Sunday, 17 May 2015

Thicker Than Soup

Thicker Than Soup is a novel by Katheryn Joyce.

It explores a whole range of emotions and challenges within the lives of its characters.

There is Sally Lancing, the daughter of an English mother and an immigrant from Pakistan, and John Sommers, a son of adoptive parents, who is greatly loved by them.

A surprise pregnancy, which brings about some questions as to the paternity of the child, throw the two into different, but separate lives.

Sally is destroyed by the loss of her job, her partner, even her home. So she decides to take her infant son to Pakistan so that they can meet with her father's family  members.

What she sees shocks her and challenges everything she thought she knew.

John, meanwhile has his own problems that he attempts, with some success, to hide.

But the situation that developed has raised old and previously buried concerns and problems within him and he takes the decision to embark on an equally fraught journey, a journey as long as that taken by Sally and her son, but long in emotional rather than physical terms.

And yet there were still ties that bind, including the tie of the boy, Sammy.

It's a moving story of multiple layers that shimmer and glimmer in the various lights that are shone upon them.

It is a book of love, of fidelity, of infidelity and pathos.

It is published by Matador at £8.99 and is, of course, available through the That's Books and Entertainment book shop which is powered by Amazon.

Will Smith, Alfonso Ribeiro and DJ Jazzy Jeff Perform The Carlton Dance ...

The Ghost

The Ghost is a new novel by Andrew Lowe.

It is a compelling story that relates how film critic Dorian Cook is a man who is haunted by a childhood prank which, although many years ago in the distant past, still has a dark resonance in his life as an adult.

The prank went wrong. Very badly wrong.

It happen in that long, hot summer of 1976, when the government had to appoint a minister for droughts, when people thought flares to be the height of fashion and when Dorian's childhood in his Northern industrial town was, in effect, ruined by the shocking event that took place.

As an adult in contemporary London, Dorian has a certain cache as a fairly influential film critic.

But now the past has reached out to him with bony fingers, bony fingers that seek out for revenge in the shape of an old acquaintance of Dorian's, who is back. With a sick vengeance on his mind.

Dorian finds himself acting the hero (albeit unwilling) when he must fight for what he believes in, to protect his own family from harm and to battle to stay alive.

The novel switches from his day-to-day work as a critic (EDITOR: All very realistic, I can assure you!) to what becomes a vitally important fight for everything he holds dear to him, including his own life.

It's gritty, it's primal and it's protagonist is a writer and a critic. I mean, what's not to like?

It's an exceptionally good read and Andrew Lowe has made the transition from writing fact to writing fiction with an ease and an aplomb that I can only envy.

It's due out on 28th June and is published by Matador at £9.99, and is available via The That's Books and Entertainment online book shop.

Epitaph for a Working Man

Epitaph for a Working Man is a highly important novel by Erhard von Buren.

It relates in a clear and vivid fashion the story of a man who is moving toward the last chapter of his life.

His health is not as good as it once was, yet he bravely and sincerely refuses to make any compromises.

He continues to work as a stonemason, he continues to visit his local bar to enjoy himself and decliners to stop smoking.

He is also a witty and careful observer of what is happening in his Swiss town, of who is doing what and why it is being done.

He is capable of being tough, yet can also show gentleness. He is both weak in some ways, yet strong in others.

The novel is seen from the point of view of his adult son, who writes a warts and all account of the last year of his father's life.

It is set in the 1980s in a small, provincial town in Switzerland and it is a moving, fascinating look at the life of an individual soul.

It is the fourth novel by Erhard von Buren, but the first of his novels to be translated into English, the translator being Helen Wallimann MA.

It is to be hoped that Helen Wallimann will translate the other works by Erhard von Buren.

It will be published on May 28th by Matador at £8.99, a Kindle edition will cost £2.99.

Both versions will be available via the That's Books and Entertainment book shop.

From Farms to Pharma

From Farms to Pharma is a highly interesting book about Pharma, the pharmaceutical industry, from the point of view of a sympathetic insider.

This is a highly useful book as it offers the reader a rare insight into this vitally important industry.

It is a rare book as, all too often, books with "Pharma" in the title are fairly hysterical tomes written from the perspective of people who have spent decades decrying every aspect of "Big Pharma."

From Farms to Pharma is written by industry insider Ron Stark.

Ron takes us on a very illuminating journey through a lifetime spent working in medical research. He spent a large proportion of his working life employed as an industrial troubleshooter.

The book is filled with the wit, good humour and humanity of Ron, who relates a number of stories, some amusing, some tragic, some fairly heroic as researchers battled to come up with solutions for diseases that afflict mankind.

The book is populated with a wide range of characters, some flawed, some saintly and some who, like most of humanity, are both flawed and saintly, sometimes in equal measure.

