Sunday, 13 August 2017

Sugar and Spice

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

The book is published by Matador at £9.99 and is available for purchase here https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

Beijing Smog

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

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

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

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

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

It is published by Matador at £9.99 and is available here for purchase https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

Kafka, Einstein, Kafeinski and Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The book is published by Matador and costs £9.99. It can be bought here https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

Born Together

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This book is published by Matador at £10.99 and you can buy it at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

You can also learn more at www.patriciagachagan.com.



Mystery City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The book is published by Matador at £7.99 and is available to purchase here https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

When Snow Fell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is published by Matador at £7.99 and can be obtained here https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

Absolutely Galapagos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The book is published by Matador at £9.99 and is available at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Networking Thoughfully

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can purchase it here https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

Elizabeth, William... and Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What could this mean?

And can Ally find what she is seeking?

Could Dr Pinch help her?

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

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

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

The book is published by Matador at £9.99 and can be purchased at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.






Saturday, 5 August 2017

The Wireless in the Corner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The book is published by Matador at £10.99 and can be bought here https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

Barry and Bev The Big Concert

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

The novel is set in a town in Northern England

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The book is published by Matador at £7.99 and can be purchased at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

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

She has also written a number of stage plays.

1500 Hotel Nights

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

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

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

This is his second book.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This book is published by Matador at £9.99 and can br bought at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

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



Paradise Lost

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

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

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

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

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

It is published by Matador at £9.99 and can be purchased at  https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

Jackson King and the Morpher's Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is published by the Book Guild at £8.99 and can be bought here https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

Shake Hands or Die

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a well-written murder mystery novel which is published by Matador at £8.99. You can purchase it here https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Film review, Thugs Vs Dinosaurs, a "Must Watch" movie

Thugs vs Dinosaurs is a recent "straight to YouTube" release directed and produced by Tripp Tiffany.

It's a film that is humorous, though it does have moments of satire and of genuine pathos, too.

A (heartbroken) young paleontologist, Seth W. Boi gives a lecture to a classroom filled (or not!) with only two people.

He then goes home and changes from his paleontologist clothing to the clothing that he prefers to wear, that of a pimp, complete with a $ medallion.   

He goes to meet his friend Georg to help him celebrate Georg's birthday, but the area has become infested with dinosaurs! All created by Georg's grandfather, a former Nazi scientist!

They meet with a whole host of characters, some odd, some bizarre and some, to be frank, who are oddly bizarre or even bizarrely odd.

The film recording; lighting and sound quality are good, the costumes are innovative and the costumes contain some little jokes that you really should not miss!

The special effects, for a film with a total budget of $3,000 and a fairly large and well chosen cast, are excellent.

There are sassy women, gangland characters, a Nazi scientist, a military veteran and his missing daughter, a dubious police officer, a callus ex and her neandertal boyfriend in this wonderful film.

And the specially composed and specially performed musical score is worth listening to in itself.

I am sure you will enjoy this film.  


Monday, 24 July 2017

Brandfather John Murphy the man who invented branding

"Brandfather John Murphy the man who invented branding" is an very readable book that tells the story of how Interbrand, the company that he, John Murphy, founded, was at the forefront of the branding revolution.

It reveals how many businesses suddenly appeared to realise at roughly the same time, three decades ago, the importance of their brands.

In fact, a new business discipline was coming into existence, Branding.

Some business seemed happy to bumble and bimble along pretty much as they had always done, but this was at their peril and at great risk to the viability and the future existence of their businesses.

John Murphy founded Interbrand in 1974 and he and Interbrand were recognised as being the main force behind this business revolution.

The origin of Interbrand was that of a name creation business. They would create a name, develop a name, test them and take care of any resultant legal clearances.

The business quickly earned an international reputation and was responsible for the creation of some early successful band names: Hob-Nob biscuits, Viagra, Punto, Mondeo and Homebase.

Four years later John Murphy opened an office in New York City, in 1982 he launched offices in both Frankfurt and Paris and a year later, Tokyo.

During this time he began to realise that there was much more to branding than merely coming up with a name for a business or a product, he realised that there were, actually, the creators of 'brands' which was an unknown concept at that time.

Interbrand decided to redefine themselves (rebrand themselves, even?) and also came up with the term branding.

In 1988 Interbrand went one step further and came up with and developed the concept of "brand valuation" which caused a sensation in the branding sector, propelling Interbrand into the world leader.

This is the no holds barred account of what happened by John Murphy. It tells the story of the company and also of the sector, of the successes and also of the disasters and the lessons that he was able to learn from them. Including a disastrous merger between two massive concerns that ultimately lead him to hit upon the idea of striking out on his own and so Interbrand came into being.

