Sunday, 22 May 2016

Invisible Pleasures

Invisible Pleasures is the début work of architect turned author R. Pollard.

Although he was trained to be an architect, it has always been the burning desire of R. Pollard to write a book and this is that book, written under the main literary influences upon the author, Dostoevsky, Naipaul and Proust.

The book is a mixture of a paean  to unrequited love and a travelogue to a variety of far flung locations around the world before the march of "progress" rendered them less than they once where.

The book explores the first tremors of his imagination  as a young child, it then touches on his memories of the Second world War, then it cavorts through the wild and exuberant life of London in the vibrant and exciting swinging sixties.

It then shifts focus to the other side of the world where he finds gainful employment as an architect in both Borneo and Malaya.

But as well as being an amusing and agreeable travelogue memoir and as the French might put it an "la mémoire de l'amour" it also raises some deep and, perhaps pertinent, questions such as "What are we?" and "Where are we coming from or going?" (This is looked at from the divine or the humanistic perspectives.)

The book is well-written. Extremely well-written. We read, well, almost live, really to horrific and confused life of Great Grandmother Dix, (who was "all of a much sweat!" of how he meets a variety of characters falls in love with some, falls out of love with some and lives life as fully as he could.

There are also little discursive trips down memory lane -what it is like for a toddler to fill its nappy- and a brief but edifying discussion on the deeper philosophical undercurrents of Robocop.

And there are a panoply of bon mots that season this delightful book.  

It is the author's first. Hopefully it will not be his last.

It is published by Matador at £12.99 and can be bought at the That's Books and Entertainment Bookshop, which you'll find to the right of this review.

Trackbed Tales

Trackbed Tales is a new collection of  short stories by author N. M. Scott.

The stories are all set in and around the very British world of preserved steam railway lines.

But it is not just the locomotives, the vintage railway carriages, the antique signal boxes and the mid-Victorian station buildings, the old, echoing engine sheds and the mile after mile of preserved railway tacks and boxes and boxes of railway paraphernalia that are preserved.

For along with the ephemera there are the spectral presences that cling to the physical.

There are places where the dead do not rest in peace, but in pieces, there are creatures that know far, far too much, there are curiously marked human skulls found in hat boxes, and a variety of links with the past. Links that would far better be forgotten.

In hardback at £9.99 this Book Guild publication (available at the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop) is ideal for lovers of ghost stories and for those who are fans of preserved railway lines.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Libby at the Botanic Gardens

Libby at the Botanic Gardens is a charming book by Basabi Banerjee.

It tells, for children and the adults in their life, the story of Libby the Labrador.

Libby was born in Australia but moved to Singapore to be with her new family.

Libby lived with her Mum, her Dad and Tipper and Ricky.

And they enjoyed living in Singapore, known as "the city within a garden" so she had lots of lovely walks.

One day a magic palm tree gives Libby a very precious, special gift. This leads to some wonderful walks and a exiting adventure in the Botanic Gardens.

In just one morning Libby learns to dance, foils a cruel bully and befriends some very special heritage trees.

Of course, Libby then wants to relate all of these wonderful tales to her new friend, the palm tree.

This book is illustrated by the skilful hand of Jeffrey Seow, an artist and illustrator with 30 years of experience.

The book is hard back and large format and costs £7.99.

It is published by The Book Guild and is available via the That's Books an d Entertainment bookshop. You'll find it to the right of this review.

A Sister's Crusade

A Sister's Crusade is a historical novel set in the times of the Crusades.

Written by novelist Ann Turner (author of Heartsease) tA Siater's Crusade tells the story of two sisters, Aubrette and Rowena. However, they grow to maturity unaware that they are related, that they are, in fact, sisters.

Rowena meets the man who is destined to become her future husband, Simon Fitzroy, who is one of the illegitimate offspring of King Henry II.

However, that day was to be a fateful day for other reasons, as it was also on that day that Aubrette discovers that they are related. That they are, actually, daughters of the local lord.

Aubrette stays with her sister, even serving as her maid after Rowena becomes married.

There is an incident that is most tragic and, Aubrette becomes the secret lover of Simon, her sister's husband.

Her sister is kept in the dark about the affair, until Aubrette becomes pregnant by her lover.

After the child is born, the baby boy is taken away from Aubrette and is given to Rowena for her to raise as her own child.

Aubrette, who thought that Simon was truly in love with her, was married, however unwillingly, to Hugh, who is a companion to Duke Richard who is a loyal and faithful friend of Simon.

However, when the King dies, Richard I succeeds him to the throne and he journeys with Simon to the Holy Land for a Crusade.

Aubrette and Rowena accompany them on the long, perilous journey as attendants to Queen Berengaria, Richard's wife, who has not been given the attention that is due to the wife of the King.

