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Monday, 10 December 2018

That's Christmas: The Original Christmas Present

That's Christmas: The Original Christmas Present: The Original Christmas Present is a stunning a sumptuous Christmas book by Augustus Trembling. It is subtitled The Original Christmas Pres...

Monday, 26 November 2018

The Life of Sir Basil Brooke

The Life of Sir Basil Brooke tells the life story of a very extraordinary man, Sir Basil Brooke, written by Sam Logan.

His family originated in England and he was born in Ireland, into a family which had military service through its very DNA.

One of his relatives earned a VC and he himself had an amazing record during World War 1.

It was 1919 when he left the British army and took his bride back to his country estate in Ireland.

He became the County Commandant of the B Specials, in order to fight against the IRA in the area.

It was perhaps a natural progression for him to enter the world of politics and he entered Stormont in 1929, and in 1933 he was to become a member of Lord Craigavon's cabinet.

Comment in the book is made about the speech at about that time on The Twelfth that earned him no little amount of infamy, at least in some quarters. The author examines in great detail the reasons behind what some would view as Sir Basil's antipathy toward people of the Catholic faith and does go a long way to explain what may have been the root cause/

He worked tirelessly to ensure the victory of the Allies against the Axis forces, earning fulsome praise from Churchill himself. In fact Sir Basil became Prime Minister in Stormont in 1943.

The postwar peace brought him no little amount of concern, as he was very uneasy about the Labour government in Whitehall, even though the government did make some decisions that were of considerable benefit to Northern Ireland.

Eventually he was ennobled by Churchill, becoming Viscount Brookeborough of Colebrooke.

It is a very interesting book, but it might have benefited from the inclusion of some images, but this is only a minor point.

It is published by The Book Guild at £15.95 (hardback) and will make a very good Chirstmas present for those interested in the history of the British Isles.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

The Teenage Girls Survival Guide

The Teenage Girls Survival Guide is a fantastic new book from Jane Bradley who has, for a while, left off from being a top make-up artist to the stars, to produce this book.

She aims to use this book to reach girls about boys, being with them, break-up from them, and so forth.

They'll learn about how to deal with friendships and relationships, how to cope with the very real problem of bullying, what to do if a panic attack threatens, self-esteem and depression.

There's also advice on dressing yourself, fashion, how to deal with body problems from whiffy breath to whiffy bodies, make-up, periods, contraception, pregnancy, health issues, what to do or not to do when you go out, how to be 'streetwise', what to think about when faced with the possibilities of tattoos or body piercing, what to do should drugs make an appearance, etc.

There are also tips on dating, including on line dating and much more besides.

The book is aimed at teaching teenage girls how to survive and thrive during their teenage years, but it is written in a friendly, humorous and honest style.

It's available now and really should be in the top ten Christmas present list for the female teenager in your life.

It's in hardback from Matador and costs a very reasonable £15.99.

A Most Unladylike Occupation

A Most Unladylike Occupation is an absolutely brilliant and highly important book from Lisa Wright.

It details the life and times of Lucy Deane, who was one of the first female factory inspectors in Victorian Britain.

Lucy Deane was appointed to the role of Factory Inspector in 1983 by Herbert Asquith, when he was Home Secretary.

She was sent to inspect and issue reports on the condition of women workers in factories all over the British Isles.

Some of the male factory inspectors were upset and appalled by what they perceived as this encroachment by females on what they believed was a male only preserve.

Lucy had four other female Factory Inspector colleagues. There were no precedents for what they were doing and nor was any specialist training available.

Lucy's family, which was of a somewhat upper class, were in the main upset and horrified about what they considered as her "unladylike occupation."

Someone had given Lucy a very useful tip when she started her new role. They had advised her to keep her own private records on every aspect of her job, what she did, the people she met and interacted with.

She kept these notes in a total of 23 cheap exercise books. It was these notes made between 1893 to 1898 that form the basis for this biography of her life as as a female factory inspector.

Her notes cover her day-to-day working life, the factories she visited, her home life with her sister Hyacinth, the problems she had with keeping her bicycles from crashing, her travels to and from work and noting how, over time, how the opinions of her male colleagues changed toward her as they eventually realised what an  asset she was.

She was awarded a CBE for her efforts during World War 1 when she had the onerous task of organising the Women's Land Army.

There are also a collection of illustrations to accompany this remarkable biography.

It is published by The Book Guild at £9.99. This book will be of interest to anyone interested in Victorian history, feminist history, the early days of factory inspection or those who love a good biography. It'll make a fantastic Christmas gift.

A Journey With Brendan

A Journey With Brendan is a book by paediatrician Dr May Ng about her own personal account of life with her son Brendan who is autistic.

It's known that 1 in 60 children are somewhere on the autism spectrum.

Unfortunately in the UK there is a waiting period of anywhere between two years to 36 months for the condition to be diagnosed.

Many families of children on the autistic spectrum are bewildered by what is happening and are, understandably, desperate for help, advice and reassurance.

It is Dr Ng's hope and intention that her book will help to fill the very real gap that exists.

Based on her expertise and knowledge as an award-winning top paediatrician and her own personal experiences of raising her son, Brendan, May Ng offers readers a very helpful insight in to what it is like to  be the parent of a child on the autism spectrum, what resources are available to families and also offers some very welcome practical advice based on her own experiences.

She has tried many different forms of treatment, some mainstream, some alternative, and can offer her own tips as to what works and what doesn't work.

Thankfully, Brendan is, at 13, a happy boy and is in a school that is dedicated to teaching children who have autism.

The book is a must have for parents of children with autism, GPs, paediatricians and school teachers.

It is £8.99 and is published by The Book Guild.

The Veterinary Detectives A Vet in Peru

The Veterinary Detectives A Vet in Peru is an amazingly readable book from Roger S. Windsor.

You'll possibly have read his previous work, The Veterinary Detectives: More Sherlock Holmes Than James Herriot. Which your reviewer can also heartily recommend.

In this book we read of Roger's further adventures, this time in Peru.

It tells the story of how Roger came to be awarded a richly deserved MBE for his work as a vet in Peru, where he gathered together a team of young and highly motivated team of young Peruvian vets and how he encouraged them, under his skilled leadership, to create and establish a new veterinary service to assist farmers in an area which was the size of the whole of England.

Of course, nothing worthwhile is ever easy and the newly established team faces not only the challenges of attempting to create such a service under troubled economic circumstances, scepticism from officials in both Britain and Peru, there is also a very real threat from the Shining Path terror gang who are a threat to both the farmers and the members of the team of dedicated and highly motivated team of vets and their support workers.

However, against the odds, Roger and his team (not to mention his concert pianist wife, Maxine!) are able to succeed in achieving what they set out to achieve, to create and manage a service of benefit to farmers, animals and the country of Peru. A land which Roger came to admire and love.

The book is very well illustrated and will make a superb Christmas present for the animal lover and vet in your life.

It's published by The Book Guild in hardback at £16.95.

The Grumpy Gnome's Garden

The Grumpy Gnome's Garden is a delightful novel for children about a Gnome who is grumpy and who has a garden.