The book is an interesting insight into the highs and lows of Interbrand and how a chance meeting with a rival caused him to realise that bad figures in 1990 were not just a blip but a major recession and caused him to take harsh but necessary business decisions that not only saved the company at a time when some others went to the wall, but enabled it to have record successive years.

This book is required reading for businessmen and businesswomen, for brand experts, marketing gurus and those in the advertising industry.

It is published by The Book Guild at £11.99 and can be bought here  https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.


Joseph, 1917

Joseph, 1917 tells the story of an ordinary man of his time. He did not want to go to war, but he went to war, all the same.

Joseph's fate ended, sadly, as did many others of his generation, in the confusion, noise and horror of the Western Front during what was then called The Great War.

His story, attests author David Hewitt, is "very much a 'secret history' the history of many ordinary men who fought and died during that terrible conflict.

Not the story of conscientious objectors, or of those garlanded with battle honours, or executed at dawn as deserters, but of the countless other men who fought and often tragically died.

It is revealed that the fate of Joseph was decided by a special tribunal, which resulted in him being sent off to fight and to die.

It touches upon why he, like so many others, signed up for military service and why he then subsequently attempted to put off the day when he would actually be sent off to fight in the Great War.

It tells of his appearances at a local tribunal and a more distant tribunal, of the clashes between the tribunals,  and of his ultimate fate.

The author draws on tribunal records and colourful contemporary newspaper reports to create a compelling and, at time, difficult story.

Anyone who wants to learn about the real history of the Great War should buy this book, which is published by Matador at £8.99. You can purchase it here https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

Fearless Leadership

How can a manager really manage? How can he or she be a real leader?

If they take the time to purchase and read Fearless Leadership by leadership and business expert Richard M. Varey, they will be able to find out.

In his new book Richard (his company, Fearless Leadership delivers training and leadership consultancy services) shows managers and leaders how they can improve their leadership skills and their effectiveness in no matter what workplace they operate.

He can draw on over a decade of research and practical work and he has nurtured and cultivated "The Fearless Approach" model.

He argues that leaders should create a fear-free workplace culture as this will allow individuals within the company and the organisation to flourish. 

Gone are the old models of "leadership" which were often bullying dressed up in psychobabble.

Because as Richard points out: "Throughout my early years of leadership I found that 'being nice worked'; that a positive approach raised the capacity of others to do better."

His experiences provided the basis for his book.

He also draws upon his long experiences as working as a teacher, sometimes finding himself facing volatile situations within the changing field of education and of working in underperforming schools and turning them around.

The books draws upon a number of different sources, such as neuro-psychology, evolutionary biology and actual practical examples from cases studies of successful businesses and successful leaders, plus anecdotal evidence from a variety of sources such as the armed forces and the world of sports.

Although the book is very carefully researched and cites sources where appropriate, it is not a dry as dust boring academic work. It is written by a real person for real people. It's a book for us ordinary folk who want to do better at work and who want to ensure our businesses not only survive but that they thrive.

The book contains many salutary lessons that we readers should be eager to read and learn. My favourite example is how an underwear manufacturer was destroyed within four months. And apparently the seed of the destruction was rooted in an ambiguous instruction, miscommunication between staff and an eager young woman armed with just a typewriter. 

One point that Richard does make is that fear should have no part in a workplace. That a fearful team will freeze, fight or flee. That you must make sure there is no place for fear, that your staff should be fearless and bold.

The book costs £9.99 and is a must have item for the desk (not the bookcase!) of every employee, business owner and manager. And it makes an ideal gift.

It is published by Matador and can be purchased here https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Zed and Dez 005 Secret Service Agents

Zed and Dez 005 Secret Service Agents is a book that is firmly aimed at all children from ages seven to nine years of age and it is written by author S G Barfield, a former IT guru and teacher.

World wide, there are children who work for the super secret 005 Secret Services Agency. And Zed is one of these secret agents!

Every week he receives top secret instructions (through a secret vending machine carefully hidden at the rear of his bedroom wardrobe, that dispenses secret mission instructions, rather than snacks and drinks) of his latest daring secret operations.

He is aided and abetted by Lorenzo. Lorenzo may by only nine years of age, but Lorenzo is one of the world's top designers and makers of super secret special gadgets that are used by secret agents like Zed in their missions.

But Zed needs some special help to make certain his missions are all undertaken successfully. And his assistant is his best friend Dez, who is also nine years old!

Together they strive to thwart baddies and save a talent show, stop a kidnap plot, save someone from drowning, make sure Mr Ladd is kept safe and construct a youth centre, amongst other tasks!

And will Lorenzo's weird inventions actually help them?

The story is a good, fun read which is illustrated with some well-executed cartoons.

If you are looking for early Christmas presents, this book is a must buy at £7.99. It is published by Matador and is available at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

Living to See You

Living to See You is a romantic novel with a very strong foundation of truth.

For in it, author Bee Johnstone tells the story of her own parents and how they met during the dangerous years of World War Two.

Her father was a bomber pilot, became ill with an infection, fell in love with a nurse who was still within her probationary period and survived the depredations and horrors of the Desert War.

This amazing true love wartime story was the basis for Living To See You, Bee Johnstone' debut novel.

The novel relates the long distance courtship between a pilot of Wellington Bombers flying dangerous missions over the skies of Egypt and an equally young probationary nurse who was tending the patients at a fever hospital, in the last days before antibiotics began to help in the fight against infectious diseases.

The story is told through the medium of the love letters that passed between them as each one battles against the problems that they face, enemy action in his case and seriously ill patients in her case.

It is many things, a romantic novel and also a captivating story about the Second World War, detailing the bravery of the Allied pilots who participated in Operation Jostle in 1941, flying in what were described as: "Winston's Wellingtons" a subject which has not been given as much attention as perhaps it deserves.

This is Bee Johnstone's debut novel, let's hope it is the first of many novels from this author.

The book is published by Matador at £7.99 and can be bought at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

Thirty Fifteen

Thirty Fifteen is the last novel in Phil Tomlinson's "Soul Snatcher" trilogy, bringing it to an electric conclusion.

Zoe Marshall is in a jam. She finds herself still on the planet Earth, but it is 1,000 years into the future and it all, from Zoe's perspective, seems to have gone very, very wrong indeed.

People live as tribes in primitive settlements and wild animals roam at will.

The Earth is encircled by artificial planets and these constantly send down armed patrols which attack the settlements and capture their inhabitants.

Zoe wishes to return to her own time. Unfortunately the one person who would almost certainly be able to help her return to her home time is the alien called Kazzaar. But Kazzaar is missing.

Zoe must continue alone in her quest to return home, facing the physical dangers of a very different Earth, but she is also plagued by the horrors of her nightly dreams.

Can Zoe work out a way to return to the safety of her family and friends, back in her own time? Or will she be trapped in the hostile, brutal and dangerous future world forever?

But how can she trust Kazzaar, after all he had done before?

This is an exciting example of juvenile Science Fiction, but it will hold the attention of adult readers too.

It is published by Matador at £8.99 and is available from https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

Paradise Girl

What if the song: "If you were the only girl in the world..." wasn't just a romantic song from a long-distant era?

What if it were your reality? It is the reality for Kerryl Shaw. Aged just seventeen, she lives with her family on an idyllic and remote farm in the heart of the Pennine Mountains.

But then comes the devastating plague. But wouldn't the Shaw family be safe in their farm? Sadly, even they family succumb to the plague, one-by-one until only Kerry is left.

She knows that it is only a matter of time until she, too, falls victim to the mystery plague that has destroyed humanity.

So she decides to write a diary to a notional person she has dubbed Adam.

As all services start to breakdown the loneliness of her dreadful situation begins to weigh very heavily on her and her mind begins to crack.

She hears her name being called in the darkness of the night, animals attack her, she visits town and is assaulted, strangers outside the farm suddenly vanish and things appear and disappear. And to her, Adam becomes a real, rather than an imaginary person.

She finds text messages on her phone. But how can this be, when there is, apparently, nobody left to text her?

The she gets an invitation to meet a mystery person. Should she? What would happen if she did? But then again, what would happen if she didn't?

Paradise Girl is written by Phil Featherstone and it is published by Matador at £8.99 and can be bought at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

Tender is the Scalpel's Edge

Tender is the Scalpel's Edge is a new non-fiction work by consultant NHS surgeon Gautam Das.

He draws on his over four decades of work at the forefront of medical care involved with healthcare within busy NHS hospitals.

He touches on all aspects of  his professional life from his time as a medical student, right through to working as a vital part of a highly disciplined team of healthcare workers working together to save the life of a patient and what happens when the patient cannot be saved.

Although a detailed account, the author is extremely sensitive in how he tells the various stories that he covers.

From self-doubts if he is even suitable to be training as a medical doctor to learning that not only did he have what it took to become a medical doctor, he was also capable of continuing his training, this time as a surgical trainee, until he eventually was at the peak of his profession, a consultant surgeon.

From the moment I opened the book I was immediately drawn into a world of urgent surgical procedures, of patients in need of urgent, lifesaving urological surgery by Mr Das and his team of highly trained professional medical staff.

We also read of Mr Das' early days learning his surgical skills in India -he was the winner of a gold medal for surgery at Medical College- and of how he had to fight off the bed bugs that infected the rooftop hostel shared by the hospital's surgical residents, charmingly described as a "doctor's chummery" by Gautam Das.

We follow Gautam Das through his career in India and also in Britain, when, following his Master of Surgery qualification, he left India in 1979.

In 1981 he was admitted to the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh and he was awarded the Surgeon-in Training Medal of the College in 1988, before continuing on to obtain the Specialist (FRCS (Urology).

He was appointed Consultant Urological Surgeon in Croydon in 1990, a prestigious post he held until his retirement in June last year, 2016.

From 2005 to 2010 he also worked as a Pelvic Cancer Surgeon at St George's Hospital, London.

He has not fully retired, however, as he remains a Trustee-Director of the South East England Cancer Help Centre.

The book is a very human and humane account of his life as a surgeon and anyone with even a passing interest in this subject will benefit from this book. It would probably make a welcome addition to the bookshelves of any medical student or surgeon.

It is published by Matador at £9.99 and is obtainable at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.





A LIfe Untold

Zara Heart wakes up in a hospital.

She is bewildered and totally disorientated. Utterly discombobulated, as one might say.

Why is she there? What happened to her? Who, actually, is she?

Who is the woman she sees linked to the life support equipment? Who is the worried man who is sitting at her bedside?

All will be revealed when she meets the Head Assistant to the Angel of Death, AKA the D. A.

He is a surprisingly charismatic fellow who tells her that she has seven days left to live, but first he will show her the previous seven days of her life.

But is her death inevitable? Will she journey to the Hereafter or is her time on earth not yet over?

And who will decide? And why did the angel visit her?

The book is by Dallaa Moussallati and costs £8.99 from Matador and is available for purchase at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

The Silent Partner and other stories of truth

This is an interesting collection of short stories from author Juliet Castle, with illustrations from Jaye Gray.

The stories are obviously written out of great compassion and wisdom and love, there are stories of love, of devotion of loss and of redemption.

They are all written in a style that touches on the poetic and they speak directly from the soul of the author to the soul of the reader.

From the story of The Silent Partner (he is always there, but always silent) to stories of heartbreak and of pure love, every aspect of human life and emotion is to be found within these short stories.

And they are short. Very short in some instances, yet and yet... the truth is that even these stories, the shortest of these short stories, contains more wisdom and truths than is to be found in many much, much longer works.

You will read and re-read these stories over and over, always learning something new from them.

It's published by Matador at £8.99 (£12.99 hardback) and you can purchase it here at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

A Life Between Us

A Life Between Us is a new novel from author Louise Walters.

It tells the story of two sisters, one who has been dead for 40 years.

Due to a childhood accident, Meg, twin to Tina Thornton, dies. 

And for the next four decades, Meg carried a devastating secret, the fact that she blames herself for the death of he twin sister.

Until one day, one fateful day, during a visit to her elderly Uncle Edward and his sister, Lucia, hard, bitter, Lucia, she makes a discovery that completely shatters all that she thought she knew of the day that her sister dies.

She knows how her sister died. But does she? Does she really remember what happened, or are her memories not true?

And Tina is not the only member of her family who harbours some fairly dark secrets of their own.

Exactly how did Meg die? Did anyone kill her? Or was it a tragic accident that took her life?

Tina also examiners her relationships with the rest of her family, Uncle Edward, Simone, her French aunt and her estranged parents.

It is a compelling novel of family rivalries, dysfunction, loss and pain.

It's published by Matador at £8.99 and can be bought here https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.


Condition

Condition is one of those thriller novels that grabs the reader by the throat and will not let go.

The story begins in 1966 and RAF Flying Officer Dan Stewart is in trouble, he has been involved in a 'plane crash and he is literally watching his body being consumed by the fire that is raging through the cockpit of his plane.

He awakes from a coma in hospital some six months later, to be greeted by his wife and his daughter, Claire.

But where is his daughter Lucy? And is it his imagination or is there something going on between his wife and Doctor Adams, the medic in charge of his case?

And why can he not recall the mission that he was taking part in when his plane crashed?

And there was the puzzle of his injuries. He had suffered almost 100% burns in the fire. And had survived. How was that even possible?

 And how was it that when he saw his utterly horrific injuries in the hospital, the medical staff, apparently, could not?

And if he had been in a coma for six months, how come his accident had only occurred two weeks before he came out of his coma?

And what of the second accident, whilst he was under the care of the hospital that had, apparently, taken place?

He seems to be hallucinating, but which of the events that are taking place are real and which are the hallucinations?

Who can he trust? His wife? The Doctor? His nurse?

And what medical treatment do they want him to take? What is it? What is the purpose of it?

Dan doesn't want to take it. Is this due to paranoia caused by an injury to his brain? Or does he have a genuine reason for not wanting to take them?

Are his hallucinations and weird dreams a product of his illness, whatever that is, or are they trying to convey some sort of a message to him?

It's said that the truth will set you free, but what if the truth that is, apparently, being hidden from Dan, was so monstrous that it would kill him?

And what were the red pills prescribed by Doctor Adams actually designed to treat?

