Sunday, 22 July 2018

The Cypher Bureau

The Cypher Bureau is a novel by Eilidh McGinness. It tells the story of what happens when the Polish Cypher Bureau learn that the Germans are employing a new type of code that hey cannot decypher.

The Cypher Bureau takers the decision to employ mathematics students to implement a new way of dealing with the science of code breaking.

One of these students is Marian Rejewski. With other outstanding mathematics students he participates in a top secret course in code breaking.

He is given a commercial version of the Enigma machine and a set of user handbooks, and, alone, het starts to learn how to break the code.

His work must be undertaken in absolute secrecy, but the situation is growing increasingly dangerous as the outbreak of war with Germany is becoming more obvious and time is running out for the team of code breakers.

Although the story is a fictionalised account of real events, Marian Rejewski was a very real part of the Polish efforts to defeat the German Enigma cypher.

It's a very readable account of the story of the incredibly brave and resourceful Polish code breakers and the absolutely vital part they played in helping defeat Nazi Germany.

It is published by The Book Guild at £8.99.


Fragments is a new novel from lawyer turned author John Ellison.

It's a novel that draws heavily on the maxim "Borrow from history, build from imagination."

It's a piece of historical fiction, yet a piece of recent history, set in the 1960s and beyond.

Rather than writing a 'straight' memoir, John Ellison has decided to mine memoir to create a fictionalised story which he uses to tell the life, from his point of view, of Clive Bates, who, from his position as a retired law lecturer, looks back all the way to 1968 when he leaves University with a law degree and takes up his first teaching post.

There are a rather eclectic (dare one say also slightly eccentric?)  group of fellow lecturers in the college's Business and General Studies Department of East Ham Technical College.

Potential problems are flagged from the early pages of the novel when one of his colleagues airly annonces that: "Teaching a class of pretty girls about erotic references in the poems of John Donne and being paid for it is in my view a reasonable way of making a living."

However, as he doesn't expect to remain in the employ of the East Ham Technical College for long, that might or might not be a problem for those concerned!

There's snobbish behaviour from some chap who was educated at Oxford and a colleague always ready to fulminate on the advantages of Socialism at, or without, the drop of a hat all adding to the general atmosphere of the East Ham Technical College's Business and General Studies Department!

However, this is all set against casual sexism and everyday racism, the sudden shock of the speeches of Enoch Powell, the Russian invasion of Chekassloakia, the massive anti-Vietnam war demonstration in London and the US Presidential election of 1968.

John Ellison uses the historical backdrop to interweave the life story of Clive Bates into a very enjoyable and realistic memoir, albeit a fictional one.

It's published by Matador at £8.99

The Girl in the Abbey

The Girl in the Abbey is set during the tumultuous period of World War 2.

Grimsby was an important British port and, as such, it was constantly under attack by Nazi bombers so many of the children of Grimsby were evacuated inland to places of safety.

Violet Cobb is one of the evacuees. Violet is a resourceful and brave young girl who finds herself waiting on the doorstep of Bramblington Abbey, far away from her hometown and her family and friends.

The Abbey is situated in a village called Bramblingham-in-Finalis, which is preternaturally quite and crumbling from age after age of neglect.

She meets Mr Whispers, who Violet thinks looks like a desiccated old stick who looks like a housekeeper from a scary film.

Mr Whispers makes it very clear that Violet must not enter the Abbey itself, nor is she to bother the surviving member of the family who own the abbey, Lady Ainsworth for fear of a terrible beating.

But later, Violet finds a girl who she can befriend. Her new friend is called Sarah and Sarah says that she is the granddaughter of the reclusive and mysterious owner of the Abbey.

Together the two girls explore the local area. Violet soon learns that whilst Bramblington Abbey might have its own secrets, the elderly and decaying abbey is not the only one with secrets that it might wish to keep to itself.

But eventually Violet does enter the old abbey and, amidst treasures she could only have ever seen in her dreams, she meets Lady Audrey Ainsworth. Who she finds a most engaging raconteur as she takes Violet on a impromptu guided tour of her country home.

