Sunday, 10 April 2022

Still Standing, the Flip Side of Denial, Depressional and forgiveness

Still Standing the Flip Side of Denial, Depressional and forgiveness is an autobiographical book by Mwangala Lethbridge. Zambian Mwangala had it all. She was an architect, a mother and had political aspirations.  

But a cruel and severe motorcycle accident put paid to all that in a blink of an eye. Family members gathered around her hospital bed in Lusaka and prayed to God to deliver her and sent out heartfelt pleas on social media channels being friends and other people she knew to donate blood in a desperate appeal to help her survive the night.

However, within five years Mwangala had earned an MBA from Manchester University, successfully completed the Virgin Money London Marathon and had instituted a programme to offer educational empowerment of girls in her home area of Zambia, through the auspices of the Mwangala Mwenda Foundation.

In her book Mwangala tells her story which commences with a tragic accident but then reaches a heart-warming conclusion which shows how, with the help and assistance of family members, friends and on some occasions, total strangers and medical professionals, specialists and the Lord, that a person can succeed against all odds.

It's an extremely well-written and very powerful book that will uplift and inspire the reader. Mwangala takes her reader from the depths of despair to the heights of accomplishment and self-realisation. 

It's published by Troubador in hardback at £12.99.

Friday, 8 April 2022

The Snake That Bites Its Tail

In The Snake That Bites Its Tail Robin Farnham is a retired magazine publisher who awakes in hospital after his suicide attempt fails. However, upon awakening he is made aware that he is a murder suspect.

Jane Foster is sixteen and after many years of sexual abuse at the hands of her adoptive father she launches a vicious attack on him after which she flees to London and freedom from his abusive behaviour.

Over the next fifty years readers meet up with Robin and Jane's lives are intertwined, but it isn't until the Millennium year, 2000, that they actually meet up.

During their lives at several points they are both treated by Dr Peter Lakmaker, who was their psychiatrist.

Robin has led a stressful life and he has been involved in three murders and wants to know why this has happened to him.

As for Jane, well into her adult life she is still traumatised by her adoptive father's terrible sexual abuse and yearns for a loving, close family relationship.

However, her search is confused by an ouroboros bracelet that depicts a snake eating its own tail, which Robin wears and which seems to have strange, prophetic powers.

However, a highly poisonous Indian snake called a Krait makes an appearance and it seeks vengeance. But why? And who against?

It's an interesting and somewhat enigmatic novel.

It's published by Troubador at £10.99 and is written by Bob Farrand. 

Thursday, 31 March 2022

The Fatal Oath

The Fatal Oath is the third standalone novel in the Oath thriller series. It explores issues relating to prejudice and inequality within education.

The story is set in the year 1957 in a very elite public school, Blackleigh, in Yorkshire. However, all is not well at the school. It's a hotbed of emotional problems and seething, hidden antagonisms and hatreds.

The teachers were not in charge, the people who were really in charge were the prefects, who ruled the school with an iron fist within an iron glove. Meting out violence to any junior pupils who they took against.

Jonathan Simon is 16, in his third year. He is conscious that his Jewishness is held against him and he is mocked and derided for the birthmark on his face.

The unofficial "official" rules of the school forbids snitching. The staff have no power, including, perhaps especially, the new temporary headmaster, Mr Wood, who is ineffectual and very, very weak.

So who does wield the power at Blackleigh? The senior pupils who are the prefects and who are not backward in coming forward with violence against any pupil they deem to deserve it for any reason or no reason.

Into this educational maelstrom comes Bobby Stuart who is an American transfer student. He has his own anxieties about being accepted so it's perhaps not unnatural that they gravitate toward each other and become friends.

However, trouble comes in the form of three very vicious and ruthless House Seniors, Gabriel, Hausman and Murray. They have gathered around them a coterie of sycophantic, dedicated followers.

But the Seniors are not without problems within their own ranks. Rivalries, internal differences and when one of them gets a gun things start to get very, very complicated and very, very dangerous indeed.

An exceptionally well-written book crafted by a master storyteller it brings to life a time when public schools were capable of being quite nasty places indeed.

It's published by the Bookguild at £8.99.

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

The Gift of Time

In The Gift of Time author Julie Walker explores the world of the COVID pandemic.

During the pandemic lockdowns and restrictions, like many people, Julie Walker suffered severe anxiety, both in her own right and also for the other people who were forced to stay at home with her.

However, unlike most people traumatised by the lockdowns and restrictions, Julie Walker is a novelist and she decided to mine her recent negative experiences for golden nuggets for a novel.

She has written a novel about six strangers who all experienced life during the time of COVID in six different, individual, ways and all who experienced  very divergent results.

Readers will learn about Elisabeth. Elisabeth has autism. She has never found that her autism held her back in her life. Except, of course, when something disturbs the equilibrium of her day-to-day life.

Alejandra has altered and changed, but she is not aware of this. There's something about her husband that she has ignored throughout their married life. The unpleasant fact that she must now come to terms with is that her husband is actually a narcissist. But now she has acknowledged this, it's not something she can ignore. Once seen, she can't unsee it.

