Sunday, 23 August 2015

According to the Daily Mail

According to the Daily Mail is a satirical novel by advertising agency executive Laurence Simpson.

The protagonist of the novel, Jonathon, is outraged by what he sees as the excesses of the tabloid press.

He decides that all the evils of society can be attributed to the fact that "impressionable" members of the public are being lied to and deluded by the tabloid press.

Jonathon decides that the only possible course of action in to employ a group of mercenaries in the form of disaffected ex-military types to blow up their printing presses, whilst he employs a hacker to take down their websites.

Suspicion falls upon Jonathon, but he has an alibi, so seems to be safe from the long arm of the law. For now.

The successes emboldens our hero who employs someone else to pirate TV programmes with messages demanding to want to know why people are watching the programme concerned.

He finds a new and somewhat naughty girlfriend and  galivants about the place having adventures with her and his two children.

But the redoubtable Inspector Foot is on his trail and is determined to bring him to justice.

Will Inspector Foot succeed?  Or will Jonathon get away with it and pull off one last outrageous coup?

The book is slated for publication in January 2016 at a cost of £10.95.

Out of Bounds by Bruce Hugman

Out of Bounds by Bruce Hugman is an exceptionally well-written autobiography by the noted published author.

It is the story of how Bruce Hugman grew up as a child who was kept within strictly enforced parameters that were designed to create a young man who would perfectly conform to what post-war society and his family would expect of him.

But that wasn't what Bruce wanted to be about at all!

He wanted to explore his own nature, to seek out variety and adventure and to find out his own destiny in terms of himself as a human and in terms of his sexual identity.

He did very well at both Solihull School and at Oxford and began to learn what life was really about during his time working with so-called delinquent teenagers at a residential school in Scotland.

He finds himself conforming during his first "real" job, though a decision to retrain and a new career as a probation officer in Sheffield helps him learn more about life and himself, through his associations with his clients, described as "drug-takers and prostitutes."

Eventually he moves south and find a variety of different jobs working in the kitchens of a well-appointed restaurant and later a six month stint as a farm labourer until he finds gainful employment more in line with his previous experience and his formal qualifications.

He describes himself as "gifted, sociable and restless."

The fact that at a time of considerable opposition and often open hostility to people who were gay, makes the three decade struggle for Bruce Hugman to come to terms with his sexuality all the more moving and poignant.

The book takes the read through until the 1970s.

It is a thoughtful book and is profusely illustrated throughout with a variety of photographs.

It is published by the author at £14.99 and good value as it covers over 430 pages.

The stunning cover art is by Paradorn Warrapinyaporn.

The ISBN is 9781 782 804 352 .

It is, of course, available through the That's Books and Entertainment online shop, situated to the right hand site of the site.

Sewing the Shadows Together by Alison Baillie

Sewing the Shadows Together by Alison Baillie is a murder mystery set in a seaside town in Scotland

It is over three decades after the death of 13-year-old Shona McIver.

But, of course, nobody who knew Shona, her family and friends, have ever really got beyond what happened to her. How her life was cruelly taken from her and how cruelly she was taken from them.

But life, after a fashion, must proceed.

Eventually, her brother Tom and Shona's best friend Sarah meet, once again, at a school reunion and naturally, the dreadful fate of Shona is at the forefront of both of their minds.

They had believed that justice had been served all those long years ago, but this comfort blanket id savagely ripped away from them when it is made known that modern advances in DNA science proves that the wrong man was convicted of Shona's murder.

As a result of this devastating, but highly important revelation, the lives of both Tom and Shona are thrown into disarray and uncertainty.

They both feel a need for justice to be served for Shona and they decide to seek out the real killer.

But the search to identify the real killer makes suspicions fall on their nearest and dearest. In his search for the truth, Tom begins to discover some dark an unpleasant secrets.

The perfect life of Sarah begins to develop some rather deep fault lines.

The two seekers after the truth of what really happened to Shona all those years ago find themselves enmeshed in a spider's web of intrigue, deception, love and death.

And the truth. But what if the truth is too horrible for at least one of them to learn?

Could they cope with this truth?

This is an exceptionally well told story and is published on 28th August by Matador and costs £8.99.

It is available from the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop, which is to the right of the site.






Sunday, 9 August 2015

Hidden Hamlets, Dancing Trees

Hidden Hamlets, Dancing Trees, written by Terrence F. Jones, tells the story of what life was like in the time of the Celts, when the might of the Imperial Roman armies had decided to annex the lands of the Celts on the British Isles in the name of the Roman Empire.

