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Friday, 7 June 2019

Between the Immensities

Between the Immensities is a new novel from Dorothy Davy, who was born in Bootle (which is near Liverpool) and who now lives in New Zealand where she practices as a CBT psychologist.

Dorothy uses not only her training but also her Scouse with to make this a most enjoyable and heart-warming read.

Psychologist Doctor Katherine Moore has spent the best part of four decades living and working in New Zealand.

But her life is set to change, yet again as she has finally bowed to the combined pressures from her sisters to return Liverpool (or more specifically, Bootle in Liverpool) to care for their elderly mother who is dying of terminal cancer.

Katherine moves into the council flat that is her mother's. Yet something does seem right. The "lovely gentle Liverpool mammy" that she knew has been replaced with someone far more negative and curmudgeonly.

Her various attempts to cope with her mother's attitude seems to cause her family no end of amusement.

But Katherine has tools at her disposal that her family member do not have. After all, isn't Katherine a trained and highly experienced Doctor of Psychology? Surely she can put her training an expertise of many long years of practice to the job of getting back into meaningful communication with her mother?

Gradually things between them and within the wider family start to change and suddenly family life is flipped in ways that probably couldn't have been expected.

Eventually mother and daughter get their stuff together and learn to love each other again and to become a formidable team. But who had been the thief amongst them? Surely not one of their own?

If you read this moving, truthful book, here's a fair warning, there will be tears in your eyes before the end.

What makes the book all the more interesting is that it is based on true events that shook the rational, scientific beliefs of Dr Davy to the core.

Its published by The Book Guild at £8.99.

Re-Tyred

Re-Tyred is an amazing memoir from author and retired university lecturer, Sara McMurry.

After she took her retirement she decided that she would become a voluntary teacher in India.

She brings to the page her experiences as a volunteer teacher in parts of rural India and also on the streets of Kolkata.

She takes her readers on an amazing journey from a small shop in the town of Jaisalmer in the desert region of north-west India, and where the shopkeeper gave her a philosophical fillip and a new take on the rest of her life. And, incidentally, inspired the title of the book.

She learned why there are so many vegetarian restaurants in Kerela, was moved by the plight of the disabled beggars who live in the shadow of the Taj Mahal, marvelled at the chaos that is rush hour in big Indian cities, visited poor people in not only the cities and towns but also the rural areas, too.

She learned that even the poor were more than willing to work, turning their hands to anything they could do, selling trinkets, postcards or cleaning shoes.

She also noted that amidst the great poverty there also exists great wealth, too, hovels where the poor lived and opulent palatial accommodations for the wealthy and the very rich.

And she met children who were eager to learn to improve themselves.

The book is well-written an illustrated with line drawn maps and some extremely good colour photographs.

It's a wonderful book which I can highly recommend.

It's published by Matador at £12.00.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Rain Town

Rain Town is a amusing, yet adventurous novel by Andy Donaldson. It's about a man called Sidney Rain. Sidney Rain is a normal sort of a bloke, who has a normal sort of a job, who, quite naturally, lives in a normal sort of a town.

However, that's not all there is to Sidney Rain, for Sidney Rain is, for all his apparently normal traits, a superhero, too. Well, at least he likes to dress up as one and lives out his fantasy life.

However, things aren't going all that well, he is gaining weight, about to lose his job and somehow he isn't feeling too super to be honest.

His son Stanley Rain is aged 12 and he, too, is an ordinary sort of a boy, with ordinary friends who all attend the same, fairly ordinary, school in town.

However, a local business mogul is set to take over the school and it is set to change. And not for the better.

However, Stanley and his schoolmates are not going to allow that to happen, at least not without putting up a bit of a fight!

But then a mystery takes place. There's a theft and Stanley and his friends need to turn detective in order to save their school.

But Sidney is fired from his job and he needs some help, too!

But then a mysterious group of superhero crime fighters turn up and they aren't going to take the situation lying down!

This is a fun read and though it's aimed at children, adults will also enjoy it, too.

It's published by Matador at £8.99.

Footsteps Into the Light

Footsteps Into the Light is a new book from Geoff Thomas which serves as a spiritual "Manual of Life."

It takes a refreshing and new look at some old questions that have faced humanity down through the ages. Questions such as Who am I? Why are we here? Where did we come from? Where will we be going?

It's written in a remarkably fluid and readable style from a Christian point of view, though it also gives a nod to all other faiths and to those who hold to no particular faith at all.

He takes his readers through the miracle of our apparently ordinary day-to-day lives and to the spiritual journey that goes beyond this mortal life.

It's published by Matador at £12.99.

A Candle for the Atlantic

A Candle for the Atlantic is an absolutely riveting memoir of her nautical adventure of a lifetime.

Back in 1992 Casualty Staff Nurse Rosie Redway met and fell in love with the love of her life in Whitby Harbour.

However the love of her life was called Helga Maria and she was a two-masted schooner.

With very limited experience of sailing at sea Rosie decided to join the mixed crew of seven of the Helga Maria as a medic and deckhand for a very exciting six month voyage.

They crossed the Atlantic following the course set by Christopher Columbus in 1492, facing mountainous waves and storms as they fought against the elements. However, they were also able to enjoy good, sunny weather at times.

The return journey from Newfoundland was dogged with problems including total engine failure which put the boat at risk as it was forced to drift, helplessly, in the teeth of severe northerly gale force winds and monstrous seas that threatened to send the boat to the bottom of the sea.

But Rosie had total faith in the Helga Maria and her captain, but could they get the crew safely back home?

It's a fantastic account of a voyage of discovery in more ways than one and it is illustrated throughout with some stunning photographs taken on the voyages.

It's published by The Book Guild at a very modest £9.99 and makes ideal reading for lovers of memoirs, specially those set at sea.




The Paper Chase

The Paper Chase is a new thriller from Ron Welling.

Harry Stone had sent Claire Watts to spy on a competitor of his, Rick Austen.

Claire has spun Rick a story about her past, a past which, for several reasons, she doesn't want Rick to know about. Including Harry Stone.

However, Harry Stone has a nasty habit of still being there and he is very angry.

Stone had owned a lovely mansion, Arrow Hall, but it had been burnt to the ground and, as a result, the pass codes for his secret Panamanian bank accounts had been lost, apparently for ever.

But Claire isn't too sure about that and, as a result, she decides to poke around in the burnt out ruins of Arrow Hall to find the codes. Because if she can, she believes these would act as an insurance policy against Stone blabbing about what he knows of her past.

However, Stone has managed to get himself into some strife with a gangland thug and finds himself forced to attempt to launder a quarter of a million in dodgy money.