And then secrets started to bubble out from the reason why Lady Audrey never leaves her family home to why Mrs Geddes uses paraffin in her cakes.

This is an amusing and moving novel that touches on a number of themes, including what happens on the homefront during a war, class differences, friendships and a good deal more.

It's published by the Book Guild at £7.99.   

Sunday, 15 July 2018

The Lantern

The Lantern is a piece of political philosophy.

It examines and explores the complex and myriad issues that have, unfortunately, stymied and real changes and developments in the current Arabian world.

The author, Ayman Aborabh, takes the time and trouble to reexamine these issues by introducing new and groundbreaking ways of thinking that the author hopes will challenge his readers to understand and embrace and what is commonly described as western philosophy and to meld these with the current political realities and politics that exist within the Arab world.

He is candid in his observations, but he levens this with a good deal of humour. He takes the works of the likes of Plato, Machiavelli, Burke and Hobbes and triex to illustrate his points by picturing how these great minds from previous ages would examine the political makeup of the states of modern Arabia.

He also features two "normal" Arabian citizens who he has arguing vital questions on freedom, democracy and on their ordinary lives.

Although a serious academic work it is written in an open and approachable style, the author aims it at universities that offer courses on modern Arabian politics and the like.

 It is published by Matador at £13.99.

The author also has a YouTube channel which is in the Arabian language.

The Tales of Louis the House Rabbit

The Tales of Louis the House Rabbit is an utterly charming illustrated book by Harriet Hall.

It is a book that is aimed at parents and children (ideal for reading to children) and it contains simply written stories about Louis who is a rabbit who lives in a house.

He manages to sneak out of the house and meets a whole range of interesting creatures such a bees, frogs, a rabbit (who is puzzled as to why Louis doesn't have a warren!) Whiskers, Louis' new rabbit chum, shows Louis his warren and introduces Louis to his extended family.

After some adventures, including a bit of a scary one, Louis returns to his own home, with his human family.

But he dreams about the other rabbits when he falls asleep in his bed, after washing his ears, of course!

It costs £8.99 and is published by Matador and it is the first in a series, so do look out for subsequent books.


Who is John 'Wilf' Wilford? He worked as a roadie for many top bands and musicians. His book Soundman traces his 30 year history of working on the road as a sound engineer, a tour manager and a production manager.

In his book he takes his readers on a behind-the-scenes tour of what took place by on and off the stage, sound checks, recording studios, TV studios, the tour buses and the hotels that the bands occupied during their tours.

It's the view of a genuine insider, and you'll be shown the highs and lows of life on the road with some very famous and some not quite so famous bands and individuals from 30 years on the road.

From pub gigs right up to gigantic events at stadiums like Wembley and the Hollywood Bowl, you'll see them all.

After tinkering with his father's defunct valved radio (he got it working) Wilf was bitten by the radio and electronics bug and eventually took a City and Guilds course to learn the basics of radio and television servicing.

Eventually he shifted over inot the world of pub gigs, as a part time roadie, he took up the career as a full time professional.

He built (whilst working with Midas Amplification) sound mixing consoles for top groups such as Pink Floyd. He actually built their highly specialised Quadraphonic mixing desk.

Eventually he launched several sound companies in both the UK and in Nashville, in the USA.

Learn how some managers of bands utterly ripped off their bands, sometimes even ensuring they didn't even own their own homes, how Black Sabbath designed an absolutely huge replica of Stonehenge to appear on stage with them. But they had forgotten to measure the doorways of the halls they were to perform in, and the result was they could not get their Stonehenge into any of them!

And there was the dreadful incident involving serious injuries to a dwarf actor dressed up as a baby during a Black Sabbath tour. 

The book is well illustrated with pictures of equipment and of gigs, but mainly from the perspective of the sound engineer, which is what would be expected, as this book is from the perspective of a sound engineer.

There are scores of anecdotes and interesting little asides and stories and at £12.95 (published by The Book Guid) this book needs to be in the hands of people who where there, or who want to see what "where" was like!

