Sunday, 16 July 2017
World wide, there are children who work for the super secret 005 Secret Services Agency. And Zed is one of these secret agents!
Every week he receives top secret instructions (through a secret vending machine carefully hidden at the rear of his bedroom wardrobe, that dispenses secret mission instructions, rather than snacks and drinks) of his latest daring secret operations.
He is aided and abetted by Lorenzo. Lorenzo may by only nine years of age, but Lorenzo is one of the world's top designers and makers of super secret special gadgets that are used by secret agents like Zed in their missions.
But Zed needs some special help to make certain his missions are all undertaken successfully. And his assistant is his best friend Dez, who is also nine years old!
Together they strive to thwart baddies and save a talent show, stop a kidnap plot, save someone from drowning, make sure Mr Ladd is kept safe and construct a youth centre, amongst other tasks!
And will Lorenzo's weird inventions actually help them?
The story is a good, fun read which is illustrated with some well-executed cartoons.
If you are looking for early Christmas presents, this book is a must buy at £7.99. It is published by Matador and is available at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.
For in it, author Bee Johnstone tells the story of her own parents and how they met during the dangerous years of World War Two.
Her father was a bomber pilot, became ill with an infection, fell in love with a nurse who was still within her probationary period and survived the depredations and horrors of the Desert War.
This amazing true love wartime story was the basis for Living To See You, Bee Johnstone' debut novel.
The novel relates the long distance courtship between a pilot of Wellington Bombers flying dangerous missions over the skies of Egypt and an equally young probationary nurse who was tending the patients at a fever hospital, in the last days before antibiotics began to help in the fight against infectious diseases.
The story is told through the medium of the love letters that passed between them as each one battles against the problems that they face, enemy action in his case and seriously ill patients in her case.
It is many things, a romantic novel and also a captivating story about the Second World War, detailing the bravery of the Allied pilots who participated in Operation Jostle in 1941, flying in what were described as: "Winston's Wellingtons" a subject which has not been given as much attention as perhaps it deserves.
This is Bee Johnstone's debut novel, let's hope it is the first of many novels from this author.
The book is published by Matador at £7.99 and can be bought at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.
Zoe Marshall is in a jam. She finds herself still on the planet Earth, but it is 1,000 years into the future and it all, from Zoe's perspective, seems to have gone very, very wrong indeed.
People live as tribes in primitive settlements and wild animals roam at will.
The Earth is encircled by artificial planets and these constantly send down armed patrols which attack the settlements and capture their inhabitants.
Zoe wishes to return to her own time. Unfortunately the one person who would almost certainly be able to help her return to her home time is the alien called Kazzaar. But Kazzaar is missing.
Zoe must continue alone in her quest to return home, facing the physical dangers of a very different Earth, but she is also plagued by the horrors of her nightly dreams.
Can Zoe work out a way to return to the safety of her family and friends, back in her own time? Or will she be trapped in the hostile, brutal and dangerous future world forever?
But how can she trust Kazzaar, after all he had done before?
This is an exciting example of juvenile Science Fiction, but it will hold the attention of adult readers too.
It is published by Matador at £8.99 and is available from https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.
What if it were your reality? It is the reality for Kerryl Shaw. Aged just seventeen, she lives with her family on an idyllic and remote farm in the heart of the Pennine Mountains.
But then comes the devastating plague. But wouldn't the Shaw family be safe in their farm? Sadly, even they family succumb to the plague, one-by-one until only Kerry is left.
She knows that it is only a matter of time until she, too, falls victim to the mystery plague that has destroyed humanity.
So she decides to write a diary to a notional person she has dubbed Adam.
As all services start to breakdown the loneliness of her dreadful situation begins to weigh very heavily on her and her mind begins to crack.
She hears her name being called in the darkness of the night, animals attack her, she visits town and is assaulted, strangers outside the farm suddenly vanish and things appear and disappear. And to her, Adam becomes a real, rather than an imaginary person.
She finds text messages on her phone. But how can this be, when there is, apparently, nobody left to text her?