And what, exactly, is this hospital for? What conditions do they deal with? Burns and severe physical traumas, or is it a facility for treating neurological conditions?

Are the staff, or some of them, lying to Dan and his family?  

And why are all the other patients, including a child, called Alice, all suffering from almost exactly the same devastating burn injuries that are, apparently, afflicting Dan? And how was it that the sarcastic patient Gary knew which patients, including Dan, were not taking their red pills?

And why can't Dan's family see his horrific injuries?

If he just started taking the red pill again, all would be well, he has been assured. But if that were so, why had he stopped taking them in the first place?

The basis for this novel (the first in a series of three) are some rather unpleasant medical experiments undertaken by the military, those experiments are still very highly classified, so classified that the author can only allow a hint of them to be shared.

The novel is, according to Alec Birri, "disturbing science fiction based on disturbing science fact."

This has got to be one of the best science fiction books that I have read in 40 years, in fact it reads like a book written at the height of the British Science Fiction explosion. Maybe this is the start of a new renaissance for British SF?

But don't take my word for it, buy this book at  https://goo.gl/wdCFDG for £7.99.

It is published by Matador and I am eagerly awaiting the subsequent books in the series.





Whiter Than White

Whiter Than White is a novel by veteran Pakistani police officer and writer J. J. Baloch.

It tells the compelling story of Hoor who is a faithful, Pakistani woman who lives her life within the confines of the society in which she exists.

It tells of her personal journey through life, how she protects her honour and her womanhood, bit J. J. Baloch also uses the story of Hoor who make penetrating observations on the issues of how women are treated within Pakistan.

The author takes several themes and deals with them all extremely well, women's rights, or lack thereof, how women are often treated badly by the legal system and society in general, even to the point of being punished when they have actually not committed any crime.

The book is interesting as it looks at the problems that women face in Pakistan (a place where misogyny is real and very dangerous) and is written by an insider.

It is published by Matador at £8.99 and can be bought at  https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.


Unto the Skies

This is a biography of Amy Johnson, the pioneering English aviatrix who was the first femlae pilot to fly, solo, from Britain to Australia.

The daughter of Danish born, but naturalised British, Hull fish merchant, it might seem that Amy was an unlikely candidate for aviation history, but this was exactly what happened.

Author K. A. Lalani has undertaken meticulous research into the life and background of Amy Johnson from her very early life right through to her tragic and early death when he plane she was flying in crashed into the Thames Estuary. Her body was never recovered.

As well as being a pilot, Amy became the first British woman to qualify as a ground engineer, defying those who told her that she would never become a pilot to qualify as a pilot, eventually performing her heroic 1930 solo flight from Britain to Australia.

The sad story of her death by drowning in the Thames Estuary has never properly been explained and her remains were never recovered, even though she had been mere seconds away from being rescued. Indeed, one of the people who attempted to rescue her, died as a result.

The book does a great deal to take the reader into the whole life of Amy Johnson, flying ace and woman and it is very well illustrated with a well-selected range of photographs.

It will be welcomed by lovers of biography, of aviation history and of the history of modern British women and her story remains an inspiration to all, males and females.

It is published by The Book Guild at £9.99 and can be purchased here  https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.


The Yellow Bills

The Yellow Bills is a very well written book for children, but it will also be enjoyed by adults, too, so it is an ideal book to be read by and to children.

Michelle McKenna has crafted an exceedingly wonderful story (with superb illustrations from Steven Johnson) that tells the story of Mya.

Mya is eight years old and she wants to be just like her uncle, she wants to be a pilot.

She finds a local flying school, which has a 100% success rate in teaching its pupils to fly, enabling them to wear the coveted pilot's hat. But there is a fairly major problem that might block Mya from joining the flying school, she is a little girl, a human little girl, and the flying school is for ducklings only!

The flying instructor Lieutenant Drake chases her away, but when he sees how upset Mya is, one of the duckling pupils decides to help Mya to achieve her dream.

She learns a great deal from her new friend, that birds as well as humans have Control Towers to help make sure there are no crashes, she also learns of the story of Officer Peacock, the first duck who was taught to fly, even though she was only born with one leg.

But there were problems that My encountered, after all, humans aren't supposed to be able to fly and there was also the obstacle of Mr Sour the teacher, the only duck without the coveted pilot's hat.

But with the help of her mum, can Mya defy the odds and Mr Sour? Can she learn to fly?

The book is a fun and exciting read, but it also teaches some very important life lessons, but in a way that is not over-worthy or preachy. Including the most valuable lesson in disability awareness that I have seen in many years.

Your children will love this book, you will love this book.

It is published at £5.99 by Matador Books and it is a must buy book. In fact, there should be several copies of this book in every library and junior school in the country.

You can purchase it here at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Ley Ryders

Ley Ryders is a fantasy novel by Holly J. Williams who has been a published author even since she was 11 years old.

In Ley Reyders we meet Petronia a girl who refuses to let the fact that she is unable to speak impinge on what she wants to do with her life.

The Ley is a mysterious force that flows through the world. It brings with it the power of life to all who dwell on the world.

There is a group of women, a very select group of women, who have the power and ability to sense the energy of the Ley.

They must devote their entire lives to influencing the Ley, to bring protection and assistance tp all those who require it.

But a hidden evil threatens to expunge the power of the Ley.

Petronia knows that her destiny is not that of her family, ordinary as they are. She feels that there is more for her and more to her than can be known.

Why is she mute? Is this, somehow, linked to the fact that she knows in her heart that it is her destiny to become a Ley Ryder?

But is she? Hayden, her younger brother, is not all that certain.

Petronia has powers that could be equal to or even greater than those possessed by any Ley Ryder, but can she employ these powers with wisdom?

Will her powers help or harm?

The Ryders offer Petronia and Hayden protection and the siblings must set off on a quest with a dispossessed prince,  during which perhaps the truth of Petronia and her destiny will be discovered?

The book is published by Matador at £8.99 and is available for purchase at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.


Coming Down Again

Joobin Bekhrad is a published author, a journalist and a translator, and his works have earned him some awards.

However, Coming Down Again is his debut novel.

It tells the story of a young Iranian boy called Asha. His dreams are of fame and stardom. To be specific of rockstar fame and stardom.

But he lives in Tehran, the capital of Iran, with all that that entails. 

His prize possession is his cherry-red electric guitar and though he loves the city of his birth, he knows that, in order to become a rock star, he must leave the city and his country and move to London, where he would be able, he believes, to pursue his ambition of being a guitar playing rock star.

The book will resonate with everyone who was ever filled with teen angst and heartbreak, even if they happened not to have lived in Iran.

The wrong music, the wrong clothing, it all seems so intense, so real and so powerful, as this book takes us back to a time when music meant everything, so long as it was not the wrong kind of music. 

The book is published by Matador at £8.99 and can be bought at  https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

Horse-Cow Adventures

This is a collection of the adventures of Horse-Cow who is, perhaps not surprisingly, a half horse and half cow!

Horse-Cow lives with his human who is called Ella. And between them they have a whole series of fantastic adventures. And with some mishaps and mayhem thrown in for good measure!

Written by Maggi King and with some of the best illustrations that I have seen in awhile from Jake Tebbit this book is aimed at children aged three and up and their parents and grandparents.

Horse-Cow met Ella when Ella was in hospital. Ella could not walk, so had to spend all her time in either her bed or in her wheelchair.

Ella and Horse-Cow really hit it off and they soon became close, loving friends in the hospital. And the people at the hospital who helped Ella also loved Horse-Cow and they would say hello to Horse-Cow and they loved to stroke his big, soft wuffly nose and his mane which was very stiff.

When they left the hospital to live together at Ella's home they have a whole host of adventures. They try to bake a cake, and Horse-Cow ends up being trapped inside the vacuum cleaner by Mrs Soap. Luckily Horse-Cow was rescued by a large black beetle.

They also have adventures on the water with Mr Bob, during which Horse-Cow has to be rescued by the fishes. Horse-Cow later was sort of kidnapped by a dog, has fun with a box of toys and makes friends with little Gracie.

Author Maggi King uses a wheelchair and also owns a soft toy which is curiously a lot like Horse-Cow, so how true are these adventures? Why not buy a copy of this splendidly delightful book and help your children find out for themselves?

It's published by Matador at £9.99 and will make an ideal book for individual reading by children and also for bedtime story telling, too.

You can purchase the book here https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

It's Not All Rosey

This is not a work of fiction, it is a memoir written by Rosemary Bensley.

It starts with the event that defined her life, a tragic car crash that, randomly, took some lives and spared others, including that of Rosemary.

As many survivors of similar incidents tend to do, Rosemary wondered why she, and not others, had been spared, saved to live on.

Her life is a very untypical story as it can best be described as a "rags to riches" tale, born on the landing of her family's council house (with the umbilical cord wrapped, dangerously, around her neck) and she went from having to wear hand-me-down clothing to attending a boarding school which, although she left at 16 with no formal qualifications, could be said to have been the making of her.

It's a story of triumphs and tragedies of highs, lows and more highs as she finds a career path that leads to over 40 years of success from a lowly office junior to the dizzy heights of being a Managing Director (via many other stops, including that of Finance Director and East of England Businesswoman of the Year, 2011)  of a company in Thailand.

She also looks back at the different males in her life who appeared and sometimes disappeared, whilst often causing great emotional angst.

The book is illustrated throughout with photographs and it relates the story of a strong woman who shows what a woman can do if she sets her mind to it.