He tries to do this through a supermarket concern that, unbeknown to him, Rick has a share in. When the operation goes belly up, things start to get very unpleasant indeed as everyone tries to make sure they come out of the situation well ahead of everyone else.

But who would eventually come out on top of the situation? Claire? Harry? Xavier or Rick?

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

One in Four Are Birds

One in Four Are Birds, is a short but dark fantasy novel that explores the terrible impacts of domestic abuse.

It tells the story of local village girl Fiona. Unlike her compatriots who were ordinary girls who would be satisfied with settling down to married life with the ordinary boys of the village, Fiona wanted none of that.

She decided that she wouldn't just settle for the ordinary, she wanted something extraordinary. But sometimes people enter situations that are extraordinarily dreadful.

Fiona finds love with a handsome, dark stranger, the man who would, she felt sure, remove her from her ordinary,  humdrum life.

Her handsome, dark stranger, Sicarus, turns out to be and abusive husband, who can turn into a violent and potentially deadly bird who preys on his wife.

Eventually Fiona plucks up the courage to escape from her abusive husband with her children, but will the abuse stop even if she can make good her escape?

And how can she help other women who are trapped in the same or similar circumstances?

This is a thought provoking novel that uses allegories to examine the plight of abused women, who, statistics show, are one in four of women.

The book is published bu The Book Guild and costs £8.99.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Little Honour

In Little Honour we again meet Gina Gray, Freda her granddaughter and the rather charming DCI David Scott, in this, their sixth novel, all penned by crime writer Penny Freedman.

Gina's doing rather well for herself. Her job is great, her flat (though small)  is really rather perfect for her needs and David Scott is back in her life.

But into each life a little rain must fall and a familial crisis means that her daughter and her husband must come to live with her in her flat.

Following a spate of hate crimes post-Brexit a young Indian woman is murdered by strangulation only a few doors away from Gina's home.

David needs Gina's help with an investigation that means she has to enter the world of a chamber of barristers in Gray's Inn, a Shakespearean production (Measure for Measure) and there's the added complication of a clash with her younger (and more difficult)  daughter.

Freda (now ten) is staying in Kentish countryside in the home of her grandfather and is second wife, where they live in splendid isolation.

Whilst the adults back in London are dealing with their own mysteries, Freda uncovers a mystery of her own, involving a missing canine, which she has to solve by herself.

It's an interesting novel that unravels several disparate mysteries.

Published by Matador at £8.99.

Stoker

It's 1860 and whilst Lord Stoker is wandering amidst the Great Plains of the American West he finds a woman who has survived an absolutely heartless attack. So damaged mentally by her ordeal she had been struck mute.

So Lord Stoker decides that he will take charge of her nd take her to St Louis where he intends to leave he in the care of the authorities there.

But his plans are derailed by the explorer Richard Burton who has a place for Lord Stoker in his mission that has the backing of the British Crown.

Added to this already over-heated stew is the arrival of Buller, Lord Stoker's somewhat hot-headed and brutish brother.

More worryingly there appears on the scene James Maybrick who is not only a blackmailer but a vicious psychotic.

Whilst Lord Stoker attempts to guard the girl he has worn to look after, he finds himself dragged into a maelstrom of lies, violence and depravity.

Can Lord Stoker look after his female charge? Can he protect both her and himself from the bloodbath that is threatening to erupt?

And what, exactly, is happening? Who is the hunter, who is the prey?

It's a gripping novel from the pen of novelist Dick Warburton.

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

History of France, Low Countries and Iberia

History of France, Low Countries and Iberia is a fascinating book by Jack J. Kanski in which he takes an interesting and interested look at the history of European statesmen and monarchs.

It's a concise and well-illustrated book that takes his readers through the histories of France, the Low Countries and Iberia.

Readers are provided with vital information about significant events and important individuals all of which played important roles in shaping the histories of those countries.

It employs an easy-to-follow bullet-point format with many interesting illustrations such as maps and paintings, which enables the reader to quickly and readily absorb a great deal of knowledge in a relatively short period of time.

They are not aimed at the academic, however. They are primarily designed for the interested layman. However, there is much to recommend them to academics who will also find the book filled with interesting facts.

It's published by Matador at £19.99. 

Tony Plumb and the Moles of Ellodian

Tony Plumb and the Moles of Ellodian is a debut novel from Devonshire's J. M. Smith.

It draws on her long experiences as a psychotherapist.

We, the readers, are taken through the therapy of a young boy as he attempts to come to terms with his life's story and the decisions of his parents.

We see his family life through his eyes and also through the lens of his multiplicity of fantasies as he struggles to understand things.

We follow him on visits to "Madsville" watch as he tries to dodge chariots filled with thoughts from his past.

Helped, or otherwise, by a social worker who is somewhat unconventional in her approach (rules, it transpires, are not all that much to her) who takes him to a spooky underground facility. Well, that's ms Bendy Leggett for you!

With the assistance of some helpful therapy and the guidance of some good friends, it seems that Tony is able to, eventually, get his stuff together.

But is there one final truth that he must unravel?

This book is aimed at younger readers, but should appeal across all age ranges.

It's published by Matador at £7.99.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Karim, King of England

In his debut novel, Karim, King of England, Baz Wade has written a political thriller.

Set in an alternative reality Karim is the son of a charismatic and stunning English princess and a very rich Arab playboy.

Raised as a Muslim in Dubai, Karim becomes a student at London University where he is to study Politics. He is a talented musician and he joins a band as a guitarist, he finds the singer in the band, Kirsty, a glamorous and popular Scottish activist, alluring and he falls very heavily for her.

However, their Britain is a broken place for their romantic relationship. It's a disunited country, there is violence in the streets, and the institutions and the political structures are damaged, perhaps beyond repair.

Although Karim comes from a wealthy, privileged background there are forces that are beyond him and beyond his ability to influence them. These forces mean Karim cannot follow his chosen career path.

What is to happen to and with Karim are beyond anything that he could ever have thought possible.

And the situation results in Karim, King of England. But there are factions who don't like this and will use any means necessary to deal with this.

It's published by Matador at £9.99, though by buying direct from Matador there is a special discounted price of £7.49.

https://www.troubador.co.uk/.

Dealing with Disability

Dealing With Disability is an inspirational new book from Victoria Cairns.

Victoria worked for excess of three decades as a medical statistician for a number of different organisations, but her career was brought to an abrupt end when she contracted Lyme disease.

A subsequent operation resulted in dreadful consequences that led to her becoming disabled.

Victoria has used the knowledge that she gained during her career and her experiences as a newly disabled person to write this very effective and helpful guidebook to provide those who have recently become disabled and their family and close friends with advice and useful hints and tips.

As well as sage, practical advice and personal experiences the book contains many useful references including a list of organisations and groups that provide advice, help and information aimed at disabled people and their families.

You'll read about exercise, treatment and activities, the problems with vulnerability and hypersensitivity, how to avoid negative thoughts and more besides.

This book is published Matador at £8.99. 

It is my opinion that the NHS should give a copy of this book to every nurse and doctor who work with the newly disabled and also to every newly disabled person throughout the country.


Sunday, 5 May 2019

Blossom of War

Blossom of War is a debut novel from author May Woodward.

It's a romance novel set against the backdrop of the Crimean War.

The protagonist, a young debutante called Clemance, is thrust into the horrors of war.

But as well as facing the brutal reality of the war, she finds herself dealing with and coping with mysterious events, subterfuges, outright lies and deceitful behaviour.

A man claims to be a returning Crimean War cavalry officer, Aubrey Somerlee of Eardingstowe, Cornet 7460 of the Eleventh Hussars.

But he had last been seen at the dreadful and infamous Charge of the Light Brigade, some 16 years earlier.

Was he really who he claimed to be? Or, as the brother, Sir Richard claimed to be, nothing more than an impostor?

And if he were an impostor, why would he do such a thing?

A romance for fans of historical romances, it's published by Matador at £9.99.


Intervention: The King Pin

Intervention: The King Pin is the first book in what will be an action and thrill packed series of novels from author James Hanford, featuring Harding an MI5 agent and Krane, who is between jobs.

Bob Krane is minding his own business enjoying a well-deserved holiday in Slovakia, when his holiday plans are severely derailed when he is a witness to a murder and the kidnapping of a man and his child.

Realising that he has recognised a master criminal by the name of Burak Demir, Krane tracks them down and manages to come to an arrangement. Krane will assist them in their escape, if Demir surrenders his vast wealth and starts to cooperate with the authorities.

It is with a sense of shock that Demir learns that part of his own network was linked to terrorism, he learns the bitter lesson that his past loyalties were badly misplaced, so he forms a partnership with Krane, MI5 Harding and the British authorities, no matter how unlikely this might have appeared.

Demir, Krane and Harding find themselves working together in order to foil a fiendish international terrorist plot, as they crisscross Europe as they attempt to find out who is behind the plot and to learn what the target is.

But first Harding has some perhaps related matters to resolve. Why are incidents and characters from her past appearing again?

It's an exciting, action-packed story which keeps the read guessing as to what the real story is.

It's published by Matador at £8.99, though it's discounted to £7.19 on the official website. https://www.troubador.co.uk/bookshop/crime-and-thrillers/intervention-the-king-pin/

Friday, 3 May 2019

Facets of Wuthering Heights

In his book Facets of Wuthering Heights Graeme Tytley examines Emily Bronte's masterpiece two centuries after her death.

It is a collection of essays based on a lifetime's study and work of this complex book and its equally complex author.

The essays examine the historical context of the novel but Tytler also demands that the reader pay close attention to the novelist herself.

He wants us, his readers, to develop an understanding of exactly how versatile and gifted she was as a writer.

He points out that she had a masterful way with the creation of the intricate plots that were at the very heart of the novel, the playful inventiveness that she employed to create a myriad of well-drawn characters of almost finite variety that she used to populate the incredible world that she created and crafted.

Not to mention the sparkling brilliance of her writing!

This is an extremely well-researched and well-crafted book of essays on both Emily Bronte and the work that she is most famous for.

It contains many points of which I was not aware and will make an excellent book for students of both the Bronte sisters and of 19th century literature, for that matter.

At only £9.99 this will make a superb present to any literature student.

It's published by Matador.


The Invitation to the Garden

The Invitation to the Garden In this book that was written over a period of a quarter century, Joanna Tulloch takes her readers on a spiritual journey depicted in both prose and poetry.

It describes her struggles as she worked through severe depression and anorexia and attempted to make sense of her faith.

It's a compelling story of self-development and personal growth as she worked her way through the issues that she faced, anorexia as a child and devastatingly difficult depression when she became an adult.

It is sub-titled a mystical journey in five paradoxes and it takes the reader along with Joanna as she accepts the invitation to the garden.

It is a moving and charming book, filled with hard earned insights and beliefs as she found herself on an epic journey of spiritual discovery as she follows the Lord into the beautiful garden.

It's published by Matador at £8.99 and will make a wonderful gift for the person in your life who is struggling and needs some insights to help them along the path of life.

Friday, 26 April 2019

Tadcaster and the Bullies

Tadcaster and the Bullies is a story by Richard Rutherford that carries an important message about bullying.

Tim and Mary meet a small dog in the playground and they are thrilled when their newfound tiny canine friend gives them a very friendly smile!

Unfortunately Tim and Mary are later set upon by two mean bullies, but when things are looking quite bad for them, they are saved by a voice. A mysterious voice that came from nowhere? Or so it seemed to the two children.

Later when the brother and sister are having fun flying their kites, the two mean bullies one again interrupt their fun and Tim accidentally lets the kite's string go, and it starts to fly away. But as quick as a flash their canine friends catches the kite and then shocks them by talking to them!

They agree to keep his secret, after all a talking dog is a rare thing!

After a third incident with the bullies the two siblings find that the little dog has been injured and they take him to the local vet who examines him, including his special vocal chords, and tends to his wounds.

Tim and Mary take the dog home so that he can recuperate and not only does he tell them the amazing story of his life, he also revealed that his name was Tadcaster.

Will Tadcaster be able to help Tim and Mary by defeating the two nasty bullies once and for all time?

And you'll be amazed at the outSTANdingly brilliant job that they arranged for him!

It has some lovely line drawings and will be a great book for any family, especially those bothered by bullies, I feel.

Go on, mum! Dad! Buy this book for your children, it's £7.99 from Matador.



Africa From East to West

Africa From East to West is an amazing book in which David Happold, a zoologist, shares with his readers, the story of his travels from the Red Sea all the way across the African continent to the coast of the might Atlantic Ocean.

This is the story of his journey from Massawa which ios on the coast of the Red Sea in Eritrea all the way over to Cape Verde in Senegal in West Africa.

Travel with him through the dry regions of semi-arid terrain which lie to the south of the Sahara desert, plus enjoy detours with David as he ventures to the south and finds himself fascinated by the rain forests and savannas of Western Africa.

You'll appreciate the map of the journey and the photographs that help to illustrate this most fascinating travel book.

The journey was undertaken back in the late 1960s, when Africa was enjoying a period of relative peace.

David travelled by whatever means he found at his disposal, walking, boats, cars, buses and trains.

The book is broken down into separate chapters each one covering a particular and different section of the journey, plus there are additional chapters about a special expedition to a remote volcanic crater in Sudan, plus living and working conditions in Sudan and Nigeria in the 1960s.

It's an ideal book for the armchair traveller or the person who know the area well and wants to go back there in their mind's eye.

It's published by The Book Guild at £10.99.

Gabriel's Journey

Gabriel's Journey tells the story of Gabriel. He awakes in a hospital bed with no memory of how he got there and he cannot understand why he is discharged into the care of a Japanese woman who he doesn't know.

Desperate to learn what happened, to make sense of the situation that he finds himself in, he suspects that the answers he seeks probably lies somewhere in his past, which he feels was probably quite unorthodox, if the dreams that keep happening to him  are truly a reflection of his past life.

His past life was hedonistic and adventure-filled and he sees a past world of different continents, of a lifestyle that brought him in contact with the world of espionage and treachery. 

But will his dreams help to bring him to the truth?

It's a very moving and compelling book as Mary Collis has employed the diaries in which he journalled his extensive travels round the world, of her own brother to form the basis for this book, plus many hours of later talks with her brother, after his diagnosis with Parkinson's disease, several years previously. 

It's a fictionalised account of a story that is, sadly, the truth for many people who have Parkinson's disease and their families and careers.

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

Dora Annie

Dora Annie is an interesting look into life in service that many children had to go into even in fairly recent times.

It's a debut book by Patricia Stone and Brian Bone. It's aimed at children but will be enjoyed by everyone with an interest in social history.

It tells the real story of the grandmother of the author, how she began as a young girl and her hard but loving family life, how at the early age of eight she began her working life as a helper and companion to the sickly wife of a farmer.

How she subsequently went into service at the tender age of 14 as a Tweeny Maid, becoming a Nursery Maid and then, ultimately, as a Ladies Maid.

The book also shows her family life, too, so is not all about her working life, fascinating though that was.

It provides real insights into the lives of people like Dora and others like her, who worked in service,  the early starts to the day, making the kitchen ready for the cook and her staff, washing the dishes, family prayers and the reverence she felt for the house in which she worked.

Dora Annie's life was a very interesting one and she ended up travelling to Canada with the family she worked for.

The book is wonderfully illustrated throughout by Lawrence Cornes.

The book is published by Matador at £10.99 and is aimed primarily at children but will be loved by adults, too, especially those with their own family tales of life in service.

This book also needs to be in social history sections of public libraries and in school libraries, too.

The Seven Pillars of Nonsense

The Seven Pillars of Nonsense is a collection of 86 short stories from the outstandingly, err... outstanding, imagination/s of Michael Roselaar.

Some are so short that post-modernists would declare them to be flash fiction. Which is just a way to describe them as being very short stories or in some cases, very, very short stores.

We hear of as dog that doesn't bark, because it does, technically speaking, exist. Though can more than hold its own doggy end up in a conversation. There's moree from Dr Magnus Fell throughout the book, so do please pay attention!

There's Albert the independent scientific adviser, who waxes lyrical (or otherwise) about pogonophra, the restaurant that very commendably specialises in food, there's a murder in Colchester, or is there?

There's quite a lot from Clifford, a man of great erudition and even greater depth of thought, trips to see the window on the world by the wonders of Fenestrology,  the disadvantages of seeking out or worse, finding expert advise and what happens when historians go bad. Well, have you heard of Sidney "the World Wide" Webb? Did you know he never owned a computer? And what about the Fabians?

The interesting thing about this wonderfully bizarre collection of short stories is that they are written at a 45% degree angle to real life. You think you know some of the stories, but you can't actually be certain, it's like you are reading them in a fun house distorting mirror and suddenly realising that you know or think you know the story you are reading.

It's no good. I can't explain any more, but I do know that you'll love these stories as much, if not possibly more, than I have loved them. Especially the play Harry Stophanes and the Birds. And the copious and highly illuminating footnotes. So please buy as many copies as you can for yourself and your family.

 As an aside I think this will make an excellent book to take on holiday with you.

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



Chrysalis

Chrysalis is a novel from Jeremy Welch.

Sebastian is a man of his times. He is self-absorbed and works a a financier. He his floating through life, not satisfied with his lot, he seems unable to make any positive decisions following a catastrophic error of judgment when he was a young officer serving in the armed forces in the war in Iraq.

Suddenly he finds himself without a job. He turns to Zoe, his former lover, for advice and assistance.

Zoe believes that Sebastian needs to get back in touch with his passion for writing.

As a result of her advice he leaves Britain for Holland where he lives in Amsterdam and makes an effort to finish off the novel that he started, but abandoned, whilst he was a student.

By this method, he thinks, or rather he hopes, he will be able to rekindle his zest for living.

He becomes friendly with someone called Chrysalis,  the unusual and compelling owner of a travelling spiegeltent (a large tent for entertainment purposes) filled with a cast of some very interesting entertainers.

The spiegeltent cast present to him a glimpse pf a life that he desires for himself. But his old problem, the crippling curse of indecision, is the only thing that is holding him back.

However, his normal air of passivity is thrown to one side when he sees that a prostitute is being assaulted and he rushes in to defend her.

This one out of character incident opens up a portal into the seamy underside of Amsterdam and perhaps, in a someone circuitous route, to the pathway to his redemption?

It's a very well written story that makes sense of PTSD, modern life and sex trafficking.

It's published by Matador at £9.99.

Ellen Lives On

In Ellen Lives On, new author Lynda Haddock has written a very important booked aimed at the Young Adult (YA) market.

The novel is not only a debut for Lynda, it is also a first in another and more compelling way. It is probably the first novel (well, the first in a long while) that deals with the concept of the suicide of a parent and the devastating impact it can have on the lives of their children in a sincere and sympathetic way.

It's 19071 and Ellen is fifteen and is going through the usual traumas that afflict all children of that age, which we all went through in one way or another, male or female.

But then, Ellen's life takes a terrible and mindblowingly tragic turn. Her mother commits suicide.

This shatters Ellen's entire life and as a consequence of her mother's suicide, Ellen is forced by circumstances to fave up to sexism and bullying from her thoughtless peers.

Ellen realises that she needs to take matters inot her own hands and she takes flight to London. She eventually becomes involved in a women's rights group.

This gives her the opportunity to grow emotionally, to become braver and to stand up not only for herself but for all women.

The book is published by Matador at £7.99.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Shelter Rock

Shelter Rock is an exciting new thriller from M. P. Miles.

The country of South Africa feels that it is beleaguered on all sides during the height of the Apartheid era.

Innocent young Englishman Ralph meets Elanza an heiress who has been made blind due to a disease. Elanza is politically well connected and she is seeking love.

Ralph suddenly realises that he has come across a massive South African secret.

Ralph vanishes whilst walking home in the midst of the continent and the only black secret agent employed by the National Intelligence Service, becomes involved in their lives.

It is the official mission of Angel Rots to use his unique skills to find Ralph. But does he have a hidden agenda? An old score to settle? If so, with whom?

He follows Ralph from Cape Town all the way to Cairo. Ralph always seems to be one step beyond Rots and so Rots begins to question what, exactly, is happening? 

Why is Ralph considered to be worthy of all this attention? What does Ralph know that is so important?

As a good secret agent, Rots knows how to seek out information. But what Rots discovers shocks him to his very core. It's something so huge that his loyalties and his beliefs are challenged. It's a secret that is so big that it could change the course of history.

The novel is well written and well researched. The characters, including minor characters, are all well drawn and depicted as sympathetically as possible.

It is published by Matador at £9.99.
 

The City Grump Rides Out

In The City Grump Rides Out, Stephen Hazell-Smith brings together a wide-ranging collection of articles that he published under the name The City Grump, his regular column in the online pages of Real Business magazine.

The articles are all humorous, highly witty and acerbic, shining a bright light on the business and the political landscape of Great Britain.

The City Grump became well known for exposing and rooting out the bizarre and absurd behaviour of the great and the good who were in control of the institutions of the country.

Over the past nine years he turned his mordant wit on those who, he considered, deserved it.

Hazell-Smith spent well over a quarter of a century working within the City of London, having a variety of careers, including a stockbroker's analyst, chairing a stock-brokerage concern, a PR company that specialised in financial matters and an Exchange.

He is still involved in chairing a range of venture capital trusts and investing his own funds in a number of start-ups.

He criticises the reemergence of Stalinist style leadership in political parties, the possibility that baby boomers are inherently selfish, the good that Margaret Thatcher did when she came into power, how it is knowledge that is, ultimately, a power for corruption, how the Davos elite got things so badly wrong and, in the end, proved to be such an abject failure.

Learn why and when Richard Branson should have started to avoid and shun the spotlight, how and why George Osborne brought shame to the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer and why small is beautiful and big ugly in terms of business.

He also touches on what is wrong with Mrs May, and includes a compelling analysis on all things Brexit and European Union under the chapter £The Brussels Death Star." And why Blockchain might prove to be helpful.

At £12.00 this book is a must have if you feel you might like to know what happened, who did it and what is really happening at the moment.


An Author On Trial

An Author On Trial tells the story of Italian author Giuseppe Jorio.

Have you heard of Italian author Giuseppe Jorio? The probability is that you have not.

And there's a good reason for that for the sub-title of this book is: the story of a forgotten writer.

Written by his son, Luciano Iorio, the book tells the story of how, after he enjoyed considerable success with his debut novel, La Morte di un Uomo (Death of a Man) Jorio's career as a writer was virtually destroyed because he was prosecuted and put on trial no less than five times in the course of six years and eventually found guilty of obscenity for writing his novel Il Fuoco del Mondo (The Fire of the World).

Jorio was the first post-war Italian author to be given such a conviction and, uniquely, the only such author to ever receive a prison sentence.

Using the diaries that his father kept and reading through family letters from the time, Luciano Iorio brings to life the hidden story of what actually happened to his estranged father.

It reveals how biased, bigoted and prejudiced judges aided and abetted by illiberal and bellicose censorship policies (allegedly in order to "defend decency") of the ruling Christian Democrat Party, assisted by the Vatican, decided to make an example of Jorio, even if this meant they would have to twist and misapply the relevant legislation.

The book examines the terrible strains that the five trials and the prison sentence placed not only on Jorio and his work as a novelist but also the terrible strains it placed him other members of his family under, including his own son, Luciano.

As for the book, Il Fuoco del Mondo? it was never published.

It is a moving and illuminating book that pulls no punches as it examines all people involved in the scandal and spares no one, not even Jorio, who, it is acknowledged, had not been without fault.

It is published by Matador at £8.99 and will be a very useful book for anyone with an interest in 20th century literature.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

The Magpie Effect

The Magpie Effect is  new guide to help you navigate the twisted and convoluted world of social media.

In his book, experienced life coach  Damien Massias has put together a new guide for us.

He reveals that in his book he aims to help us understand not only social media but our own behaviours when we fall down the rabbit holes of the various brands of social media.

He points out the various pitfalls and erects warning and direction signs to help us make it through the bewildering maze that is modern social media. Such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, etc.

He covers such vital topics as low self-esteem and low self-confidence, how communication skills can be damaged, the dangers of social media reducing everything to a pointless competition, social media and mental health and how social media can reduce people to zombies.

If you are concerned about social media, perhaps you work in the industry? (as does your reviewer) then this book is one for you.

It's published by Matador at £14.99.


Wellness is Easier Than You Think

Wellness is Easier Than You Think is a new book from mindfulness teacher and coach Susie Bailey.

Are you looking to change your lifestyle? Perhaps you have health issues that are impacting on your mind or body that you wish to alleviate?

A trip to the Doctor (if you can get an appointment, that is) is all well and good, but if you can obtain a prescription for a pill or a potion, this might only help you by deadening the symptoms somewhat. They might not deal with the root cause of your ailment.

In this highly readable book Susie Bailey will help you look at the underlying factors that might be at the base of your health issues.

Susie Bailey employs an evidence-based technique that is backed by nutritional and scientific facts.

The book is, basically, a nine step programme to help you deal with your issues.

There are chapters on the importance of looking after the health of your gut, making certain you get good sleep, how you should employ sound nutritional practises, the importance of exercise and how to maintain your relationships with others.

The inspiration for writing this book was Susie's own mother whose health took at turn for the worse in 2014. Not only did the techniques Susie taught her mother help her get rid of anxiety, acid reflux, IBS, tiredness, depression and fibromyalgia, Susie also noticed that, by employing the techniques in her own life, her asthma stopped occurring and she ceased getting frequent colds.

It's a well-written book and is colourful and illustrated and if you want to employ mindfulness in your life, this book is a perfect way to start on that route.

It's published b y Matador at £9.99 and will make an excellent book not only for you but also people in your life who might need a bit of a boost.





You're the froth on My Soy Cappuccino

You're the froth on My Soy Cappuccino is a collection of new poems from Don Behrend.

It's an amusing and less-than-serious examination of modern life.

From courtship 21st century style, to high and not so high technology, selfies, the use or otherwise of social media, and more besides, nothing (well, almost nothing) escapes the careful eye and the pen of Don Behrend.

From the shock of what airport security guards can learn about you, to modern love songs, Jules Verne on the A380, a matter of sartorial confusion at the opera festival, memes and memetics, to Allergy in a Country Churchyard, all subjects are covered in this extremely witty and well-written collection of poems.