There are a whole series of calamitous and traumatic events that beset them and Simon marries Aubrette in Cyprus, before they return to England.

Now back at home, Aubrette believes she has settled into a life of comfortable domesticity. Life, it seems, is perfect.

Or is it? Can a threat from an enemy from a totally unexpected quarter spell ruin for her happiness?

This book is destined to become a classic of its genre.

It costs £9.99 and is published by Matador and is available through the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop, the portal to which is to the right side of this review.

A Stitch in Time

A Stitch in Time is the début novel from new author Ian Murray-Watson.

It relates the story of how a group of research scientists hidden away in a remote part of rural Wales are involved in a project which, unbeknown to them, has the capacity to destroy time itself, thus destroying the entire universe as it is known to us. And the rest of its inhabitants, also.

Unfortunately the Gods are, due to their somewhat restrictive terms of reference, unable to offer any interference to stop the cataclysmic events that the scientists are about to unleash  upon the universe.

However, what the Gods can do is they can send a special envoy to the dream world, Astralia, to seek help.

The inhabitants of Astralia, the Astralians, make the offer to send agents to the world. Unfortunately when these agents arrive it is usual that they have no clue about why they were dispatched to the world.

However, back in reality, or what is passing for reality at the moment, the leader of the scientific team, Tom, meets up with Lucy, who is the woman of his dreams.

And, true to the ways of the world, they fall in love. Or do they? And do they really, really have any idea of who they are, in reality?

Reality as we understand it starts to disintegrate. So can they, or anyone for that matter, really step in to save the universe? Yes or no? Or is the answer more complicated than that?

The novel is challenging, intriguing and exceptionally well written and is a worthy début novel.

It is published by Matador at £10.99 in paperback and is available through the That's News and Entertainment bookshop, which you will find to the right hand side of this review.

Rebel Without a Clue

Rebel Without a Clue is a memoir by Janet Green.

Janet was a social worker and a senior one, at that.

However, the pathway that Janet took to this position in her life, both professional and personal was just a little unusual and just a tad interesting, though that's probably an understatement, to be honest.

The memoir begins in the 1950s.

On the first page we find that Janet was more than a little bit stoned as she began her first gig as a stripper in a less-than-salubrious pub in Hackney.

She points out that at age 27 she should, probably, have been married to a Jewish accountant, had a couple of children, perhaps with another on the way. And maybe living in Croydon.

But, instead, there she was a dope smoking, stripping lesbian.

Her first gig was a little nervous as one would expect, but it went over quite well. As far as she could tell.

But how did she end up there?

Her family life was troubled, she was sexually abused at 14 and entered into a range of jobs from stripping to nude modelling, nursing, shop worker, secretary, student and finally a social worker.

She lived in a hippy commune, went from relationship to relationship, was a mother best described as "mad" and now, after her retirement, she decided to write her memoirs.

As an apparently respectable spinster (Janet's description) her friends were surprised at her decision to write her memoirs. After all, they thought, what had she got to write about?

Well, now they know!

Janet was a person of the swinging sixties, free love, sexual experimentation, hash smoking, the pain of discovering that her sister had been subjected to sexual abuse by their father during her childhood.

And how she finally managed to get it all together to become no less of a rebel but far more clued than she had been.

This is a very interesting book that probably tells something of  the stories of many people who lived through the swinging sixties. But thankfully Janet had the courage and the ability to tell her story.

It is published by Matador in paperback at £9.99.

It is available from the Thats Books and Entertainment bookshop, which you'll find to the right of this review.

The Mole Man Part 2

The Mole Man Part 2 is a continuation of The Mole Man books by author Gerry Rose.

The village of Umbridge in Berkshire is a lovely, happy, pretty village.

They are celebrating winning the Best Village in Bloom competition and the mayor of Umbridge, the Honourable Lancelot Stevenson OBE, should be a very happy and pleased man.

But he isn't. And with very good reason. For some time previously a village boy vanished, never to be seen again.

But then, something incredible happens. Another boy disappears, but he is found again.

And what is happening beneath the land just outside the boundary of the village?

Are the stories of strange, giant creatures living in a subterranean lair just a myth? Or is there some truth behind these tales?

The mayor is desperate to solve the case and fellow villagers Benjamin Crew and his smart friend Paula Gladstone are also eager to discover the truth of what happened and what might be happening.

But what, exactly, are Billy and Dave up to in the village woods at night? What are they doing? What might they find lurking there? Or what might find them?

And what was the significance of the next full moon? And who or what was it significant for?

This book is written for children aged 9 to 11 and it is published in paperback by The Book Guild at £9.99.

That is to say if they can prize this eminently readable book from the hands of the adults in their lives!

