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"Freedom, Sex and a Meat Cleaver" by Sherman Miles

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Wednesday, November 13, 2019, In : Book Reviews 

Engrossing, entertaining and utterly easy to read, I had no problem at all getting lost in these exciting, fun tales.  Chronicling the adventures of a young American soldier, discharged following the end of the Vietnam war, who decides to return to South East Asia, to live and travel, these short stories are based loosely on the real life exploits of the author, as well as stories he has heard and people he met.  This collection of anecdotes forms the whole, overall story of his months in, pr...


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"The Apple" by Devashish Sardana

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Friday, November 8, 2019, In : Book Reviews 


Ancient and modern cultures collide in this brilliant, engrossing book, as a millennia-old nomadic island tribe protect the sacred Garden of Eden and the apple of eternal life, from ruthless big pharma, who want to harvest its life-preserving qualities for profit.

This ultimately quite sad indictment of modern society is a book of two halves, the first an intrepid, fantastically mythical quest for the ancient artefact, with shades of Indiana Jones meeting the creatures of Sinbad.  The second...


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"The Intelligence Factor" by Mike Logsdon

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Thursday, November 7, 2019, In : Book Reviews 

It is refreshing to read a Dystopian tale in which the freedom fighters are as evil as the regime they are trying to overthrow, and Logsdon’s book certainly leaves no blurred lines about the decency of either its “antagonists” or its “protagonists”.  This liberally action-packed thriller, set just a few years from now, portrays the origins and ideologies of both a draconian dictatorship and a shockingly violent and destructive terrorist group, whilst one decent federal agent tries t...


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"Black Volta" by Pete K.J.

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Monday, November 4, 2019, In : Book Reviews 


This superbly written fiction tells the interwoven tales of two people who travel to Ghana from different parts of North and South America, for very different reasons – one a Ghanaian emigrant, the other with a very intriguing reason to return to a country he once lived in.  As the tale develops, both start to reveal gripping and promising backstories, and as the possibilities begin to take shape, a degree of tension grows beneath the surface; I found myself utterly gripped.  That said, the...


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"Destiny's War Part 1: Saladin's Secret" by Pyram King

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Saturday, November 2, 2019, In : Book Reviews 

I love reading about turn of the 20th century British military camaraderie – the stiff upper lip and “golden age of cricket”, and Pyram King’s language in this respect is a delight.  It feels authentic and quintessentially English.  This short book – the first in a series – is adapted fiction from the real diaries of Francis Marion Jäger, an American journalist sent to Syria in World War One, to join the British forces fighting against the Turks and Arab mercenaries of the Ottoma...


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"Were We Awake" by L.M. Brown

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Thursday, October 31, 2019, In : Book Reviews 


A wonderful collection of understated, yet profoundly compelling slice-of-life stories, by an author I am very fond of.  Lorna’s writing is lovely to read, creatively crafted in alluring prose.  Be warned though, it can be a little bleak – reminiscent of a grey, rainy day, and there is little respite from a permeating feeling of sadness and melancholy.  But, this is not necessarily a bad thing; it is ultimately warm comfort – reading her work brings to mind a feeling of home; hot tomato...


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"Payback: Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge" by Steve Bassett

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Tuesday, October 29, 2019, In : Book Reviews 


Unlike its more journalistic predecessor in the series Father Divine’s Bikes, there is a more discernible air of ‘forties noir pulp fiction about this book.  Whilst its prequel focused heavily on cultural differences and animosities, this is more story led, with a greater role on crime fiction, and more prominence given to two of its resuming lead characters, detectives Nick Cisco and Kevin McClosky.  Other than this, the intertwined stories, subplots and backstories have only the most su...


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"The Seven Gifts Within Us" by The Sailor

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Sunday, October 20, 2019, In : Book Reviews 

Right from the very first moment I started reading The Seven Gifts Within Us, I felt a huge smile growing on my face, and it didn’t go away for the duration; this book is an utter delight.  I was expecting a sermon about faith, but this isn’t that; it is so much more.  It is a sermon of sorts, but far more universally applicable than to be simply applied to people of faith; all readers, if they are human, can take guidance from the overall message in this book.  The seven gifts are reveal...


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"Do We Have A Center?: 2016, 2020 and the Challenge of the Trump Presidency" by Walter Frank

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Friday, October 18, 2019, In : Book Reviews 



In this incredibly hard-worked account by a passionate political commentator, the “center” to which Walter refers is the moderate, rational ground between the left and right political wings.  The question of its continued existence is one which has become more prominent in recent years, in many countries, but perhaps none more so than the United States, following the election campaign and subsequent election of one of the most divisive presidents in living memory: Donald Trump. 