The she gets an invitation to meet a mystery person. Should she? What would happen if she did? But then again, what would happen if she didn't?
Paradise Girl is written by Phil Featherstone and it is published by Matador at £8.99 and can be bought at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.
He draws on his over four decades of work at the forefront of medical care involved with healthcare within busy NHS hospitals.
He touches on all aspects of his professional life from his time as a medical student, right through to working as a vital part of a highly disciplined team of healthcare workers working together to save the life of a patient and what happens when the patient cannot be saved.
Although a detailed account, the author is extremely sensitive in how he tells the various stories that he covers.
From self-doubts if he is even suitable to be training as a medical doctor to learning that not only did he have what it took to become a medical doctor, he was also capable of continuing his training, this time as a surgical trainee, until he eventually was at the peak of his profession, a consultant surgeon.
From the moment I opened the book I was immediately drawn into a world of urgent surgical procedures, of patients in need of urgent, lifesaving urological surgery by Mr Das and his team of highly trained professional medical staff.
We also read of Mr Das' early days learning his surgical skills in India -he was the winner of a gold medal for surgery at Medical College- and of how he had to fight off the bed bugs that infected the rooftop hostel shared by the hospital's surgical residents, charmingly described as a "doctor's chummery" by Gautam Das.
We follow Gautam Das through his career in India and also in Britain, when, following his Master of Surgery qualification, he left India in 1979.
In 1981 he was admitted to the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh and he was awarded the Surgeon-in Training Medal of the College in 1988, before continuing on to obtain the Specialist (FRCS (Urology).
He was appointed Consultant Urological Surgeon in Croydon in 1990, a prestigious post he held until his retirement in June last year, 2016.
From 2005 to 2010 he also worked as a Pelvic Cancer Surgeon at St George's Hospital, London.
He has not fully retired, however, as he remains a Trustee-Director of the South East England Cancer Help Centre.
The book is a very human and humane account of his life as a surgeon and anyone with even a passing interest in this subject will benefit from this book. It would probably make a welcome addition to the bookshelves of any medical student or surgeon.
It is published by Matador at £9.99 and is obtainable at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.
She is bewildered and totally disorientated. Utterly discombobulated, as one might say.
Why is she there? What happened to her? Who, actually, is she?
Who is the woman she sees linked to the life support equipment? Who is the worried man who is sitting at her bedside?
All will be revealed when she meets the Head Assistant to the Angel of Death, AKA the D. A.
He is a surprisingly charismatic fellow who tells her that she has seven days left to live, but first he will show her the previous seven days of her life.
But is her death inevitable? Will she journey to the Hereafter or is her time on earth not yet over?
And who will decide? And why did the angel visit her?
The book is by Dallaa Moussallati and costs £8.99 from Matador and is available for purchase at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.
The stories are obviously written out of great compassion and wisdom and love, there are stories of love, of devotion of loss and of redemption.
They are all written in a style that touches on the poetic and they speak directly from the soul of the author to the soul of the reader.
From the story of The Silent Partner (he is always there, but always silent) to stories of heartbreak and of pure love, every aspect of human life and emotion is to be found within these short stories.
And they are short. Very short in some instances, yet and yet... the truth is that even these stories, the shortest of these short stories, contains more wisdom and truths than is to be found in many much, much longer works.
You will read and re-read these stories over and over, always learning something new from them.
It's published by Matador at £8.99 (£12.99 hardback) and you can purchase it here at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.
It tells the story of two sisters, one who has been dead for 40 years.
Due to a childhood accident, Meg, twin to Tina Thornton, dies.
And for the next four decades, Meg carried a devastating secret, the fact that she blames herself for the death of he twin sister.
Until one day, one fateful day, during a visit to her elderly Uncle Edward and his sister, Lucia, hard, bitter, Lucia, she makes a discovery that completely shatters all that she thought she knew of the day that her sister dies.
She knows how her sister died. But does she? Does she really remember what happened, or are her memories not true?
And Tina is not the only member of her family who harbours some fairly dark secrets of their own.
Exactly how did Meg die? Did anyone kill her? Or was it a tragic accident that took her life?