It's published  by Matador at £8.99 and if you only buy one book of poems, make this the one. You'll love it.

Finally Woken

What happens if a person wakes up in a hospital bed with all memories of his adult life destroyed by a severe head injury that has caused him to develop retrograde amnesia?

And what would happen if they learn that they are under arrest for the murder of a wife and children that they can't even remember?

Such is the situation that Max Hope finds himself in, in this debut novel from Dean Moynihan.

However, the police are struggling. They can't establish a motive for the murders, the investigation is, at best, somewhat dubious and the defence lawyer is not especially good.

Whilst convalescing from his head injury with the assistance of a psychologist Max tries to regain as many of his memories as he can. And also to learn if and why he committed the murders of his family.

With each session of counselling he learns more of his past, but he finds out that perhaps this knowledge might not be what he was expecting or actually wanting. 

Was he really what he appeared to the outside world, a successful family man? Or was there more to it than that? 

Were the successes more apparent than real? Were the truths of his life more lies than truths? More paranoid than rational?

What happens to Max when he remembers everything? What happens when you really and truly are Finally Woken?

This is a very vivid and haunting debut novel.

It's published by The Book Guild at £9.99 in hardback.
 

The Bone-Setters

The Bone-Setters is a very well researched and extremely well written book on the subject of algebra, which is copiously referenced throughout.

Written by J. F. Riley it is a detailed and fascinating examination of what algebra is, how it originated and how it developed into the branch of mathematics that it is today.

From its origin within  the Indian sub-continent to the Middle East and then to France in the 17th century the story is a fascinating tale of mathematics and religious intolerance and fear of something that was both new and, in the minds of some, potentially dangerous. 

J. F. Riley wrote: "I write the Bone-Setters to resurrect the importance and acknowledgement of Hindu arithmetic, algebra and trigonometry as the origins of modern day maths and to emphasise the debt we ow India for their numbering-system that now underpins the world. Also to reinforce that it was the Muslim sphere that not only developed algebra but also preserved the fountain of the world's knowledge which they left intact in all their great libraries, waiting for the West to re-discover."

It's published by Matador at £16.99 in hardback and is an ideal publication for anyone who is a mathematician who wishes to learn some of the history of algebra.



Saturday, 20 April 2019

Forced Landing

Forced Landing the Last Flight of a Viscount is a remarkably well-written account of a true incident that could have ended in disaster, but didn't.

It was meant to be a routine flight, that of a Vicker's Viscount from Santander to Exeter Airport, in Devon.

It was a reliable plane that was coming to the end of its commercial life but that life came to an abrupt and somewhat premature end in a field somewhat short of the runway at Exeter.

As the plane flew toward its destination one by one its four engines died, caused by starvation for aviation fuel. The pilots knew that G-ARBY was not going to make it to the airport so they had to make a "mayday" call to Air Traffic Control.

This is a riveting story of what happened after that mayday call was made. How crew and passengers reacted to a forced landing in a field and how members of the public raced from their homes in order to help the passengers of the doomed plane and of the emergency services who put into play plans that they hope they never have to employ in real life.

Retired Royal Marine Captain Jim Rider has written a real corker of a story. Well researched and well written (with numerous photographs it tells a story of aviation history that deserves to be remembered. It's also copiously referenced, too.

This is a must buy gift for fans of aviation history and flight and it is published by The Book Guild at a very reasonable £8.99.

I think this book will be in the carry on luggage of many holidaymakers this summer. And deservedly so.
 

Shine

Shine is a book for children that celebrates difference and diversity.

It's profusely illustrated with excellent coloured cartoons and it tells the story of Kai who is looking forward to going back to school after the long summer break.

But something is desperately wrong. Kai is mocked and derided by other pupils because they perceive him as being "different" to them.

Not unnaturally, Kai's confidence takes a knock but with the help of his mother and father Kai re-learns the ability to have pride in his own worth and his own unique abilities.

He realises that everyone is different, but this doesn't mean they have no value or worth and that, as his mother points out, the moon and the stars are all different, but that they all shine beautifully in the night sky.

This is a wonderful book by Sarah Asuquo, a London English teacher whose family originated in Nigeria.

It's a book that really needs to be in every primary school in the world and in every household, too.

It's published by Matador at £7.99 and is out very soon.


Tolly and the Pirate Ghost

Tolly and the Pirate Ghost is a new magical adventure story for children from Lucinda Williams. It's a tried and tested story, as Lucinda first started to relate the story to her children and their friends whilst they were on the school run.

Emily is 11 years old and circumstance force Emily and her mother to leave their nice, comfortable house and move into a tiny and cramped flat on the third floor of a block of flats.

This means that Emily can no longer keep her new puppy, a puppy she had always wanted.

But then, as if things were not bad enough, her mother becomes ill and Emily, who is a shy girl, must go and stay with a lollipop lady Gertie Pink and her twins who are a bit too boisterous for Emily's way of thinking.

However, Emily soon finds that she has been dragged in to a series of extraordinary events in the Pink household. Especially the arrival of their Uncle Wilf, an extraordinary gentleman who was a bit eccentric who had lost his house after a storm had swept it into the sea.

The experience had caused him to develop pneumonia and whilst he is recovering, Emily is thrilled to be asked to take charge of his talking African Grey parrot.

But disaster strikes! The parrot disappears and Emily is heartbroken. How can she tell Uncle Wilf that his parrot has vanished?

But Wilf needs to make a confession of his own. With him has travelled the ghost of Tobias, a 17th century pirate who shared his house on the Devonshire coast.

The parrot returns and lays an egg. But one night the egg is stolen and Autolocus, the parrot, is riven with grief.

The twins, along with Emily, must quickly find the egg and return it to Autolocus. But who is responsible for the egg theft? Can they get it back in time?

And what baby will he, sorry, she, give birth to?

This is am amazingly good read for children aged 7 and older and also their parents, too.

It costs £7.99 from Matador and please do keep an eye out for sequels.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

The Man Who Never Sleeps

The Man Who Never Sleeps is the autobiography of Tom Bell, who was the man chosen by Rupert Murdoch when he needed someone to help him revolutionise his newspaper empire in the UK.

What became known as the Wapping Dispute back in the middle years of the 1980s was a major gamble for Murdoch.

He believed that his News International business was at risk from left wing activists who he believed were targeting his papers.

Whether or not he could succeed was based on the idea of getting his newspapers through the massed militant pickets that were targeting his new Wapping base of operations.

How could he make sure this happened? He turned to Tom Bell, who had earned the nickname The Man Who Never Sleeps.