Mary Ann lives an isolated sort of a life. Almost as if she in in a cage of some sort. She lives this lifestyle as a combination of both circumstances and, to an extent, choice. with the new way of living foisted upon her, what will she do now? Is it time for her to reassess her life?

Giuseppe yearns to be able to flee to his homeland. But he can't do this. For he has his own mother to think about and there are his own health issues to take into consideration. But are these real concerns or a shield against him having to make a decision?

Clayton is fully aware that he is coming close to the end of his life and he is painfully aware that he must take the last opportunity to fix things in his family that he believes need fixing whilst he has enough time left. But does he?

As for Annchi the wide world beyond was something she was unaware of, pretty much. But she'd learn about it and more besides.

They all were craving the gift of time to learn, to grow, to repair, to regroup. But the gift of time came with a price. For their "gift" of time came about as a result of the COVID lockdown.

How could they cope? How could they deal with the lockdown? Ignore it and hope for the best? Learn how to cope with COVID and their lives beyond?

It's a very captivating novel and Julie uses her skills as a storyteller to create some characters that you will love and some that you will not particularly like!

It is published by Matador at £10.99.

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Roll Over Rhymes

Roll Over Rhymes is a new book that is ideal for children and their parents and other older family members to read together and share the fantastic, vibrant and colourful illustrations.

It's co-authored by Suzanne Sasse and June Laurie.

It's a rhyming book aimed at children and it is intended to help them learn about acceptance and empowerment.

It is a collection of ten newly created fairytales that are told in rhyme. The stories include new takes on some familiar characters, unexpected plot twists, humour and the stories are given fresh, new modern day settings.

But each story still includes some lovely magic!

There are genies, Cinders, Sleeping Beauty, Puss in Boots, a queen, a boy called Pete, Witches, a Wolf who learns a very important lesson and a Princess who has different ideas about how her life should progress.

It is published by Troubador at £7.00.

Thursday, 24 February 2022

Lotus-Eating Days

Lotus-Eating Days is a memoir written by Caroline Repton.

It tells the true story of two very different people who came from vastly dissimilar backgrounds who, however, met and married.

Geoffrey Christopher Tyrwhitt Repton was the eldest child of a middle-class English family.

Whilst Theresa Repton (nee Pang Kim Lui) was the 13th child of a family of Chinese immigrants living in the British colony of Singapore.

In her fascinating and extremely well researched book she tells their stories. How, although they grew up on different sides of the world and had very different backgrounds, the common bond they found was that they had both survived the Second World War in the Asian warzone.

Christopher had been a prisoner of war forced to work on the Burma-Siam railway, whilst Theresa was a young woman working in Japanese-occupied Singapore.

Caroline Repton brings to life a whole variety of characters from witty former prisoners of war, loving siblings, cousins who were in the armed forces, idiosyncratic spinster aunts, ex-girlfriends, chipper colonials.

The story is told in their own words by means of a wide range of letters and diary entries from the 1930s to 1959. And Theresa's tape-recorded memories put to tape in 2000.

As well as being very well written the book is profusely illustrated with a delightful array of intimate family photographs and wartime postcards.

It's published by The Book Guild at £16.99 in hardback.

Saturday, 12 February 2022

Common Sense

It's 2029 and there has been a major upheaval in the world of British Politics. The Common Sense Party, which campaigned on eliminating crime has swept the board in British Politics, claiming an astounding 400 seats with Labour and the Conservatives limping in with 99 seats each.

Broadcaster David McDougall is the joint leader of the new party and is a shoo-in to be Prime Minister. 

Except there has been a sort of a palace coup within the new party and the new Prime Minister is Bob Goodwin, rather than David McDougall.

In his debut novel, Common Sense, Colin Wreford examines what might happen in the not-too-distant future.

At first the new party has the full backing and support of the public as it works hard to put into practice its new policies.

However, things soon start to look a little less promising as corporal punishment and the death penalty are brought back and gay marriages are declared illegal.

The story open with an interview between TV presenter Sara Molan and new Prime Minister Bob Goodwin. 

Soon their professional and personal lives become interlinked and his lust for Sara starts to cloud his judgement.

Inevitably protests about the new and draconian laws develop but the public and the establishment is shocked at the severe punishments that are meted out to the protesters and the actions of Prime Minister Goodwin range between a little bit odd to utterly weird.

Former co-leader of the party David McDougall forms an opposition to what he sees as the excesses of Goodwin. Can Goodwin defeat McDougall? Can Goodwin corrupt and manipulate Sara, a former colleague of McDougall, to keep the McDougall, the public, the media and opposition politicians under control as he battles to remain in power for his full five year term of office as he continues to try to mould the UK into whatever it is he wants to to become?

As he continues his machinations the situation in the country rapidly heats up and disorder and violence rapidly breaks out.

Who will win? Who will survive the worsening political maelstrom? 

Wow. What a wild and thrilling ride, with a twist in the tail.

I do hope to read more novels by Colin Wreford, he's a good new voice in the world of thriller fiction.

It's published by Matador at £9.99.