One of the most moving stories is that of the dreadful typhoid fever epidemic that struck the city of Aberdeen in May 1964.

It tells the story of how the epidemic started, how its source was traced and how the several hundred victims were treated.

It also covers a number of interesting cases where problems were caused by drugs and other cases where physicians had chosen to blame drugs for causing problems within their patient that, it transpired, really had other causes.

The book is published by Matador on 28th June and will cost £9.99. It is highly recommended to anyone who plans to working in the field of pharmaceuticals, is a doctor or a medical student or the general reader who wants to look at all sides of a situation.

City of Darkness

City of Darkness is a new novel from D P Wright.

It explores a dark, dangerous place in the distant future. A place where the three Ds are reportedly running riot. Demons, Discrimination and Drugs.

It is a science fiction novel set in the towering metropolis called Dis.

Ever day life for the beleaguered inhabitants is a constant battle for light, air to breathe and even a struggle to continue living.

D P Wright takes their readers for a walk on the wild side of Dis, where they see the frustrations and fears of the inhabitants as they cope as best they can with class struggles and addictive drugs as they attempt to escape the grim reality that is their life.

Sebastian Kessler is the novel's principal character.

Kessler is like everyone else. His body is in the grip of an all-consuming addiction. He is out of luck, of time almost out of hope when hope, potential hope of something different for his life, when he is approached by Bethany Turner who needs someone to investigate the mysterious death of her uncle.

When a death is genuinely mysterious, there's often people who have a reason, or three, to make certain that the death remains just that, a mystery.

Soon the tyrannical and venal rulers of Dis, The Council, are very interested in what Kessler is doing and he is finding them taking an unfortunate interest in him and his work.

But then, the inhabitants of Dis begin to vanish, and a new highly powerful drugs is becoming very popular.

Are these events linked to the death of Turner? If so, how?

Strange creatures seem to be emerging from deep within the city and Kessler turns to an acquaintance, Doc Galloway, to help him make sense out of what evil deeds are being perpetrated upon the citizens of Dis.

Who, or what, is at the root of the troubles? Can Kessler and Doc Galloway discover what is happening? Can it be halted? If so, how?

It is due to be published on May 28th at £9.99 paperback and should be available as an EBook, possibly 99p, but this is to be confirmed.

It is published by Matador.

The Summer With Ludmila

The Summer With Ludmilla is a bright and thoroughly modern take on several old themes.

It tells the story of the search for true love in our frenetic and frantic modern times.

In this d├ębut novel Pat Benson uses some of his own real life experiences in looking for true love as young and single man.

It tells the story of the romantic trials and tribulations of Ben Smith, a handsome and likeable young chap who, with his highly paid job in the City, is, something of an eligible catch. At least, that's the theory of it, because Ben seems to be struggling in his search for a young lady who would be The One.

He is confidant that moving from London to Oxford will make the difference, that the move will bring with it a range of new opportunities for love.

But somehow it never seems to work out how it should have done.

So he takes steps to make things work for him. Lonely Hearts adverts, speed dating, all to no avail. Because still, true love eludes him, with dates ending in a series of disasters and humiliating experiences of various and divers kinds.

But then, he meets Ludmila. She is a gorgeous au pair who is from Eastern Europe.

Is this it, then? Can Ludmila be Ben's Miss Right?

Does he find true love, after all his romantic disasters?

It is a moving and also somewhat humorous written novel and will be published by Matador on 28th June at £14.99.

It will, of course, be available via the That's Books and Entertainment online book shop, powered by Amazon.


Unwanted Truths

In this moving and highly effective novel, Trica Haddon follows the story of Jenny Porter.

Jenny is devastated when she discovers that she had been adopted. She confronts her parents, wanting answers to the questions that bedevil many adoptees. "Why? "Who am I really?" "Do I have family members? Siblings?"

But for reasons that are fairly obvious she feels that she can no longer trust her parents. She also feels unable to talk about the fact that she is adopted with her friends, so she pulls into herself and buried her feelings.

Sometimes later she falls in like with a man (yes, falls in like, in that she likes him, but doesn't actually love him) and she decides that this is a good enough reason to accept his proposal of marriage and she settles down to the fairly comfortable life of being a wife and a mother.

After the death of her adoptive parents, Jenny finds herself accidentally reunited with the one big, true love of her life, Martin Barretti, who had been separated from her when his family moved away from their home town.

Eventually, after Jenny finds herself starting to lie to her husband Robert, she and Martin begin a torrid and secretive affair.

Eventually they decide to abandon their spouses and set up house together, two lover reunited... for ever?

The story is set from the 1950s through to the 1980s, by which time the laws governing adopted children had been changed, enabling adopted children to trace their birth parents.

Jenny is thrilled at the opportunity to discover the truth about her origins, her birth family.

Yet when Jenny does, finally, learn the truth of her origins, she is devastated and appalled by what she learns.

