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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.