His start in life wasn't a wealthy one. No silver spoon in Tom's mouth. And his parents were so poor in their native Scotland that they resorted to the ruse of wallpapering his bedroom with sporting news pages. There was a lot of love, but not much money.

But three decades later and with a mixture of ruthless determination leavened with a natural compassion for his fellow men and women, it was Tom that helped Murdoch break the stranglehold that the print unions had had on Fleet Street for many decades, responsible for ensuring that the printed newspapers of the group were distributed throughout the United Kingdom in trucks owned and operated by the TNT courier firm.

However, it's not all about business in Tom's life; He has also helped raise millions of Ponds to ensure that the lives of tens of thousands of children who are disadvantaged by reason of poverty or mental and physical health problems were vastly improved. It was for this reason that Tom met the Queen and earned an OBE.

It's written in conjunction with David Walker and is an entertaining and engaging read.

It's published by The Book Guild at £12.99.

Path of Injustice

Path of Injustice is the latest romantic novel from the pen of Beverley Hansford.

It is a historical romance, set in the kingdom of Alteria in the 18th century.

It is a stirring tale of romantic, heartfelt love that is troubled by personal grief and suffering and from the impact of jealousy. 

The romance is set against the backdrop of a civil war that has plunged the entire kingdom of Alteria into violence and chaos.

Daintry Brouka is a beautiful young lady who is deeply in love with her childhood sweetheart.

Her father is a dangerously ill and she seeks out a herbal potion that will be able to return him to good health.

However, this sets in motion a series of events that results in her being thrust into a horrible prison on charges of being a witch. A charge that, in the 18th century, still carried the death penalty. By being hung or burnt to death.

At first her release from the sentence to death comes as a relief to her. But this relief is soon replaced by the dread of knowing that instead her sentence has been commuted to forced labour in the Katangar silver mines. And nobody has ever returned from those mines.

Will Daintry ever see how betrothed again? Her family or her home? Will a miracle save her or will she die, a slave worker in a silver mine, mining silver for the benefit of other people?

This book is published by Matador at £8.99 and I think it will be an ideal romance novel for that long holiday flight or lounging on the beach in the sun.

The Unseen Path

The Unseen Path is a debut thriller from author JD de Pavilly.

A suspected Jihadi terrorist is shot dead by a sniper and this is witnessed by a member of the Counter Terrorism Police, Andy Bowson.

This seemingly straightforward incident soon propels Bowson and his team of officers into a world of violence, power politics, distrust, fear and outright fanaticism. 

As he and his team battle to swiftly put the lid on an increasing number of terrorist attacks, he finds that there are more questions than answers. And when he thinks he has the answer, another question springs up to take its place.

His wife, Sally, has vanished. Is her disappearance connected with the case, or not?

And there is Henry, who, it seems, is something to do with the highly secretive world of the Intelligence Services.

But who is Henry, really? Who is he actually working for? Who is targeting the terrorists? Why does it seem that the government is losing control of the situation?

The further their investigation goes, the stranger the whole situation seems to become.

Who can Andy trust? And what about his wife, Sally? What is she involved in? Can she ever be able to Reunite with Andy? Does she even want to?

And what ancient force has decided to become involved in the governance of modern Britain? Is it malign or well-meaning?

What will be the outcome for Andy, his team, Sally, his son and the entire country?

From the very first paragraph this 515 page shocker of a thriller crackles and bursts with a dynamic energy that belies this novel as a debut.

It's published by Matador at £19.99.


Friday, 12 April 2019

The Most Hated Man in the World

The Most Hated Man in the World is a new collection of poems from Andreas Stvarinides.

The poems are breathtaking. They are complex, simple, amusing, horrifying, uplifting, long, short, tall, thin, broad. Sometimes all of those things in the one poem.

From Only the Wind, the first poem to In the Ranks of the Free Men, these poems are filled with wonder, with joy, happiness, sadness and wit.

This book of poems, all 330 pages, will be on my bedside cabinet, being read every evening, for a long while to come. Some of them I will read again and again.

It is published at £9.99 by Matador and I will enjoy reading these poems knowing that readers of my book review blog will also buy this book and be reading the same poems that I am reading.

I think I like that idea.

This is Andreas' first book of poems. I hope there will be more to come.

Derek the Flying Dodo

Derek the Flying Dodo is a delightful and colourfully illustrated story for young children ages five to seven (and their folks) from Mauritius-born author, Vanee Apoolingum.

Everyone is fully aware that Dodos cannot fly. But that doesn't stop one particular young Dodo, a Dodo called Derek, from yearning to fly. In fact, it's all he ever dreamed of.

One day, Derek sees a shooting star and he makes a wish and the magic of the shooting star enables Derek's dream of being able to fly come true.

He meets a young boy called Aaron and, together, they both set off to explore the world, see new things, visit new places and have fun together.

There's an important lesson in the book from the author. "Dodo"n't let your dreams go extinct."

It's an utterly charming book and will be ideal for parents and children to read together and to look at the colourful illustrations.

It's published by Matador at £7.99.

Hopefully we will see more book from this author in the near future.

Beyond the Cattle Arch

Beyond the Cattle Arch is an interesting novel as it is a mystery, which is also a romance, but also a science fiction novel.

It's the summer, two years after the ending of World War Two and John Harper and his girlfriend Jill are driving toward the coastal town of Brighton to participate in lectures at Brighton Art College.

Without any warning a mysterious cloud of blackness rolls in from the English Channel and envelops them.

It is a gravity field and Jill finds herself alone, thrust back 60 years to the year 1887.

Confused, frightened and utterly alone, Jill realises that she must try, somehow, to make a new life for herself in the midst of Victorian England.

Desperate to return to her own time, Jill must cope with living in a more formal and stricter society, mindful of the fact that should she let slip the truth of from whence she had come she risked incarceration in one of the lunatic asylums.

A wife of a local church minister befriends her and she manages to struggle to retain her sanity.

Eventually Jill meets a landowner called Mr Gregson. He is handsome and not without financial means and, despite the fact that Mr Gregson wants her hand in marriage, she cannot help feeling increasingly drawn to him.

When she finally accepts that she is forever trapped in a time before her own, has no way of effecting a return to 1947 and of being reunited with John, she decides to accede to his proposal of marriage.

But suddenly, when she has apparently accepted her destiny, the opportunity to return to 1947 and John, her first love, comes her way.

What does she do? Stay in the Victorian era and marry Mr Gregson? Or make the return to 1947 and a possible life with John?

It's a moving novel and a very compelling and intelligent use of the time traveller theme.

It's published by Matador at £8.99. (Note: by ordering direct there is a saving of £1.00 https://www.troubador.co.uk.)