The Jacobite Rebellion A Novel

The Jacobite Rebellion A Novel is a novel form Paul Adams.

Charles Edward Stuart's life has just taken an unexpected turn for the worst. He is arrested by the police, but it appears it is all just a case of mistaken identity, so he is released from police custody.

Back home again he makes the mistake of opening the door to Flora Macdonald who is able to persuade Carles to join her on a journey to Scotland. However, they are trailed by DCI Cumberland, who is following them.

Once in Scotland Charles is taken to Brady Castle where he is introduced to Colonel MacPherson, who informs Charles that he is plotting the overthrow of Queen Elizabeth the Second, with who he believes to be the real King, Charles Stuart. But not our Charles Stuart, a different Charles Stuart, for our hero is merely being employed as a decoy.

However, it's clear from page one of this novel that the whole thing is going to be a riot. Well, several riots, really. A riot of fun, then there's the accidental riot accidentally caused by DI Monro, the incident of caticide resulting from an incompetent police firearms unit (police force amalgamations you see? Very tricky stuff...), a traffic wearden, a postman and a lost stripagram (how was she to know dressing up as a police officer would cause even more mayhem?) and this was before the BBC arrived on scene!

The police interview is a classic example of how mistakes can be made and the entire book is full of wry and caustic humour. Everything in the book is an object lesson in how it is possible to take ordinary, mundane events and, with a slight flick and a twist, turn them into an absolutely hilarious series of weird happenings.

And this was before our hero makes his fateful trip up North!

It's a novel that generally offers two or three (sometimes more) laughs per page and just wait to see what happens to HRH! Pity about Lawrence the cat, though. And who would have thought that pedalo operators would have been so important as to how things turned out?

It's published by The Book Guild at £7.99 and will be another great summer holiday read.

The Steampunk Murder

Thank goodness! There's a new Inspector Carmichael mystery novel from Ian McFadyen!

This is probably my pick of the Summer reads.

Inspector Carmichael is a very genuine and plausible police detective. He's no super sleuth, but then neither is a a shabby breaker of rules just because he can break them. He is a working copper who always gets results.

But this case tests him and his team to the limits in some ways, as it introduces him to the rather weird subculture of Steampunk.

Kendal Michelson is a leading light in the Northwest England Steampunk movement. That is he was, until someone rather cruelly put his light out by murdering him. By rather gruesomely imaling him on his own sword.

But Kendal was a popular young man, so who would have a motive for murdering him?

Could it be one of his apparently close friends in the Steampunk movement? One of his former partners? And even if they didn't actually kill him, do they know more than they are revealing to Inspector Carmichael and his team of detectives?

Then there's Kendal's father, a self made millionaire who made his fortune in making sweets. Does he know anything about who might have had a motive to murder his son?

But before the end of the investigation more murders are committed and it becomes clear that the local Steampunk scene is a lot more than just wearing fancy, Victorian-based clothing and monocles.

So... who is committing the murders and why?

Take this book with you to the holiday destination of your choice and you'll have to be prised from it to leave your deckchair!

It's published by The Book Guild at £8.99 and will make an excellent gift for the mystery lover in your life.

Three Funerals and a Wedding

Three Funerals and a Wedding is a highly readable and very valuable book for anyone in business.

The author, John Thorp, takes a look at four businesses that are undergoing radical changes. He points out how they succeed or why they failed.

John Thorp has worked in business management for over a quarter of a century. This was in the main in IT leadership roles at some very well known brands such as Laura Ashley, The Burton Group, Compass Group, easyJet and the Dixon Stores Group. At the last two concerns he served as a member of the board of management.

The firms are all still operating today, but some are in very different forms. Although for some their survival was a bit of a nail biting situation.

As well as having seen business management form the inside, he is also a visiting lecturer at Cranfield University, where he also earned his Masters degree.

John states that the book is about systems and change. However, he points out that unlike other books that deal with business change it is not about 'business change management' it covers other areas of change, what change is, how systems can bring about change and how change can bring about unintended consequences for the organisation concerned.

John Thorp points out that although change, especially when it involves IT departments, can be vital, it can also be fraught with danger and pitfalls.

His writing on the Laura Ashley brand is an object lesson to all involved in business that although change must happen it must be managed well.

Published by the Book Guild at £8.99, this book belongs on the bookshelf of everyone involved in business management, no matter at what level they might be.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

5 Simple Steps to Saving Planet Earth

5 Simple Steps to Saving Planet Earth is a novel for children from Jo Withers.

Billy is having some problems. Due to an unforeseen set of circumstances he finds himself trapped beneath a hedge with a good half kilo of sausages round his neck to act as bait for a runaway dog.

Far from being early, he was now running very late and covered in dog slobber. But then the day, Thursday 18th of May, got even worse for poor Billy!

He gets detention and later becomes injured and insults his friend Wayne and misses getting to the newsagents.

That night Billy is having a bad dream. Which, with the interruption of his dream by a tiny creature called a Ysgol from the planet Blykpstpst.

It transpires that the world will cease to be next Wednesday (exact time computed as teatime, in case you are interested) and that would be it for humanity. And every other creature mankind shares the planet with, for that matter.

At first Billy thinks he has gone bonkers, but when the Ysgol appears in Billy's back garden, Billy know that he isn't going mad and that something must be done to save the world, from a band of interplanetary contract cleaners who want to clean the Earth out of existence!

The Ysgol is trying to help, though an emergency survival kit the basic contents of which appear to be an old apple core and little else, might be thought of as a unique employment of the word 'help'.

Though the emergency survival kit might be more important than one might think.

Billy gets together a team of heroes to heroically fight against the interplanetary contract cleaners (it was they who brought the last ice age) and fight against the menace with pluck, bravery, panicking and a leaflet called "5 Simple Steps to Saving Planet Earth."

Will they find out who the Chosen One is? And will they still be able to save the planet from being taken to the cleaners?

The book costs £7.99 from The Book Guild and is a very good read for children and adults, too, for that matter.

This is an ideal book to read over the summer holidays.

Miss Winter's Demise and Other Crimes Against Poetry

Miss Winter's Demise and Other Crimes Against Poetry is a collection of new poems from Paul Minton.

The Poems are quirky, quaint and quintessentially amusing and cover a wide variety of various subjects.

There's a boy who is driven quackers (not really, though if you fail to buy a copy of this book, it's a mere £6.99 from Matador, you'll never realise the hyper relevance of my quirky quackers quip!)  the mystery of the lost chair, Auntie Mabel the biker, newsletters from the afterlife, flying animals, and flying farmer's wives, are all some of the subjects from the poetic pen of a man whom I am dubbing as the Bard of Wellington. That's Wellington in Shropshire, though he now lives in Newport, South Wales.

(Reviewer's digression: I have just realised that Paul Minton attended (though years after me, I expect) the same school in Wellington, Shropshire, Orleton Park School. It is indeed a small world, though I still would not like to have to paint it! I wonder how many other pupils of that school ended up as writers? And one must not forget our geography teacher George Evans, still writing books at 93!)

There are poems about dogs that aren't, a poem about a sort of hyper virtual reality device called The Room of Doom, a child with many medical concerns, an apple who longs to be bitten and the bear at the door who might not be what it appears to be at all!

And what exactly did happen to Miss Winter? Read the book and you'll find out in a flash! (Hope I haven't given too much away?)

And I hope Paul reads this review because, Sir, you really should make a cartoon series out of "Super Squad"!

The Invisible Agent

The Invisible Agent is a debut spy novel from R. B. Maxwell.

However, this is no ordinary spy novel! For the characters have the ability to morph from human to canine and back again, as the situation requires.

From a crash landing on the Earth millions of years previously the reader is then catapulted into the present era, where a group of dogs are escaping from a secret research establishment. Though their escape is not unnoticed.

However, eventually it transpires that the dogs now have the ability to morph into humans of a new and very different kind.

Top secret agent Max is given the mission of infiltrating the house of the Lord Mayor of the city of Beckingham, Alfred Hoxley. Hoxley might not be all that he seems and it is the job of Max to capture a top international criminal who could be within Hoxley's house.

However, events throw Max's mission inot chaos, so all is lost. Or is it? Max manages to work feverishly to salvage his plans and battle against all odds to capture a gang of master criminal frauders.

In order to succeed, Max must put his own life on the line. Will he manage to do it? Can he beat the clock to beat the gang?

It's a great read for young people and it's an interesting debut novel from R. B. Maxwell who is a trained holistic therapist. She also works in a mundane office job.

The book is published by Matador at £8.99.

The Barefoot Road

The Barefoot Road is a novel by Vivienne Vermes.

It is set in the mountainous lands of Transylvania.

A young lady is discovered in a dreadful condition, in the mountains that surround a village. She has obviously gone without nutrition for a period of time, as she is a starved and emaciated in appearance. She is also unconscious. 

The villagers realise that she was a member of an ethnic group which had been dispersed from the area many years before. This causes much heart searching by the inhabitants of the village, as they recall their own parts in the ethnic cleansing.

The situation remains in an uneasy status quo until a young man of the village happens to fall in love with the girl. Unfortunately he is already married, which causes tensions in the village to grow and grow.

It is clear that something will happen, and when a child in the village disappears in mysterious circumstances, the situation escalates from tension to outright hysteria and brings the story to a heartstopping and dreadful outcome.

The book is poetic and timeless and shows exactly why Vivienne Verme is an award winning novelist and poet.

It will become a classic of European literature.

It is published by Matador at £8.99.

Mark's Out of Eleven

Author Will Stebbings takes his readers on another welcome dip into the paddling pool of nostalgia that is 1960s Britain.

In his latest novel Mark's Out of Eleven, he takes us back to September 1960. What is relevant about that particular month? Because in the United Kingdom, September is the month when all children who attend state controlled schools will commence the school year, which run from September to July.

In this particular year, Mark Barker is starting his first year at senior school. Because he has passed the eleven-plus exam, he will be taking his place at the local Grammar School, called Parkside.

He has followed his brother to the school and, because they are a working class family living on the limited means that are provided by their father's employment, times are not easy for the Barker family, and sending two children to a Grammar School is not cheap.

The one result is that Mark suffers the humiliation of having to wear hand-me-down school blazers, previously worn by his older brother.

Having had to leave his old primary school friends behind (most of whom would have gone on to the local secondary modern school, for children who failed or who didn't take the eleven-plus) Mark has to try to forge new friendships. Thankfully he is fairly successful in this endeavour.

The headmaster of Parkside is something of a martinent who rules his school with iron discipline and a wooden cane. Which he frequently uses to enforce his reign.

There's another teacher who the pupils both loathe and fear, the sports master who employs violence to make his points.

The book will resonate, perhaps pleasantly in some parts, not so pleasantly in others as we read about the teaching staff at Parkside, about their casual brutality and their often lacklustre teaching methods, about bullying, the first hormonal stirrings when girls are sighted.

We also glimpse the homelife of Mark and his family and see how mothers of that time juggled the financial pittance brought in to the house by their hardworking, but poorly paid husbands.

Will Stebbings also takes a look at prejudices of the 1960s at a time when male homosexuaslity was still illegal.

It's a thoughtful book which is a trip down memory lane and all for only £7.99! The book is published by Matador.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

How to Become a Football Agent

Football, soccer, call, it what you will, the World Cup has raised a great deal of interest in the world of football.

Children all over the world are playing on the streets, in their back gardens or backyards, joining football clubs and there is also a growing interest in professional football.

The total annual wages bill for European football players alone is over £9.5 billion every year. That's  $12.630 billion.

The standard football agent percentage fee is 10% of that wage bill, so it's easy to see why becoming a football agent is widely seen as a lucrative field to get into.

But you don't just open an office and launch a website announcing that you are now a professional football agent. There's obviously a lot more than that involved!

How to Become a Football Agent: The Guide will offer you a unique and highly informative insight into the first steps to becoming a football agent.

