covered.

The book is published by Matador and is a great Christmas gift for lovers of well-written historical fiction. 

It can be bought here


Quick and Quirky

Quick and Quirky is a quick and quirky collection of humorous short stories and quips from the pen of debut author Fred Onymouse.

It's illustrated, though not by Fred, the illustrations (as quirky as the writing, it has to be said) were drawn by Ann Onymouse.

There is the story of the extra special buttons of Elsie and Doris and the gang of button thieves who attempted to steal their extra special buttons.

Then there are the tit for tat gardeners, the narrow victory when Wilmot Walmesly beat Jogger Jaggersnout by one vote to win the election to become a member of the council.

The true story of the elephants who were on holiday in Devon one Christmas season. (It's a true story, because Fred tells us that it is true.)

There are tales of deranged teapot collectors, vanishing horses called Daisy, Harry and his unbreakable bottle a mysterious suitcase and more besides.

An ideal book for a post Christmas dinner snooze, it's published by Matador at £7.99 and it can be obtained here

The Human Ape

The Human ape, subtitled "A Magnificently Minute Moment" is a debut collection of poetry from poet Mark Cox.

The poems cover a wide range of subjects and topics which are, by-and-large, informed by the philosophical view of Cox.

Sleeplessness, homeless children, the exact meaning of the term atheist, the philosophical basis for keeping pets, natural phenomena such as rivers, sunsets and a speck of dust, children, evolution, recycling and even more besides.

The style is sparse, yet compelling and the thoughts behind the poems are lucid and clear.

It's an interesting debut for a poet. Let's hope that this is merely the harbinger for much more poetical outputs from Mark Cox.   

It's published by The Book Guild at £7.99 and will make a great Christmas present for the poetry reader in your life.

You can purchase it here

Coach Yourself First

Coach Yourself First is a new and invaluable book for coaches and supervisors in a business setting by Mark Bisson, who earned an MA in applied coaching and who is accredited by the International Coaching Federation.

The point behind this book is that every coach must first coach themselves. The sub-title of the book is "A Coach's Guide to Self-Reflection".

The book is an invaluable resource for all coaches and workplace supervisors (both those who are newly minted or have several years of experience under their belt) who want to be the best coaches and supervisors that they can be.

The book raises, and answers, some very important issues, such as: Why is it of critical importance for coaches and supervisors to employ the technique of self-reflection?

How could they enhance their own capacity for self-reflection?

What methods, models and tools are appropriate for self-reflection?

And, of vital importance, exactly what is self-reflection and how can we learn to employ it? (You'll learn that on page 6.)

Although heavy on academic references and credentials, this book is not a worthy and dry-as-dust academic tome. Rather it is a heavily researched, well-written and easy-to-use tool for workplace coaches and supervisors to enable them to employ self-reflection as an important tool to help them to be effective coaches and supervisors.

It's published by Matador at £12.99 and will make an excellent under the Christmas tree present for the coach, supervisor or manager in your life.

You can order it from


Responsibility and its Avoidance

Responsibility and its Avoidance is a vital new work by a consultant and project manager, Donald Curtis.

He has seen experience not only in the UK but has worked as a consultant and project manager in 20 different countries all over the world and is currently an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham.

The book is a distillation of the knolwedge and experiences of Curtis. The book is a series of hard hitting essays that shine a spotlight on various aspects of responsibility, governance and the like.

It covers a wide range of topics and issues, the key theme is, however, that good governance is a matter of exercised responsibility.

He points out that there is an avoidance paradox that as soon as an agreed allocation of responsibilities is arrived at, with obligations and commitments established and enshrined, with accountability protocols designed, avoidance can creep in and undermine the public good.

Curtis points out that institutional corruption and decay are real and persistent problems that must be addressed by society. "Responsibility is not good unless it is shared" is a key lesson in this book.

Every politician, company manager, educationalist, charity officer, management student or business  executive needs to have a copy of this book, so it will make an excellent Christmas gift for them.

It's published by Matador at £17.99 and can be bought here

The Diary of an Old Drunk

The Diary of an Old Drunk is a remarkable novel by George Bothamley.

It is an intriguing book. Part philosophical discourse, part novel, part fictional autobiography, part book of poetry.

It's an imaginary account of the life of an old drunk, a man who, due to a variety of circumstances,  becomes an elderly man who is a homeless alcoholic.

The book is written from the perspective of the old drunk and is designed by the author to help raise public awareness of the plight of many homeless people, especially the older homeless person.

The old drunk -we never do get to learn his name- is an engaging type of a fellow, has his life turned out differently he could have been a well known and popular wit and raconteur, perhaps appearing on our television sets every evening, but, as they say, there but for the grace of God go I.

We learn of the two great loves of his life, of course, even homeless people are capable of becoming emotionally entangled, how hard life on the streets can be for the homeless. Although the old drunk's attitude to some other homeless people is, perhaps, a little dismissive and somewhat superior?

He despises the fact that they keep grumbling about living on the streets. As the old drunk says: "But what do we expect? We're living on the streets, people - this ain't no hotel. This ain't no holiday spa."

It's published by Matador at £9.99 and will make a good Christmas present for the members of your family who like to think about stuff.

You can purchase it here: