Friday, 25 August 2017

The Rose Girl

In her new novel The Rose Girl, author Fay Howison gives younger readers as modern day twist to the more traditional genre of the fairytale.

The Rose Girl is set in Britain, but it is the Britain of the time before our Industrial Revolution.

The story is set in a valley. At one end there is stern and unapproachable nobleman, the Duke of Ashbury who is burdened down with the unspeakable agony of having lost his wife.

He is so grief stricken that he keeps their daughter, Rosalba as a prisoner in their palatial home, fearful to let her out of his sight, in case some dreadful fate should befall her, too.

But at the other end of this sweet and beautiful valley you will find the Paget family. They are a cheerful and happy-go-lucky family who view conventionality as a burden that they simply will not bother to even try and carry!

The three Paget brothers, as soon as they learn of the plight of the fair Rosalba, each decide of their own volition, that they will rescue her for themselves.

However, things do not go quite as they had hoped and after a series of adventures and misadventures, they learn of a terrifying secret from the past that means they must bury their rivalry for her love and work together to overcome a common problem. And what malevolent hold does the dark and vile Lord Jasper Culpepper hold over the future of the Paget family?

Can they defeat the odious lord and rescue Rosabela?

This book is written for young children aged 10 to 14 and it is published by Matador at £8.99 and it can be bought here

A Captain's Ransom

A Captain's Ransom is a terrifying and true account of modern day piracy on the high seas.

It tells the story of Captain Alex "Joe" Westland and what happened on 14th May 2013.

Alex was a retired ship's captain and an ex trawler captain.

Whilst his vessel St Patrick was off the coast of Nigeria it was attacked by pirates and he was taken as a captive from his boat to the Niger Delta Jungle.

Once there he realised that his situation was extremely grave indeed and during his days of captivity he felt that every moment could very well be his last and he feared that he would possibly never see his wife, his family or his friends again.

Captain Westland hales from Arbroath Angus in Scotland and he has written his memoir for a number of reasons. He felt that it might be of assistance to him if he were able to write out these terrible memories of what happened to him and to also serve as a warning to anyone who even considers working in Nigeria, which he deems "the pirate capital of the world."

The incident brought some changes to his life. He suffers from PTSD, experiencing flashbacks and nightmares and he was forced to take early retirement.

The book is an exciting read and costs £8.99 from The Book Guild. You can purchase it at

Academy for Health Superheroes

Childhood obesity is now listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as one the most serious worldwide health challenges that face the 21st century. With 19.1% of Year 6 children declared as obese in 2015, Dr Agnes Electra Chlebinska and David W. Evans decided that they should promote a healthy lifestyle with their debut children's book series.

Book 1 in the series covers the heart.

It tells the story of Agnes and her friends who have joined together to form a special Academy for Health Superheroes which aims to train and nurture a generation of Health Superheroes.

You'll meet a whole range of different characters. Humans, animals, body organs and food characters.

Jack and his dad become firm friends with the JFM, the Junk Food Monster. Jack's father becomes ill, having developed heart problems. But fortunately the Health Superheroes are on hand to offer their support and wise advice.

Can they help beat the Junk Food Monster and save Jack's father?

But the book is not merely a fantastic story with wacky and brilliant illustrations from Gilbert Monserrate. It also contains many valuable tips on healthy eating and exercise and there are a range of nutritional snack recipes that children can have a go at making for themselves.  And which should also prove to be very popular with children and adults, too.

This large format book is published by Matador at £16.99 and it is such an important book that council departments and local NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups should get together to ensure that a copy of this book is issued to every family with children in their area.

It also belongs on the desk of every Medical Doctor and Nutritionist in the UK, especially those that deal with obese children and in every public library in the UK.

You can order as many copies as you wish at

I Hear You Calling

I Hear You Calling is an interesting and highly readable book from author Helen Line.

It tells, in their own voices, the story of a group of people whose lives meet and sometimes clash together in a variety of ways, some expected and some unexpected.

There is Rae, who is an Educational Officer. Her own life has taken a turn  that she wasn't expecting. Her husband had turned out to be a control freak and she is trying to come to terms with the loss of her marriage.