It's published by The Book Guild at £10.95 and will make an ideal gift for all women, both young and old.

It can be purchased here https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

The Jasmine Sari

The Jasmine Sari is a novel set in the world of terrorism. As it is written by Phillip Tucker, a former counter-terrorism officer turned novelist, it contains a good degree of realism based on his years of on the job experience.

He has based his novel on the maxim: "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."

London-based counter-terrorism expert Alex Cadman is sent to Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh where it is his job to assist the local police force by sharing his expertise with them.

Unfortunately it falls to him to work with an academic terrorism expert by the  name of Sam Kanoski, who is arrogantly sure of his own abilities, but what is the reality of the man? Is he actually any good?

For a variety of reasons Cadman finds Dhaka to be a city beset by tensions and dangers, so he seeks out the relative safety of the city's Foreigner's Club.

Within the club he meets Jasmina, a mysterious policewoman in the city force who he finds to be utterly charming and beguiling, yet, with her forthright political views, a bit of an enigma.

Despite believing that his days as an active anti-terrorism police officer are long in his past, he suddenly finds himself plunged inot the midst of a live anti terrorism investigation in Dhaka.

The investigation is a race against time. But who, exactly, are the terrorists? What are their motives? What are they going to target?

Can Cadman assist the local police to avert yet another terrorist outrage?

But who can he trust?

An exciting novel, with many twists and turns, it's published by Matador at £8.99 and is available to purchase at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

Hawke's Cross

Hawke's Cross is a new novel by David Collenette. And it gripped me from the very first page.

From the note left with a baby abandoned at a police station: "I thought I wanted a baby but I don't. His name's Matthew. Please give him to someone who wants a baby" right through to the last page, this is a stunner of a novel.

When we meet Matthew he is living as a homeless person in London. Although it's more complicated than that as he has a home of sorts (furnished in what one might call "early Marriott") and he finds a lucrative field using his talents as an artist to drew cartoons of people which they pay him money for.

But Matthew has a unique talent. He knows what you want. Not what you think you want, but what you really, truly want, though he doesn't understand how this talent works, he is never wrong.

Unfortunately Matthew comes into contact with a very wealthy, dangerous and evil psychopath called Ethem Connelly.

He plunges Matthew into a bewildering and frightening game which has no way out and no way to win.

Throughout his troubled life Matthew has made few friends and he is near to breaking points when one of his friends is abducted.

A man is sent to kill Matthew, but, surprisingly, they form a friendship and they flee the country as they attempt to stay one step ahead in the deadly game and make sense of what, exactly, is going on.

Will they finally work out what Connelly is really up to? Can his friend be rescued? Will they even survive for long enough to snuff out Connelly's evil game?

David Collenette's writing style is unique, he has a gift to bring characters to vivid life in as few words as possible and to keep the pace fast and furious.

This is his debut novel and I hope that it is the first of many more.

It is published by The Book Guild at £8.99 and can be bought at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

Rosa's Story

Rosa's Story is a new superbly illustrated book for children by author Terry McManus.

It brings to children the magic and splendours of the world's rainforests.

Whilst he was employed with Jaguar Cars, Terry was given sponsorship to travel to Belize to paint the wildlife there, concentrating (of course!) on the jaguar cats that live there.

The intention was that prints of his works would be made and sold to raise much needed funds for The World Land Trust.

Terry found that the whole environment there, Mayan culture, wildlife, landscape, etc., but especially the big jungle cats, capture his heart.

Rosa's story is a follow up to his first novel Under the Star With a Leopard.

Readers will follow Rosa on a magical and beautiful journey, but what, exactly, is the end result for Rosa?

It's a super tale that is very well illustrated with first rate colour illustrations and this book deserves to be owned by any child who even showed even a passing interest in big cats.

There are also some interesting facts and figures about jaguars, too.

It's published by Matador at £7.99 and can be bought here https://goo.gl/wdCFDG

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Counting the Ways

Counting the Ways is a novel that is contemplative in nature, written by Jude Hayward.

Set in the decade of the 1980s, it looks back to an age -not that long ago to many of her readers- when instant communications just did not happen. No tweets, no Facebook wall, no Snapchat or Instagram and e-mails something we might have read about but, at that time, had no likelihood of ever receiving or sending one (how times change!) so communications between individuals were more slower and more contemplative.

We read the story of Grace Barnes who meets, and falls in love with, Archie Copeland.

Grace is thrilled to have met someone who seems an ideal match for her. Well, he shares the same obsession for reading that she has and enjoys the same intellectual pursuits, too.

However, her mother Hester, and Grace, herself, are shocked when Hester's husband Fergus makes an appearance at the wedding of Grace and he beau.

The surprise is a not unnatural reaction to his sudden reemergence after exiling himself from his family by running away to live on a hillside in rural Wales some 30 years previously.