Can she, dare she, tell her lover what she has discovered about the true origins of herself? If she did, would that risk destroying their future?

Or could she do as her adopted mother did, keep the dark secrets with her to the grave?

The book is published on May 28th by Matador and will be available from the That's Books and Entertainment book shop.

Ball of Confusion

Ian Black's novel, A Ball of Confusion, consider the flipside, tells this reader that Ian Black is a literary force to be reckoned with.

The novel uses the theme of births as the starting point to explore how the lives of different people can be so dramatically diametrical.

The novel starts with Millennium Jones, aged 16, who, upon witnessing the carnage wrought on 9/11, wonders how anyone could commit such an act.

Just over a decade later and Jones is working as an American foreign correspondent in London.

She meets two men, one, George, a loveable man, a tramp, who killed the man who was attacking and abusing his mother, the other, Hazma, a university graduate who, one might suppose, had it all, until his family died in the bombing of Baghad. And who now is wanting to use death and destruction as his pathway to heaven.

Millie Jones carefully observes both men as they become friendly toward each other as they acknowledge the hurts and miseries of their childhoods that had brought them both to equally unpleasant, but utterly different, bad places within their lives.

But exactly what could go wrong with two people rendered unstable by their different, but both flawed, but in different ways, upbringings?
  
But what of others who do not have such twisted upbringings who use other people as if they were puppets?

What of the innocents who become emeshed in their machinations as they try to make sense of the ball of confusion that is now our world?

The book is a thought-provoking an original work which is pacy and punchy and extremely topical.

It is published by Matador and is worth every penny of its £9.99 price or £1.99 as an Ebook, both available from the That's Books and Entertainment book shop. 

A Set of Lies

Author Carolyn McCrae takes the reader on a stunning "What if..." journey into European history.

When Napoleon had become a captive of the British after his defeat at Warterloo, the victorious Britons and the alliance partners were at a quandary of what to do with the former ruler of much of mainland Europe.

A number of options were under serious consideration including trial and punishment, perhaps even involving the death penalty and exile.

Everyone knows that, ultimately, it was decided to banish the former emperor into exile on the remote island of St Helana, in the Southern Atlantic. So far to the south that it is a tropical island.

And there, in relative comfort, he lived out the rest of his life.

But, speculates Carolyn McRae in he her exceptionally well-written and evocative novel, what if that wasn't what happened?

What if the decision had been taken to, in effect, hide Napoleon in plain view?

What if the British Secret Service had convinced Napoleon to work with them, to be replaced by a double agent?

What if he had actually lived out a fairly comfortable life in England, protected by the British government?

In the novel the secret only becomes known some 200 years later when the secret and partially encrypted diaries of the man given the task of masterminding this bold and highly audacious scheme accidentally came to light.

According to Carolyn McRae the idea came to her when she and her husband were dining in a restaurant in the Naval town of Southampton. They were aware that Napoleon Parterre had been held on the Royal Navy vessel Bellerophon in Southampton harbour whilst the politicians in London debated and argued over what should be done with the beaten former emperor.

She said: "I started thinking about the options they had, parole, trial and imprisonment, or trail and execution, assassination or trial and exile.

"It was difficult to see how exile was the best option. We talked about how useful Napoleon would have been to the secret services and how wasted their opportunity was, which is where my story begins!"

The story works on several levels as a brilliant addition to the popular "What if..." genre of historical novels, but it skilfully interweaves a variety of sub-plots concerning the unfairness of the laws of inheritance, and how, 200 years later, a monstrous plot was brought to the light of day, a plot which would... but to reveal what happened next would risk spoiling your enjoyment of this well-researched and very well written book.

It is near 450 pages in length and at £9.99 will make an ideal holiday read. It is published by Matador on 28 June and is also available as an e-book at £4.49.

It is available from the "That's Books and Entertainment" bookshop which is powered by Amazon and available to the right of this review.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Bean outstrips rivals in ebay.co.uk period drama ranking

eBay.co.uk has sold over 3,500 Poldark related items including books and DVDs as fans geared up for the series finale, recently.

But is Sharpe, Lady Chatterley and Game of Thrones star Sean Bean who tops eBay.co.uk’s handsome hero sales with shoppers snapping up disks and box sets of his swashbuckling exploits.

Despite his brooding portrayal of Ross Poldark, Aidan Turner comes fifth in a top ten ranking of period drama actor sales, outstripped by actors including Bean and Pride and Prejudice actor Colin Firth, twenty years after THE famous lake scene.

www,eBay.co.uk (value of sales) relating to period drama stars:

1. Sean Bean
2. Colin Firth
3. Laurence Olivier
4. Ralph Fiennes
5. Aidan Turner
6. James McAvoy
7. Michael Fassbender
8. Hugh Grant
9. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers
10. Jeremy Piven