Written by Dr Erkut Sogut LL,M., Jack Pentol-Levy and Charlie Pentol-Levy, the guide offers unique insights into how football works from a business perspective and shows you how to start on the first rung of the ladder to becoming a football agent.

It also draws on advice from experienced agents such as Pere Guardiola, Lihan Gundogan and Harun Arslan.

It also offers tips on how football agents interact with sports lawyers and journalism. For example, the Chief Soccer Correspondent on the New York Times, Rory Smith, offers his opinions on football agency.

The book (it's written by the team behind Football Agent Education) will help provide you with the varied skills you will require to work as a football agent.

It gives information about he different rules and regulations of professional football bodies in Europe and the USA.

It details how you can get into the business, even if you do not have family connections or friends in the football industry, the type of work you will do as an agent, how you should interact with footballers, including your clients, employment contracts, etc.

It's a short but highly informative book and at £11.99 from Matador, it could be your way into a very lucrative career or business.

You can learn more by visiting, Instagram @footballagenteducation or on Twitter @education_agent.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Stand and Deliver! The definitive public speaking guide

The first time I had to address a large public gathering, I was very nervous and although I did OK, I somehow felt that I could have done better. And I am sure that if I had owned a copy of Stand and Deliver! by expert speaking coach Ian Nichol, I know that I could have done much better than I did.

Ian's book is a definitive and wholy authoritative guide to public speaking.

It is written in a highly readable and engaging style (seasoned with a good deal of very enjoyable humour!) this book will dramatically improve your public speaking performances.

If you are already an accomplished public speaker and doubt that this book will be of assistance to you, think again, because it is the type of book that can make poor good, good great and great even greater.

There really is something for everyone in this book, from the nervous neophyte to the seasoned professional after dinner speaker.

He looks at some myths about public speaking and effortlessly knocks them down, how ner4ves can be your friend when it comes to public speaking, (really? Yes, and Ian will show you exactly how you can achieve this.

Ian acknowledges his debt to one of the best public speakers ever, a now sadly almost forgotten journalist and politician called Spence Leigh Hughes, who was reputedly the best public speaker of his generation whose book published in 1913 The Art of Public Speaking Ian describes as: "an absolute classic."

In Stand and Deliver you will learn and master the 40 simple steps to successful public speaking.

Some of the points are how you should employ topicality, ignore people who think thay you couldn't speak in public, why you should follow the advice of Cicero. Don't worry, the particular advice is quoted in the book. But, that Cicero! Dead these 2040+ years, yet still relevant today! What a man!)

There's a great deal of other highly useful material about how breathing properly can help, how to use logical thought processes and how to prepare yourself for a public address. Here's one clue, research. Which with the advent of the Internet means it can be a lot easier than it used to be.

Ian also leavens his book with interesting little asides such as how Warren Buffet became a great public speaker after a dreadful start, what PIETISM  is and how you should apply it, he names two people who he credits with using their oratorical skills to change the world, and various other people who spoke well before great and/or terrible events.

The book is published by Matador4 at £12.99  and if you or any colleagues ever make public addresses, please for your own good, buy this book.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

To Everyman a Brain

To Everyman a Brain is a new book from a free thinking and innovative marketing consultant called Kenny Salami.

Salami has amassed nearly a quarter century of experiences in creating and building brands, plus he has been involved in the creating and setting up of a wide range of different innovative startup concerns.

At present he is the CEO behind Ideas House, a highly reputable marketing leadership and consulting firm. His keen abilities are also recognised by industry colleagues by his position as the Presidency of the Experiential Marketers of Nigeria (EXMAN).

With a global population that is nearing seven billion souls, Kenny Salami points out that the vast majority of young people are both honest and honest and hardworking.

But, he tells his readers,  they are more ‘doers’ than ‘thinkers’.

But this, he points out  is where the real problem lies.

This is the irony, for although vital to executing ideas, ‘doing’ alone will always remain inferior to ‘thinking’. But why is thinking always the primordial senior brother to doing?