But! Into the life of the grumpy and sometimes lonely Gnome comes a Fairy Princess who has more than a touch of magic about her.

The Gnome is disappointed in his garden. He knows what he wants his garden to look like, he wants it to be a green paradise, the reality is that it is an overgrown mess and he hasn't the first idea of what  he can to to even start making it look better.

Fortunately for the Grumpy Gnome the Fairy Princess is a dab hand at gardening and when she comes to stay with him in his charming cottage she is able to help him to start to transform his messy garden into a garden to be proud of.

Whilst they are working on the garden they both benefit from learning about the changing of the seasons, the wonders of nature and the pure joys that a gardener can learn from growing their own plants.

Although this is a fun to read book for children and adults of all ages, it's also designed to help to introduce children to the pleasures and joys of gardening and it is wonderfully illustrated with some very colourful pictures. The author, Della Jayne Hayes has created a work of great charm and magic.

This book will make a great Christmas present and will be enjoyed as a book for sharing people children and adults.

It is published by Matador at £6.99.

Friday, 23 November 2018

A Stone Called Fred

A Stone Called Fred is a debut novel from author Sheila Locke, which is aimed at children and young adults.

Teenager Jack Watts is prone to jump to conclusions far, far too quickly.

One morning he finds something on the kitchen table of his family home which Jack decides looks like an explosive device of some kind.

Jack warns the rest of the family about his discovery. But the device isn't, after all, an explosive device. However, it is an object of considerable mystery that propels Jack into a world of unexpected adventures and a considerable amount of trouble.

Joe, Jack's neighbour who lives downstairs, is more prone to be sceptical about the whole story. He appears to have been proven correct, for the "explosive device" turns out to be a common stone, often found in gardens or on the beach.

However, Jack thinks differently. After all, didn't he, later that same day, have some strange experiences with an unusual visitor who Jack decided to name "Fred"?

Fiona is Jack's girlfriend who is a journalist. When she returns home from an assignment she becomes impressed by the apparent power that the stone exudes and she decides to convince the others that it would be an awfully good idea to spy on members of the Royal Family at a theatrical event. However, things do not go according to her cunning plan.

Eventually Jack and Fred travel backward through time and end up in the early 20th century.

This is a very well-written book and will be a must have for many Christmas stockings this year.

Apparently it took author S. M. Locke 12 years to write this book from when she first had the idea. It is to be hoped that he second book, and other subsequent books, do not take 12 years to finish because she has a unique and very readable style.

It is published by Matador at £7.99.

The Kung Fu Diaries the Life and Times of a Dragon Master (1920 - 2001)

The Kung Fu Diaries the Life and Times of a Dragon Master (1920 - 2001) is a book that will be of great interest to all serious students of the martial arts and Eastern philosophies.

It is based on the life story of the Dragon Master and was written by a most trusted student.

Not long before his death the Dragon Master of the ancient art of Shaolin Chan Kung Fu entrusted an archive of his private papers to the safekeeping of a most trusted and favoured student.

He left instructions with his student that he should use the papers to write a full account of his life and of the ideals and aims of the art that he had devoted his whole life to.

However, the student is shocked to learn that within the papers are diaries that contain personal information that shock and appal the student, he learns that the Dragon Master had an obsession that call the principles that he claimed to adhere to during his life into extreme doubt.

Can the student square the circle? Can he find a way to come to terms with the apparent inconsistency and contradictions between the ideals of the Dragon Master and the reality of what he actually did with his life, or at least the part of his life which he kept secret?

The book is written by Patrick Grant and whether or not it is a total fiction or based on the notes from the student it is a highly compelling read.

It is published by The Book Guild at £8.99.

An Ordinary Life...?

An Ordinary Life...? is an inspirational and uplifting memoir from Andrew Michael Doig.

Andrew is a spiritual healing medium and, through his book, he hopes to allow others to look into the world of spiritualism.

Andrew has visited many spiritualist centres throughout Britain and also in Sweden.

As a result he has participated in hundreds of seances and in many different groups.

He reveals how he made his first steps into spiritualism, how he was able to witness things that would defy so-called rational explanation, from mediumship to becoming involved in what he describes as rescue work.

He has developed his own skills such as clairvoyance and clairsentience and also enjoyed allowing spirits to use him to create psychic artworks.

It is a fascinating book and will make a superb Christmas gift for someone who is interested in spiritual matters.

It is published by Matador at £12.99.




Gathering Clouds

Gathering Clouds is the first part of the Nethergate Trilogy, which explores a tale of slavery and the American Civil War.

The Nethergate tobacco plantation is prepared for troubles as the rumbling threat of civil war becomes an ever present danger.

We meet a cast of disparate characters. There is Silas Killcaid, the Chief Overseer of slaves. He has a position of dominance at Nethergate, due to a combination of cruelty and cunning.

Due to the death of one master and the murder of another Killcaid increases his grip on the plantation, but even he cannot control the forces that threaten his position of power.

There's also the problem of the slave called Matthew Styles. He has a strong will and he is not the kind of man to accept his status as a slave. This earns him the hatred of Killcaid.

But new alliances are made and new relationships forged against the backdrop of the imminent civil war.

And when the civil war does come, Nethergate becomes a very dangerous place to be, with rebellion and murder.

Who will win? Killcaid or Styles?

Readers will be eager for the second parts of this trilogy.

It's published by The Book Guild at £8.99 and will make a great Christmas present.

English From Afar

In English From Afar experienced tutor and trainer Bruce Peterson, a graduate of the University of Wales, provides a fun and entertaining book that explores the various methods that readers can employ to learn English as a second language.

It is Bruce's contention that learning English is of vital importance because, internationally, English is the de facto language for international business contracts, international contract law and international contract arbitration.

Bruce also states that, after a couple of decades of living and working in Malaysia, he came to realise that a major problem is not the words that are used but in making meaning and sincerity clear.

He believes passionately that getting one's meaning over is of much greater importance than the words that are actually used.

In his book he explains that "sorry could you repeat that?" is the most important question any learner can be asked and should be nothing to be afraid of.

The book focuses on how one can make learning English as a second language a fun task. Whilst also striving to put the English language in context to give the reader a genuine insight into the complex and, sometimes, odd people that British people can be.

He points out in his book that there is no need for the teaching of languages to be the boring, painful trial that they so often are. And shows ways that teaching langues (in this case, specifically ESOL) can be made something that will be fun and, as pain free as possible.

This book will be of great value to any teacher of ESOL, any ESOL student and also ot any teacher or lecturer of English, because there is much of general value in this book.

It is published bu Matador at £12.99 and should be bought as library stock by any organisation that teaches English.

And it will make a great stocking filler for this Christmas.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Tales From an Old Hack

Tales From an Old Hack is a wonderful autobiography from journalist Barbara Fisher.

A teacher from Birmingham, she decided to change her career to that of a full time journalist in West London.

