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Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Lizzie's' Dream

Lizzie's' Dream is a romantic novel set against the backdrops of the horrors of the Great War.

Lizzie is 15 and she knows what she wants to be. She wants to be a governess.

However, the fact that she, along with the rest of her working class family, work in the local mill, this dream job looks to be more of a piper dream than something she can attain.

However, She meets a young solider called Harry who is stationed locally, but as their romance seems to be blossoming, Harry is sent away as part of the war.

Whilst she is trying to forget about Harry, she becomes a companion to Molly, who is the daughter of the family that owns the mill, for Molly is a sickly girl and is too ill to attend school.

As well as being her companion, the two girls swiftly develop a genuine friendship and Lizzie is able to teach Molly everything she knows.

Could this mean that Lizzie's dream might have a chance of becoming a reality?

But then she receives a letter form Harry, who has been injured and is now recuperating in a military hospital.

What happens next?

This is a charming and somewhat bitter-sweet romantic novel and it is the debut novel of poet Beverley J. Tucker.

It is published by Matador at £7.99.

They Were There on the Western Front 1914-1918

They Were There on the Western Front 1914-1918 is a remarkable book from Alan Weeks.

He has painstakingly researched an absolutely amazing collection of first-hand accounts from 100 people who were there on the Western Front.

The 100 are made up of a wide variety of different nationalities, British, Americans, Australians and French, from all walks of life, officers, conscripts, regular soldiers, engineers, medical staff and more besides.

It is profusely illustrated with photographs, drawings and maps which help to support the diary writings of these 100 people, including Alan's own father.

It explores topics such as why would someone want to keep a diary in the hell that was the Western Front?

There's also extracts from the diaries of Harry Patch, who died at 111, the last veteran of trenches of World War 1.

Not only are there diaries, but also extracts of letters that were sent back home.

This is a very moving and thought-provoking work and it is one that the serious student of the First World War will want on his or her bookshelf.

It is published by The Book Guild at £11.99.


Friday, 14 September 2018

Yoi

Yoi is an important book, for it is the first published biography about Edith Cornelia Crosse, who was a most remarkable woman.

Widely known as Yoi, Edith was born in Hungary to a British father and a Hungarian/Polish mother.

Eventually Yoi moved to England where she lived with her grandmother.

She settled down to life as a married woman and a mother. But her life was to be changed dramatically when a major scandal blew up and changed her life for ever, when she ran away with a young lover.

Yoi had a love of travel and she roamed far and wide, visiting Tehran and Italy, where she lived with her second husband, a sculptor of some repute called Antonio Maraini.

Yoi began to find success as a writer, publishing several books of her travels, books which met with some success.

She also published a variety of articles in newspapers and magazines in Britain, including an interview with Mussolini.

Yoi was an interesting woman, cultured and refined yet not averse to stirring things up a little, if she felt so inclined.

The book is well researched and profusely illustrated and does bring to life Yoi.

The book is published by Matador at £17.99.


Field of Dust

Field of Dust is a novel by Angela Jean Young, but it is based on a true story.

On September 3rd 1878 the paddle steamer SS Princess Alice hundreds of passengers are enjoying a moonlit cruise on the Thames Estuary.

Unfortunately the SS Princess Alice was in a collision with a collier the Bywell Castle. Within minutes the SS Princess Alice was destroyed, cut in two, sending it to the bottom of the Thames.

650 Londoners lost their lives in the accident and for days afterwards bloated corpses were being dragged from the water.

This recovery operation is taking place watched by children from a community known as The Creek. The tragic events are locked into their memories for the rest of their lives.

One of the children, Florence Grant, also has troubles in her own life, her own family has been destroyed by the secret lives enjoyed by their parents and she and her sister were harshly abandoned by their alcoholic mover.

However, Florence is an extraordinary young working class lady, she will not allow her past to control her future.

But it was the speech of a young and impassioned young union official that caused a major development and brought change into Florence's life.

This book scores with the reader on two counts: The quality of the writing and the quality of the research, both of which are absolutely meticulous.

It is fictionalised history rather than pure fiction and all the better for it.

It is published by The Book Guild at £8.99.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

My Wellness Toolbox

My Wellness Toolbox by Alison Swift is, without a doubt, the best self-help book that has been written and published in the past couple of decades.

By using the techniques that she outlines in her book Alison Swift was able to "banish the blues" and "nuke negativity."

It is a very simple book and very easy to read and to follow.

It contains 26 tools that you can employ, right now, to make your life infinitely better.

And most of them are explained in only one or two pages.

You'll learn how water can help you, how to use "No" to your advantage, how to create and employ your own positive affirmations, how to use gratitude, how to make and use a vision board, how listening to the right type of music can help, how to breathe to your own advantage, how to use Reiki, how learning something new can help you, how to employ kindness, the use of physical exercise, massage therapy, how laughter should be a part of your Wellness toolbox and many more besides.

This book will help you to be able to help yourself. It's part of my Wellness Toolbox, and for the nifty price of a mere £9.99, you can make it a part of your Wellness Toolbox, too!

It's published by Matador and will make a great gift to give to someone else or an ideal gift to give to yourself.

This book works and you deserve it!

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Listen, It's Wednesday

Listen, It's Wednesday, is set during the vibrant era of the 1960s.

Music is of vital importance and blues music was at the zenith of its influence.

 Listen, It's Wednesday follows the varied fortunes of a highly talented and very important member of an all woman brass band (a rarity of the day) who is saved from a suicide attempt by the loyal members of her band.

She was brought to such a low ebb in her life by the loss of her girl friend.

Her friends in the band manage to help save her from herself and she learns that she can keep going buoyed up by her friends, her own humour, the brass band and the realisation that when good old William Shakespeare said: "Sweet are the uses of adversity" the Bard of Avon might actually have actually had something go for him!

Although this book is a work of fiction, Chris Vale has based the novel on her experiences in a brass band. Although she was the only female member a cavalier and rather crass remark from the conductor lead her to write her first novel, Brassy Women.

So. what happens to Chrissy and her friends? Will they find success as musicians? Can they find true love? Can they reach their dreams?

This is a strikingly good novel, filled with twists and turns, and love and friendships. And the harsh reality that the 1960s were not swinging and 'with it' for everyone. 

It is published by The Book Guild at £8.99..



 

The Boy Who Imagined and Found he Could Draw!

Vapi is not doing well at school, to be perfectly honest. But it's not really Vapi's fault.

He is a misfit at school, but this seems to be as a result of the fact that he struggles in lessons. The situation is made worse by the fact that poor Vapi is being targeted by the school bully.

But Vapi has an escape route that he employs when his day-to-day life threatens to become too unbearably. He uses his imagination to take him on all sorts of fantastic adventures.

However, Vapi's situation begins to change for the better when he learns that he can draw and that he can use his drawings to help other people who are having problems in their own lives.

Written and illustrated by Fred and Ann Onymouse, this book will be a real winner with children of all ages.

It is published by Matador at £7.99.


The Price of Magic

This is an amazing book for children from ages 9 to 11, from Gavin Neale.

Siblings Abbey and Chris moved into a new home four summers ago. They learned a number of things including the fact that magic is not a fantasy, it is as very real thing and they met up with a lovely pair of witches who lived just down their road.

The children undertook a perilous rescue mission to save their mother from the Land of Fairy. Although their memories of this momentous even are beginning to fade, Abby still bears the scar of the wound he received from a ghostly sabre tooth tiger.

However, the Queen of the Land of Fairy is in desperate trouble and she comes to Abby seeking her assistance.

However, the consequences for Abby could have devastating consequences. But Abby has to gird her loins, ensure that a magical war is halted before it can really start, plus save the life of her neighbour.

All pretty dramatic fro anyone, but even more so for a girl of 11 who finds out that magic can come with a price even for those who use it for the power of good.

This is a great book for children and adults and it is published by Matador at £8.99.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Five Rites

The kidnapping of Margaret Rotheram as a child was, in many ways, the making of her.

A curious statement, yes. But it was a truthful one. For her new family moved in illustrious spheres of influence which brought Margaret, who is an especially gifted and intelligent child, to the notice of a very special and highly elite organisation which is known, rather prosaically, as the "Organisation."

They monitored Margaret until the time was right for them to make their move.

For a while, Margaret works as an Operative for the Organisation. It became clear that she was the best of the best and the fact that she outperforms everyone else meant that she quickly rose through the ranks of the Organisation.

However, it is not all smooth sailing for the Organisation, as it has accumulated enemies throughout the years of its existence. And these enemies will stop at nothing to destroy Margaret and her Organisation.

Leigh David's novel starts with the kidnapping of a Russian living in London and continues at breakneck speed with many flashbacks to the war years and familial betrayals, and the machinations of a variety of various intelligence agencies. a world in which human life is expendable and which no one should be trusted.

But then, came the heist. Probably the biggest heist in the history of the world.

Could it be pulled off? And if it could be done, what then?

This is a breathtaking book and a real high octane corker of a thriller.

It is published by The Book Guild at £8.99.

Munich The Man Who Said No!

Munich the Man Who Said No! is a novel from David Laws.

It is set against the back drop of the 1938 Munich Conference.

An American foreign news correspondent gatecrashes the conference to make a protest at what he perceived as the surrender of the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to Adolf Hitler, the leader of Germany.

However, before he can make his feelings known to Chamberlain, he is knocked unconscious. And is never seen alive again.

70 years later his granddaughter who has a degree in history from Cambridge University, is determined to find out what her grandfather had been trying to accomplish in Munich and what actually happened to her grandfather.

And she is determined to learn the truth, no matter what obstacles are placed in her path.

But what exactly is going on? Who can Emma trust? Who can anyone trust?

This is a complex and intriguing debut novel from author David Laws.

It is published by Matador at £8.99.

Sid the Madeiran Wall Lizard

Sid the Madeiran Wall Lizard is a debut novel from author Heather Heath Gorton.

It is aimed at children up to age 7 to help teach them about wildlife, the habitats they live in and how such creatures are precious.

It's also a very entertaining story about Sid the Madeiran Wall Lizard who lives on the island of Madeira and who is having a bit of a problem with keeping his feet cool under the blazing sun that shines down on the island.

He tries a variety of methods, increasing his knowledge throughout this entertaining story until he finally hits on the ideal sollution, with the assistance of his good friends Steph, Bert and a little mouse called Pete, and some frog friends, too!

It is an illustrated book and is an ideal read along book.

It is published by Matador at £6.99.

How big can Virtual Reality get?

Monday, 13 August 2018

Winning the Weight Battle

Winning the Weight Battle is a startling new book on obesity and weight loss from Ian B. Stark.

Mr Stark makes a claim that, on the face of it, might seem absurd. He argues that a lack of sugar is a cause of the increase in obesity.

He has studied physiology for 40 years and he issues a challenge to the media for what he calls a regular misrepresentation of the science of sugars.

He points out that sugar is actually a necessary element that allows us to participate in fast exercise which, in turn is the element which improves our hearts and, ultimately the rest of our bodies.

He points out that there have been recent studies of large population groups that actually prove the benefits of eating sugars and, yes, even chocolate.

His book is very well argued and his claims regarding the foods we eat, what types of exercise we should participate in and what meals are important, are all backed by solid facts within his book.

At the age of 71 he was healthy enough to be able to play football and he is still a keen runner, what Ian Stark has to add to the diet and exercise debate should be taken note of.

The book is published by Matador at £10.99.


Friday, 10 August 2018

Beyond the Arch

Beyond the Arch is a stunning debut novel from David Evered. It is set against the background of the changing attitudes of the latter years of the 1960s.

 Peter Bowman is a successful solicitor. However, a series of utterly bewildering events including the metaphorical death of his marriage and the very real death of a close personal friend and turning up late, again, for one of his own dinner parties led to an extraordinary set of consequences that totally disrupted his life.

He decides to quit working as a solicitor (at least for a while) and to follow his ambition of writing fiction.

Which takes him on a series of bewildering journeys during which he faces some new challenges and meets new loves and some new tragedies, too.

He leaves the familiar surroundings of his life in the North East of England for France, where he lives with a freelance journalist called Sally.

Sally is a bit of a mystery herself, with something of a troubled past.

He begins on his first baby steps of writing a novel. But can he, a survivor of a previous generation, really escape the restrictions that his own background have placed upon him?

Can he really embrace the new "With it" movement that burst upon the unsuspecting public in the late 1960s?

Does Peter succeed in his ambition?

Or does something even more wonderful happen to him?

It's an incredibly moving novel and although it is not a romance it is filled with love.

It's published by Matador at £9.99.

Home Before the Leaves Fall

Home Before the Leaves Fall is a novel about the Great War by author N L Collier.

However, it is different to many of the other novels set during the Great War, or Wold War One as that conflict is also known.

This is because Collier has taken the interesting step in his debut novel to set the novel from a German perspective.

As war breaks out all over Europe German university student Franz Becker takes the decision to give up his academic life -at least for the present time- and to enlist in the Kaiser's Army.

He feels sure that the army life will enable him to escape from his safe and predictable life. However, not everyone in Germany agrees with him .For example his best friend, Karl von Leussow is sickened by the idea of a European conflict. And Karl should know about this type of matter. After all, hadn't his family supplied the Prussian Army with members of the officer class for many generations?

Despite his misgivings (Karl is aware exactly how bloody and brutal war can actually be) Karl also joins the army in order to defend his country.

Along with the other new recruits they both receive six weeks of barely adequate training and they are bundled off to join in the fighting at Ypres. The fighting was terrible and the carnage unthinkable.

The shock at what he is witnessing has a major impact on Franz, but he swiftly learns that he must fight or die. So, he fights.

He proves to be a good solider and his promotion up the ranks is rapid. He is then put under considerable pressure to make the change to join the officer class, but he knows of the dangers of becoming an officer and declines to take the commission.

Karl, with a background in hunting, becomes a sniper, which causes his friend Franz some angst.

After seeing aircraft above the trenches more frequently, Franz decides to transfer to the Air Service, but Karl decides to remain earthbound.

After his acceptance into the Air Service the two friends decide to enjoy a leave together.

The novel is extremely well written and pulls no punches. The one thing the reader will begin to understand is that there's probably no difference between the soldiers, no matter what side they are on.

It is published by Matador at £7.99.

Hurricane Hill

Hurricane Hill is a novel by Chris Leicester which is based on his highly successful play of the same name which he toured the UK with in 2013 to 2015.

It is a heart and gut wrenching examination of the terrible effects of PTSD on combatants and their family members.

It's a novel that is moving and yet also very disturbing, too. It tells of the camaraderie built up on the battlefield and explores the moral dilemmas that soldiers sometimes face on the battlefield. Who lives and who dies on the day? Which life is more important? Who should be saved, who should be sacrificed?

The novel also explores the results of what happens when a former combatant returns home carrying the heavy weight pf PTSD.

I have never suffered -thank the Lord!- from PTSD, but I have known former servicemen who fought in the types of regiments that Chris Leicester alludes to who do suffer from PTSD and this book might just help give a glimpse of insight into what they are going through.

It is published by Matador at £8.99.

Striking Similarities

Kevin Morley takes a detailed look at two examples of industrial action that were both extremely important moments in industrial relations

In 1913 there was the Dublin Lockout which was a gargantuan struggle between the opposing forces of William Murphy who owned the Dublin United Tramway Company and the Irish Independent newspaper group whilst also being the head of the Employers Federation, versus Jim Larkin and James Connolly and the Irish Transport and General Workers Union.

The dispute was a bitter one involving a strike and a lockout of the working people of Dublin which lasted for some eight months.

In the first part of this well-researched work the author examines the lockout and the conclusion in 1914.

The second part of the book crosses the Irish Sea and looks at the 1984/85 Miners Strike which crippled the coalfields of Britain for a year.

Morley points out that, although separated by 70 years and two world wars, that there are some very strong similarities between the two industrial disputes. And that these similarities are well worth closer examination.

Striking Similarities deserves a place on the bookshelf of any modern historian and people who specialise in industrial relations. And of any layman with an interest in modern history.

It is published by The Book Guild at £11.99.


Wednesday, 8 August 2018

The Mule in Military Service

Almost entirely ignored, the role of the poor mule in wars, including both the  First and Second World Wars is examined and reported upon by Anthony Clayton in his new book The Mule in Military Service.

It is a detailed and authoritative account of the use and treatment of mules whilst in military service.

Anthony Clayton points out that the number of mules used within conflicts has been huge. But he points out that their loyal service was often overshadowed by the hardships they went through and the many cases of utterly unnecessary cruelty to which they were subjected.

The book is a thoroughly well researched work and is an epitome of what in depth research should be.

Although this book will be of great value to academics searching the history of war it is not in any way a dry book as it is written in a very readable style.

It is well sourced and cited throughout and it does contain some very illuminating illustrations. 

This book belongs on the bookshelf of any military historian and interested lay reader and at £9.99 is well worth the price.

It is published by The Book Guild.


Sunday, 22 July 2018

The Cypher Bureau

The Cypher Bureau is a novel by Eilidh McGinness. It tells the story of what happens when the Polish Cypher Bureau learn that the Germans are employing a new type of code that hey cannot decypher.

The Cypher Bureau takers the decision to employ mathematics students to implement a new way of dealing with the science of code breaking.

One of these students is Marian Rejewski. With other outstanding mathematics students he participates in a top secret course in code breaking.

He is given a commercial version of the Enigma machine and a set of user handbooks, and, alone, het starts to learn how to break the code.

His work must be undertaken in absolute secrecy, but the situation is growing increasingly dangerous as the outbreak of war with Germany is becoming more obvious and time is running out for the team of code breakers.

Although the story is a fictionalised account of real events, Marian Rejewski was a very real part of the Polish efforts to defeat the German Enigma cypher.

It's a very readable account of the story of the incredibly brave and resourceful Polish code breakers and the absolutely vital part they played in helping defeat Nazi Germany.

It is published by The Book Guild at £8.99.

Fragments

Fragments is a new novel from lawyer turned author John Ellison.

It's a novel that draws heavily on the maxim "Borrow from history, build from imagination."

It's a piece of historical fiction, yet a piece of recent history, set in the 1960s and beyond.

Rather than writing a 'straight' memoir, John Ellison has decided to mine memoir to create a fictionalised story which he uses to tell the life, from his point of view, of Clive Bates, who, from his position as a retired law lecturer, looks back all the way to 1968 when he leaves University with a law degree and takes up his first teaching post.

There are a rather eclectic (dare one say also slightly eccentric?)  group of fellow lecturers in the college's Business and General Studies Department of East Ham Technical College.

Potential problems are flagged from the early pages of the novel when one of his colleagues airly annonces that: "Teaching a class of pretty girls about erotic references in the poems of John Donne and being paid for it is in my view a reasonable way of making a living."

However, as he doesn't expect to remain in the employ of the East Ham Technical College for long, that might or might not be a problem for those concerned!

There's snobbish behaviour from some chap who was educated at Oxford and a colleague always ready to fulminate on the advantages of Socialism at, or without, the drop of a hat all adding to the general atmosphere of the East Ham Technical College's Business and General Studies Department!

However, this is all set against casual sexism and everyday racism, the sudden shock of the speeches of Enoch Powell, the Russian invasion of Chekassloakia, the massive anti-Vietnam war demonstration in London and the US Presidential election of 1968.

John Ellison uses the historical backdrop to interweave the life story of Clive Bates into a very enjoyable and realistic memoir, albeit a fictional one.

It's published by Matador at £8.99

The Girl in the Abbey

The Girl in the Abbey is set during the tumultuous period of World War 2.

Grimsby was an important British port and, as such, it was constantly under attack by Nazi bombers so many of the children of Grimsby were evacuated inland to places of safety.

Violet Cobb is one of the evacuees. Violet is a resourceful and brave young girl who finds herself waiting on the doorstep of Bramblington Abbey, far away from her hometown and her family and friends.

The Abbey is situated in a village called Bramblingham-in-Finalis, which is preternaturally quite and crumbling from age after age of neglect.

She meets Mr Whispers, who Violet thinks looks like a desiccated old stick who looks like a housekeeper from a scary film.

Mr Whispers makes it very clear that Violet must not enter the Abbey itself, nor is she to bother the surviving member of the family who own the abbey, Lady Ainsworth for fear of a terrible beating.

But later, Violet finds a girl who she can befriend. Her new friend is called Sarah and Sarah says that she is the granddaughter of the reclusive and mysterious owner of the Abbey.

Together the two girls explore the local area. Violet soon learns that whilst Bramblington Abbey might have its own secrets, the elderly and decaying abbey is not the only one with secrets that it might wish to keep to itself.

But eventually Violet does enter the old abbey and, amidst treasures she could only have ever seen in her dreams, she meets Lady Audrey Ainsworth. Who she finds a most engaging raconteur as she takes Violet on a impromptu guided tour of her country home.

And then secrets started to bubble out from the reason why Lady Audrey never leaves her family home to why Mrs Geddes uses paraffin in her cakes.

This is an amusing and moving novel that touches on a number of themes, including what happens on the homefront during a war, class differences, friendships and a good deal more.

It's published by the Book Guild at £7.99.   

Sunday, 15 July 2018

The Lantern

The Lantern is a piece of political philosophy.

It examines and explores the complex and myriad issues that have, unfortunately, stymied and real changes and developments in the current Arabian world.

The author, Ayman Aborabh, takes the time and trouble to reexamine these issues by introducing new and groundbreaking ways of thinking that the author hopes will challenge his readers to understand and embrace and what is commonly described as western philosophy and to meld these with the current political realities and politics that exist within the Arab world.

He is candid in his observations, but he levens this with a good deal of humour. He takes the works of the likes of Plato, Machiavelli, Burke and Hobbes and triex to illustrate his points by picturing how these great minds from previous ages would examine the political makeup of the states of modern Arabia.

He also features two "normal" Arabian citizens who he has arguing vital questions on freedom, democracy and on their ordinary lives.

Although a serious academic work it is written in an open and approachable style, the author aims it at universities that offer courses on modern Arabian politics and the like.

 It is published by Matador at £13.99.

The author also has a YouTube channel https://youtube.com/omelseiasa which is in the Arabian language.

The Tales of Louis the House Rabbit

The Tales of Louis the House Rabbit is an utterly charming illustrated book by Harriet Hall.

It is a book that is aimed at parents and children (ideal for reading to children) and it contains simply written stories about Louis who is a rabbit who lives in a house.

He manages to sneak out of the house and meets a whole range of interesting creatures such a bees, frogs, a rabbit (who is puzzled as to why Louis doesn't have a warren!) Whiskers, Louis' new rabbit chum, shows Louis his warren and introduces Louis to his extended family.

After some adventures, including a bit of a scary one, Louis returns to his own home, with his human family.

But he dreams about the other rabbits when he falls asleep in his bed, after washing his ears, of course!

It costs £8.99 and is published by Matador and it is the first in a series, so do look out for subsequent books.


Soundman

Who is John 'Wilf' Wilford? He worked as a roadie for many top bands and musicians. His book Soundman traces his 30 year history of working on the road as a sound engineer, a tour manager and a production manager.

In his book he takes his readers on a behind-the-scenes tour of what took place by on and off the stage, sound checks, recording studios, TV studios, the tour buses and the hotels that the bands occupied during their tours.

It's the view of a genuine insider, and you'll be shown the highs and lows of life on the road with some very famous and some not quite so famous bands and individuals from 30 years on the road.

From pub gigs right up to gigantic events at stadiums like Wembley and the Hollywood Bowl, you'll see them all.

After tinkering with his father's defunct valved radio (he got it working) Wilf was bitten by the radio and electronics bug and eventually took a City and Guilds course to learn the basics of radio and television servicing.

Eventually he shifted over inot the world of pub gigs, as a part time roadie, he took up the career as a full time professional.

He built (whilst working with Midas Amplification) sound mixing consoles for top groups such as Pink Floyd. He actually built their highly specialised Quadraphonic mixing desk.

Eventually he launched several sound companies in both the UK and in Nashville, in the USA.

Learn how some managers of bands utterly ripped off their bands, sometimes even ensuring they didn't even own their own homes, how Black Sabbath designed an absolutely huge replica of Stonehenge to appear on stage with them. But they had forgotten to measure the doorways of the halls they were to perform in, and the result was they could not get their Stonehenge into any of them!

And there was the dreadful incident involving serious injuries to a dwarf actor dressed up as a baby during a Black Sabbath tour. 

The book is well illustrated with pictures of equipment and of gigs, but mainly from the perspective of the sound engineer, which is what would be expected, as this book is from the perspective of a sound engineer.

There are scores of anecdotes and interesting little asides and stories and at £12.95 (published by The Book Guid) this book needs to be in the hands of people who where there, or who want to see what "where" was like!

The Jacobite Rebellion A Novel

The Jacobite Rebellion A Novel is a novel form Paul Adams.

Charles Edward Stuart's life has just taken an unexpected turn for the worst. He is arrested by the police, but it appears it is all just a case of mistaken identity, so he is released from police custody.

Back home again he makes the mistake of opening the door to Flora Macdonald who is able to persuade Carles to join her on a journey to Scotland. However, they are trailed by DCI Cumberland, who is following them.

Once in Scotland Charles is taken to Brady Castle where he is introduced to Colonel MacPherson, who informs Charles that he is plotting the overthrow of Queen Elizabeth the Second, with who he believes to be the real King, Charles Stuart. But not our Charles Stuart, a different Charles Stuart, for our hero is merely being employed as a decoy.

However, it's clear from page one of this novel that the whole thing is going to be a riot. Well, several riots, really. A riot of fun, then there's the accidental riot accidentally caused by DI Monro, the incident of caticide resulting from an incompetent police firearms unit (police force amalgamations you see? Very tricky stuff...), a traffic wearden, a postman and a lost stripagram (how was she to know dressing up as a police officer would cause even more mayhem?) and this was before the BBC arrived on scene!

The police interview is a classic example of how mistakes can be made and the entire book is full of wry and caustic humour. Everything in the book is an object lesson in how it is possible to take ordinary, mundane events and, with a slight flick and a twist, turn them into an absolutely hilarious series of weird happenings.

And this was before our hero makes his fateful trip up North!

It's a novel that generally offers two or three (sometimes more) laughs per page and just wait to see what happens to HRH! Pity about Lawrence the cat, though. And who would have thought that pedalo operators would have been so important as to how things turned out?

It's published by The Book Guild at £7.99 and will be another great summer holiday read.


The Steampunk Murder

Thank goodness! There's a new Inspector Carmichael mystery novel from Ian McFadyen!

This is probably my pick of the Summer reads.

Inspector Carmichael is a very genuine and plausible police detective. He's no super sleuth, but then neither is a a shabby breaker of rules just because he can break them. He is a working copper who always gets results.

But this case tests him and his team to the limits in some ways, as it introduces him to the rather weird subculture of Steampunk.

Kendal Michelson is a leading light in the Northwest England Steampunk movement. That is he was, until someone rather cruelly put his light out by murdering him. By rather gruesomely imaling him on his own sword.

But Kendal was a popular young man, so who would have a motive for murdering him?

Could it be one of his apparently close friends in the Steampunk movement? One of his former partners? And even if they didn't actually kill him, do they know more than they are revealing to Inspector Carmichael and his team of detectives?

Then there's Kendal's father, a self made millionaire who made his fortune in making sweets. Does he know anything about who might have had a motive to murder his son?

But before the end of the investigation more murders are committed and it becomes clear that the local Steampunk scene is a lot more than just wearing fancy, Victorian-based clothing and monocles.

So... who is committing the murders and why?

Take this book with you to the holiday destination of your choice and you'll have to be prised from it to leave your deckchair!

It's published by The Book Guild at £8.99 and will make an excellent gift for the mystery lover in your life.



Three Funerals and a Wedding

Three Funerals and a Wedding is a highly readable and very valuable book for anyone in business.

The author, John Thorp, takes a look at four businesses that are undergoing radical changes. He points out how they succeed or why they failed.

John Thorp has worked in business management for over a quarter of a century. This was in the main in IT leadership roles at some very well known brands such as Laura Ashley, The Burton Group, Compass Group, easyJet and the Dixon Stores Group. At the last two concerns he served as a member of the board of management.

The firms are all still operating today, but some are in very different forms. Although for some their survival was a bit of a nail biting situation.

As well as having seen business management form the inside, he is also a visiting lecturer at Cranfield University, where he also earned his Masters degree.

John states that the book is about systems and change. However, he points out that unlike other books that deal with business change it is not about 'business change management' it covers other areas of change, what change is, how systems can bring about change and how change can bring about unintended consequences for the organisation concerned.

John Thorp points out that although change, especially when it involves IT departments, can be vital, it can also be fraught with danger and pitfalls.

His writing on the Laura Ashley brand is an object lesson to all involved in business that although change must happen it must be managed well.

Published by the Book Guild at £8.99, this book belongs on the bookshelf of everyone involved in business management, no matter at what level they might be.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

5 Simple Steps to Saving Planet Earth

5 Simple Steps to Saving Planet Earth is a novel for children from Jo Withers.

Billy is having some problems. Due to an unforeseen set of circumstances he finds himself trapped beneath a hedge with a good half kilo of sausages round his neck to act as bait for a runaway dog.

Far from being early, he was now running very late and covered in dog slobber. But then the day, Thursday 18th of May, got even worse for poor Billy!

He gets detention and later becomes injured and insults his friend Wayne and misses getting to the newsagents.


That night Billy is having a bad dream. Which, with the interruption of his dream by a tiny creature called a Ysgol from the planet Blykpstpst.

It transpires that the world will cease to be next Wednesday (exact time computed as teatime, in case you are interested) and that would be it for humanity. And every other creature mankind shares the planet with, for that matter.

At first Billy thinks he has gone bonkers, but when the Ysgol appears in Billy's back garden, Billy know that he isn't going mad and that something must be done to save the world, from a band of interplanetary contract cleaners who want to clean the Earth out of existence!

The Ysgol is trying to help, though an emergency survival kit the basic contents of which appear to be an old apple core and little else, might be thought of as a unique employment of the word 'help'.

Though the emergency survival kit might be more important than one might think.

Billy gets together a team of heroes to heroically fight against the interplanetary contract cleaners (it was they who brought the last ice age) and fight against the menace with pluck, bravery, panicking and a leaflet called "5 Simple Steps to Saving Planet Earth."

Will they find out who the Chosen One is? And will they still be able to save the planet from being taken to the cleaners?

The book costs £7.99 from The Book Guild and is a very good read for children and adults, too, for that matter.

This is an ideal book to read over the summer holidays.



Miss Winter's Demise and Other Crimes Against Poetry

Miss Winter's Demise and Other Crimes Against Poetry is a collection of new poems from Paul Minton.

The Poems are quirky, quaint and quintessentially amusing and cover a wide variety of various subjects.

There's a boy who is driven quackers (not really, though if you fail to buy a copy of this book, it's a mere £6.99 from Matador, you'll never realise the hyper relevance of my quirky quackers quip!)  the mystery of the lost chair, Auntie Mabel the biker, newsletters from the afterlife, flying animals, and flying farmer's wives, are all some of the subjects from the poetic pen of a man whom I am dubbing as the Bard of Wellington. That's Wellington in Shropshire, though he now lives in Newport, South Wales.

(Reviewer's digression: I have just realised that Paul Minton attended (though years after me, I expect) the same school in Wellington, Shropshire, Orleton Park School. It is indeed a small world, though I still would not like to have to paint it! I wonder how many other pupils of that school ended up as writers? And one must not forget our geography teacher George Evans, still writing books at 93!)

There are poems about dogs that aren't, a poem about a sort of hyper virtual reality device called The Room of Doom, a child with many medical concerns, an apple who longs to be bitten and the bear at the door who might not be what it appears to be at all!

And what exactly did happen to Miss Winter? Read the book and you'll find out in a flash! (Hope I haven't given too much away?)

And I hope Paul reads this review because, Sir, you really should make a cartoon series out of "Super Squad"!



The Invisible Agent

The Invisible Agent is a debut spy novel from R. B. Maxwell.

However, this is no ordinary spy novel! For the characters have the ability to morph from human to canine and back again, as the situation requires.

From a crash landing on the Earth millions of years previously the reader is then catapulted into the present era, where a group of dogs are escaping from a secret research establishment. Though their escape is not unnoticed.

However, eventually it transpires that the dogs now have the ability to morph into humans of a new and very different kind.

Top secret agent Max is given the mission of infiltrating the house of the Lord Mayor of the city of Beckingham, Alfred Hoxley. Hoxley might not be all that he seems and it is the job of Max to capture a top international criminal who could be within Hoxley's house.

However, events throw Max's mission inot chaos, so all is lost. Or is it? Max manages to work feverishly to salvage his plans and battle against all odds to capture a gang of master criminal frauders.

In order to succeed, Max must put his own life on the line. Will he manage to do it? Can he beat the clock to beat the gang?

It's a great read for young people and it's an interesting debut novel from R. B. Maxwell who is a trained holistic therapist. She also works in a mundane office job.

The book is published by Matador at £8.99.


The Barefoot Road

The Barefoot Road is a novel by Vivienne Vermes.

It is set in the mountainous lands of Transylvania.

A young lady is discovered in a dreadful condition, in the mountains that surround a village. She has obviously gone without nutrition for a period of time, as she is a starved and emaciated in appearance. She is also unconscious. 

The villagers realise that she was a member of an ethnic group which had been dispersed from the area many years before. This causes much heart searching by the inhabitants of the village, as they recall their own parts in the ethnic cleansing.

The situation remains in an uneasy status quo until a young man of the village happens to fall in love with the girl. Unfortunately he is already married, which causes tensions in the village to grow and grow.

It is clear that something will happen, and when a child in the village disappears in mysterious circumstances, the situation escalates from tension to outright hysteria and brings the story to a heartstopping and dreadful outcome.

The book is poetic and timeless and shows exactly why Vivienne Verme is an award winning novelist and poet.

It will become a classic of European literature.

It is published by Matador at £8.99.

Mark's Out of Eleven

Author Will Stebbings takes his readers on another welcome dip into the paddling pool of nostalgia that is 1960s Britain.

In his latest novel Mark's Out of Eleven, he takes us back to September 1960. What is relevant about that particular month? Because in the United Kingdom, September is the month when all children who attend state controlled schools will commence the school year, which run from September to July.

In this particular year, Mark Barker is starting his first year at senior school. Because he has passed the eleven-plus exam, he will be taking his place at the local Grammar School, called Parkside.

He has followed his brother to the school and, because they are a working class family living on the limited means that are provided by their father's employment, times are not easy for the Barker family, and sending two children to a Grammar School is not cheap.

The one result is that Mark suffers the humiliation of having to wear hand-me-down school blazers, previously worn by his older brother.

Having had to leave his old primary school friends behind (most of whom would have gone on to the local secondary modern school, for children who failed or who didn't take the eleven-plus) Mark has to try to forge new friendships. Thankfully he is fairly successful in this endeavour.

The headmaster of Parkside is something of a martinent who rules his school with iron discipline and a wooden cane. Which he frequently uses to enforce his reign.

There's another teacher who the pupils both loathe and fear, the sports master who employs violence to make his points.

The book will resonate, perhaps pleasantly in some parts, not so pleasantly in others as we read about the teaching staff at Parkside, about their casual brutality and their often lacklustre teaching methods, about bullying, the first hormonal stirrings when girls are sighted.

We also glimpse the homelife of Mark and his family and see how mothers of that time juggled the financial pittance brought in to the house by their hardworking, but poorly paid husbands.

Will Stebbings also takes a look at prejudices of the 1960s at a time when male homosexuaslity was still illegal.

It's a thoughtful book which is a trip down memory lane and all for only £7.99! The book is published by Matador.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

How to Become a Football Agent

Football, soccer, call, it what you will, the World Cup has raised a great deal of interest in the world of football.

Children all over the world are playing on the streets, in their back gardens or backyards, joining football clubs and there is also a growing interest in professional football.

The total annual wages bill for European football players alone is over £9.5 billion every year. That's  $12.630 billion.

The standard football agent percentage fee is 10% of that wage bill, so it's easy to see why becoming a football agent is widely seen as a lucrative field to get into.

But you don't just open an office and launch a website announcing that you are now a professional football agent. There's obviously a lot more than that involved!

How to Become a Football Agent: The Guide will offer you a unique and highly informative insight into the first steps to becoming a football agent.

Written by Dr Erkut Sogut LL,M., Jack Pentol-Levy and Charlie Pentol-Levy, the guide offers unique insights into how football works from a business perspective and shows you how to start on the first rung of the ladder to becoming a football agent.

It also draws on advice from experienced agents such as Pere Guardiola, Lihan Gundogan and Harun Arslan.

It also offers tips on how football agents interact with sports lawyers and journalism. For example, the Chief Soccer Correspondent on the New York Times, Rory Smith, offers his opinions on football agency.

The book (it's written by the team behind Football Agent Education) will help provide you with the varied skills you will require to work as a football agent.

It gives information about he different rules and regulations of professional football bodies in Europe and the USA.

It details how you can get into the business, even if you do not have family connections or friends in the football industry, the type of work you will do as an agent, how you should interact with footballers, including your clients, employment contracts, etc.

It's a short but highly informative book and at £11.99 from Matador, it could be your way into a very lucrative career or business.

You can learn more by visiting www.footballagenteducation.com, Instagram @footballagenteducation or on Twitter @education_agent.


Friday, 6 July 2018

Stand and Deliver! The definitive public speaking guide

The first time I had to address a large public gathering, I was very nervous and although I did OK, I somehow felt that I could have done better. And I am sure that if I had owned a copy of Stand and Deliver! by expert speaking coach Ian Nichol, I know that I could have done much better than I did.

Ian's book is a definitive and wholy authoritative guide to public speaking.

It is written in a highly readable and engaging style (seasoned with a good deal of very enjoyable humour!) this book will dramatically improve your public speaking performances.

If you are already an accomplished public speaker and doubt that this book will be of assistance to you, think again, because it is the type of book that can make poor good, good great and great even greater.

There really is something for everyone in this book, from the nervous neophyte to the seasoned professional after dinner speaker.

He looks at some myths about public speaking and effortlessly knocks them down, how ner4ves can be your friend when it comes to public speaking, (really? Yes, and Ian will show you exactly how you can achieve this.

Ian acknowledges his debt to one of the best public speakers ever, a now sadly almost forgotten journalist and politician called Spence Leigh Hughes, who was reputedly the best public speaker of his generation whose book published in 1913 The Art of Public Speaking Ian describes as: "an absolute classic."

In Stand and Deliver you will learn and master the 40 simple steps to successful public speaking.

Some of the points are how you should employ topicality, ignore people who think thay you couldn't speak in public, why you should follow the advice of Cicero. Don't worry, the particular advice is quoted in the book. But, that Cicero! Dead these 2040+ years, yet still relevant today! What a man!)

There's a great deal of other highly useful material about how breathing properly can help, how to use logical thought processes and how to prepare yourself for a public address. Here's one clue, research. Which with the advent of the Internet means it can be a lot easier than it used to be.

Ian also leavens his book with interesting little asides such as how Warren Buffet became a great public speaker after a dreadful start, what PIETISM  is and how you should apply it, he names two people who he credits with using their oratorical skills to change the world, and various other people who spoke well before great and/or terrible events.

The book is published by Matador4 at £12.99  and if you or any colleagues ever make public addresses, please for your own good, buy this book.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

To Everyman a Brain

To Everyman a Brain is a new book from a free thinking and innovative marketing consultant called Kenny Salami.

Salami has amassed nearly a quarter century of experiences in creating and building brands, plus he has been involved in the creating and setting up of a wide range of different innovative startup concerns.

At present he is the CEO behind Ideas House, a highly reputable marketing leadership and consulting firm. His keen abilities are also recognised by industry colleagues by his position as the Presidency of the Experiential Marketers of Nigeria (EXMAN).

With a global population that is nearing seven billion souls, Kenny Salami points out that the vast majority of young people are both honest and honest and hardworking.

But, he tells his readers,  they are more ‘doers’ than ‘thinkers’.

But this, he points out  is where the real problem lies.

This is the irony, for although vital to executing ideas, ‘doing’ alone will always remain inferior to ‘thinking’. But why is thinking always the primordial senior brother to doing?

In To Everyman a Brain Kenny Salami takes his readers on a journey of discovery uncovering the myths that surround creative thinking and introducing vital methodologies that will help each individual become a creative and innovative genius.

Can you even imagine a world without ideas? Without them, all one can imagine is a picture of ‘doers’ moving robotically from one odd task to the other, ultimately destined for a dismal cul-de-sac.

But Kenny Salami will take you on a journey of self-discovery that will make sure you, your family or your enterprise, your community or even your country will be able to enjoy a much better path.

The book is published by Matador at £15.50.

The Two Lives of Grand Duke Michael

The Two Lives of Grand Duke Michael is a novel written by Michael Roman.

It is set in the Russia of 1918 and is one of the types of novel that your reviewer loves to devour. An historical 'what if?' novel.

Based on many hours of research in historical archives and with the application of logic and his fertile imagination Michael Roman comes up with a credible and highly readable novel that explores the intriguing concept that what if Grand Duke Michael had survived the assassination attempt ordered on him by none other that Vladimir Lenin himself?

The facts in the first part of the novel are an account of what actually took place and are a latter of historical record.

In February 1918 during the Great War, Michael underook a hazardous two-week journey to the UK from Bolshevik Russia to meet with the Western Allies.

His mission was to discuss plans for an invasion of Russia to sweep the Bolsheviks from power and to install Grand Duke Michael as the new Tsar.

Upon his return to Russia the plans for such an invasion came to  a juddering stop when he was murdered whilst held under house arrest in Siberia.

At this juncture Michael Roman imagines a different, alternative history for Grand Duke Michael.

He describes how Grand Duke Michael survives the assassination attempt and how he is assisted by Sidney Reilly the legendary but very genuine MI6 agent to escape from Siberia and how he is taken to live a new life in the UK.

Under a new identity he lives under the protection of the British Secret Service and works as a code breaker at Bletchley Park during the Second World War.

Incidentally the story hangs on an interesting historical fact. Although it is generally believed that Grand Duke Michael and his British secretary, Nicholas Johnson, were assassinated, no remains have ever been discovered.

In the book there are acts of treachery and treason, of bravery and self-sacrifice and of nobility under great pressure. 

It is an amazing and intriguing book which is published by Matador at £12.99. I have a feeling that many readers will take this book with them on their summer holidays. Though it's doubtful that they will be taking such a perilous journey as that undertaken by Grand Duke Michael.




Seeking Atticus

Seeking Atticus is a new novel from the pen of Norm D'Plume.

We meet Liv and we are invited to look at how Liv manages (or doesn't) to cope with a wide range of adverse situations that beset her.

Things don't seem to be going well for Liv as she manages to battle her way out of a marriage that was beset with disastrous circumstances, which just join the long chain of catastrophes that makes up the life that she blunders through.

Still, she has her two young sons to help her face life as she tries to make sense of what it (life) tosses her way.

Set against the backdrop of the 1980s (great for some, not quite so great for others) it is a book that is charmingly funny.

Liv (or Olivia, to give her her full name) is awaiting the financial settlement of her shipwreck of a marriage, following her divorce.

The novel opens with her working at the boarding kennel that is owned by a friend.

There's Michael, with whom Liv's friendship is growing nicely and there is always Atticus, too. Atticus who? Atticus Finch, that's who!

She is seeking the Atticus Finch within not only herself, but within everyone else, too.

There are people who are out to get Liv, her crazed ex Carl, for one, Carl is planning, plotting and scheming the financial ruination of Liv with his high powered team of high flying legal experts.

He is confident that his team will manage to utterly destroy Liv and her "Legal Aid" crew.

But is he right to be so supremely confident? The only way to find out is to purchase this highly enjoyable book published by The Book Guild, at a highly reasonable £8.99. It's going to be a great holiday read.

Incidentally on reading the book I got the distinct impression that it is, at least in part, autobiography cunningly disguised as fiction! Readers can see if my judgement is sound on that point. Though in my defence I can only say, as well as reading the book, please pay special attention to the author's dedication!

Friday, 29 June 2018

Chance to Break

It's the beginning of summer, but San Francisco realtor Trevor Davis really doesn't care that much. Because his life has gone to Hell.

His wife has divorced him and, of course, has taken custody of their two teenage daughters. And due to the terrors unleashed by the 2008 sub-prime mortgage debacle, he is now more accurately described sd s former realtor, with nothing left of his former once successful business but a bankrupt husk.

Well, why not seek some solace on the courts playing his beloved tennis? Wrong again! Even that simple pleasure has been snatchyed away from him.

Why it's almost enough to make a fellow take a hazardous overseas trip! Which is exactly what Trevor does...

It's set during Wimbledon's opening days, when an apparently normal game of tennis between two men sems to show no sign of reaching a conclusion.

Its a high energy mixture that draws on the 1970s economic failure that crippled Britain, the first economic slump of the 21st century and wartime occupied France.

The book ia a melange of opportunities missed and taken, of pain, heartache and loves of different types, gay and straight, between parents and between friends.

It's published at £8.99 by The Book Guild and will make an ideal summertime read.

Double Exposure

Fans of retired lawyer and author Michael Simmons will be pleased to learn that his new book, Double Exposure, is published by The Book Guild.

Identical twins, that's Sophie and Hannah! They have a bond between them that some would say is psychic.

They were known as tearaways in their youth, but they manage to sort themselves out and depart for life as university students.

They decide to step away from each other and try to be less twin like, one could say.

Sophie decides that she wants to be something big in the city and become a high flying legal eagle, but Hannah doesn't think that would be her cup of tea, and she decides to embrace married life and a slightly less exciting law practice in suburbia.

However, it is Hannah who finds herself suddenly pitched inot an overly exciting series of  events when she takes on as a client the wife of  a Russian oligarch.

Her client is an angry woman and things suddenly begin to go downhill. There are a series of deaths that are both horrendously violent, yet apparently inexplicable.

There are legal battles in courtrooms and then illegal battles across Europe, with a breathtaking chase the length of Europe that ends up in a major battle that breaks out in a charming village in rural Italy.

It's a book that is a romantic legal thriller, and it's one of those books when your reviewer has to be careful not to give too much away, so it remains for me to say "buy this book at the amazingly moderate £8.99 and you'll be in for a real treat."




Tuesday, 12 June 2018

How Did I Get Here?

How Did I Get Here? is a book that could be an exciting fictional tale, but it isn't. It is, instead, an exciting factual tale.

In it, computer, internet and cyber security expert Tony McDowell writes a riveting story of how he did get to where he is in his life.

He did not have a very auspicious start in life, his family didn't have much money and was beset with problems in their back-to-back house in the Midlands city of Birmingham.

He was brought up with a series of hopes and promises, all of which were smashed like a bag of lightbulbs being dropped.

Rather than being crushed down by these setbacks, only child Tony decided that he was going to succeed in spite of every setback.

He took the decision to leave school early on the strength of a job offer to enter the then extremely new field of computing, right at the beginning in the mid-1960s.

He became a computer programmer and absorbed the complex computer languages that the behemoth devices of those days required to keep them running.

He took up a very good job offer in South Africa, but found himself troubled by life under the apartheid regime.

However, success in his chosen field meant that he could return home to the UK and to fulfil the dream of running his own business.

His efforts paid off handsomely and his business grew to the point that, unless he actually wanted to, he need never work again.

However, his life was to take a different turn when, after a chance meeting, he was introduced to the world of IT security and the use of hacking for benign and altruistic purposes. 