In To Everyman a Brain Kenny Salami takes his readers on a journey of discovery uncovering the myths that surround creative thinking and introducing vital methodologies that will help each individual become a creative and innovative genius.

Can you even imagine a world without ideas? Without them, all one can imagine is a picture of ‘doers’ moving robotically from one odd task to the other, ultimately destined for a dismal cul-de-sac.

But Kenny Salami will take you on a journey of self-discovery that will make sure you, your family or your enterprise, your community or even your country will be able to enjoy a much better path.

The book is published by Matador at £15.50.

The Two Lives of Grand Duke Michael

The Two Lives of Grand Duke Michael is a novel written by Michael Roman.

It is set in the Russia of 1918 and is one of the types of novel that your reviewer loves to devour. An historical 'what if?' novel.

Based on many hours of research in historical archives and with the application of logic and his fertile imagination Michael Roman comes up with a credible and highly readable novel that explores the intriguing concept that what if Grand Duke Michael had survived the assassination attempt ordered on him by none other that Vladimir Lenin himself?

The facts in the first part of the novel are an account of what actually took place and are a latter of historical record.

In February 1918 during the Great War, Michael underook a hazardous two-week journey to the UK from Bolshevik Russia to meet with the Western Allies.

His mission was to discuss plans for an invasion of Russia to sweep the Bolsheviks from power and to install Grand Duke Michael as the new Tsar.

Upon his return to Russia the plans for such an invasion came to  a juddering stop when he was murdered whilst held under house arrest in Siberia.

At this juncture Michael Roman imagines a different, alternative history for Grand Duke Michael.

He describes how Grand Duke Michael survives the assassination attempt and how he is assisted by Sidney Reilly the legendary but very genuine MI6 agent to escape from Siberia and how he is taken to live a new life in the UK.

Under a new identity he lives under the protection of the British Secret Service and works as a code breaker at Bletchley Park during the Second World War.

Incidentally the story hangs on an interesting historical fact. Although it is generally believed that Grand Duke Michael and his British secretary, Nicholas Johnson, were assassinated, no remains have ever been discovered.

In the book there are acts of treachery and treason, of bravery and self-sacrifice and of nobility under great pressure. 

It is an amazing and intriguing book which is published by Matador at £12.99. I have a feeling that many readers will take this book with them on their summer holidays. Though it's doubtful that they will be taking such a perilous journey as that undertaken by Grand Duke Michael.

Seeking Atticus

Seeking Atticus is a new novel from the pen of Norm D'Plume.

We meet Liv and we are invited to look at how Liv manages (or doesn't) to cope with a wide range of adverse situations that beset her.

Things don't seem to be going well for Liv as she manages to battle her way out of a marriage that was beset with disastrous circumstances, which just join the long chain of catastrophes that makes up the life that she blunders through.

Still, she has her two young sons to help her face life as she tries to make sense of what it (life) tosses her way.

Set against the backdrop of the 1980s (great for some, not quite so great for others) it is a book that is charmingly funny.

Liv (or Olivia, to give her her full name) is awaiting the financial settlement of her shipwreck of a marriage, following her divorce.

The novel opens with her working at the boarding kennel that is owned by a friend.

There's Michael, with whom Liv's friendship is growing nicely and there is always Atticus, too. Atticus who? Atticus Finch, that's who!

She is seeking the Atticus Finch within not only herself, but within everyone else, too.

There are people who are out to get Liv, her crazed ex Carl, for one, Carl is planning, plotting and scheming the financial ruination of Liv with his high powered team of high flying legal experts.

He is confident that his team will manage to utterly destroy Liv and her "Legal Aid" crew.

But is he right to be so supremely confident? The only way to find out is to purchase this highly enjoyable book published by The Book Guild, at a highly reasonable £8.99. It's going to be a great holiday read.

Incidentally on reading the book I got the distinct impression that it is, at least in part, autobiography cunningly disguised as fiction! Readers can see if my judgement is sound on that point. Though in my defence I can only say, as well as reading the book, please pay special attention to the author's dedication!