Friday, 29 May 2020

Naomi Rose

In Naomi Rose, we meet Naomi Rose. She is ten and an already dedicated and avid reader.

Her mother is dead and she finds it a struggle to grieve whilst attempting to follow the guidance of her father that she must be composed and be self-restrained.

However, her father's way of coping with his grief is to climb into a bottle of alcohol and so Naomi feels abandoned and locked out by the one person in her life who should, by rights, be there to offer her their love and support.

As a result she decides to seek solace and attention outside the home and she finds happiness devising very tall tales that shock her school friends. In fact it seems to be the shock factor that she relishes?

Naomi is befriended bu Ozzy a boy of Turkish origin. He is confidant and charming and in Ozzy, she feels, she has found a person she can trust.

But Ozzy embarks on a relationship with Molly, a girl Naomi hates, so once again she feels bereft and alone.

A young English teacher, Mr Adams, recognises her creative talents and nurtures her writing abilities. Unfortunately Mr Adams is a naive young man and cannot see that Naomi's obsession with him is potentially very dangerous indeed 

Naomi has a plan. A plan that will rekindle her father's attention and also punish Mr Adams for rejecting her.

But what exactly happens when she realises that people actually do care for her? And what happens to Mr Adams, Naomi, her father and her friends?

This is a highly charged novel from Kisten Esden and writer who, I feel, we will hear more from in the future.

It is published by Matador at £9.99.

IVF Got This

IVF Got This is a compelling memoir from Colette Centeno Fox. It describes her journey to motherhood.

However, it was not so simple and straightforward as it often is. Because It describes the fertility issues that face her and husband Michael, as the struggled with the problems that infertility can brjng to a couple.

The book is an honest and moving account of the problems that they faced together. The losses of babies and the trauma that resulted, set backs and waiting times, the treatments that she had to go through.

It touches on matters of her personal faith and how she employed this to help her cope, how badly people with depression are treated, it's often, as she points out, mistaken as a sign of weakness, rather than something to be treated.

If you are looking to get IVF, then this book is a must buy. And if you are working in the field of IVF this book is al must buy, in fact, for you it is a must read as it will help you to understand your patients and what they might be going through.

How does the story of Mike and Colette end? Oh, come on! That'd spoil the surprise that Colette had!

It's a wonderful book, it's published by The Book Guild at £8.99.

Guess What I Found In The Playground!

Guess What I Found in The Playground! is a wonderful new book for children (and the adults in their lives) by first time children's author Victoria Thompson.

It's aimed at children from ages five to seven and it tells the story of what Tilly found in the playground.

But merely telling her dad what she had found in the playground would totally spoil her fun. She wants to make her poor old dad guess what she found, instead. But can he beat Tilly at her own game? Can he outfox his own daughter and guess what she found?

Did she find something to collect?

Did she find some food that had been leftover?

Her missing welly... which wasn't, actually missing in the first place?

A book?

A frog?

Can her brother help their daddy guess?

Well... can he?

This is an absolutely fantastic book with wonderful and very vibrant, impactful and colourful illustrations which children and adults will enjoy reading and looking at for a very long time indeed.

It's published by Matador at £9.99 and is in a very good large format, so is easy to share.

The Long Way to Get to Me

The Long Way to Get to Me is a coming of age novel from author Marc Lindon.

It's about Kevin. Kevin is young and he works in a betting shop. Like most young men, Kevin thinks about sex. But in that idealised way that the inexperienced young man does this.

The reality of sex doesn't seem quite so alluring. Well, at least until Laura comes into his life.

Could fantasy and reality coalesce into something that is not just magical but real?

However, there are problems that must be addressed. Vandalism and anti-social behaviour are becoming a very real nuisance in the area.

But the police don't seem to be interested in the slightest. And if the police will not address these issues. who will? Someone must! And I'm sure you will see where these ideas might lead?

This is where David comers onto the scene. David is a police officer. Actually, that's not true. David wanted, longed, to become a police officer but that wasn't possible for several reasons. But he is given a role working with the police, even though the officers don't take him seriously and subject him to derision and resentment.

But unlike his police colleagues, David is convinced that there is a dangerous gang of vigilantes operating in the local area. David is convinced that he can solve the case and prove that everyone has been wrong about him all along!

I mean, what on earth could possibly go wrong?

It's a well-crafted debut novel with angst, humour, danger, drama thrills, spills and love, too.

It's published by Matador at £8.99.

Robby: Will to Live

Robby: Will to Live is a book authored by Hugh Franks,

It tells the story of Robby and his fight against the disease Muscular Dystrophy, for which there is, as yet, no cure.

At the age of six Robby was diagnosed with the condition and it relates how he bravely faced the problems this brought to his life.

Unfortunately his birth father was unable to cope. His heavy drinking and his constant berating and beatings of Robby caused many problems and Robby's mother threatened to leave him. But she didn't, hoping that he would change. But he never did.

However, onto the scene came a former school friend of her husband, Hugh Franks. His own post-war marriage had recently ended in divorce.

Robby's father virtually abandoned his family, spending more and more time involved with his business interests in Europe. So it was natural that Robby's mother would turn to Hugh for support when Robby was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy.

The situation was worsened when Robby's father denied that he could shave any responsibility for Robby's health problems and blamed Robby's mother, Judith. He also, cruelly, refused to return to England and said that Robby must take it on the chin. At only six years of age.

The problems with the MD had, actually, been observable for some time and the only answer that Robby's father had was to severely beat the boy for accidentally smearing a small amount on jam on the banister.

Eventually Hugh and Judith fell in love, Judith divorced her husband and the story really begins in earnest.

It's a story of tragedies and of triumphs and of football games played between Robby and Hugh. Of medical assistance for a disease for which there is still no cure. And the loving bond between Juditch, Robby and Hugh.

It's a heartwarming book of love, humour and of resilience in the face of terrible odds.

The book has a forward by Sir Richard Attenborough, CBE.

It is published by Matador at £8.99. I recommend this book to any family which has a MD person as a member or a friend and also to any MD, nurse or hospital consultant or health worker who may come into contact with a person who has MD, because this book will be of immense value to you.

Sunday, 17 May 2020

After Exta Time and Penalties

After Extra Time and Penalties is the biographical memories of BBC football corespondent Mike Ingham MBE.

He was Chief Football Corespondent at the BBC for a quarter of a century and only the third person to hold this illustrious position following Brian Moore and Bryon Butler.

During his working life as a football corespondent he attended eight World Cups, gave commentaries on 28 FA Cup Finals, worked with ten different full time England managers and also introduced Sports Report.

His autobiography is an honest account of what he saw and participated in as football and football coverage changed beyond all recognition throughout his long career, as a professional onlooker and observer.

Learn why he had to drive home one night, naked from the waist down (it really wasn't his fault) find out which players he rated, which he didn't rate and players who he rated yet who, for reasons he still can't figure out, were really not given the opportunities he felt they deserved.

It's well illustrated with a nice selection of photographs and this book is absolutely perfect for any football fan, no matter what team they support.

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

Far, Far the Mountain Peak Book Three

Far, Far the Mountain Peak Book Three is the latest in this series of novels from Arthur Clifford.

When we next meet up with the protagonist, John Denby, he will soon enrol at Stirling Academy, a very prestigious seat of learning.

We have followed him through his troubled childhood, seen him struggle with his sexual identity as he suffered the education of an 'experimental' comprehensive school in a dire council estate, dealing as best he could with deliquescent and criminal pupils.

At 16 excellent exam results are propelling him toward greater and better things at Stirling Academy.

Can he make good on his academic potential? Will his homosexuality which he previously tried to hide with a succession of girl friends, really mark him out as different? Cause him any more anxious moments?

Only time will tell as we follow John on his journey through his young life.

It's another captivating read from Arthur Cliffoird, published by The Book Guild at £9.99 

One, Two, Three, Four

One, Two, Three, Four is a biographical book by legendary studio recording engineer, Brummie Richard 'Digby' Smith.

It's January 1st, 1970. Back in the day, people in England did not get January 1st as a Bank Holiday, so that morning saw Richard 'Digby' Smith, at 19 years of age, joining the West London based Island Records as a staff engineer.

Island Records was a very important independent record label which developed the careers of many of the UKs top musical talents and the studios played host to many pf the leading musicians of that time.

This is Diby's interesting and wide ranging look back at a career in being a studio sound engineer that has spanned 50 years, working in London, California (LA, in point of fact) and many other places around the worlfd.

Digby will tell you what it was like to reside in LA back in the early 1970s, rubbing shoulders with the elite of Hollywood.