Shocking soon after their wedding Grace is perturbed by a growing distance between herself and Archie. What, exactly, is happening with him?

When they take a impromptu holiday on a Greek island, all seems well, but then Archie vanishes.  

Then Hester, Grace and Fergus take a detailed look at their relationships and how they had reached their current situations.

It's a thoughtful novel filled with multiple layers and costs £9.99 from Matador. You can purchase it at  https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

The Well of the Dead

I love a good murder mystery or a good crime story, so when a story from a former police officer, Clive Allan, comes along, that's a very good day, as far as I a concerned!

This is the second DI Strachan novel form Clive Allan and it features the terrible murders of Duncan Fraser, a distillery owner, and of his wife, Laura.

The small Scottish Highlands village of Glenruthven is shattered by the twin homicides and once again readers meet DI Neil Strachan as he leads the investigation, aided and abetted by his detective partner, Sergeant Holly Anderson.

They find themselves locking horns with a ruthless adversity, a criminal who seems to have a strange obsession with his Jacobite ancestry.

But what, exactly, is really happening?

However, all is not well with the lady in his life, his long-term partner, Cat. Did she lie to him? She's acting strangely, but is she having an affair or is it something else?

At some point his professional life and his personal life begin to blur together and unless he is very careful, his professional reputation could be at risk.

This novel grips from the beginning and it's a great murder mystery that is utterly enthralling, filled with characters that are well-rounded, with intelligent, insightful writing to keep you wondering until the very end.

It's published by Matador at a modest £9.99 and is available to purchase here https://goo.gl/wdCFD.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Miss Perfect

Being a social worker was everything for Miss Madge Perfect.

She had devoted her entire life to using the social work system to improve the lot of others, but most especially children.

But now, she is look back at her life from Ireland and she recalls when, yes, social work really was her life.

However, that was before Dan, her ambitious deputy, entered inot a conspiracy to have her removed from her position within the County Council Social Work department.

The name they gave it was restructuring, but whatever name they gave it, it meant there was no place for Miss Perfect, someone who always put her clients first.

Oddball professor of sociology Mitchell is brought in by County Hall to "evaluate service delivery" in Madge's office and this make Mage decide on a spot of evaluation, herself, or rather reevaluation, of her outlook to work and also life.

Mitchell's tenure is enlivened when he caught fire, but then he is dogged by disgrace when a female student brings forward some allegations about his behaviour toward her.

Madge's life seems to continue as normal, until a child in her care goes missing and a body is discovered.

Will County Hall sacrifice her to save face? It seems likely, until help comes from a somewhat unlikely source, a bouncer, who works at the Golden Slipper massage parlour.

But Billy knows Miss Perfect from his time a a child client in his youth and he has some information that he believes will help her. But the information comes at a price. Is it a price she is willing to pay?

But perhaps there might be some really big changes for Madge and for certain other people, too?

It's a heartening book and it is certain that the author Bernard Hall knows probably more about County Council Social Work departments than he might like to admit, as he has the office politics and the machinations of County Hall down to a T!

I can heartily recommend this book, which is published by Matador at £7.99.

It is available for purchase here https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.

The Cow Who Fell to Earth

One night a flock of sheep are doing what most flocks of sheep do at night, when, suddenly, they are interrupted by a star that lands CRASH!!!! right on top of the poor sheep!

The only thing is, it's not a star that has fallen from the night sky, it's a jet pack wearing little cow who is lost.

Unfortunately attempts at communicating with the cow are stymied by the fact that all the cow can say is "WOOO".

He is desperate to get home but this is going to be a tough job if nobody can understand anything he tries to tell them!

However, the sheep all rallied round the poor little fellow and they got him a blanket and, obviously they must have been British sheep, because they also brought him a cup of tea.

They asked him to tell them his story, which he did, but "Wooo, woo-woo, woo-woo" meant nothing to the sheep. Though they did decide that he needed a name and they gave him the name Dave.

Dave could see she had a problem at that point!

The sheep asked Bertha the cow for help, but she couldn't understand the little cow, either.

Kevin the cat, Pamela Pig and the farm dog Rufus were all consulted, but they all couldn't help.

But then the situation becomes a bit more complicated when some chickens managed to launch themselves into space using Dave's jet pack.

With the aid of a photograph of Dave and her family, the sheep realise they have to get Dave back home to the Moon.

But how will they do this without the aid of the jet pack?

Find out how when you read the book!

It's a fantastically silly book which should tickle the funny bone of almost all children and of a lot of adults, too, it's an ideal book to share with the little ones. It's written by Nadia Shireen who also executed the charming and vibrant illustrations, too.

It is published by Penguin Books and costs £6.99 and should be bought for every child in the land.

You can purchase it at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.