How did she make the transition from a teacher to a journalist? She had worked as a teacher in Ealing for a number of years, but she had written a weekly schools' page for the Uxbridge Gazette. An editor liked her work and suggested that she consider entering the world of journalism. Which she did. (Reviewer's note: A similar incident happened to your reviewer, which is why I made the switch to journalism, too.) 

Barbara spent the next couple of decades writing for the paper, eventually becoming Chief Reporter before becoming Deputy News Editor.

The book is a whirlwind of a read, taking in the mundane points of local newspaper journalism, but also covering weightier matters such as the death of Princess Diana, and with her photographer colleague, faced the wrath of the ever fickle British public.

There were other incidents including meeting Nelson Mandela, covering hostage situations, being thrown in at the deep end on her first week, by being tasked to find a front page story, no pressure, then?

There were human interest stories, meeting with some great characters (such as Screaming Lord Sutch) learning all about the vagaries of the new data protection laws, coping with people who had just received devastating news, receiving hairstyles from celebrity hairdressers, dealing with alleged spies.

It's a very good read from a highly skilled writer and it was a real pleasure to read. (However, as a fellow hack journalist and fellow Brummie, I may well be a little bit biased!) 

However, this book is a fantastic autobiography (complete with some relevant illustrations) and it is published by The Book Guild at £9.99.

It'll make a great Christmas present for the readers in your life.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Loving

Loving is a new collection of poems from Suffolk-based author Heather Goddin.

The poems in this collection are all about the many different facets of love.

There's romantic love, love which is tinged by tragedy, of loss, of the mundane, the different and the quirky and poems of joy and of healing.

Although all from the same poet, the poems are in a range of vastly different voices, from poems of love lost, love found, love regained or not regained.

At £8.99 (published by Matador) this is an ideal introduction to the world of poetry and poems and it will make a very good Christmas stocking filler.

Out of Mecklenburg

Out of Mecklenburg is a spy novel with a difference. The author, James Remmer, has a three decade career in the investigative field of the security and intelligence field, experiences which he has skilfully employed in the writing of his novel.

It's more than 'just' a spy novel, as it interweaves adventure, elements of the thriller novel, heroism, romance, suspense and with a hint of political intrigue to make an extremely fulfilling read.

Carl von Menen has it all, or so it appears. Handsome, suave, wealthy, aristocratic and a high flying member of the German Foreign Office. All perfectly normal for a man of his calibre. All except for the fact that he has an utter hatred of Adolph Hitler and longs to assassinate him.

His longing for a Germany free from Hitler and his Nazi government seems to him to be an impossible dream. However, things might change from von Menen, when he is suddenly given an assignment in Argentina. The Nazis are interested in the rise to prominence in Argentina of the United Officers Group (OGU) a pro Nazi faction of the Argentinian military, under the guidance of Juan Domingo Peron.

But when he arrives in Buenos Aires, von Menen finds himself rapidly sucked into a vortex of deceit, treachery and the threat of revolution.

He meets with the apparently helpful and obliging Colonel Filipe Vidal. But what game is Vidal playing? Can he be trusted or does he have an agenda of his own, is he plotting to take the country for himself?

If so, can he trick von Menen into helping him with a honey trap?

Managing to scheme his return to Europe, von Menen is horrified to find his beloved Berlin in utter ruination and that the Gestapo are everywhere, even whilst the pitiless Red Army are closing in on the capital city of Germany.

Von Menen seeks vengeance and, at great personal risk, he works to convince the desperate Nazi leadership that Colonel Vidal can offer them a pro-Nazi deal that could save them.

All it requires is a daring robbery of the Reichsbank, a secret and highly dangerous submarine journey from Germany to Argentina and some unfinished business back in Buenos Aires.

Can von Menen succeed? Can he even survive?

At £9.99 this is an excellent adventure novel published by Matador.

A Hedgehog Story Hedgehog Queen

A Hedgehog Story Hedgehog Queen is an absolutely charming debut novel (and the first in a planned series) of the adventures of hedgehogs with some gorgeous hand-drawn illustrations.

The book, written by David Hills, is aimed at children aged 5 to 7.

It begins with a hedgehog called Hamish, awaking from his winter hibernation. He has tow goals. To have some fun, playing and to seek out 'the chosen one.'

A little boy called Alistair finds Hamish in his back garden. They soon become fast friends and set out on a range of adventures and Alistair learns a great deal about the lifestyle of hedgehogs, including an invitation ot a very special secret hedgehog party.

And Alistair is granted the privilege if an audience with the Queen of the Hedgehogs. And the Queen gives Alistair a very special award. Which you will be able ot find out about when you read this delightful book.

It is published by The Book Guild at £6.99 and it's a must buy Christmas gift.












































A Monster's Tale

A Monster's Tale is the story of Brett Kelso. Brett is 32. He is quite a rarity in his community. He is an honest man who does an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. Although his job in the care industry is poorly paid and he lives from pay-day to pay-day, even though some of the wouldbe gangsters in his town never seem to be short of a bob or two.

His life is beset by stresses form both his work life and his personal life. His loving bond with his sister Maria is the one thing in his life that brings him joy and comfort. But Brett wishes that her boyfriend was not the abusive jerk that he is.

Brett is also bedevilled by his relationship with his ex-girlfriend, Lisa. They share the responsibility for raising their daughter (who is only four)  but it is Brett's worry that Lisa is more fond of being a good time party girl rather than a mother to their child.

To make matters worse a local bully decides that he is going to goad Brett in public, trying to deliberate humiliate him informant of an ex-girlfriend in the public setting of a local public house.

Brett, somehow, keeps his cool. After all, he has his daughter to think about.

But what if the circumstances changed? What would happen then? What if a situation arose where the tables were turned and Brett decided that he was not going to take any more nonsense from bullies? Or, at least, one particular bully?

What if he were to metamorphose from a bullied care worker into an extremely dangerous nemesis?

After all, if you bully a man who has nothing to lose, what can you, actually, expect him to do?

This is an extremely well-written novel from Kelso Simon, it's gritty and gripping an although a fictional story it does carry the ring of truth.

It's published by The Book Guild at £8.99 and will make a super Christmas present for those who like gritty, slice of life novels.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Hand made model circus to go up for auction

A unique, miniature circus featuring hand-crafted, moving figures has been rescued from a field in South Devon.

Silvers Model Circus took its creator David Hardie and his family almost 50 years to lovingly construct.

David Hardie was apprenticed to his family’s tent-making business in Sydney, Australia, and he began constructing the first part of the circus back in 1931 when he was only seventeen years of age.

Eventually David moved to the UK and with help from members of his family, they extended the circus down through the years.

It first went on public display back in 1982, after which event it toured the UK.

In 1984 it formed the centrepiece of the Christmas display in Cheltenham and was officially opened by Earl Spencer,Princess Diana's father.

The entire model is powered by a single engine. The circus is operated by a complex system of belts and pulleys all linked o a single drive-shaft.

Each item of the model was hand-crafted and is to 1:24 scale.

After David Hardie’s death in 2002, the model was stored in a variety of locations until, finally, it ended up in a storage container on a piece of wasteland next to a riding stable.