Tina also examiners her relationships with the rest of her family, Uncle Edward, Simone, her French aunt and her estranged parents.
It is a compelling novel of family rivalries, dysfunction, loss and pain.
It's published by Matador at £8.99 and can be bought here https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.
The story begins in 1966 and RAF Flying Officer Dan Stewart is in trouble, he has been involved in a 'plane crash and he is literally watching his body being consumed by the fire that is raging through the cockpit of his plane.
He awakes from a coma in hospital some six months later, to be greeted by his wife and his daughter, Claire.
But where is his daughter Lucy? And is it his imagination or is there something going on between his wife and Doctor Adams, the medic in charge of his case?
And why can he not recall the mission that he was taking part in when his plane crashed?
And there was the puzzle of his injuries. He had suffered almost 100% burns in the fire. And had survived. How was that even possible?
And how was it that when he saw his utterly horrific injuries in the hospital, the medical staff, apparently, could not?
And if he had been in a coma for six months, how come his accident had only occurred two weeks before he came out of his coma?
And what of the second accident, whilst he was under the care of the hospital that had, apparently, taken place?
He seems to be hallucinating, but which of the events that are taking place are real and which are the hallucinations?
Who can he trust? His wife? The Doctor? His nurse?
And what medical treatment do they want him to take? What is it? What is the purpose of it?
Dan doesn't want to take it. Is this due to paranoia caused by an injury to his brain? Or does he have a genuine reason for not wanting to take them?
Are his hallucinations and weird dreams a product of his illness, whatever that is, or are they trying to convey some sort of a message to him?
It's said that the truth will set you free, but what if the truth that is, apparently, being hidden from Dan, was so monstrous that it would kill him?
And what were the red pills prescribed by Doctor Adams actually designed to treat?
And what, exactly, is this hospital for? What conditions do they deal with? Burns and severe physical traumas, or is it a facility for treating neurological conditions?
Are the staff, or some of them, lying to Dan and his family?
And why are all the other patients, including a child, called Alice, all suffering from almost exactly the same devastating burn injuries that are, apparently, afflicting Dan? And how was it that the sarcastic patient Gary knew which patients, including Dan, were not taking their red pills?
And why can't Dan's family see his horrific injuries?
If he just started taking the red pill again, all would be well, he has been assured. But if that were so, why had he stopped taking them in the first place?
The basis for this novel (the first in a series of three) are some rather unpleasant medical experiments undertaken by the military, those experiments are still very highly classified, so classified that the author can only allow a hint of them to be shared.
The novel is, according to Alec Birri, "disturbing science fiction based on disturbing science fact."
This has got to be one of the best science fiction books that I have read in 40 years, in fact it reads like a book written at the height of the British Science Fiction explosion. Maybe this is the start of a new renaissance for British SF?
But don't take my word for it, buy this book at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG for £7.99.
It is published by Matador and I am eagerly awaiting the subsequent books in the series.
It tells the compelling story of Hoor who is a faithful, Pakistani woman who lives her life within the confines of the society in which she exists.
It tells of her personal journey through life, how she protects her honour and her womanhood, bit J. J. Baloch also uses the story of Hoor who make penetrating observations on the issues of how women are treated within Pakistan.
The author takes several themes and deals with them all extremely well, women's rights, or lack thereof, how women are often treated badly by the legal system and society in general, even to the point of being punished when they have actually not committed any crime.
The book is interesting as it looks at the problems that women face in Pakistan (a place where misogyny is real and very dangerous) and is written by an insider.
It is published by Matador at £8.99 and can be bought at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.
The daughter of Danish born, but naturalised British, Hull fish merchant, it might seem that Amy was an unlikely candidate for aviation history, but this was exactly what happened.
Author K. A. Lalani has undertaken meticulous research into the life and background of Amy Johnson from her very early life right through to her tragic and early death when he plane she was flying in crashed into the Thames Estuary. Her body was never recovered.
As well as being a pilot, Amy became the first British woman to qualify as a ground engineer, defying those who told her that she would never become a pilot to qualify as a pilot, eventually performing her heroic 1930 solo flight from Britain to Australia.