We read how Josin and Egan, the only survivors of a brutal and vicious attack by an attacking force of Roman soldiers on their village, decide to leave the shattered and destroyed remains of their once prosperous village.

Their purpose? To join up with other Celts and to work toward wreaking their vengeance upon the Roman invaders who has slain their kith and kin and who continued to take over Celtic Britain, their homeland.

Egan becomes renowned as an inspired fighter. He becomes known as a master strategist and an expert in deadly guerrilla tactics which he employs to deadly effect upon  the Roman army.

His fame as a military strategist becomes known to Boudicca, the Queen of the Iceni tribe and she is able to employ this master of military strategy in her fight against the Roman hoards.

And thus begins a new phase in the anti-Roman resistance and how they attempt to rid their land of the might of Imperial Rome.

There is one quibble with the publisher's description of the book. It refers to the Celts as a "rural, hunter-gatherer society." This is wrong. The Celts were an advanced agricultural society. However, this should not be seen in any way to detract from the novel which is very well researched, indeed. (http://resourcesforhistory.com/Celtic_Farming_in_Britain.htm)

The book is published by The Book Guild in paperback at £9.99 and is available from The That's Books and Entertainments bookshop to be found to the righthand side of this site.

Sea Music

Author Briege Brannigan brings a tale of tragedy, heartbreak and of dark family secrets kept for far, far too long.

Artist Jess Cooper's life has, suddenly, been beset by a series of rapid and tragic events that have shaken her to the core.

As a result she leaves for Northumberland in an attempt to recuperate and reassess her life.

She glances through the window of a local estate agent and espies a home called "Sea Music" that overlooks the North Sea, standing majestically on a high cliff.

The name enchants her and she is, apparently inexplicably, drawn toward the house.

When she arrives at the house to view it, there is something that is worrying away at her mind. She feels a certain deja vu, but how can this be? And what is it?

That evening she is visited by an apparition, the face of a woman. A woman she knows is called Lydia.

But who is Lydia? And what connection could she have with Jess?

Jess has always known that, besides her parents, she has no living relatives. But what if this was never the truth? What has been withheld from her, and why?

Shocked to the depth of her very being, Jess learns that Lydia is no phantom of her imagination. Lydia was a living, breathing person who had been her aunt, until she died in a mysterious fall at her home, Sea Music.

She also learns that Lydia had given birth to a baby boy, who had been abducted several years before her death. And that he abductor of the child had ever been apprehended or brought to justice.

Puzzled by why her parents had kept the story of existence of Lydia, her abducted infant and of her untimely death, Jess sets out to discover the truth about what had occurred.

This is a compelling book that rips appart years of lies and secrets that some thought were gone forever. But surely people should know that the truth will always surface?

It is published by Matador at £8.99 and is available via the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop, which can be found on the righthand side of this website.

Musket Dreams

Musket Dreams is a hardback book published by the Book Guild, written by John Scurr.

It features a truly romantic figure, the swashbuckling, buccaneering piratical Nathaniel Devarre.

However, Devarre does not want to be known to history as a 'mere' pirate! He would far rather that posterity learn to regard him as one of the foremost portrait painters of his epoch.

But, however, fate, cruel, capricious, fate, has other plans for our hero.

His quiet and relatively unassuming life as a portrait painter in the village of Highgate (not far from London!) is rudely thrown into utter disarray when the wife of a neighbour, Elizabeth Rawlins, reveals that her first one, true love, was one other than Sir Roger Trevanyon.

Devarre and Sir Roger have a history of sorts, as it was Sir Roger who put a bullet in Devarre's eye when they were fighting a duel over the hand of the captivating gorgeous Lady Corinne Malvor.

Unfortunately Elizabeth wants Devarre to assist her in becoming reunited with Sir Roger.

If that isn't enough trouble to beset Devarre, his former commanding officer and old friend Henry Morgan is back in England. He is attempting to gather support and backing from the King. Why? Because the Spanish government are quite cross with him (to put it mildly!) for sacking their prize colonial city, Panama.

And if that wasn't enough, grievances of an ancient nature, secret loves and political stratagems and schemes make for times of the kind of excitement that even a man as brave and a resourceful as Nathaniel Devarre can well do without!

It is a book that combines romance, lost loves, refound loves, swashbuckling excitement and political intrigue into an exceptionally well-told tale.

At £12.99 it is a welcome addition to the bookshelf of anyone with a love of well-written historical romance and adventure.