In 2017, Lucy Townsend, Hardie’s grand-daughter began researching the model and learned where it was.

Lucy said: “I persuaded my mother and uncle to take me to look at the model and see whether it was still in a condition that could be saved."

“When I first saw the container, my heart sank as it was half-buried by the dung from the stables but, eventually, we reached the boxes containing the model.

“Miraculously, much of the model was still in good condition and after months of cleaning and renovating, the circus has been restored to its former glory.”

The family have decided that they would rather see the model go to a new home than return to its container so it is going to be auctioned in London by Roseberys on 22nd November.

https://www.roseberys.co.uk/craft-tradition/news-silvers-model-circus/

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

A Journey Through South-East England

A Journey Through South-East England is exactly as the title says. You can follow along with author Brian J. Rance as he takes a walking tour through South East England.

It's a fair old trek you'll be sharing with him, about 125 miles worth, from Broadstairs all the way along to Lewes.

This book is a successor volume to his two previous works Finding My Place and Walking My Patch. Combining the three books together you'll cover  a very respectable 1,000+ miles of the countryside of Kent and East Susses.

The book is very sensibly broken down into four distinct chapters starting with Broadstairs to Canterbury, then Canterbury to Bethersden, Bethersden to Bexhill and the final leg of the journey, the walk from Bexhill to Lewes.

It's much more than a "mere" walking book. It's a travelogue, yes, but it also contains some of his original poetry pieces that are all inspired by particular aspects and features of his walking travels.

There are also highly detailed and well coloured walking maps (a curious omission in some walking guides, it has to be acknowledged) and there are some nice photographs taken by the author.

There's also a fund of interesting anecdotes and tales that he collected on his travels.

This well-researched and well-written book will be a welcome addition in the knapsack of anyone who is interested in walking and it will make an excellent Christmas gift for the walker in your life.

It is published by The Book Guild at £14.95.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Magnus and the Jewelled Book of the Universe

In Magnus and the Jewelled Book of the Universe, a book by S. L. Browne, readers will meet Magnus.

The planet Earth is overheated and dying. He is taken from the Earth by Marlo, who is his mentor.

But! Magnus discovers that all was not quite as he had thought.

For Magnus is not a human from the planet Earth. In reality he is a member of a race called the Guardians of the Universe who are not only from a different planet, they are actually from a different dimension.

Wizardly Marlo is being hard on himself as he feels somewhat responsible for the fact that Murdamond was able to destroy the Earth, because Murdamond cannot resist taking anything that looks beautiful and shiny.

When they arrive at the village of Deruweld, Magnus finds that humans haven't evolved just yet and that dinosaurs are still roaming round the countryside.

To make matters more complicated Murdamond has already arrived and he has captured Magnus' parents and is holding them imprisoned in the dungeon of his new castle.

Magnus realises that he must use all of his powers and wisdom to defeat Murdamond. With the help of Marlo, some friendly dinosaurs and the Jewelled Book of the Universe. Even though it thought it might be helpful if it decided to change itself into the shape of a girl.

This is the first book in a trilogy about Magnus and his friends and will make a great Christmas present for children aged 7 to 9.

It is published by Matador at £6.99.

Surrogacy: Our Family's Journey

Surrogacy: Our Family's Journey is a very moving and very personal account of one family's story regarding surrogacy.

It starts with the initial thoughts about the possibilities of surrogacy and then proceeds through the decision to employ a surrogate to help create a family.

This is the story of James Phillips, from a single man, then as part of a same-sex couple and then onward to the story of how he met and fell in love with Krzysztof part way through the process and how they work together to create a family with the help pf a surrogate in Bangkok, and how they manage to deal with international red tape and navigate a variety of obstacles from the health of the surrogate to a bewildering array of rules and regulations.

And what happens when it is revealed there is not one baby on the way, but two, as they will be having twins!

This is an interesting at heartwarming book which will be of use to anyone who is interested in the field of surrogacy.

It is published by Matador at £11.99.

What's Left Unsaid

What's Left Unsaid is a fascinating novel from Deborah Stone.

Throughout the novel Deborah takes her readers on a journey through the lives of a range of highly interesting people who are all, in one way or another, deeply damaged or disturbed in one way or another.

There's Sasha who is doing her best to keep her life together. She is raising her teenage son Zac. Although she isn't a single parent, she might as well be, as her husband is absent.

Then there's the problems presented by her elderly mother who is not only temperamental, her alcoholism also compounds the problems she presents.

But why has Zac destroyed a pair of scissors as he attempted to break in to a valuable antique desk which he has caused terrible damage to?

What was he searching for? What dreadful secrets does he believe that his mother is keeping hidden from him?

And what about Sasha? Does she have a dark secret from her past that she needs to keep hidden?

Her mother, Annie, is beginning to have problems with the past and the present, as they seem to coalesce together. What is true? What is untrue? Annie doesn't seem to know, any more.

She is certain of one thing. That Joe, her late husband, is waiting for her and watching over her. But is he? And what of a dreadful secret that she kept from Joe? How can she go to him with that on her conscience?

It's an interesting novel that takes the reader through the history of Sasha's family over several decades.

Old traumas are revealed and relived and once hidden secrets are brought to the surface, again.

It's published by Matador at £9.99.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Monday, 5 November 2018

Badger and Crab's Adventure

Badger and Crab's Adventure is a fantastic new children's book from Catherine Trimby.

It's aimed at children from ages 7 to 9 years old and it tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a badger and a crab and the amazing adventures that they enjoy together.

Badgers in the UK are under threat due to a campaign to cull them to stop bovine tuberculosis.

Badger finds himself a long way away from his normal night time feeding area. He is hungry and finds himself searching for food on a beach at high tide.

However, he hears someone calling for help. He doesn't want to abandon his search for food, he is very hungry, but he is a decent person and decides to halt his search for food to try to find the person who is crying out for help.

He finds a crab trapped under a rock and has a hard time in freeing him.

Crab later overhears a conversation between two moonfaces plotting an attack on a badger's sett that is not far away.

Crab realises that the badger who saved his life could be in danger, so Crab sets off to try to save his new friend.

Can he succeed?

This is a well written book that contains clear environmental messages in a fashion that is understandable by children.

It is well illustrated by Carol Davies and will make a super Christmas gift. It is published by Matador at £7.99.

Monday, 22 October 2018

The Snow Foresters

The Snow Foresters are a set of 20 new ghost stories from the pen of David Phelps, who is a traditional storyteller.

They are all set in the Welsh Marches and, although newly written, the stories are all based on ancient folk stories from the area.

There are the deathly cold Snow Foresters, a problem with some unwanted guests and what happened when the Goddess Sekhmet became involved in the life of a somewhat prideful Methodist minister.

There's the dreadful story of what happens when a body is not treated with respect, the luck (bad or good) that comes with the discovery of a lost golden sovereign, the correct method of dealing with ghosts.

Plus there is the tale of the sin-eater and the Cwn Annwn, the spectral hounds of Annwn and what happened to a boy named Posthumous when he meets them when he was stealing firewood from a Lord's own forest.