The Mole Man Part 2 and the Mole Man Part 1 are both available from the That's Books and Entertainment book shop, which you will find to the right hand side of this book review.


Rolo is a book by drama teacher and new author Lawrence Prestidge.

It tells the story of a little boy called Max.

Max lives with is auntie, his uncle and his cousin, all members of the Whitfield family.

Sadly, the Whitfield trio are not the loving family that Max knows he wants and deserves.

Eventually, tired of being bossed around by them, he decides to run away to hide himself in the forest.

But! Max could not have known that the forest was the home to a large creature. A very large creature indeed.

Because the forest is the home to a nine foot tall Walpertinger!

Although the Walpetinger (who is called Rolo) looks extremely ferocious and frightening, he is really a very gentle natured soul and soon the two become firm friends.

But the two have not counted on the Whitfields! Despite their natural fear of the forest and all its inhabitants, the hatch a plot to enter the forest and recapture poor Max and return him to a miserable life of deprivation and slavery!

They devise a cruel and devious plot to force Max to return to a life of horror as their slave, but first they must outwit Rolo who is determined to save his new friend from the clutches of the evil Whitfields!

It's a fantastic tale with some wonderful illustrations by G. William, it's ideal  for children and adults to read together or alone. It is published by Matador at £7.99 in paperback.

It's available from the Thats Books and Entertainment bookshop, you'll find the entrance to the bookshop just to the right side of this review.

The Horch and the Rotterdam ingots

In The Horch and the Rotterdam Ingots, former detective and armed guard at a prime ministerial residence in East Sussex, author R. W. Strachan tells the compelling and exciting tale of four Wehrmacht officers who are given the task of removing in excess of 4,000 gold ingots from the vaults of a bank in Rotterdam.

The temptation they face is far too much And, well, who will miss the 40 ingots that they decide to liberate from the hoard?

They decided to stash these ingots in a secret safety deposit box in a bank in neutral Switzerland for their use after the hostilities were over.

However, this operation to free the golden 40 is taking place during the trying conditions of the Second World War and the final ten gold ingots never make it to their destination.

Their fate is to be stashed away, in secret, within the hollow chassis of a German officer's staff car, a Horsch.

70 years after these events a young English oil executive by the name of Calum Breffit finds himself working for a Texas-based oil firm in ther office in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan.

Whilst on a trip to the town of Kharkov in the Ukraine, Calum's car fails and he finds it necessary to seek the shelter of a farm in a remote rural area.

Within the buildings of the farm complex he discovers the abandoned Horch, covered in tarpaulins. The staff car still bore its official swastika pennants and bore enough traces of its sinister past to make it obvious what its original purpose had been.

Calum decides that he is going to rebuild this car and, as he starts to work on the car he begins to uncover the troubled backstory of of the vehicle, discovering links with the defeat of the German armies at Stalingrad and he discovers that the past has a way of linking to the present day, often in ways that involve one's own present in a way that was very unexpected.

This is an intriguing and charming tale and is published by The Book Guild at £8.99 in paperback.

It's on sale via the Thats Books and Entertainment online bookshop, the portal of which is to be found on the righthand side of this review.

The Mind-Forged Sword

The Mind-Forged Sword is an intriguing book (in hardback) by Richard Hughes.

It teachers readers how they should be able to derive principles from a wide range of different situations.

How we can then use study and reflection to refine them so that we may then be able to apply them to future situations.

Richard also uses his writings to mine from the book The Book of five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi and expands upon the core concepts within that seminal work.

He also uses as a source of inspiration the ancient and extremely worthy classic, The Art of War, by Sun Tsu.

Richard Hughes is a marital arts expert himself and is also a well-practised swordsman in his own right.

He teaches martial arts classes at Loughborough University, with the capability to teach multiple martial arts disciplines.

His deep studies on the theories behind martial arts have enabled him to develop a wide scope of knowledge which enabled him to develop and refine a system that develops the individual by the employment of the style, rather than fit the style ot the individual practitioner.

Richard enables and to some extent empowers the reader to work out which methods can lead to their individual success and then work on them.

The book is ideal for those who want to study martial arts and to develop not only their skills but also their own self.

At £13.99 (published by The Book Guild) this is a book for the bookshelf of every martial arts student or practitioner.

It will make an ideal present for them, it is available from the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop, just find the link to the right hand side of this review.

Monday, 2 May 2016

The Plane Now Standing at Platform 3

The Plane Now Standing at Platform 3 is a book by E. James Chapman.

It tells the hilarious story of how things went when he decided to take his family on holiday.

How hard, one might have thought, could it be to take a family from Spain to Canada by air, have a good time in Canada and then fly back to Spain?