The sad story of her death by drowning in the Thames Estuary has never properly been explained and her remains were never recovered, even though she had been mere seconds away from being rescued. Indeed, one of the people who attempted to rescue her, died as a result.
The book does a great deal to take the reader into the whole life of Amy Johnson, flying ace and woman and it is very well illustrated with a well-selected range of photographs.
It will be welcomed by lovers of biography, of aviation history and of the history of modern British women and her story remains an inspiration to all, males and females.
It is published by The Book Guild at £9.99 and can be purchased here https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.
Michelle McKenna has crafted an exceedingly wonderful story (with superb illustrations from Steven Johnson) that tells the story of Mya.
Mya is eight years old and she wants to be just like her uncle, she wants to be a pilot.
She finds a local flying school, which has a 100% success rate in teaching its pupils to fly, enabling them to wear the coveted pilot's hat. But there is a fairly major problem that might block Mya from joining the flying school, she is a little girl, a human little girl, and the flying school is for ducklings only!
The flying instructor Lieutenant Drake chases her away, but when he sees how upset Mya is, one of the duckling pupils decides to help Mya to achieve her dream.
She learns a great deal from her new friend, that birds as well as humans have Control Towers to help make sure there are no crashes, she also learns of the story of Officer Peacock, the first duck who was taught to fly, even though she was only born with one leg.
But there were problems that My encountered, after all, humans aren't supposed to be able to fly and there was also the obstacle of Mr Sour the teacher, the only duck without the coveted pilot's hat.
But with the help of her mum, can Mya defy the odds and Mr Sour? Can she learn to fly?
The book is a fun and exciting read, but it also teaches some very important life lessons, but in a way that is not over-worthy or preachy. Including the most valuable lesson in disability awareness that I have seen in many years.
Your children will love this book, you will love this book.
It is published at £5.99 by Matador Books and it is a must buy book. In fact, there should be several copies of this book in every library and junior school in the country.
You can purchase it here at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.
Tuesday, 4 July 2017
In Ley Reyders we meet Petronia a girl who refuses to let the fact that she is unable to speak impinge on what she wants to do with her life.
The Ley is a mysterious force that flows through the world. It brings with it the power of life to all who dwell on the world.
There is a group of women, a very select group of women, who have the power and ability to sense the energy of the Ley.
They must devote their entire lives to influencing the Ley, to bring protection and assistance tp all those who require it.
But a hidden evil threatens to expunge the power of the Ley.
Petronia knows that her destiny is not that of her family, ordinary as they are. She feels that there is more for her and more to her than can be known.
Why is she mute? Is this, somehow, linked to the fact that she knows in her heart that it is her destiny to become a Ley Ryder?
But is she? Hayden, her younger brother, is not all that certain.
Petronia has powers that could be equal to or even greater than those possessed by any Ley Ryder, but can she employ these powers with wisdom?
Will her powers help or harm?
The Ryders offer Petronia and Hayden protection and the siblings must set off on a quest with a dispossessed prince, during which perhaps the truth of Petronia and her destiny will be discovered?
The book is published by Matador at £8.99 and is available for purchase at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.
However, Coming Down Again is his debut novel.
It tells the story of a young Iranian boy called Asha. His dreams are of fame and stardom. To be specific of rockstar fame and stardom.
But he lives in Tehran, the capital of Iran, with all that that entails.
His prize possession is his cherry-red electric guitar and though he loves the city of his birth, he knows that, in order to become a rock star, he must leave the city and his country and move to London, where he would be able, he believes, to pursue his ambition of being a guitar playing rock star.
The book will resonate with everyone who was ever filled with teen angst and heartbreak, even if they happened not to have lived in Iran.
The wrong music, the wrong clothing, it all seems so intense, so real and so powerful, as this book takes us back to a time when music meant everything, so long as it was not the wrong kind of music.
The book is published by Matador at £8.99 and can be bought at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.
Horse-Cow lives with his human who is called Ella. And between them they have a whole series of fantastic adventures. And with some mishaps and mayhem thrown in for good measure!