It is perfectly clear that David Phelps has a deep understanding and an even deeper love of the folk tales of the Welsh Marches and the peoples thereof.

Each story is perfectly illustrated with a well-chosen line drawing from Veronique Avon.

The book is published by Matador at £7.50.

It's an ideal Christmas present for lovers of traditional folktales.

You can learn more about David Phelps at www.davidphelpswrites.co.uk
and about Veronique Avon at www.atelierveronique.co.uk



Galleon

Galleon is a debut steampunk novel from Ruby Smith.

It takes place in Gallow which is in a word called Eera. The populous is facing a time of great change.

No more so than in the capital city of Cerrano. Cerrano is an amazing place, peopled largely by immigrants and inventors.

There are some people there who do not have any magical abilities and they are starting to wonder about their lowly status in society. They are beginning to question the fairness of their situation.

Ruby examines the situation by using the lens of three key protagonists, Lara Key who as a Greycoat cadet has been trained all of her life to be a perfect officer, but finds that, after all, perhaps that's not what she wants.

There's Watterson Teach, who is the joint leader of the highly influential Steam Syndicate who is the father to Evie a liberationist agitator. Teach finds himself facing difficulties after the death of his business partner.

There is Ridley Ripley who is a Shadow, a member of a very distinct and intriguing race of people from the far north of the planet.

It's a novel of soaring themes, of love, of hatred and of loss.

I believe Ruby Smith is a name we will be hearing more of in the future.

It's published by Matador at £7.99.
 


Saturday, 20 October 2018

Human Resource Alignment

In his book Human Resource Alignment human resources guru Stephen M Flynn offers his readers a highly useful, practical advice on how to configure a more commercially viable HR strategy.

Nearly two decades ago when he was first appointed to work as an HR director, Stephen M Flynn was faced by a challenge. He had to devise a completely new Human Resources strategy for his employer which would work with and support the organisation's business plans.

All he needed to do, he thought, was to find the books that would help him by telling him what he needed to do. Unfortunately he discovered that, 18 years ago, there was no practical guidebooks on the market that would be able to help him.

But that was then, this is now. And now, based on Stephen's 18 years of hard-won personal and practical experience,  such a book now exists.

Stephen has noticed that many organisation's strategies are expressed solely in marketing or financial terms. In some cases, they don't even have a strategy. This means that there are problems with translating this into the plan of the HR department.

This books offers practical advice to HR practitioners and professionals to assist them in creating a HR plan that meshes in with the organisation's business strategy.

He offers several new concepts, including that of "organisational maturity" by which means the HR department and the organisation can translate the strategy of the business inot HR practice.

Readers will be shown how they can identify their organisation's current level of maturity from the pattern of work practices that are evident in their own organisation.

Readers are then guided in various techniques of  how to choose suitable PR practices that align with what Stephen describes as: "the organisation's maturity level."

At the end of the book readers will learn how to structure their HR department in such a way as they will be able to deliver the newly-minted HR plan/

This is a highly practical HR guide book by a 36 year veteran in the field, the last two decades at Senior HR Director level.

The book is published by Matador at £14.99.

Rinsed

After finishing work early for once, a young lady leaves her central London workplace as she heads home for a lovely evening with her family.

Only she never made it. Three hooded figures attack her and soon she is lying dead as thje attackers make good their escape into the rush hour traffic.

The case is presented to DCI Colm Elliot. He realises that he knew the murder victim from a previous case that he worked on.

That case had been something of a puzzler as it had set off a series of bewildering events that had threatened the lives of many people.

So, are the two cases related? And if so, how?

With people confessing to murders that they thought they'd committed (and probably had) and a whole range of various acts of violence, betrayal, revenge and death, this is not going to be an easy case for the softly-spoken Ulsterman to solve. If he can!

This book is published by The Book Guild at £9.99.

Unauthorised Action

Unauthorised Action is the final instalment in the thriller series from Alan Hunt.

In the aftermath of devastating terror attacks in London the Foreign Office is shaken to the core by the murder of Kate Thomas, an attractive young diplomat.

Adam White, a fellow diplomat, is immediately suspected of the murder. But his fiancee, Alison, firmly believes in his innocence and sets out to find the proof to clear his name.

But Adam discovers an apparently impenetrable wall of secrecy from Foreign Office officials who are, apparently,  enmeshed in a highly secret covert operation.

Acting on his own in direct defiance of his bosses, Adam follows a lead to Madrid. And he is certain that he knows the identity of the man who he believes killed Kate.

Then other people start to fall victim to the killer as he makes preparations for a truly outrageous hit in London.

Can Adam work out who the intended target it? Can he save the victim before they are assassinated? But who, exactly, can Adam trust? Is their a traitor at the very heart of the British establishment? And if there is, can Adam thwart the killer and the traitor?

This book is published by Matador at £7.99.

Red Snow

Red Snow is a debut mystery novel from Larraine Susan Harrison for young readers which also touches on contemporary issues.

Megan is 12 years of age. She was convinced that she had all the details of what caused the death of her mother. But Megan was wrong. Very wrong indeed. There was a great deal about the death of her mother that she did not know.

She finds herself facing a veritable spider's web of lies, obfuscation and outright deceit from the very people who she should have been able to trust. Her own family.

She finds herself excluded by her classmates at school and so she decides to befriend her new neighbour, Ryan.

But is Ryan all that he appears to be? Because Ryan is hiding something, something that is potentially a dangerous secret within the local woods. He has discovered some blood on the snow besides an old watchtower. And Megan begins to be drawn into a situation that she'd rather not be a part of.

The two are rescued from danger by a woman called Irene who seems interesting and mysterious to Megan. Her father, who she is the carer for, slips even deeper into depression and forbids her from seeing Irene again. But why? What is happening? Can Megan get to the bottom of the mystery?

After a burglary attempt that failed and an intruder in the garden of Ryan's house, truths suddenly start to bubble to the surface.

But what does it all mean to Megan? Will she find out the truth of what happened to her mother?

This book is published by Matador at £7.99.


The Cats of Butterwick Sands

In Gabriella Thomas' The Cats of Butterwick Sands readers will meet with the cats of Butterwick Sands.

The cats are lead by a very special cat called Percy. Percy is very clever, very dignified and also very popular in the small seaside resort town of Butterwick Sands.

Sadly, Butterwick Sands had seen better days and it is now a little bit tired and in need of some Tender Loving Care or TLC as it is also known.

You'll meet a whole range of cats in this book. Some are brave, some not very brave, some nice, some who are not as nice as they mother would have liked, some are funny, some a bit more serious.

You'll meet the cats in a series of stories which all culminate in all of the cats, under the leadership of Percy, working together to restore the town's caravan park and its once bustling funfair.

The stories are all illustrated with charming line drawings from Ena Hodzic.

These stories are ideal for children and parents or grandparents to read together. And will make a super Christmas present.


It is published by The Book Guild at £7.99.

The Conquistador's Horse

The Conquistador's Horse is a story for children written by author Barry Cole.

It is set in North America during the years 1540 to 1550.

