Monday, 29 May 2017

A Parcel of Pigs

A Parcel of Pigs is a debut book for children from new author Andrea Prior.

It's filled with quirky poems that are specially written for children aged from 5 to 8.

The poems are accompanied by bright and colourful illustrations which are also by the author.

The poems are great for children to share with adults and they will be able to help them with their reading skills.

The poems are proper poems (meaning that they rhyme!) and are humorous and are designed to provide children and parents (and grandparents, too!) with a highly pleasing and interactive experience that they will remember as a pleasant part of their childhood.

Each poem has a set of questions that are designed to help the children remember what they learn through the poems.

The book is ideal for all children but will, in the reviewer's opinion, be of great help for parents who have taken the decision to educate their own children at home.

It is published by Matador at £8.99 (e-book version £3.99) and can be ordered online at

It is to be hoped that this is the first of many such books from Andrea Prior.

Of Human Telling

Of Human Telling is a novel by Tanya van Hasselt,

Jane is nasty. Or rather, Jane believes she is nasty. She bases this belief on the fact that she is jealous of Beth, who is good and nice.

And the fact that she is filled with resentment of Stephen, who is unattainable and so very noble of nature.

As a result Jane becomes deeply involved in her working life as a teacher of music to children that are described as troubled.

Her mother consoles her, although she often provokes her, as do a group of church ladies who are all well-meaning but sometimes problematic.

She is working with Terzo who is a mute girl of six. Terzo's twin was killed by a journalist called Angelo Aranzo, who Jane is both disturbed by and also intrigued by.

There's also neighbour Kate who is compelled and driven by her OCD rituals which she is able to hide from her unsuspecting husband.

Neither Kate or her husband are able to see the woods for the trees and they are unaware that their daughter is leading a secret life or that their son is facing severe problems of his own.

A schoolgirl is bullied beyond the limits of her ability to endure and so she attempts to kill herself.

It's an interesting and compelling novel that is both dramatic and also sympathetic. It's about the real problems that real people face and how they cope, or in some instances, fail to cope with, the problems of themselves and of those around them.

It is published by Matador at £7.99 and is available through good book retailers and online at

Down But Not Out!

In Down But Not Out! readers again meet up with former boxer Ronnie Callaghan, written by retired boxer and trainer Gary Tulley.

In the second part of the Fingerless Gloves trilogy, Ronnie once again comes face to face with his nemesis, the so-called Plastic Gangster, Paul Rossetti.

After an exile of six years, Rossetti is hungry for vengeance.

His hatred for Ronnie has not diminished one  iota, in fact it has grown and developed over time into an unhealthy and dangerous obsession.

He will destroy Ronnie Callaghan, of this he is absolutely certain.

However, he has not counted on the fact that Ronnie and his mentor Siddie Levy are equally certain that Rossetti will not succeed in his avowed aims.

For the pair have plans of their own for Rossetti.Plans that, if they come to fruition, Rossetti will not like one little bit.

This is a gritty and highly realistic novel from someone who is a true master of this genre.

It is published by Matador at £8.99 (£3.99 e-book) and is available via good book retailers and also on line here

A life Untold

A Life Untold is the debut novel of Dallaa Moussallati who has finally taken the plunge to write this novel.

Zara comes to in a hospital. She is utterly disorientated. Why is she even in the hospital? But even more worryingly, poor Zara is not able to remember anything about herself or of her life.

Distressingly, nobody can even see her. So what, exactly, is happening to her?

Then she meets the chief assistant of the Angel of Death, a surprisingly pleasant fellow, who explains to Zara that she is dying. But first he must take her back through her life, to see all of the deeds that she committed both the bad ones and the good ones.

She is also permitted to see the impact that she had on the people around her as she had lived her life.

Is this the end of her life or the beginning, instead? And what, exactly, will happen to her in the hereafter?

It's an interesting and thought provoking book from Matador, priced at £8.99 (£3.99 E-book) and is available from all good book retailers and on line at

Close Quarters

Retired solicitor and university lecturer Angus McAllister spent a lifetime living in flats in and around the city of Glasgow and built up a wealth of knowledge of the types of people who live in that environment and also of the characters -some larger than life- who inhabit that world.

It would have been a shame to allow all of that rich, eclectic material to go waste, but Angus decided to not allow that to happen, and he drew on that well of knowledge for the inspiration of his murder mystery Close Quarters.

Walter Bain was probably well-named, at least according to his neighbours. 