Written by Maggi King and with some of the best illustrations that I have seen in awhile from Jake Tebbit this book is aimed at children aged three and up and their parents and grandparents.
Horse-Cow met Ella when Ella was in hospital. Ella could not walk, so had to spend all her time in either her bed or in her wheelchair.
Ella and Horse-Cow really hit it off and they soon became close, loving friends in the hospital. And the people at the hospital who helped Ella also loved Horse-Cow and they would say hello to Horse-Cow and they loved to stroke his big, soft wuffly nose and his mane which was very stiff.
When they left the hospital to live together at Ella's home they have a whole host of adventures. They try to bake a cake, and Horse-Cow ends up being trapped inside the vacuum cleaner by Mrs Soap. Luckily Horse-Cow was rescued by a large black beetle.
They also have adventures on the water with Mr Bob, during which Horse-Cow has to be rescued by the fishes. Horse-Cow later was sort of kidnapped by a dog, has fun with a box of toys and makes friends with little Gracie.
Author Maggi King uses a wheelchair and also owns a soft toy which is curiously a lot like Horse-Cow, so how true are these adventures? Why not buy a copy of this splendidly delightful book and help your children find out for themselves?
It's published by Matador at £9.99 and will make an ideal book for individual reading by children and also for bedtime story telling, too.
You can purchase the book here https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.
Sunday, 2 July 2017
It starts with the event that defined her life, a tragic car crash that, randomly, took some lives and spared others, including that of Rosemary.
As many survivors of similar incidents tend to do, Rosemary wondered why she, and not others, had been spared, saved to live on.
Her life is a very untypical story as it can best be described as a "rags to riches" tale, born on the landing of her family's council house (with the umbilical cord wrapped, dangerously, around her neck) and she went from having to wear hand-me-down clothing to attending a boarding school which, although she left at 16 with no formal qualifications, could be said to have been the making of her.
It's a story of triumphs and tragedies of highs, lows and more highs as she finds a career path that leads to over 40 years of success from a lowly office junior to the dizzy heights of being a Managing Director (via many other stops, including that of Finance Director and East of England Businesswoman of the Year, 2011) of a company in Thailand.
She also looks back at the different males in her life who appeared and sometimes disappeared, whilst often causing great emotional angst.
The book is illustrated throughout with photographs and it relates the story of a strong woman who shows what a woman can do if she sets her mind to it.
It's published by The Book Guild at £10.95 and will make an ideal gift for all women, both young and old.
It can be purchased here https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.
He has based his novel on the maxim: "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."
London-based counter-terrorism expert Alex Cadman is sent to Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh where it is his job to assist the local police force by sharing his expertise with them.
Unfortunately it falls to him to work with an academic terrorism expert by the name of Sam Kanoski, who is arrogantly sure of his own abilities, but what is the reality of the man? Is he actually any good?
For a variety of reasons Cadman finds Dhaka to be a city beset by tensions and dangers, so he seeks out the relative safety of the city's Foreigner's Club.
Within the club he meets Jasmina, a mysterious policewoman in the city force who he finds to be utterly charming and beguiling, yet, with her forthright political views, a bit of an enigma.
Despite believing that his days as an active anti-terrorism police officer are long in his past, he suddenly finds himself plunged inot the midst of a live anti terrorism investigation in Dhaka.
The investigation is a race against time. But who, exactly, are the terrorists? What are their motives? What are they going to target?
Can Cadman assist the local police to avert yet another terrorist outrage?
But who can he trust?
An exciting novel, with many twists and turns, it's published by Matador at £8.99 and is available to purchase at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.
From the note left with a baby abandoned at a police station: "I thought I wanted a baby but I don't. His name's Matthew. Please give him to someone who wants a baby" right through to the last page, this is a stunner of a novel.
When we meet Matthew he is living as a homeless person in London. Although it's more complicated than that as he has a home of sorts (furnished in what one might call "early Marriott") and he finds a lucrative field using his talents as an artist to drew cartoons of people which they pay him money for.