He is also honest about his fight to beat the twin evils of alcohol and drugs, and how he made his way back to Britain in the middle of the 1980s.

He worked with, and helped the careers of a wide range of stars like Bob Marley, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Led Zeppelin, Robert Palmer and even full orchestras, making sure that they all sounded as good as they could.

It's a wild and eclectic read. Learn how Digby learned to cope with Type 1 Diabetes (not his own) and proper football matches played in Hollywood by a whole range of people, including Marty Feldman and the best place, at the time, to obtain a real British fix in LA. Jammy Dodger biscuits, real Cornish ice cream and genuine English butter.

It's a great read and contains some nifty line drawings by Laura Callwood.

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

Scotland Beyond the Bagpipes

Scotland Beyond the Bagpipes is a new book by author Helen Ochyra that explores the country of Scotland.

She takes her readers on a long and interesting journey, looking at the Scottish capital city, Edinburgh, Fife, the Highlands, the far north of Scotland, taking in the legendary John o'Groats, the coastal areas of Scotland, too.

Helen travels to the islands that are off the coast of Scotland, the great industrial city of Glasgow, the Glens of Scotland, the mountainous regions of the country and also walking over ancient and long extinct volcanoes and the lochs and rivers of Scotland.

As an experience travel writer Helen does paint a warming and compelling word picture of Scotland.

However I must point out that I was disappointed that the illustrations are non-existent, limited to the colour photograph of the cover and one extremely sparse line drawing map.

But the book is still a must buy purchase for people who are interested in travelogues, especially about Scotland.

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

Callum McBride

This is Michael Riding's debut novel.  It features young Callum McBride who is twelve years old and who is easily distracted and thus, can quite easily, become bored.

At the opening of the novel he is already bored, at home from school for the school holidays.

However, Callum has a surprise. He has a magical ability to enter the minds of animals and to control them. He temporarily vacates his own body during this process.

However, he meets up with a girl called Emma who has abilities of her own. She is a super hacker whose skills have already brought her into contact with MI6.

As their friendship blossoms, Emma discovers that there might well be a link between the fact that as a baby of under one year old he was found, alone, on the ferry that travels between Iona and Mull. Which brought about his adoption by a local family.

Whilst trying to find out who he really is and where his strange ability came from the two friends soon discover themselves enmeshed in a plot to steal a nuclear weapon.

Can the two friends complete their quest and defeat the enemy they have discovered? Only time will tell!

The book is an exciting read and is written specially for young people who can easily be distracted to read and to enjoy.

It's published by Matador at £9.99.

Taxi Tales From Paris

In Taxi Tales From Paris ex-pat and Parisian resident Nicky Gentil brings us an interesting take on life in Paris.

It's an interesting take on the ex-pat look at their 'new' country. Because it really does look at Paris through the windows of a number of taxi rides that Nicky (a translator and author) took through Paris.

There's a quest to locate a piano tuner, the European Football Championship and the obsession of Parisian taxi drivers when it actually took place in France.

The ban on mobile phone conversations in taxis, the legendary rudeness of Parisian taxi drivers. Rare, though it does sometimes occur, a silent taxi driver, an excitable one, a philosophical one,
her love of jazz and her love of playing jazz piano, all of these stories and many, many more are joyously related by the author.

If you have ever lived in Paris, took a holiday there, or ever merely passed through the Charles de Gaulle Airport, or ever even just heard of France or Paris, you really should buy this book. And it will make an ideal gift, too.

It's published by Matador at £8.99.

Bahama Boyz

In the novel Bahama Boyz author Nick Hughes introduces us to an amazing story that starts in the East End of London in 1970 and, eventually, moves all the way over to the Bahamas.

And it's actually, Nick assures his readers, a true story.

Nick's family was a charismatic one and he somehow became a trainee croupier at the young age of 19 at the Playboy Club in London.

He quickly discovers that it's a time of glamour and a new time where being from a working class London background does not mean he is held back and he quickly finds himself in a lifestyle of glamour, excitement and sexual freedom.

The world is, really, his oyster and he finds himself working in the all-male Paradise Island Casino in the Bahamas. Which is where his lifestyle becomes even more frenetic and frantic.

Weird stories of what happened in the back of a taxi, an abortive threat by a midget gangster, who even wore a tailored Crombie coat, but who ended up with more than he had bargained for or feared, the Shetland Pony and... actually, I'm going to draw an end to this review, save to say that you really do need this book, especially if you are in need of a good, boisterous and slightly raunchy laugh.