This book by E. James Chapman will explain exactly how hard it can be, exactly how hard it was.

They meet up with a family that were so vile and so badly behaved that they would probably be barred from Hell, they then find a riot in the baggage hall, suffer from food poisoning and find themselves on a plane with some passengers driven to -quite understandable, really, given the rather trying circumstances- hysteria when the pilot announces that he "has lost the runway and can't find it" and several passengers began to hammer on the cockpit door, begging the pilot to "please!" take them down.

Well, that's fine, then? I mean, how could things really get any worse than that?

Oh, continue to read the hilariously harrowing (or harrowingly hilarious, take your pick) tale of the rest of the holiday, because, it seems that the flight out was really just a warm up act for the real horrors of this holiday!

There are airport staff who seem completely unfamiliar with how to operate their own computer systems, a pilot who seems unable to work out how much fuel he will require, and Canadian police officers who seem to be utterly bewildered by the concept of a country called Spain, with people living in it with British accents.

And who were utterly bemused by the concept that to the people of Spain their country is not Spain, but Espana. And also bewildered by the fact that they had had an encounter earlier that day with an Indian woman who had a British passport.

The Chapmans were also almost arrested by the officers for having friendly children (travel advice that you do not get on TripAdvisor is: "Do not be over-friendly in Canada as it confuses the inhabitants and makes them think you are up to something nefarious, like kidnapping your own children. For example.")

Eventually they were allowed to leave Canada (much to the annoyance of Eugene, find out about him in the book, OK?) and that should be that, right? All back to normal?

Well, no. Next came Jim getting stuck to a vacuum wielding airplane toilet seat. Just before his bowels... perhaps you'd best read the rest of this bit in the book...

There next came a fight with baggage handling systems and an unfortunate encounter on the London to Malaga return flight with a woman who was so large that she did not realise she was pregnant, not even when her waters broke. So the pilot made an emergency landing in France. Where the large pregnant woman was met with collapsable stretchers. Which almost certainly weren't supposed to be collapsible. And which probably assisted the woman in giving birth on the floor of the aircraft.

To learn more about the rest of the disasters, you'll need to buy the book published by Matador (in the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop to the right hand side of this review) for £8.99.

Nobody is Better Than Me

Nobody is Better Than Me is a passionate and compelling book written by Kate Vialva.

The concepts within this book are rooted very firmly in Kate's faith in God and Jesus.

Kate is a trained counsellor and has worked within the NHS as a staff nurse and has gained experiences and knowledge which have helped shape her into the person that she is today.

It is written with the intention of giving the reader a better understanding of what they can do should they find themselves facing major adversities and problems within their own lives, or perhaps when they find a friend or family member who is facing a dilemma, based on Christian principles.

Kate's message is a simple one, awaken the spirit within us so that we may reflect and recognise who we really are.

In the introduction she reveals the basis for her apparently sudden revelation that she should write what would become her book, Nobody is Better Than Me.

One point that she does make in the introduction is iterated and reiterated several times throughout the book is that: "As long as we become our brother's keeper, we can overcome the many storms  of life."

The book is published by Matador at £9.99 and is available from the That's Books and Entertainment Bookshop, which you you will find to the right hand side of this review.

Sea Journal

Sea Journal, written by Lisa Woollett, is one of the best researched, best written, most readable books that I have encountered in many years.

It is a wonderful book that covers a year long wandering along the coastal areas of Britain.

Lisa covers a wide range of topics and subjects. From natural history to evolution, to geology, latest scientific thinking and ancient myths and racial memories of cataclysmic floods that radically altered the shape of the British Isles, meaning that vaste swathes of land were lost to what is now the North Sea and the Irish Sea.

We learn about an adult and a barefooted four year old child who were walking through a forested area in Wales in what is now Cardigan Bay. We know this event happened because they left their footprints, now visible again, after they were created at some time between 4,000 to 6,000 years ago.

We read about skates and rays, of lost forests once again rediscovered thousands of years later, of great storms of the past that helped alter the very shape of our lands.

Then there's the tale of the Great Lego Spill of 1997. Whe3n five million Lego pieces were lost overboard in a great storm.

There's images of seaweeds of various types washed up after storms, branched sponges and of sea monsters heard and monsters seen. And, of course, identified as not being especially monstrous at all.

Lisa also meets wavewatchers who like nothing more than to visit the beaches and watch out for bigger and better waves, a potentially risky sort of a pastime, others who are beachcombers like Lisa, people who search out and seek out items that have been washed ashore.

(EDITOR: When I was a child I lost my spade on a beach in Wimereux, a coastal town in Northern France. We returned the next year. And, to my delight, I found what I considered in my childish enthusiasm to be moy spade. It had been battered by the waves and smoothed by the sands of the beach so was not exactly the same,m but in my heart I knew it was my wooden and metal spade. But I left it as I knew, even at that young age, that it was no longer truly mine, that it belonged on the beach of Wimereux.)