There is young Richard Banks who at nine is struggling as he tries to perform a neat balancing act as he attempts to be a crowd pleaser. Well, to be more accurate, his overbearing father and his headmistress.

The situation is made more fraught because Richard is a communications conduit for people who have passed over to the other side. He is a medium.

Rae is sceptical about Richard and his ability, but she has to cope with his father who is a true believer and the headmistress who is anything but and who knows only two ways of doing things. Her way or the wrong way.

To add to the general concerns Rae's ex-husband turns up and things begin to quickly spiral out of control.

At first Rae thought that she was merely trying to saved Richard's place at the school. But a series of dramatic events soon convince her that the battle she is fighting is a completely different one to the one she had presumed. In fact Rae is actually struggling to save Richard's life. And perhaps Richard will return that favour?

This book is a very interesting novel. It's a love story, or love stories, but it is not, actually, a romance.

It's also a very uplifting story which you will want to read several times, at least. And you'll want to share it, too.

It is published by Matador at £7.99 and is obtainable here

Charlie Green and the Underground Railroad

Charlie Green and the Underground Railroad is another story from the pen of aviation expert and published author Martyn Blunden.

It is a continuation in his series of stories about young Charlie Green and Ben and Olivia, his brother and sister, and their magical aeroplane (not airplane, note!) Jenny which can take them to any destination that they care to select, even back in time.

They travel back to the time of the American Civil War in the year of 1862 and they meet up with Civil Rights campaigner Harriet Tubman and they work with Harriet to attempt to free her sister from slavery.

They learn about the secret network of safe houses (the underground railroad of the story) that Harriet had established to help free slaves.

But things very swiftly go awry. Harriet is arrested and their adult traveling companion, Oliver, is captured and forced to enlist against his will in the Confederate Army.

Can they free Oliver and rescue Harriet before she is shot as a spy? If they do so they'll have to outwith some very savvy, battle hardened Confederate Army officers.

The skillful interweaving of the fantasy of the story with the reality of the amazing work that Harriet Tubman did to rescue slaves works very well and this is a book that is ideal for children who are inquisitive about history and who love a good yarn.

It is published by Matador at £8.99 and can be bought here

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Sugar and Spice

Sugar and Spice is the third book in the Singhing Detective series by author M C Dutton.

In it her protagonist, Detective Sergeant Jaswinder "Jazz" Singh comes face to face with a highly dangerous and murderous gang.

Young lives are at risk as Jazz and his colleagues DS Bloomer, DC Ashiv Kumar and Mad Pete are the only ones who seem to be fully aware of what is happening and the only ones who are willing to take the gang on.

However, it appears that the gang they are attempting to chase down have connections in  high places and it appears that they have some powerful, high level protection.

Or else why would their own police force be hunting for Jazz and his team and why would they have gained the interest of the British Secret Service?

Can Jazz and his colleagues smoke out the baddies? Or will they fall victim to the powerful forces that are set on protecting them?

Will the gang continue to evade justice and continue to do evil whilst under the protection of their corrupt helpers?

Or will they all come tumbling down, with the assistance of some special codes and a less-than-friendly Royal Mail manager?

If they can stay clear of the Secret Service and their own colleagues, they'd be safe. Wouldn't they?

This is an exciting thriller of a crime novel and M D Dutton is a good find. I will look out for more of her novels, especially those concerning DS Jazz Singh!

The book is published by Matador at £9.99 and is available for purchase here

Beijing Smog

This is a novel by former Channel 4 correspondent Ian Williams.

It is set in contemporary China and tells the story of how three entirely different people, a Chinese blogger, a British businessman and an American "diplomat", accidentally meet up, due to the creation and dissemination of an online joke.

Much to the chagrin of the ruling Communist Party of China, the joke quickly goes viral and becomes a powerful symbol of defiance for many people in China.

The novel also reveals a great deal about the history of Communist China, how golf was made illegal, how the rights of ordinary people are commonly smashed and trampled by the authorities and how people are attempting to use the Internet and social media in China to fight back against the government, even though the Internet in China is very heavily censored and controlled by the government.