It's published by Matador at £12.99. 

Living With the Dead

In reviewing Living With the Dead your reviewer must acknowledge that this novel ticks two very important boxes. It's a mystery (of sorts) and it involves archaeology. Having said that...

There's an archaeological dig in India in the 1930s. Rebecca is pursuing true love, but a combination of meeting a man on a mountain and some violence throws a spanner in the works, so to speak.

The team's excavations come up with some very exciting finds but they quickly realise that that there is a great deal more risk and danger than they had first surmised.

Rebecca must battle her way along the dangerous Indian coast to learn the truth.

The story then moves forward in time some 80 years. Magsie is moving, slowly, northward toward Scotland on an important journey of her own.

Forced onward by the damaged lives of her youth she feels that she needs to save her grand-daughter from the still less than perfect 21st century.

It's a powerful, compelling novel that surfs the waves of the decades with alacrity.

Published by The Book Guild at £8.99, it's written by Philip G. Reed.

Unwritten Rules

In Unwritten Rules readers of Graham Donnelly are taken back to 1962 where they will meet up with civil servant Anthony Fernard.

His position within the Home Office is relatively minor, yet does have some degree of responsibility. The job is a steady one and his family life is a happy one.

He becomes tangentially involved with a young woman and his career is somewhat invigorated by the fact that he does like to do things in his own way, no matter what officialdom might dictate.

In his position at work he realises that the Cuban Missile Crisis is far more serious than officially admitted.

Faced with the very real possibility that the end of the world might actually only be a couple of days away he decides to embark on a love affair that brings him into the shadowy world of espionage and the very real danger of blackmail.

At first he finds this exciting and fun, but soon he realises that he might, actually, have endangered not only his own life but the lives of those whom he cares most deeply about.

How can he extricate himself from this situation? Does he?

This is a well crafted spy novel from published author Graham Donnelly and former civil servant and it certainly captures the feelings of the time and evokes the fevered nature of those years.

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

Harry in a Hurry

Harry in a Hurry tells the story of Harry Snail. Harry has dreams. Dreams of a different life, other than that of a snail.

He wants a faster, quicker and more exciting lifestyle! And he seeks out the help of his friends to bring this about.

There's Mick 'the Quick' Mouse, plus Benny Bee. Can they help Harry get the type of new, exciting life that he wants, that he craves for?

It's a great book for sharing with young children, with words and wonderful vibrant and colourful illustrations throughout. It's created by Garry Mitchell and Jerry T. Jones.

It's published by Matador at £8.99. Though it's on sale at Matador for £5.99.

A Lost Child of Cyprus

A Lost Child of Cyprus tells the story of Yasmin. Her loving family life in Famagusta is damaged by the violence that destroys her community as civil war rages on the island.

Baby Yasmin become separated from her family and she never sees them again. She is adopted and her adoptive mother is a harsh disciplinarian who believes in discipline before love and in duty. Fun? She doesn't seem to have much time for that.

In the 1970s Yasmin is able to flee from Cyprus and manages to reach England, where she aims to find herself a new and happier life.

But can she do this? How will her history as someone from Cyprus influence her new life in the England of the 1970s?

She still longs for love in her life. Can she find this?

Written by published author Steven Baker it is a masterful retelling of the life of Yasmin which is based on real life events that tgook place in Cyprus and in England.

It is published by The Book Guild at £9.99.

Devil's Mist

Devil's Mist is a new novel for young people from author Liam Moiser.

The novel begins with a family and friends camping trip. Everyone starts to tell frightening stories. They are all, of course, make believe.  All with the exception of the story told by Rosie's father. Because, he assures his audience, his story is different. Because it is true.

The house on the other side of the lake is cursed, the daughter of the family of the house went missing and, so the legend relates, anyonme who gets to near to that house will also vanish.

Rosie and Jenny don't believe it. However as events unfold it become obvious that the curse is a real, true thing and that someone else will soon be the target.

They receive evidence that the curse is genuine. As the story progresses they are scared by the possibility that they too will become victims of the terrible mist.

Can they escape? Or are they also doomed to be lost within the mist forever?

Who is really behind the curse? And is  there something magical that is stronger than the curse that can defeat it?

It's a compelling read and costs £7.99 from Matador.