That incident left in me a sense of wonder about all things coastal. A wonder that this book has rekindled.

It is published by Zart Books ( in association with the Eden Project and costs £14.99. It's a book for everyone, but will make a welcome addition to any council library service and to any school, college or university library.

You can buy the book at the That's Books and Entertainment Bookshop, which you will find to the right hand side of this book review. Or to make a direct purchase of the title please visit


Dragonsong is a complex and a most praiseworthy novel (though, in truth, it is far more than being a mere novel) set very firmly in the fantasy genre.

It tells the story of Rebekah, a daughter of the wizard Merlin.

Rebekah is heartbroken, driven utterly insane by the murder of her one true love, Vidar.

With her soul tormented with a desire for revenge, she seeks out the Prince of Demons and she pleads with him to turn her into a dragon so that she may seek out her revenge against those she blames for the death of Vidar.

Unfortunately she has been tricked into believing that her father Merlin was responsible for the murder and she targets Merlin for her retribution.

But who has abused Rebekah so, by arranging this stratagem, this evil subterfuge? It is Oberon, the Elvish Captain-King. This was all done out of the twisted, jealousy of Oberon, due to his unrequited love for Rebekah.

But for all his machinations, scheming and clever plotting, he was utterly blinded to the terrible devastation and misery that his foolish actions would bring down upon the world of Gaia.

In order for Merlin to correct the great evil that Oberon has wrought upon the world of Gaia, Merlin must traverse the barrier of time itself, travelling back to locate a warrior of pure heart, Lady Attie.

With Michael, the seer of Albion to assist her, they must visit the very gates of Hell to obtain the sleep stone. For only this will persuade the dragon to fall into a slumber.

But this is not without risk. For if they fail to return the sleep stone to its rightful place at the mouth of Hell in time, then the demon army will awake and destroy Gaia and all its inhabitants.

Gaia's future and her destiny rely on Time to save it. But will the Asgardian gods be able to find a solution to stop this?

The book is a unique creation as it is, apparently, "an Arthurian Epic Fantasy in a formerly unknown meter and rhyme structure, with nothing comparable attempted since Tolkien abandoned The Fall of Arthur in 1934."

The book is published by Matador at £8.99 and can be purchased at the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop, which you will find over toward the right hand side of this review. Or click  on instead.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Rose: The Awakening

Rose: The Awakening tells the story of what happened when wilful, beautiful Rose Mainessuddenly loses her father.

His death means that Rose and her mother are left destitute, living in dingy lodgings within the heart of the East End of Victorian London.

Into their lives comes the mysterious Mr Weir, who her mother agrees to become a live in housekeeper for.

Rapidly there develops a relationship between Rose and Mr Weir that is a strong love-hate affair.

Rose is aware that she must take strong action if she is to survive.

The novel is set amidst swirling Victorian fogs, of shady dwelling places and of secret brothels.

Yet all is far from whst it appears to be. For who is Mr Weir? Who or what is Rose?

Krys Kingston bring the reader a glimpse behind polite society into a world of death, of murder and of the undead who stalk the world of the living.

This book is published by The Book Guild at £9.99 and is available via the That's Books and Entertainment online bookshop, which is to the right hand side of this book review.

It is the first book in a trilogy.

Two Bullets in Sarajevo

The book, Two Bullets in Sarajevo, is a novelisation by historian and author D. Lawrence-Young of the tragic events that caused the world to be tipped into not one but two world wars.

It tells the story of Princip, a poor student who became wrapped up in the machinations of the Black Hand, a Serbian nationalist organisation who had dreams of gaining freedom from Austria.

The emperor of Austria, Franz Josef has made a determination that there is on way that he could accede to these demands.

So he decides to offer a show of the strength of the empire and dispatches his nephew, Archduke Franz Ferdinand to make an official visit to Sarajevo.

Princip and his cronies decide to murder, in cold blood, the Archduke. And his wife, who in modern parlance, would be considered collateral damage.

The rest, as they say, is history.

The book barely touches upon the Great War, itself. It asks a question that seems to be all too often overlooked in the histories of those turbulent and dreadful times.

The question it asks is: "But what about the personalities behind this bald act of political murder?"

What were the members of the Black Hand like? Did they really think the assassin through?

And what of the apparently unbending Austrian rulers, the hidebound military leaders, the Serbians like Princip and his fellow revolutionaries in the Black Hand?  What really motived these people, these Serbian nationalists?

And what about Archduke Franz Ferdinand, often dismissed as a stuffed shirt who would have himself sewn into his military uniforms, it is often claimed?