Ian Williams uses his knowledge of the area and his ability as a writer to craft a fine cyber thriller that takes the reader from the smog-lade streets of Beijing to the grim factories of China and to the glittering casinos of Macau and the crowded streets of Hong Kong, to bring his readers a gripping novel that takes an incisive and satirical novel.

It is published by Matador at £9.99 and is available here for purchase

Kafka, Einstein, Kafeinski and Me

Einstein and Kafka met in the early part of the 20th century. This much is known.

However, physicist and author Kurt Hartmann decides to take their meeting one, or rather, several steps forward.

What if, he speculates, Einstein and Kafka had actually indulged in a range of spirited debates over a period of several months?

Hartman speculates on the contents of these imaginary conversations as they talk about mundane, day-to-day topics and also debate some greater and deeper concepts.

However, the story does not finish there and Hartman  moves the action 100 years inot the future and conjures up his two protagonists in a cafe in Berlin.

There conversation is continually being interrupted by an investigation into a murder that has occurred very close to the cafe. Wsas the murder a racial killing? Perhaps so.

Einstein casts his mind back to the evil days of the Holocaust and as a result, he feels inspired to participate in the investigation and helps to bring a resolution to the case.

There's also a quirky visit to the past where the author re-lives a love story in the Berlin of the Cold War Years.

The book is published by Matador and costs £9.99. It can be bought here

Born Together

Born Together is a truly inspirational account of the struggles of the author, Patricia Gallagher, her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis and her sheer determination to be a good mother to new baby boy, Elliot.

Within mere hours of giving birth to Elliot, Patricia's body began to shut down and to deteriorate.

In Born Together Patrica gives a vivid and utterly honest account of what it is like to live with MS and to deal with the contemporaneous struggles of being a mother.

The diagnosis of MS was not arrived at until after Elliot's birth. The medical experts informed her that, following the birth of her baby boy, her body had erroneously triggered its immune system to launch a defensive strike against itself, resulting in the damage caused to her body by MS.

Patricia was basically told that she would face a life of being vulnerable and also of being disabled.

However, it was almost as if Patricia hadn't read the script of how it was meant to be. Because Patrica decided for herself that she was going to be different!

Because Patricia decided that she was going to work out her own pathway and to take an alternative approach to just about everything.

There were a lot of people who, though admiring her determination, just didn't see how she could hope to succeed.

However, Patrica did succeed and she was rewarded with some new and pioneering medical treatment based on research by Medical Research Scotland and funded in part by the Scottish Government Enterprise Scheme.

Read how Patricia became the first person who has MS to be treated with the revolutionary Robo-Physio device.

As the device is expected to be made publically available later this year, you'll probably see more about it (ands about Patricia!) in the media.

This book is published by Matador at £10.99 and you can buy it at

You can also learn more at

Mystery City

A while ago I was delighted to read a novel by Alistair Laver that was set in the fictional Yorkshire seaside town of Whitborough, which is based on Scarborough and Whitby.

Mystery City is the second novel in the series. It is written with a deft and light-hearted touch and features an incredibly large cast of characters, a rhino that seems to be suffering from some kind of depressive ailment and a couple of somewhat naughty dogs.

You'll have come across Whithborough in the novel Treasure Trove (if you haven't, please read that novel, too) and you'll be pleased to know that this Yorkshire coastal town is still just as interesting in this new novel.

Actions are never (well, hardly ever) without consequences and the ramifications of the actions that were undertaken during Treasure Trove are still reverberating through and around Whitborough.

From an unfortunate incident in July 1645 when devilish beasts attack a flock right through to the present day when masked men in black overalls turn up at the local zoo, and whilst there's a race against either time or the local police force when agents from GCHQ attempt to unravel the mysterious events of the terrorist attack that traumatised the inhabitants of the town during Treasure Trove.

Why are their wolves in the area? What is happening at the Valhalla Retirement Home?

And what, exactly, was there beneath the Mystery City?

Be prepared to strap yourself in for one heck of a wild literary ride!

The book is published by Matador at £7.99 and is available to purchase here

When Snow Fell

When Snow Fell is a novel that reflects on the Russian October Revolution in 1917.

Author Barbara Kastelin takes her readers through a vivid exploration of the impact of these events upon a family who must flee their native land and seek involuntary exile in Great Britain.

The novel is timely for a variety of reasons, it is the centenary of  the Russian revolution and the world is, again, witnessing another era where mass migrations are taking place with all the resultant problems that such events bring in their wake.

There is a personal dimension to this novel as it relates the story of Barbara Kastelin's father's flight from Russia as a result of the revolution and the sad knowledge that their family would never be able to return to their ancestral homeland.

When Snow Fell tells the story of three generations of a once aristocratic White Russian family and their attempts (barely successful, in truth) to integrate into the Oxfordshire of the 1960s.

Perhaps it was that, compared to their previous lifestyle of opulence, glamour and extravagance amidst Czarist Russia, the England of the 1960s was just a little bit dull, in comparison?

The story is told with insight compassion and with a leavening of humour.

Eventually the family begins to run through their once copious financial resources and, in order to survive, they fin themselves in the situation of having to start selling off items of property.

They are so desperate that they must seek compensation from their old enemies, the Soviet Union.

This leads to interesting confrontations between the old order of Russia and the new order of Russia, with clashes not only if ideologies but also of personalities, too.

The result is that old, long-buried mysteries are brought to the surface and some unexpected results, including murder, are brought about.

This is a fascinating novel in the fine tradition of Russian literature.

It is published by Matador at £7.99 and can be obtained here

Absolutely Galapagos

There was a connection between Brian and Charles Darwin. They were both fascinated by the idea of visiting the Galapagos Islands.

Brian's interest was probably less prosaic than Darwin's,  Brian was inspired to make his journey there because of a boat. Pretty mch.

So Brian and his long-suffering wife Sandra made the trip of a lifetime.

The boat turned out to be absolute dream and the islands were all they could have hoped for and much more, besides.

However, it is probably true that Brian was not quite what the other passengers had expected, or perhaps wanted.

Brian was filled with knowledge on South American countries that was perhaps not as interesting as Brian might have presumed.

And his views on a wide range of many and varied topics would enthrall, bewilder, engage or enrage people, including Sandra. Who was certainly not enthused by the only positive fact that Brian had elicited from the disastrous situation in Venezuela was that it had produced an inordinate number of Miss Universes or Miss Worlds.

And Brian did have a point -of sorts- how were great works of literature created before the advent of creative writing courses?

The worrying thing about Brian is that, no matter how exasperating he might be, he is often right about things, but not perhaps always in an especially useful way.

The book is published by Matador at £9.99 and is available at

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Networking Thoughfully

Networking Thoughtfully is a very valuable new book from networking expert Martin Wheadon.

It is short and to the point. It is designed to be read in thirty minutes and Martin Wheadon is confident that this book could well change your life for the better.

It's a guide for people who need to network and to build relationships but who are not exactly sure where they should start or what they should do.

Readers are taken through a clear and concise step-by-step guide which will help them to achieve good, positive results.

Readers will learn how to begin conversations, plus devise methods by which they can introduce themselves to other people.

Wheadon has written the book based on his many years experience within the banking sector and also from creating and operating his own networking business, the High Tea Club.

This book is both comprehensive and also accessible and at £8.99 is a must purchase for everyone in  business, commerce or employment as everyone will find something of benefit in this short but vitally informative work.

You can purchase it here

Elizabeth, William... and Me

Elizabeth, William and Me... is a novel by S. Lynn Scott.

Ally has a fairly normal life, that was until she finds Elizabeth I in her pantry and later discovers William Shakespeare in her bath.

And that's just the beginning of what would turn out to be an amazing adventure for Ally.

Queen Elizabeth proved to be quite crotchety, an Shakespeare seemed to like gawping at women in modern dress... but how had they travelled forward through hundreds of years to modern day England? And why had they come?

Much confusion abounds. After all, coping with modern England was a major problem for our two Elizabethans and Ally seems equally befuddled by this momentous event.

Queen Elizabeth has a mission that she must complete. And, being an absolute monarch, she is used to getting everything done in exactly the way she wants it to be done.

Ally, too, with her somewhat dysfunctional family, is searching for something, too.

Can the arrival of Queen Elizabeth I and William Shakespeare help her identify what it is and also help her to track it down and recover it?