It tells the fictionalised account of historical events surrounding the events that brought horses to the American native tribes.

A Cheyenne hunting party with Tall Bull are crossing the Arkansas river, they are taking something of a risk, for they are entering the hunting ground of their enemies to hunt for some buffalo.

However, other men are crossing the same river, fierce warriors armed with bow and arrows, war-clubs and spears. They are wearing war paint. They were a war party from the Pawnee nation making their return journey to their home village after they had made an attack on the Sioux, their bitter enemies.

However, those two groups were not the only ones to cross the river. There were men of pale skin who were riding on horseback. They, too, were armed. But they were armed with swords and muskets. These were a group of Spanish Conquistadors, searching for a city of gold, Quivira.

The three disparate groups eventually met and Tall Bull would come across an amazing animal, the likes of which he had never seen.

These animals infiltrated his mind, inhabiting his dreams. They would change not only Tall Bull's life, but the lives of generations of his people to come. He had seen his first horses.

This is a very well researched and equally well written book aimed at children from ages 10 to 14.

It is published by Matador at £6.99.

Incidentally the author has also included an extra bonus story "The Birth of the Wolf Clan."

Rift Wars The Entity Within

Rift Wars the Entity Within is a science fiction debut novel from Nitin Suneja which is aimed at a young adult audience.

It tells the stroy of Jon Farrell who, at the age of 15, has to flee the ruins of the Roman catacombs. Unfortunately for Jon and his parents, his parents did not survive.

When he reaches the surface he discovers that the entire ancient cit of Rome, which he was visiting with his parents, has been devastated.

Eventually Jon finds his way to a military base and finds to his horror that the attack has been planet-wide and that only a small fraction of the human race was able to survive the attack.

As Jon discovers more about the attack from a highly technologically advanced alien race, he realises that he must do what he can to fight against the enemy.

Those in charge feel it is likely that another attack is imminent. However, is it possible that, by providing humanity with a common enemy, that the aliens have proved themselves vulnerable by their blunder?

Earth is not the only planet that was attacked by the enemy and other races visit the Earth in order to work together to provide a common defence against the attackers.

Humanity receives body armour, amazing weaponry and medical drugs to provide longer lives. And they take up the fight with the common enemy and become involved with the Rift Wars.

It's an extremely well written novel which is modern day Space Opera at its best.

It's published by The Book Guild at £9.49.   

The Horsekeeper's Daughter

The Horsekeeper's Daughter Is the true and absolutely amazing account of the life story of one 19th century woman's journey from a mining village in County Durham to the rainforest's of Queensland, Australia.

Sarah Marshall left her pit village during the wintertime of 1886.

She bravely used the Single Female Migrant Scheme to emigrate to Australia.

A battered and very elderly attache case has come into the possession of the author of this book, Jane Gulliford Lowes.

It had been the property of her Auntie Edie. Edie was not a familial aunt, she was one of that class of elderly female friends who had bestowed upon the the honorific title of aunt or auntie.

One day, Jane began to make a serious study of the contents of the case. And what she found was an astonishing story of bravery, courage and adventure starting in the 1880s in County Durham and into the 20th century in Australia and back to County Durham and Aunt Edie.

Although Jane points out that her book is not an academic work, I can confirm that it is very well researched and incredibly well written. It is laos well illustrated with historical and contemporary photographs.

It tells the story of Sarah Marshall, her marriage and of her family in Australia and also in County Durham.

The book is published by Matador at £8.99 and is a must have books for all students of social history.

Sleeping Through War

Sleeping Through War  is a novel from Jackie Carreira.

It is set in the year 1968. 1968 was a time of great political upheaval. The Vietnam War was raging, students were rioting, nuclear bomb test were commonplace, civil rights were being fought for.

Everywhere it seemed to be a highly volatile year, 1968.

But life for the vast majority of people had to continue as normal. As it always does.

There's Rose, a nurse living in London, Amalia who dearly hopes her son can get out of the life they live in Portugal and then there is Mrs Johnson who lives in Washington DC, who writes letter after letter to her son who is serving in Vietnam.

Like so-called ordinary people do, they do their best to live normal lives, with quiet dignity and a remarkable degree of bravery and courage.

It's an incredibly moving book that will bring smiles and some tears to those who are fortunate enough to read it.

It's published by Matador at £8.99.

The Man Who Lived Twice

Although this is a fictionalised account, the man featured in The Man Who Lived Twice written by David Taylor, Colonel George S Leger Grenfell, was very very real 19th century military figure.

Of Cornish extraction, he was an extremely brave soldier of fortune who fought on four different continents before emigrating to America to fight on the side of the Confederate forces.

He rode with the infamous Morgan's Raiders and was involved in a plot to create a Northern Confederation, for which he was arrested as a spy and sentenced to hang.

The intervention of the British government had his sentence commuted to life imprisonment at the Dry Tortugas prison where he was subjected to an incredibly brutal regime of what can only be described as torture, even though by that time he was in his early 60s.

His cell companion was the unfortunate Dr Samuel Mudd, jailed for his alleged part in the Lincoln assassination  plot.

But no matter how brutal the guards, Dr Mudd and Grenfell worked hard to save them from a Yellow Fever epidemic, which showed the mettle of both men.

After the epidemic Grenfell escaped from the prison in an open boat, never to be heard from again. The authorities presumed that he and his fellow escapees had drowned in the attempt.

But David Taylor wonders about what might have happened.

Grenfell was both incredibly brave, but also incredibly flawed. A wanted criminal and a fraudster, it's felt his desire for military glory was an attempt to atone for his earlier life of crime.

It's a powerful and well-written book which students of 19th century military history will be keen to own.

It is published by Matador at £7.99.


Sir Sam Fay Railway Manager Elite

Sir Sam Fay Railway Manager Elite This is the first ever full-length biography of one of the greatest ever rail managers of all time.

Sir Sam Fay's start in life was not, as one might have expected, in an industrial setting. He was born in rural Hampshire in 1856.

He started his working life with the London and South Western Railway. From humble, clerkly status, he swiftly rose through the ranks, becoming the General Manager of the new Manchester to London Great Central Railway in 1902.

During the Great War from 1916 to 1919. Sir Sam Fay had the onerous task of managing not only the rail system of the UK, but also roads and inland waterways.

He was responsible for the movement and transportation of troops, military supplies and ammunition. And also for ensuring that wounded troops were brought back to the UK for treatment and convalescent care.

He became involved with government ministers, senior politicians, top civil servants and generals, all of whom became reliant on him for his transportational expertise.

The book contains many interesting facts about Sir Sam Fay including that he was a well-read young man, that even after his Knighthood he still preferred to be known as Sam and that he was often mistaken, by his mode of speech, for a gentleman from America.

He explained this by pointing out that he spoke with a Hampshire accent and that the American accent was based on the Hampshire dialect which had travelled to America with early migrants from Poole Harbour and Buckler's Hard.

 In this biography John Neville Greaves has produced a most excellent biography of this eminent railway manager, which is a must have book for all railway enthusiasts and students of social history.