For far from being the stuffed shirt that he is often portrayed as, Two Bullets in Sarajevo portrays a different side to him, a romantic side that led him to marry, against all Austrian royal court protocols, the woman of his dreams, his beautiful fiancée, Sophie Chotek?

The book is published by Matador at £8.99 and works well as a work of fiction and as a primer for anyone who is a student of that time period and who wants to try to understand what happened then, 100 years ago, that set the world on fire.

It's available through the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop. You'll locate this just to the right hand side of this book review.

King Garnet Stories

The King Garnet Stories are tales about King Garnet told to us by author Marianne Parry and charmingly illustrated by David Hill.

The book is a collection of three stories about King Garnet, his lovely wife Queen Amanda and their good friend, a fellow King, King Grundle.

King Garnet loves all of the subjects who live within his Kingdom. Which is good, because all of his subjects love him, back!

But one morning, something isn't quite right... Something strange has happened! Because, overnight, King Garnet's legs had grown!

At first, King Garnet did not mind this one little bit! After all, who wouldn't want to be just that bit taller?

But soon poor King Garnet realised that his legs were continuing to grow, becoming longer and longer!

As the days pass by, they become so long that they were so long that they reached the bedroom door and then even went half way down the palace's grand staircase!

It soon became clear that someone had cast a spell on King Garnet to cause his legs to continue to grow longer and longer!

But who would even do such a thing to a king who was so well-loved by everyone in his kingdom?

And would his legs ever go back to their normal size?

You can also read about what happened when the King pretended he could not speak and when King Grundle was tricked into declaring war!

These stories are designed for children aged 5 to 7 and they are charmingly told and equally charmingly illustrated.

The book is idea for reading out to children and for sharing between adults and kids!

It costs £8.99 and can be purchased via the That's Books and Entertainment online bookshop. the link to which you will find to the right hand side of this book review.

High Heatherton

High Heatherton is a historic novel by Sussex author Judith Thomson.

Set in the turbulent times of the 17th Century,  it follows the fortunes of Philip Devalle, who is the younger son of an Earl.

Unfortunately for Philip he is left without a penny piece when his older brother, unfortunately declared insane and incarcerated within the tender mercies of Bedlam hospital, inherits the family estate, High Heatherton.

Philip has been serving in the army of the French and when he returns to Britain he has one aim, to obtain High Heatherton for himself.

Philip Devalle has a potentially very able ally in the form of Lord Shaftesbury.  His Lordship is  man of many and varied talents, including the ability to create stratagems and craft plots so his promises to Philip Devalle to use his influences with the law courts to help him regain  High Heatherton were not beyond the boundaries of possibility.

But there's a rather large price attached to the help proffered by Lord Shaftsbury. For he demands, in return, that Philip Devalle assists him in a plot to place the illegitimate son of King Charles, the Duke of Monmouth, on the throne. For Shaftesbury is convinced that he could easily manipulate him, once he were placed on the throne of England.

But Philip Devalle has enemies in England, enemies who mean him harm. So he must treat them with caution and to keep as far away from them as he can. Especially as he is aware that the plot he is engaged in is treason. And the penalty for treason was an ignominious death by being hung, drawn and quartered.

He realises, in his attempts to regain what he has lost, to his mind, unfairly, that he has managed to get himself very deeply into a plot that could cost him his life.

But could he extricate himself from the situation and get what he prized?

The book is based on the real and tumultuous events of the Monmouth rebellion and is published by Matador at £9.99 and is an ideal real for lovers of historic fiction.

You can order it now at the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop, which you will find to the right-hand side of this book review.


Pariah is a début novel from R. S. Bristowe, an author from the Eastern county of Leicestershire.

It tells the story of Eddie Boyle. Life has some amusing little tricks it plays upon us, from time-to-time.

In Eddie's case the trick is that by the time he is in line to receive it, the title Tenth Marquess of Exwick as without any value or worth at all! Or so Eddie is led to believe.

But Eddie soon receives a phone call from a vicar in Cambridgeshire. It concerns a mysterious and ancient treasure, rumoured to be "priceless" of the Fen Tigers.

Eddie decides to pay a visit to this mysterious clergyman and he arrives in the village of Herne Fen.

Eddie picks up on the fact that something is bothering the locals, worrying them, perhaps? Because their behaviour is more than a little disconcerting, to Eddie's way of thinking.

But then, and before Eddie has the chance to learn more about the village of Herne Fen, the vicar vanishes.

This is treated by the local police as a simple missing person enquiry (even though the disappearance of a Church of England clergyman is hardly a run-of-the-mill experience) but soon it becomes a murder enquiry.

But there's something happening, something that is very unpleasant as the case quickly widens to cover not only a recent spate of murders but also to a number of much older murders.