But if Ally can see Elizabeth and William Shakespeare, surely everyone else can? But what if they can't?

What could this mean?

And can Ally find what she is seeking?

Could Dr Pinch help her?

This is an extremely well-written debut novel from actress and theatrical director S. Lynn Scott.

It is a very moving story with elements of humour, too.

Hopefully we will be seeing many more novels from S. Lynn Scott in the future.

The book is published by Matador at £9.99 and can be purchased at

Saturday, 5 August 2017

The Wireless in the Corner

The Wireless in the Corner is an autobiography by Alan Palmer, which is based on entries from his contemporary diaries, family letters, photographs taken from family albums and also newspaper cuttings.

It is Alan's highly interesting and entertaining account of growing up in suburban London during the second quarter of the last century.

The author recalls the stresses and strains of living through the years of the Blitz, the later flying bombs and the V Rockets and the times of peace and contentment.

The book also covers the years before and after the Second World War. He reveals that he was named Alan -like so many other babies at that time- in honour of Alan Cobham the World War 1 Veteran who was the first man to fly to and from Australia in 1926.

We learn of the impact of the depression, of Pelican and Ekco radios (which lasted for 34 years and was the best bargain his father ever had.

In the then distinct town of Ilford there were 'pirate' buses competing for business against the "regular" buses, he recalls the local station, the cinema, the shops, the houses that they lived in.

There were secrets that were scandals including the case of the murder of Percy Thomas, stabbed to death by his wife's lover.

Letters in the lover's flat from his wife Edith to the lover revealed that she had attempted to kill him by poisoning him or by putting powdered glass in his porridge.

The lover was charged with murder and the widow with acting as his accomplice.

Alan Palmer is a well known author of historical works and this book has received praise from people such as Antonia Fraser.

The book is published by Matador at £10.99 and can be bought here

Barry and Bev The Big Concert

Barry and Bev The Big Concert is a humorous novel by actress Rita May who has decided to make the crossing over from acting to writing with this, her debut novel.

The novel is set in a town in Northern England

The community of Kenthorpe is home to the Kenthorpe Working Men's Club. At least, it is for the moment, for the club is in dire financial difficulties.

The organising Committee work hard to attempt to address this situation and they come up with a number of corrective measures including booking a to-class act booked for concerts every Saturday night.

As word of this new Saturday night concert spreads, the number of people visiting the club quickly grows.

This brings about problems for the women of Kenthorpe because there are often not enough seats for them all as the club is a stickler for "Rule 57" which bars women from the much larger "Men's Only" room. The rule dates back to the time when the club was founded in 1932.

The brings about a rift between the women and their menfolk. The dispute brings about attention from the local media, but when the story gains the attention of the national press, things start to get even more difficult.

But then when they thought things couldn't get any worse, they did and in a devastating way that nobody could foresee.

As Rita May began her career as a singer in northern workingmen's clubs, the novel is a bird's eye view of a very real lifestyle.

The book is published by Matador at £7.99 and can be purchased at

You will have seen Rital May in a number of roles including films like The Gamekeeper, When Saturday Comes,  Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974. And TV roles in TV roles in
Play for Today (several roles) Fallen Hero, Coronation Street (several roles) Crown Court,
The Gathering Seed, Juliet Bravo, Mitch,  Edge of Darkness, Wish Me Luck, Doctors, (several roles) The Bill, and many more.

She has also written a number of stage plays.

1500 Hotel Nights

This is a described as a black comedy. Unfortunately every word of it is true!

In fact, it might well be subtitled "Analyse This!" as it is a factual book written by top analyst and seasoned business traveller Daniel Tabbush.

He spent four years of his life travelling for leisure and also for business as a business analyst receiving plaudits from and recognition for his work from organisations such as Bloomberg and Asia Money and he made regular appearances on CNBC and being published in the Wall Street Journal.

This is his second book.

As he spent 1500 nights in hotels all over the world he began to realise that it was a very frustrating experience. He observed that once a traveller makes a confirmation and pays for the hotel room, they are, in effect, hostages.

When a traveller finds a problem in their room, there is often no way out and also there is often a lack of honesty and truth. From the traveller! Who when asked often replies, untruthfully: "Oh, everything is fine, thank you."