Charlotte Stone and the Children of the Nymet

Charlotte Stone and the Children of the Nymet is a new fantasy adventure novel aimed at children from the pen of author Tasha O'Neill.

Unbeknown to her, young Charlotte Stone is a living legend in the world of Syluria. That's only to be expected, as Syluria is a secret, hidden world. 

The people of the Great Sylurian forest are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the "flame-haired girl from beyond the Dreamtime" because they know that she is their only hope of being saved from utter annihilation and extinction as a race.

Under the guidance of The Morrigan and with the special assistance of Tar'el who is a young "Tree Weaver" ond the help of the Fey civil servant by the name of Luned, Charlotte must work to save the lives of an entire race of people.

However, no great task is ever truly simple or easy and before she can even begin her monumental task she has to seek out and recruit the assistance of the Vorla. But this is complicated by the fact that not only are the Vorla scary, they are also totally indifferent. And there's also the fact that the Morrigan keeps on trying to bring assistance, which often proves to be less-than-helpful in its outcome.

However there's also the fact that she has to make certain that the Health and Safety department of Brackenheath-on-Sea is thwarted in their attempts to remove the Nymet Tree.

But who or what can she trust? Has she caused the deaths of her parents? Can she save the people of the Great Sylurian forest?

This book is intended for children, but I fear many of them will have to tussle with their parents or other older relatives before they can read this book!

It's part of a series and costs £8.99 and is published by Matador.

The Society Game

The Society Game is a debut from pilot turned author, H. Lanfermeijer.

It's the first part of a planned series and it takes a close examination of the more dysfunctional and less salubrious aspects of our society.

What happens when someone is utterly obsessed by the concept of leading an image-driven life?

We see the action in the novel from the perspective of Olivia Hopkins, she is referred to as "the wife" and the reader is quickly taken into her life, looking at all the intimate details, seeing not only what she sees but also taking a peek into the workings of her mind, seeing things that the other people in her life have no clue about.

Olivia plays the society game, a husband she loves (for his credit card) lovers and as the author points out: "The devil walks amongst us."

The novel, perhaps worryingly, is based on true events, triggered by one of her neighbours murdering her husband.

It's an interesting and compelling novel.

It's published by Matador at £10.99.

You can learn more at www.thesocietygame.com.

Friday, 29 March 2019

The Fourth Victim

In The Fourth Victim, a new crime novel by John Mead, we are introduced to Detective Sergeant Julie Lukula.

Sergeant Lukula is facing a problem. Inspector Matthew Merry has decided to ascribe the murder of a young female jogger to being that of a mugging gone.

But Julie is not convinced. She believes that the victim was targeted by a killer. There have been three deaths, two families have suffered grievous losses and one murder team who are dealing with what could be an unknown number of murderers.

Set in a modern Whitechapel that, although it is subject to improvements and gentrification, there's still a seedy underside, drug dealers, prostitution and murders.

Julie does not think that there's any danger of her inspector setting the murder team alight. But was she correct in her judgment of him? After all, he had made it as far as an Inspector.

And the case, or cases, were far more complex than the police could have realised.

Who were the killers? Why did there seem to be so many of them? What were their motives? And what was the role of the therapist, Dr Hassan? What did she know? Anything? Or was she in the dark, too?

And what, exactly, did Julie have to hide? And were other members of the team compromised, too?

This is a highly complex, yet very credible crime thriller from established crime writer John Mead, author of The Hanging Women.

The Fourth Victim is published by The Book Guild at £8.99 and will  probably find its way into luggage for the Summer holidays.

Legend of the Lost

Legend of the Lost is a new magical adventure tale from debut children's author Ian P. Buckingham.

The story begins in a very ordinary way. As all good stories do. Holly and Lucy Savage are on holiday at Mermaid Cottage in a pretty Cornish fishing village.

As they explore their surroundings the two girls discover a Moonstone with magical powers. And it reveals wonderful things to them but also about them.

The family find themselves on a journey through Ashridge Forest, as they proceed on their journey quest they discover amazing powers and artefacts that are imbued with magical powers.

With the help of these powerful artefacts they learn of the past of their own family and find themselves in a world of fairies, changelings and magical beings.

But they find that not everyone or everything they meet on their journey is very friendly. In fact, there are some who are downright hostile to the family and who wish them harm.

And they find themselves pitched into a war with evil forces. But they must reach ruinous Castle of the Black Prince, where they will join a battle against dark forces.

But what is it about their family that makes them so unique. Will they learn the truth of their family history?

This book is published by The Book Guild and costs £7.99.

The Holy Longing

The Holy Longing is a debut collection of poems form actress and poet Vera Graziadei.

Wow. Just absolutely... wow! I just went for an invigorating, yet also relaxing, swim in a warm sea made up entirely of words, thoughts, ideas and emotions.

Vera's poems are unique. They compel, they learn, yet they also teach at the same time. By accident instead of "teach" I typed "reach." And yet I quickly realised that this was no mistake, for the poems of this remarkable person also "reach", too. They reach forward and upward, but also backward, as well.

There's love, pain loss, humility, grace, passion, spirit and spirituality in these poems.

In these poems you will learn, live and love.

There's not one style of poetry in this remarkable collection, not one form or format. Which helps to make the collection of poems come alive with crackling vibrancy.

It's published by Matador at £8.99. If you only ever buy one book of poetry in your life, please let this be that one book of poems. You'll not regret your decision. Honestly.

Sir Humphrey's Last Stand

In Sir Humphrey's Last Stand we meet Sir Humphrey was is, as it happens, making his last stand.

The book is set in Medieval times, but experts in the history of those far off, distant times might be in for a bit of a torrid time as the author, Jonathan Forth, cheerfully acknowledges that his book has only a somewhat limited grip on history and reality and perhaps might upset the more literalist of its readers.

However, having said that, there is much to recommend this book to the reader.

The French Kings has decided to remove the English. And he has, pretty much, succeeded in his aim. Pretty much? Yes, pretty much, because there's the somewhat inconvenient fact that Sir Humphrey and his merry, or morose, men on Mon St Bernard are still on French soil.

The King has sent his spies to infiltrate the English camp at Mont St Bernard but their Continental good looks and charming ways have caused the hearts of the lustful (but unfulfilled)  women of the castle to flutter more than a little bit.

The area's Mayor is in a quandary, to be frank. He doesn't know if he should support the English or the French.

However, on to the scene come a knight and a lady. Can they save the day? What can the pirates and the parrot do? And what was that man doing with a human foot in his pocket? And why did the butcher want with it?

The best way to describe this book is that it's a bit of a madcap romp. And that it's probably not too far removed from the reality of Medieval life.

It costs £9.99 and is published by Matador.