It is also conspicuously illustrated throughout and is an absolute bargain at £12.99, published by The Book Guild.

Looking for an ideal Christmas present for the railway enthusiast in your life? This is it!

Emotional Sandwiches

Emotional Sandwiches is a new self-help book from trained holistic therapist Sarah Ashley Neil.

Everyone of us is being encouraged to look within for the answers. And these answers, or so we are told, will then solve our dilemmas and problems.

That sounds great. But is it actually true? And if true, is it true for everyone?

Sarah asks her readers, instead, to explore their relationships with words. Because she argues that when we do this, the answers we require and need will slow bubble to the surface.

This book, the first part of a new series of self-help guidebooks, will introduce readers to the concept and character's of Sarah's brand, Emotional Sandwiches.

In her book Sarah employs humour and fictional characters to bring to the fore some very relevant non-fiction ideas.

Although deliberately designed to be humorous and entertaining the book does have a very serious underlying purpose. One of which is to prove to readers that although self-reflection can be great fun, it should not be spoiled by endless self-analysis.

There's a warning on the book's cover: "All fillings contain perspectives."

Sarah hopes that if you read this book that you will be able to learn something about how they communicate with not only other people but also how they communicate with themselves. The ability to properly communicate with ones own self is an interesting idea and one that, hopefully, will gain traction.

The book is published by Matador at £9.99.

Baby Daze

Poet Sarah Davis has decided to share with us, the reading public, her experiences as a young mother in her debut collection of poems Baby Daze.

Mums and Dads will find this book of poems to be very relatable indeed!

All aspects of pregnancy, childbirth and baby's early days are covered in these poems which are thoughtful, humorous and heartwarming.

The early scan (see the little heart beating?) the waiting period with baby clothes ready and the maternity hospital bag packed and waiting, the surprise of a premature birth, the birth itself, the post natal period, the emotions faced by both parents when a longed for baby is finally born, night feeds and day feeds, chatting to other new mothers, and those who have been through it before on the maternity ward.

The proud homecoming of mother and baby, health visitors, grandparents, the problems of milk (human, that is to say) the problems of 'baby brain' and of sleep deprivation, going out with baby, staying in with baby, going out without baby (dad's with him, it'll be fine!) bath time for babies and why dad really should wear an apron at bath time (you'll read about that on page 32!) and baby's first attempts to communicate.

You'll read all about these in this remarkable collection of poems.

In the opinion of this reviewer this book should be bought by every maternity hospital and Health Authority in the UK and issued to every doctor, gynaecologist, midwife, doctors's receptionist and new mother and father to be!

It is published by The Book Guild at £7.99.

To order multiple copies of this book visit https://www.bookguild.co.uk/.

Clash of Kings

Clash of Kings is a new historical Viking adventure novel from the pen of author Peter Wilks.

It is the eight book that he has published with Matador, but trhe difference is that unlike his other novels, this one is not aimed at thew younger audience.

This novel is a drama filled exciting adventure novel set during the times when Viking warriors were the terror of Western Europe.

The novel opens on the morning of 8th June, 793AD. From the mist a whole fleet of Viking longships are powerfully moving toward the famed religious community on the island of Lindisfarne. 

The Viking warriors beach their ships and with swords and battle axes tightly gripped, ready for action. they run toward the monastery, smash their way in and leave a trail of blood and destruction as they murder the defenceless monks, destroy buildings and altars, steal the holly treasures and enslave those they do not kill or capture and remove them in chains.

Who was behind this attack? Jarl Magnusson, otherwise known as the Red Plague.

However, whilst he was organising acts of plunder to help him create a powerful empire, he had failed to notice that other Vikings are also looking for plunder and the glory of building an empire.

One of these is a fellow Viking nobleman called Sigvald Foeslayer who is jealous of the Red Plague's successes and who coverts what he owns, including his massive fleet of longships. 

The Red Plague has underestimated how dangerous Foeslayer is to his fleet, his Norwegian territories and his own family.

Eventually he identifies the challenge that Foesleyer presents him with and he decides to take action against him.

But is he too late? Can he defeat his rival's allies? Can he kill Foeslayer? Or will Foeslayer be victorious in this blood soaked novel about rivalry between Viking clan chiefs?

The book is based on detailed research on what it was really like to be a Viking and it is very well written and exciting adventure novel.

The good news is that it is the first in a series of Viking chronicles from Peter Wilks.

It is published by Matador at £8.99.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Spider Zero Seven

Spider Zero Seven is Mike Borlace's own very personal memoirs of life as a combat helicopter pilor with the Rhodesian Defence Force during that country's civil war during the 1970s.

Although small, the RDF was a highly professional army and, as he points out, helicopters played a very important role in the operations of the RDF whilst fighting against Communist backed guerrilla forces such as those of Robert Mugabe.

An experienced helicopter pilot with training from the RAF and the Royal Navy, Mike was an operational commando helicopter pilot and special forces soldier.

In 1974 he was recruited to join the Rhodesian Air Force and although he was initially expected to pilot Hawker Hunter planes, his experience as a combat helicopter pilot saw him moved over to 7 (Helicopter) Squadron which was becoming very heavily enmeshed in the war against terrorists, meaning they were desperate for trained helicopter pilots.

He served with  the squadron for exactly 1,096 days, of which a total of 793 were on active combat missions.

327 of these days was as the pilot of helicopter gunships, and a fireforce commander. During which he had 149 enemy contacts. He also undertook many casualty evacuations (casevacs) and also nearly 100 operations involving the Rhodesian SAS, the Selous Scouts and the Rhodesian Light Infantry Commandos on cross-border raids.

He was shot down five times and received wounds twice and was presented with the Silver Cross.

After he left the Rhodesian Air Force in 1978 he joined the crack and top secret Selous Scouts special forces unit.

After being kidnapped whilst working as an undercover operative in Zambia he was subjected to such a brutal regime of torture that the High Court of Zambia was 'horrified' by what he had undergone, so released him, only for the government to immediately re-arrest him.

Eventually he was released and deported to London.

In 1982 he began a new career as a private military adviser to various Western-backed allies, globally. Some of the enemies he helped deal with, such as the Sierra Leone Revolutionary United Front, were committing unspeakable atrocities against children and civilians.

The book is written in a warm and humorous tone, but it pulls no punches whatsoever and is one heck of an action-packed, exciting read.

It really does belong on the bookshelf of any self-respecting student of military history.

It is published by Matador at £12.99.

Far Far the Mountain Peak a Bumpy Journey

Far Far the Mountain Peak a Bumpy Journey is a new novel from Arthur Clifford. Long time readers of this review emporium will recall Arthur's previous novel Far Far the Mountain Peak which introduced us to John Denby.

We left John as he was coming to terms with his adolescence in the 1980s.

We pick up John's story when John is now attending a private school. Like many people John has struggles with life. He is mystified, to coin a phrase, by his sexuality and this, in part, might be a reason why he seems to have problems with his relationships.

John's desperate to be accepted by his circle of friends, but he seems to sense that he needs to keep some sort of distance from them, for fear of exposing his true inner self to them.