Too often, David Tabbush noted that the "design characteristics" of hotels and restaurants are deeply flawed, often absurdly so. Even is some of the most luxurious establishments in the world.

There are bedframes that jut out and allow guests to bark their shins on sharp edges, light switches are haphazardly positioned in hot rooms,  air conditioning that thunders throughout the night, making restful sleep an impossibility.

Lighting is often designed for "romance" (sic) rather than to provide illumination, making reading or work almost impossible.

And why, he wonders, if a hotel provides a desk for the convenience of the guest, why is it often cluttered with booklets and folders on the hotel and its amenities, plus a variety of pamphlets and leaflets.

Wouldn't it be wonderful, he feels, if a hotel actually just provided a clean, uncluttered desk?

And another point of contention is a minibar that charges a guest for an item even if they merely took it out, read the label and put it back again.

This book is published by Matador at £9.99 and can br bought at

It should be required reading by every hotelier, restaurateur and designer in the world. And also every business traveller as it contains dozens of ideas that, if implemented, would mean that travellers would beat a path to their door.

Paradise Lost

350 years ago Milton wrote one of the most important works of the ages, Paradise Lost.

To help commemorate this vitally important anniversary, author Duncan Baxter decided to write "Paradise Lost - A Drama of Unintended Consequences."

From an early age Duncan Baxter has much admired the poetry of Milton.

In his book Duncan takes his readers on a journey through Paradise Lost, which was Milton's re-telling of the story within Genesis, telling the account of the Fall of Mankind, showing how Milton explored issues of spiritual yearning that face every generation of mankind.

Duncan employs contemporary and accessible language throughout, reaching out to general readers and students of theology and of the poetry of Milton, guiding them through the words, thoughts and ideas of Milton.

It is published by Matador at £9.99 and can be purchased at

Jackson King and the Morpher's Heart

Jackson King is just an ordinary boy. Actually, that's completely wrong, because Jackson King is unlike any other boy you could ever possibly be likely to meet.

He was born with a heart condition which means that he is always frail and is often sickly. As a result he is totally unable to be involved in playing any kinds of sports and he has difficulty making friends.

At 16 there comes a miracle, because Jackson becomes the recipient of a donated heart.

But the miracle is more powerful and more far reaching than he could ever have dreamt of.

Because with the new heart Jackson's life becomes totally changed, because the heart that he received  was a very special heart as it carries with it the special gift of the ability to morph.

Now, Jackson is a morpher. He joins a weird and mystical realm of other morphers as he learns how to use his new powers.

But there are a group of evil criminals who are seeking Jackson and who are hunting him down.

Why? Because he has something they desperately seek and they pledge that they will stop at nothing to wrest it from Jackson's grasp.

This is an interesting and well-written novel from Debbie Hood and will be of interest to readers of all ages.

It is published by the Book Guild at £8.99 and can be bought here

Shake Hands or Die

In his debut crime novel, Michael Northey brings his readers an interesting novel that touches on a wide range of modern issues, the Church, the power of the press and much more besides.

There's a new vicar at St Martha's church in the city of Hillford. Father John is viewed as an amiable eccentric who intends to modernise the church.

He employs a range of somewhat wacky gimmicks, which the parishioners  absolutely adore.

But there is one thing that he steadfastly refuses to do. He will not shake hands at the end of the services.

There is a fly in the ointment of the otherwise perfect city of Hillford. The local newspaper is playing host to Fred Vestal who is on loan to it from a London-based tabloid newspaper.

Vestal aims to shake the newspaper, and the city, up.

He attends a service at the church and watches a play performed by children which he takes exception to.

He interviews Father John and writes an article that is nothing but a vicious and undeserved excoriation of  the vicar.

At their next meeting Vestal attempts to get Father John to shake his hand, but he declines to do so.

A short while after this incident a body is found in the churchyard, covered in compost.

People want answers as to what has happened, none more so than the slightly unusual local police.

Who was the victim? Who is the killer? What is Vestal up to? What does Father John find to be so troublesome about shaking hands?

This is a well-written murder mystery novel which is published by Matador at £8.99. You can purchase it here