He was the self-appointed overseer of the tenement block at 13 Oldberry Road, Glasgow.

He had taken upon his own shoulders the mantle of the guardian of what was right and proper for all of the residents of the tenement block. Noise to be kept to a minimum, stairs kept clean at all times (please check the rota for your turn to wash the stairs) wheelie bins to be taken out and brought back at the correct times and into the correct positions, gate to be kept shut, grass cutting rota to be strictly observed and so on and on and on.

So perhaps it was not really all that much of a shock when Walter Bain was found dead in his flat, with his brains smashed in with a fireplace poker.

Who could the killer be? The police were stumped, initially, not due to the lack of a likely suspect but the fact that there was a plethora of potential suspects.All of which could have had a motive to see Walter Bain dead. 

Could it be his wife who claimed to have slept throughout the murder? Or perhaps it was one of his neighbours? Apparently even the more timid seeming neighbours had had their fill of Walter Bain and his rules for domestic living at 13 OLdberry Road. 

Had he caused a neighbour to snap over years of abusive, belittling martinet like behaviour? Or was the murderer someone else, someone from outside the hothouse environment of the tenement?

It was the unenviable task of the police detectives involved to sift through a mountain of evidence and conflicting reports to find out exactly why Walter Bain had to die and who it was who had struck the fatal blows?

The book has a light comedic undertone to it and makes a refreshing and well-written read. It's published by Matador at £8.99 and is available through all good book retailers and online at


Tragedy & Challenge

Tragedy & Challenge is is a book that is written by an insider and it provides expert testimony on the decline of engineering in the UK and it also points out the challenges that face the UK in what he describes as a "Bexit economy."

Tom Brown has seen engineering over a 45 year career, within both the UK and overseas. He has seen all aspects of the industry from a night shift manager to the chair of 15 companies, such as university spin offs, private equity backed concerns and larger concerns with stock market listings.

He is, therefore, able to offer a unique and penetrating insight into the new challenges that will face our engineering concerns in the post-Brexit world.

He also takes a look at the impact engineering has on the whole of the British economy, the potential for exports, the loves of working people and on the broader reaches of society as an entirety.

The book examines and codifies the reasons behind the decline of engineering within the UK. One key factor that he looks at is poor leadership, the detrimental effects of a variety of government policies and the negative impact of the City of London on our engineering sector.

The book should make some uncomfortable reading for a variety of people because it is Tom Brown's conclusion that although the global economy did have some negative impact on the British engineering sector, that a major part of the blame for the decline in the UK engineering sector must be shouldered by poor management, unions and poor government decisions and short term thinking within  the city of London. He also blames "decaying social attitudes" and feels that Brexit could make the situation even more daunting.

The book will make sobering reading for all involved and it will be published on June 28th by Matador at £19.99 in hardback.

It will be available for purchase via all good bookshops and also at

Wounded But Not Dead

Wounded But Not Dead tells the story of what happened to young Victor Vimord.

Victor was abused by his parents and, as a result of the abuse, he misbehaves in school and, due to his behavioural problems, he is expelled from his school.

He is then despatched to a Catholic boarding school which is a long distance away from his former school and home.

He meets up with another boy called Freddy, who quickly befriends Victor.

Unfortunately, Freddy leads Victor astray and as a result a fellow pupil at the school is murdered.

Victor is once again expelled from school, and he faces an uncertain life, in which his goals -educational, employment, familial, are either set at nought or otherwise trampled on.

Eventually Victor decides to take a different path and makes his way to England. Once in England he locates a group of expatriates who seem to be living a somewhat happy and carefree lifestyle in their new country.

How will Victor cope? Can he forget the griefs, doubts and self recriminations of his past life? Can he forge a new life for himself, moving away from his troubled and tormented earlier life?

This is an interesting slice of life style novel from French-born author Vincent Leforestier and is in some ways a fantasy novel.

It's published by Matador at £9.99 and is available for purchase through all good bool retailers and online from

Sunday, 28 May 2017

The Big Plug

The Big Plug is a book with a very strong environmental message for children and it is written by Peter Grenville and is his debut work.

The world is getting hotter and hotter as the result of human activity.

All around the world, all living creatures and plants are dying.

Dave the Cherry Tree and his fellow plants obviously do not like this and they must form a plan to stop it from happening.

Just when they are thinking that there is nothing they can do, a giant and rather scary spider -and its huge army of loyal followers- arrive on the scene.