It is, of course, available from the That's Books and Entertainment, bookshop.

American Magna Carta

There are only four copies of the Magna Carta in  existence.

But what if a fifth, previously unknown, copy of the Magna Carta is found to exist?

American Magna Carta describes what happens when this copy is discovered.

An unholy alliance of crooked academics, investment bankers and elements within the American state intelligence apparatus conspire to take possession of this important document.

In their fiendish plan they ride roughshod over the laws of the land, leaving a trail of destruction as they battle to possess this 800-year-old document.

Standing in their way is a heroic team made up of Ricky Taleb, a Harvard law student, Alison Sinclair, an art history intern from London and Harry James a veteran of the Occupy Movement.

Although it is a compelling and punchy story, I have doubts about the basis of it. After all, the Magna Carta can be viewed by everyone with an Internet connection and the idea of a massive conspiracy between all sorts of disparate "establishment" figures opposed by a bunch of plucky kids and assorted "anti-establishment" types smacks of a sort of conspiracy theorists meet Scooby Doo episode. ("We'd have got that fifth Magna Carta if it hadn't been for those meddling kids!" kind of thing.)

However, that caveat aside, Robert Hamblett tells an exciting and compelling story and at £9.99 it's worth a punt.

It is published by Matador and is available through the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop.

Legacy of Van Diemen's Land

Written by Shelagh Mazey, Legacy of Van Diemen's Land tells the continuing story of the evil and scheming Nathan Meakins.

As he is being transported for his crimes to Australia, it seems that Meakins' past actions have caught up with him. Or have they?

Meakins is determined to return to his native Somerset to wreak his revenge on his adversary Joshua Dryer, a circumstance that fills everyone living in Alvington Manor with dread.

Meakins is so determined to have his revenge that he cares little or nothing for the damage he causes to innocent victims who become entrapped and embroiled in his nefarious and wicked stratagems and plots for revenge.

The tale is a continuation of  the stories of Meakins, Dryer and the contemporaries.

It is well researched -one could almost hear the creaking of the prison ship as it transports Meakins to his life in the prison colony- and it is an exciting and well-told tale steeped in the Somerset and Australia of the 19th century.

It is a tale of rogues, vagabonds, ladies and gentlemen of those exciting and distant times.

Does Meakins exact his revenge on Dryer?

Or does Lady Fate have a different and more fitting outcome for Nathan Meakins?

The book is available in paperback from Matador at £9.99 and is available via the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop which you can find to the right hand side of this website.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The Bunny Run. Your "must buy" summer read

If you buy only one book this year, it should be "The Bunny Run" by Tim Topps.

When I picked up this novel I was captivated from the first paragraph on the first page.

I was hooked so much so that I had to read the 166 page book in one sitting. Which is very rare for me.

The novel tells the story of how the protagonist Tim Topps suddenly realises that his marriage, in fact his whole life as he has lived it so far, is at an abrupt end.

For work purposes for many years, he has driven between his two offices in Oxford and Cambridge.

He makes the journey in his beloved car, a vintage Sunbeam Talbot.

The route he takes is familiar to him and he keeps himself entertained on his route by making observations, often wry and humorous, about the villages and towns that he passes through.

He also has some very strong opinions on placenames and their likely origins.

He draws us into his life by telling us little stories (vignettes)  from his own life which, as he travelled with his government official father and his mother, involved trips to many exciting and exotic locations, Remembrance Day in East Africa, then back to England for boarding school, romantic encounters with young ladies and the like. Sometimes in an aside to the reader he will point out that although there is a basis of truth in the particular story that it is not true.

Tim regales us with digressions as to why The Pooh books are, in reality, extremely witty books aimed at the adults who are reading them to the children, rather than being 'pure' children's books.

He tells us about his wife and her horrible family, including his violent and criminal brother-in-law.

Tim likes to correct people almost to the point of it being an obsession. He also has a faith or a conviction that the number seven has some deep significance for him.

Although the book might appear to be a random collection of highly entertaining and very diverting travelogue style musings on the towns and villages he is travelling through and the roads and bridges he is passing over, the book is far, far more than that.

There are several 'markers' throughout the book, plus several threads of bright material that cunningly disguise the real, true nature of the book which will shock, amaze and enthrall you at the same time, when you realise exactly where the journey was always going to end up.

It is published by paperback by Matador at £8.99. I can promise you that it will be the best £8.99 you will have spent in a long time.

The book is available from the bookshop at That's Books and Entertainment, to the righthand side of this review.