But Matthew has a unique talent. He knows what you want. Not what you think you want, but what you really, truly want, though he doesn't understand how this talent works, he is never wrong.
Unfortunately Matthew comes into contact with a very wealthy, dangerous and evil psychopath called Ethem Connelly.
He plunges Matthew into a bewildering and frightening game which has no way out and no way to win.
Throughout his troubled life Matthew has made few friends and he is near to breaking points when one of his friends is abducted.
A man is sent to kill Matthew, but, surprisingly, they form a friendship and they flee the country as they attempt to stay one step ahead in the deadly game and make sense of what, exactly, is going on.
Will they finally work out what Connelly is really up to? Can his friend be rescued? Will they even survive for long enough to snuff out Connelly's evil game?
David Collenette's writing style is unique, he has a gift to bring characters to vivid life in as few words as possible and to keep the pace fast and furious.
This is his debut novel and I hope that it is the first of many more.
It is published by The Book Guild at £8.99 and can be bought at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.
It brings to children the magic and splendours of the world's rainforests.
Whilst he was employed with Jaguar Cars, Terry was given sponsorship to travel to Belize to paint the wildlife there, concentrating (of course!) on the jaguar cats that live there.
The intention was that prints of his works would be made and sold to raise much needed funds for The World Land Trust.
Terry found that the whole environment there, Mayan culture, wildlife, landscape, etc., but especially the big jungle cats, capture his heart.
Rosa's story is a follow up to his first novel Under the Star With a Leopard.
Readers will follow Rosa on a magical and beautiful journey, but what, exactly, is the end result for Rosa?
It's a super tale that is very well illustrated with first rate colour illustrations and this book deserves to be owned by any child who even showed even a passing interest in big cats.
There are also some interesting facts and figures about jaguars, too.
It's published by Matador at £7.99 and can be bought here https://goo.gl/wdCFDG
Saturday, 1 July 2017
Set in the decade of the 1980s, it looks back to an age -not that long ago to many of her readers- when instant communications just did not happen. No tweets, no Facebook wall, no Snapchat or Instagram and e-mails something we might have read about but, at that time, had no likelihood of ever receiving or sending one (how times change!) so communications between individuals were more slower and more contemplative.
We read the story of Grace Barnes who meets, and falls in love with, Archie Copeland.
Grace is thrilled to have met someone who seems an ideal match for her. Well, he shares the same obsession for reading that she has and enjoys the same intellectual pursuits, too.
However, her mother Hester, and Grace, herself, are shocked when Hester's husband Fergus makes an appearance at the wedding of Grace and he beau.
The surprise is a not unnatural reaction to his sudden reemergence after exiling himself from his family by running away to live on a hillside in rural Wales some 30 years previously.
Shocking soon after their wedding Grace is perturbed by a growing distance between herself and Archie. What, exactly, is happening with him?
When they take a impromptu holiday on a Greek island, all seems well, but then Archie vanishes.
Then Hester, Grace and Fergus take a detailed look at their relationships and how they had reached their current situations.
It's a thoughtful novel filled with multiple layers and costs £9.99 from Matador. You can purchase it at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.
This is the second DI Strachan novel form Clive Allan and it features the terrible murders of Duncan Fraser, a distillery owner, and of his wife, Laura.
The small Scottish Highlands village of Glenruthven is shattered by the twin homicides and once again readers meet DI Neil Strachan as he leads the investigation, aided and abetted by his detective partner, Sergeant Holly Anderson.
They find themselves locking horns with a ruthless adversity, a criminal who seems to have a strange obsession with his Jacobite ancestry.
But what, exactly, is really happening?
However, all is not well with the lady in his life, his long-term partner, Cat. Did she lie to him? She's acting strangely, but is she having an affair or is it something else?
At some point his professional life and his personal life begin to blur together and unless he is very careful, his professional reputation could be at risk.
This novel grips from the beginning and it's a great murder mystery that is utterly enthralling, filled with characters that are well-rounded, with intelligent, insightful writing to keep you wondering until the very end.
It's published by Matador at a modest £9.99 and is available to purchase here https://goo.gl/wdCFD.