The spider reveals to Dave and his fellow plants that he has a cunning scheme to save the world, but that it will not be without sacrifice hardship and, indeed, some deaths.

Deciding that they have nothing to lose Dave and his fellow plants join the spider and his army to bring an end to global destruction.

But! Will the plan work? And even it it does, will any of the plants actually survive?

The book is aimed at children and is published by Matador at £6.99, it is available from the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop which you will find here:-

Murder in the Fourth Round

As a weapon of murder, golf clubs are not an entirely unknown choice. But  a sharpened wooden golf tee, coated with a rare but extremely deadly native Colombian toxin? That has to be a first.

And this is the startling opening premise of the novel "Murder in the Fourth Round" by retired High Court judge Ian Simpson who, upon retirement, moved from judging murder cases to writing about murder cases as a successful crime novelist.

"Before Ballesteros signed his winning score card he was dead" has to be one of the most significant lines in the history of murder novels through the ages.

But who was dead? Tony Spencer.

Who would want him dead and dead in such an extravagant and gaudy fashion?

The police and the courts knew. Or rather, they thought they did. After all, didn't the try and jail the killer, Peter Waldron, a partner of solicitor Tony Spencer in the firm L & P Campbell, Solicitors?

But now, after 31 years, Waldron, dying of pancreatic cancer, is to be released on compassionate grounds.

But then, after the murder of a political activist, DI Flick Fortune begins an investigation which has a group of solicitors as the target. The solicitors had dubbed themselves "The Jolly Boys" and as well as focussing on them,  the investigation is taking a fresh look at the murder of Tony Spencer back in 1984.

She is assisted by DS Baggo (Bagawath) Chandavarkar.

However, trouble -of sorts- comes their way with the arrival of a nemesis from her past, former DI Noel Osborne (formerly of the Met and otherwise described as Inspector No) who has been hired to overturn the conviction of Peter Waldron.

He manages to stir the pot more than a little and to the chagrin of some and the interest of others, the result is that decades-hidden crimes are brought out into the light and suddenly all is not as it seems and events suddenly gather pace as things seem to slip out of control.

So, who did murder Tony Spencer, if it wasn't his fellow solicitor, Peter Waldron?

And why, exactly, did someone -with access to the deadly toxin Batrachotoxin- decide that Tony Spencer deserved death in such a dramatic and theatrical fashion?

This is a real page turner of a crime thriller. I am pleased that Ian Simpson has been brought to my attention. I'll look out for his name in future.

The book is published by Matador at £7.99 and is out now. You can buy it at the That's Books and Entertainments bookshop which you will find here:-

It's book number 4 in the Flick and Baggo murder mystery series.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

The Hotel Life of Brian

Although published by The Book Guild Publishing as a collection of short stories, Brian Wilson's new book "The Hotel Life of Brian" is a gathering together of a series of events that actually took place during his hotel industry career.

He joined the hotel industry back in 1964, after obtaining a range of suitable qualifications from college.

Over the next 25 years he worked in a variety of positions in a variety of establishments.

Eventually he was promoted to the head heights of hotel management where he was the manager of a large hotel with 170 bedrooms and the facilities to cater for 900 people.

After this Brian decided to escape from the world of corporate hotels, deciding, instead, to run his own somewhat smaller country inn.

He then moved back to the city where he owned and operated a 15 bedroom hotel in the heart of the city. A hotel he ran successfully for three years.

From the Oxford Brookes University he gained membership of the prestigious Institute of Hospitality.

He then spent the remaining years of his career working in academia, spending seven years lecturing on hotel industry management, with the last 13 years as a College Senior Manager.

Read the book and learn about what it takes to thrive, or even just survive, in the hotel and catering industry.

Read about the perils of a badly placed fusebox, why an apron ended up covered with a pound of butter, the perils of cooking steaks with coke, what happens when a colleague miscalculates the time it would take to hard boil an egg, apparently 40 hours was not the answer he should have got, why an office looked like it had been ransacked, when it hadn't been, how a complicated order from a party from the BBC caused a slip-up and how a group of very audacious thieves managed to escape with a load of... well, I don't want to give too much away, so suffice to say that you will find that sad and sorrowful tale toward the latter portion of the book.

The book is also well-illustrated with a collection of highly amusing cartoons. And all for a snip at just £8.99.

It's available from 28th May and can be pre-ordered at our own bookshop, which you will find here