Soon Eddie Boyle is on the trail of the search of the priceless and ancient treasure of the Fen Tigers. And the trail is littered with mutilated corpses and sheer terror.

Will Eddie reach the end of the trail and find the ancient treasure? Or will he reach the end of the trail, another victim of the ruthless killers who are stalking the ancient fenlands of Eastern England?

This book is published by Matador at £8.99 and is available from the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop, just to the right of this review.

La Petite Mort

La Petite Mort is a novel by Eli Wilde.But it is not actually a novel. It is far, far more than that.

It tell the story of a talented young poet called Rufus Hobster.

Well, actually, that's not entirely truthful. That bit about Rufus Hobster being a talented young poet.

For not only is Rufus Hobster a talented poet, he is also a vampire, so the state of being youthful or otherwise is really of no significance as far as he is concerned.

Through La Petite Mort Rufus tells the story of his early life when first he was introduced into vampirism.

Yet this is not a standard book about a poet (who just happens to be a vampire) it is written by the eminently talented Eli Wilde who wrote poetry in the voice of Rufus Hobster throughout this truly remarkable book.

These Gothic poems are probably some of the most compelling lines of modern poetry that I have ever read. Anywhere, at any time.

They are moving, frightening, bewildering, intoxicating, dream-laden, of another world of another time, from a different realm where a dog lies weeping for its slain master as a vampire feasts on his blood, of death too early, of death delayed.

It is published by Matador at £7.99 and is available for purchase at the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop, a little to the right of this book review.

You should buy this book. But if you do, be prepared to carry these poems with you in your heart for a little while to come...

And do please check the bookshop for other collections of poetry by Eli Wilde.

The Adventures of Rodney Fluffychops

The Adventures of Rodney Fluffychops tells the amazing and utterly charming story of Rodney Fluffychops and his new best mate, Spike.

Rodney Fluffychops is a delightful and incredibly nosy cat and Spike is a hedgehog who loves nothing better than going out and picking up some litter to make his home more tidy.

Together the two friends have some absolutely wonderful adventures.

The book is beautifully illustrated -there's even a map that shows you all of the big world that Rodney lives in!- and illustrations of not only Rodney and Spike, and of their friends the rabbits who live in the Garden Centre that's not far from Rodney's home.

The book is designed to be read to and by children aged 3 to 5 years of age and their parents, grandparents and their older siblings.

And Rodney is a real cat, who does really live with Mr and Mrs C in the village, not far from the Garden Centre.

This book is written by Mr C, aka Mr F. Compton and illustrated by artist Rianna "Dolly" Aguilar.

It's published by Matador at £6.99 and is available at the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop which is, as ever, just a little to the right of this book review.

I can't recommend this charming book enough.

Get a Life

Get a Life is the fourth novel by author Don Snuggs.

There's a purpose behind the novel, it is intended to assist the reader to begin to question ingrained, routine ways of thinking.

It tells the story of Fiona.

Fiona is the daughter of a prosperous businessman and his wife.

Fiona was brought up during and after the beginning of the Second World War, when, for her, life was increasingly good as her family became more and more prosperous.

Her faith and her beliefs were inculcated within her by her parents and her mentors. But even so, Fiona had a desire and a need to question what it was that she was being taught.

Whilst still in her teenage years, a series of terrible disasters befell our heroine.

Her boyfriend, who she loved very much, died in an accident.

And then she was kidnapped by a criminal gang and held hostage. During her illegal incarceration she was raped and became pregnant as a result.

She struggles with conflicting emotions and ideas, based on what she had been taught whilst growing up.

Should she proceed with the pregnancy or not? She eventually decides to go through with the pregnancy, but that she should put the child up for adoption, which she does.

Throughout the following years she continues with her life as best she can. She attends university where she majors in business studies.

Her father too soon and Fiona takes the decision to turn her considerable talents to joining the family business.

She marries and is able to make a fresh start. Only for her oldest son from this marriage to decide to indulge in a notorious and high-profile affair with a woman who is older than he is.

This results in heartache and misery all round and brings with it the potential for disaster not only for her son but also for the entire family.

What should Fiona do? Gather up the determination to re-start her life all over again?

The book is intended to be an uplifting novel strength and success despite adversity and heartbreak along the way.

It is published by Matador in paperback at £9.99 and can be purchased from the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop, on the right hand side of this review.

Lights Burning Blue

Lights Burning Blue is a thriller novel set in the world of the theatre and it is written by a man who knows a great deal about this world, successful actor, Andrew Cullum.

It relates the story of a somewhat unlikely friendship set against the backdrop of a savage murder.