He launched a new business and pretty quickly it grew to the point that received so much attention that it soon garnered an offer to buy the business.

It's a fascinating and extremely well-written book and at £11.99 it is a very good read. Am I biased because I was born only five miles away in another suburb of Birmingham? I don't think so. To find out, you'll have to buy the book (it's published by Matador) for yourself!

Untangling the Webs

Untangling the Webs is a relationship novel with a difference, because author Joy Pearson has brought her readers a novel that is not only about relationships, but also a thriller, too.

It tells the stories of women and the men in their lives. There are Alison,  who is an interior designer, who is single, Julia, a married beautician, Phoebe, a widow who is nor without funds, plus Trudie, a stress counsellor, who is also a widow.

They work through a number of issues that impinge on their lives in a number of ways. Poor behaviour, deceit, cheating, shocks and stakers.

This novel starts with betrayal (the giveaway were a pair of pink angora mittens in a place where no pink angora mittens had any right to be) and quickly slipped into risky, dangerous and drunken behaviour to the aural backdrop of Pink Floyd.

It careens through hearts being dented, if not outright broken, mistakes, some seriously stupid stuff  and shows how you really can't keep a good person down, no matter how hard you try!

The women in this novel are there for each other and it works very well on several levels.

Joy Pearson is an exceptionally gifted writer who brings the lives of her characters to vivid life as they try to find some joy and happiness, again.

Will they succeed? You'll have to read the novel to learn that, but Joy Pearson has the knack to make you care enough to keep turning the pages.

It's published by The Book Guild at £8.99.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

The Cyber Puppets

The Cyber Puppets is a science fiction novel from author Angus McAllister.

Scott Maxwell's life is strange. Weird, even. His wife is unfaithful, multiple times, his brother-in-law William seems to take scheming and plotting to almost ridiculous extremes, and his other brother-in-law Roddy, let's just say that his alcohol consumption is stupendous.

However, perhaps that is because Scott has married into the Laird family, one of the biggest distiller of Scotch in the entire world?

But things are starting to get even stranger. How come Scott is the only one who notices that his father-in-law has been replaced by a totally different person?

And why does Scott seem unaffected by his wife's cheating and her pregnancy? How come he has no free will? What is the cause of his memory lapses?

And what, exactly, is Mr Ramanuki up to? And Bruckner. Where does he fit in?

With all the machinations, the plotting, the twists and the outrageous behaviour, the miraculous recoveries of various family members, you'd almost think that it was a soap opera, rather than real life!

Wait a moment... what if? What if Scott really was a character in a soap opera?

(NOTE: The appearance of Professor Chandler in chapter 18 and his lecture on 20th century television programmes and especially soap opera was very well realised and took me back to media and cultural studies lectures that I have attended. This means either that Angus McAllister has a very vivid imagination or has sat through more than his fair share of such lectures!)

Scott must come to terms with the fact that not only has he being living the life of a man trapped in a false reality, that he is, in reality, living in a time 100 years beyond where he thought he was, a time when the environment had become devastated by man's stupidity.

And then Scott discovers a cataclysmic secret that really blows his mind.

But what would happen in a soap opera if the characters began to go off script? And just who, exactly, is writing the script?

In truth this plot is not unique, it has been done several times before, but not always with the panache and wit of Angus McAllister, who really is a great find as an author.

It's published by Matador at a very reasonable £8.99 in paperback and is also available as an e book.

I have to confess that I am a fan of retired professor Angus McAllister's works, including his novel Close Quarters.

Both of which are available from the That's Books book shop https://amzn.to/2kB1tO7.





Sunday, 8 April 2018

Clarice

Clarice is a debut novel from Welsh-born author Imogen Radwan.

It's the summer of 1969 and Clarice is taking a look back at her life up until then. It's been a tumultuous life with political assassinations, the Merseybeat sound, all culminating in that year which became known as the Summer of Love.

From a conventional childhood including being sent away to boarding school, at age 15 Clarice falls for Jim and knows of love for the very first time.

Her life is drama free and stable, so the appearance of a spirit entity who introduces herself as Amelia and brings Clarice urgent news that a young girl's life is at risk, Clarice realises that matters need ot be investigated further.

There then befall a series of tragic events and Clarice's life is turned inside out.

Now it is the Summer of Love and Clarice is living the dream life in the hippy haven known as San Francisco. She's gone the whole nine yards, as they say, drugs, long, meaningful debates throughout the warm Californian nights whilst wearing flowers in her hair.

She is enjoying life with her live in lover, Clint. It's a long term yet hectic relationship and all seems fairly good. Except for the fact that Amelia starts to appear and with her come questions that start ot haunt Clarice, questions that go to the very heart of who or what the reality of Clarice's life really is.

But would accepting that reality shatter everything?

This is a compelling first novel, published by The Book Guild at £8.99 it can be bought from

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Cream of Plankton Soup

Cream of Plankton Soup is a collection of short stories that is, and this is no tired, old cliche, but a genuinely fresh, new cliche, like no other collection of short stories that I have ever read.

In fact I think I can say that this collection of stories by Grant Sutton is possibly like no other collection of short stories in the history of short stories. Ever.

When I began to read it I felt something akin to an electric (or was that an eclectic?) current jolting its way through my mind and my body.

On the first page of the first story the reader meets Pipa, a young woman who has given birth to twins. Fathered by a vegetable of some kind, though she declines to say which type of vegetable.

The twins are called Pierre and Melone.

When the twins -who are being wheeled around by Pippa in a misappropriated supermarket trolley- begin to cry, Pippa has to soothe them by unhooking a stepladder from the trolley and playing a rather unwieldy piano accordion whilst sat atop the stepladder. For about an hour, during which time she plays random notes.

The protagonist then begins to offer Pippa a wide range of tendentious advice before he is subjected to a foul mouthed tirade about the suitability of vegetables and, indeed, all men to be good parents.

Another story touches on the problems faced by cliff faces and the attentions of confused woodpeckers, and is a fairly ordinary, yet well-paced and well told tale of regal woes as a King awaits an assassin on the top of a cliff, when the story takes a sudden and unexpected change in direction that is a genuinely WTF?? moment. Well, at least for the reader, the King -presumably- knew what was happening all along, even though it had cost him 100 brave warriors.

The remainder of the stories consists of an absolutely delicious gallimaufry of brobdingnagian proportions, including 43 bags of frozen peas, the fact that, after all, gravity does not exist, what not to do with a photocopier during a board meeting, the concepts of natural and supernatural selection and the sudden appearance of a kidnap ensemble made up of militant clowns. And then it gets really weird!

The book is enlivened, and genuinely so, by reader's comments. How could there be reader's comments in a printed book? That's an interesting question which will be answered by visiting www.planktonsoup.co.uk, after you purchase and read the book, of course.

There are also some wonderfully evocative illustrations by Ayesha Drew.

The book is published by Matador at £7.99 and can be ordered here https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.