He fears, justifiably or not, you must decide, that some of the people who he should be able to rely on for support might not, after all, always have his best interests at heart.

John's life is, as usual, a little bit too interesting for his own good and after an incident takes place that unsettles him, he decides to set off on a big adventure.

Because this, he feels, will help him make something of his life, help him to become more self aware and more knowledgeable about the big, wide world and also himself.

But, of course, this is all a backdrop, of a sort, for his beloved mountaineering.

This is, of course, only a little further along the long and winding mountain path that is John's life. Let's stick around for the rest of the journey!

It's published by The Book Guild at £8.99.

The Folded Notes

The Folded Notes is an historical romance set in the 19th century.

Catherine Rose is an Englishwoman who is travelling with her mother to India to meet her father who is working at Punjab University.

However, fate intervenes and she meets a newly qualified Sikh engineer called Kharak, who works for the Indian Railways.

They fall in love with each other, but will destiny, in the shape of her father and a colonial engineer by the name of Ivan, conspire against the lovers?

They are separated, but they meet again in Mombasa because Catherine has followed her lover there.

But they have been followed by others who have evil on their minds.

Who will win? Who will lose?

I will not give the story away, but I can recommend this book as a truly breathtaking historical romance.

It is published by Matador at £9.99.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Brutal Terminations

Brutal Terminations is a new mystery novel from Cherith Baldry.

A team of workmen who are digging the foundations for an extension to the library at St Clement's College, Oxford, are shocked when they stumble upon the skeletal remains of a woman.

Gawaine St Clair is an amateur detective (who seems to have this role thrust upon him, somewhat unwillingly, it has to be said) is a former undergraduate at the college.

When he arrives in Oxford he is told that the remains were buried some three decades before, and that the woman had been with child at the time of her death.

A don, Richard Templeman is reported to be missing. His corpse is subsequently discovered.

Naturally Gawaine's suspicions fall on men who were at the college 30 years before.

With the death of the don, he believes that only those men who are still at the college 30 years later could have been responsible for the death of the woman and of Templeman.

These include Stephen Verner, Father Gerard, the chaplain, the creepy head porter, Heatherington, the bursar Colonel Morrison and Dr Porteous.

There's a letter that gives Gawaine a clue as to the potential identity of the murder victim and the identity of her lover.

Eventually, he is pretty certain that he has found the identity of the killer. But there are two things. Firstly, is he correct in his deduction? Secondly, will he be able to live to tell his tale?

This is a remarkably well-written mystery novel and I am glad to have found another mystery voice in Cherith Baldry. Another author for me to keep an eye out for!

It's published by Matador at £8.99.

Seven Shades of J

Seven Shades of J is the memoir by Jean Riley, written with the assistance of Lesley Halliwell.

From a "highly strung" child to someone diagnosed with Bipolar Affective Disorder only took the heartbreaking divorce from her first husband, the father of her two children, who, it transpired was much worse than the flirt he appeared to be.

He kept the marriage sexless, whilst having serial affairs with people who Jan should have been able to rely on. Well, ween't they supposed to be her friends? Apparently not, as it turned out.

This caused her to be prescribed Haloperidol, which removed her zest for life. As a result Jean took the decision to stop taking prescription medications until some sexual encounters in Tunisia brought her to the conclusion that some form of prescription medications would be advisable.

A female psychiatrist was able to help her sort out some medications that would help moderate her condition, but also allow her to retain a sense of self.

The book is an honest and forthright account of, to borrow an expression, "a life well lived" or at least, a life lived very interestingly.

Some of her problems resulted from her mental health, but others were inflicted upon her as a direct result of the actions of other people. Her first husband, and her second husband who died in the throws of sexual ecstasy. Unfortunately whilst he was with his rather submissive secretary.

The story of the funeral and the ashes including a holiday in Bali is both moving and also tinged with humour, which brought her to yet another wedding.

Unlike some memoirs from people with bipolar conditions this book is remarkably cheery and filled with the zest for life that Jean mentioned.

I can highly recommend it.

It's published by Matador at £8.99.

The Gilded Ones

It's a hot day in 1984 and Pulse, who is an intuitive designer who has two job interviews to attend.

The first interview is with a company that is very busy and very mainstream. The second is with what appears to be a deserted practice based within an old London house, owned by Patrick Lloyd-Lewis, whose wife, Freia died recently, in circumstances that have yet to be fully explained.

Pulse comes to the startling realisation that he had dreamt about Frie's death only the night before. As a result he feels a compulsion to help solve the mystery of her death. So he accepts theo ffer of a job from Patrick.

When he does a little digging into the personal life of Patrick, Pulse realises that he is under some degree of suspicion from those closest to him.

A shocking link between Patrick, Freia and a gangster who had previously been encountered in the North, Pulse wonders if, perhaps, Patrick might have been involved, or to be responsible in some way?

 Could Pulse discover the identity of the murderer before they commit further murders? Can Pulse keep himself safe?

This is a gritty psychological crime novel from designer turned author Brooke Fieldhouse. This is his debut novel.

It's published by Matador at £9.99.




Buried Secrets

Buried Secrets is a highly useful self-help book from Savi McKenzie-Smith who has been a psychotherapist for in excess of three decades.

It is a comprehensive look at a range of real life accounts from people who were able to use psychotherapy to rid themselves of conditions such as anxiety and depression to enhance and improve their lifestyles.

The author takes her readers through an easy to read step-by-step guide into the theories behind "talking therapy" and its practical applications, all with the intent of helping people change their lives for the better.

Savi makes an interesting point. She questions if the "innumerable" books out there that tell people to feel good and use positive thinking to improve their lives actually work? After all, she wonders, how can a person achieve this goal if they are feeling low, anxious or depressed?

The boom is split into different sections covering different aspects of the theories of psychotherapy, how negative memories  can come back to haunt a person, often many years later and how, with support, these issues can be resolved.

The book is published by Matador at £9.99.

Star Matters

Star Matters is a new science fiction adventure novel from David John West.

There are some people on Earth who think we have been visited by alien visitors. Some promulgators of conspiracy theories claim that our governments are fully aware of the truth of these alien visitations, but are deliberately keeping the rest of humanity in the dark. The conspiracy theorists are entirely correct.

In times long past, the nascent human race on planet Earth came to the attention of a race known as the Dawn of Gaya, due to its spiritual awareness.

A number of specially chosen Guides were sent to the planet Earth, and have remained amongst humanity ever since, offering assistance with all significant philosophical and technological advances and discoveries.

Member of the race known as Dawn of Gaya, Amily has been given the role of secretly and discretely preparing the human race for the time when it will be ready for joining with the more advanced human races that are covering the galaxy.

However, the Spargar are a race that are rivals to the Dawn of Gaya. Their only aim is to trap and ensnare emerging races into their system, locking them into their technological and computing network.

The Spargar plan to invade planet Earth for their own nefarious purposes. But not if Amily, born of human and Gaya parentage and the race of Gaya have anything to do with it.

This book is published by Matador at £9.99.