Brooke McCarthy has graduated from her drama school and she has landed her dream job. Well, it's not exactly her dream job. But it is a job in a theatre company, so there's that much to it, hopefully?

But it's not, actually, a proper acting job. She has had to take up a job in stage management. Which was not what she wanted at all. She wants to be on the stage, acting, not stage managing!

And the director of the play is Jimmy Knowles, notorious in the world of British theatre as being very difficult to please and not very nice to work with or for.

The play is in the rehearsal phase and it's not actually in the theatre, yet. The rehearsals are being undertaken in a village hall in a village that is probably as out of the way as you could possibly get, near to nothing but a woodland nature reserve.

But this whole thing beats Brooke's previous job, working as a temp in an office, so she grits her teeth and is determined to make as good a job of things as she can.

On her first day at work she meets up with an elderly gentleman who she finds endearing and who lives in a cottage which is just over the path from the village hall where the rehearsals  are taking place.

This elderly gentleman seems to have had something of an interesting past and a deep love of all things theatrical.

But is everything quite what it appears to be?

For just one week prior to her taking up her new job, a young girl was found murdered in the woods that make up the nature reserve.

And is it just a coincidence that the murder victim looks like Brooke?

What, exactly, is going on? Who, if anyone, can Brooke trust?

This is Andrew Cullum's début novel. And all I can say is that I hope it is not be his only novel!

We mystery lovers have found, in Andrew Cullum, a great new writing talent and, in Brooke McCarthy, a wonderful new character. Who I want to be able to learn more about in forthcoming novels.

Could she develop into a female version of a younger and perhaps more theatrically successful Charles Paris?  Oh, I do hope so!

The book is published by Matador at a remarkably reasonable £9.99 in paperback and if you buy only one book during 2016, please do make it Lights Burning Blue. You'll find it for sale at the That's Books and Entertainment book shop, just a little to the right of this review.

Horizons of Light

Horizons of Light is a passionate love story by Jaime Manrique-Palacin.

It's a novel in the erotic fiction genre (this is the English language version of the book which was first published in Spanish) which tells the story of Enrique who, in a hot summer's night back in 1964 takes the decision to leave his home town of Santa Maria de los Rios and emigrate to the United States of America.

He has to leave behind his wife and child -only for a while, of course- and leaves to make his mark in America.

He planned to bring his wife and his child over to join him in America, but a letter from home blew his plans into pieces, piercing his heart with the news that his family was now lost to him.

Eventually he makes his way across America and becomes a famous and wealthy actor in Hollywood, where his good looks and personality attracts admiration and romantic attention from members of both genders.

But Enrique needs more than brief encounters he knows that he must rediscover and fight for his one true love and bring joy and happiness to someone who had known misery and heartache.

This is a splendid and richly written novel which has heart and soul throughout it's pages.

It is published in hardback by The Book Guild at £17.99 and can be bought via the That's Books and Entertainment book shop, which you will find to the right of this book review.

A Game That Must be Lost

A Game That Must be Lost is a novel set in the world of international diplomacy, written by a former high ranking British diplomat and now a leading academic Alan Hunt.

A Game That Must be Lost takes the reader back to the year 2005.

On the eve of the Chinese New Year in Singapore, all is not quite what it appears to be.

Marina Singleton, the daughter of the British High Commissioner, has -somehow- become involved in the world of international drug smuggling and has vanished with a high value consignment of illegally smuggled heroin.

But that's not all she has done. For she has left an innocent man to face the death penalty for a crime he had no knowledge of.

A little while later, Marina's father, Andrew Singleton, also vanishes.

The repercussions of these events are potentially catastrophic for the British government, so it is decided that a high power investigation will be launched into the case, under the watchful eye of Adam White, Head of Chancery at the High Commission.

It is Adam White's task to try to establish the exact sequence of events and to discover the truth as to what actually had happened.

For example, was Marina Singleton really involved in the smuggling? Has she vanished of her own volition, or was she kidnapped? And if so, what could be the motives of the kidnappers?

And what of the equally problematic disappearance of her father? Is it linked to the mysterious disappearance of his daughter? Has he gone to ground? Or was he, also, kidnapped?

And why would anyone want to kidnap the Singletons?

But as Adam White commences on his somewhat tricky and potentially dangerous mission he discovers that, in the world of international diplomacy things are never quite what they appear to be and that there is a very dangerous plot that aims to bring the world to the brink of disaster with a nuclear holocaust as the eventual aim.

But is all that it seems? And how many would die before the case could be considered as closed? But how can Adam White, a man with troubles of his own, work to prevent this from happening? In fact, can he? Or is it beyond his abilities?

The book is a compelling read and is published by Matador at £7.99 in paperback and is available from the that's Books and Entertainment book shop, which you will find to the right of this review.