I admit,...


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"Almost Persuaded" by Nigel C. Ferguson

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Wednesday, October 9, 2019, In : Book Reviews 

I found this to be a somewhat surprising book, in that it taught me a lot about New Zealand and, in particular, its devastating drug-culture.  This eye-opening indictment was perhaps a little saddening, in the respect that it hits home reading that nowhere is safe from the scourge of class-A drugs – specifically in the case of this book, meth-addiction.  Incredibly well-sourced and researched, the fiction is perhaps by the bye, as Almost Persuaded focuses primarily on the country’s cultur...


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"Wacky on the Junk" by Kathy Varner

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Monday, September 23, 2019, In : Book Reviews 

This short, profound memoir is an honest and candid account of a young woman’s recollection of coming of age, against a culture backdrop of lacking direction and recreational drug use.  To the despair of her parents, as a troublesome teen, Kathy Varner has no plans other than to hang out, get high and see her favourite live bands.  The book is very matter-of-fact, with a punchy narrative, as Kathy describes how she simply allowed life to happen to her, whilst not knowing how and when to say...


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"East of Lincoln" by Harlin Hailey

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Saturday, September 21, 2019, In : Book Reviews 

This bleakly unsettling, yet triumphantly entertaining L.A.-dream-turned-sour tale, laced with sharp, very black – and sometimes side-splitting – comedy, is a real welcome interjection to the noir genre.  Addressing a subject which is vastly overlooked in our society: the scrapheap of middle-age – an age which takes everything from you, one piece at a time, it is very coarse and sour, and very, very good.

Set in the early-current decade – the post-recession Obama years – East of Li...


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"Choose A Reality... Any Reality" by Emmanuel Morfoboss

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Sunday, September 15, 2019, In : Book Reviews 


This short study explores and examines the multi-layered facets of human behaviour and cognitive decision-making, as if they are a very element of the physical make-up of our universe, which is a somewhat confusing, if interesting subject to get our heads around.

Using explanations of ancient philosophy, right through quantum physics and the construction of the cosmos itself, Emmanuel attempts to explain how our own differing perceptions of reality are really what directly contribute to the ...


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"Sour Blood" by Elizabeth Hamilton-Smyth

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Friday, September 13, 2019, In : Book Reviews 


A fun crime thriller, this tale of embezzlement, extortion and murder is formulaic and, overall, pretty entertaining, if not entirely novel.  The author knows her financial markets, and there is a real air of British reality about it, though its usual suspects line-up of gamblers, loan sharks and hit men perhaps feels a little out of place in the otherwise everyday setting.  Elizabeth portrays the capital as a den of brewing trouble, L.A. style - the rougher areas of Brixton and Manchester’...


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"World Football Domination - Volume 1: The Virtual Talent Scout" by Anthony Ranieri

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Saturday, September 7, 2019, In : Book Reviews 


Anthony Ranieri is a lovely author, incredibly eloquent, eager and inoffensive.  Furthermore, it is so refreshing to read a book set in the future, which focuses more on the sci-fi than on burdening its reader with doom and dystopia, its characters happy and ambitious.  The final product is a short novella about the use of technology in the business of football, set in the year 2050.

Ranieri is undoubtedly a passionate and well-experienced football fan and professional, and this shows in the...


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"Beyond The Prison Of Beliefs: Where Science Meets Spirit" by A.A. Lotfy

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Monday, September 2, 2019, In : Book Reviews 


If I am being truthful, it took me a very long time to find my feet when reading this book.  Once I did, however, I sailed through it, reading it in two easy sittings.  It is superbly written, and Lotfy is an extremely professional author – evidently well-educated and academic, yet philosophical. 

I already knew what the book was about, and it did indeed go on to confirm the blurb.  But, the confusion for me, I felt, was in the structure.  For the sum of its parts, Beyond the Prison of Bel...


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"Beware Of The Thought Bubbles" by Ross Libby

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Thursday, August 29, 2019, In : Book Reviews 


Absolutely superb.

I loved this collection of poems entirely, without exception.  Ross is a fantastic, melodic linguist, who writes what I consider to be the perfect poems for kids – some with subtle moral messages, some educational, but mostly just plain fun.  They are all quite lovely, rhyming simply yet eloquently, with a vocabulary enviable to most “grown up” writing.  Ross creates poems about marriage; about animals; about fruit; about bank robbers; about bubble gum… in fact, an...


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"The Wooden Man" by James W. Truax

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Wednesday, August 28, 2019, In : Book Reviews 


There are so many words to describe “The Wooden Man”: dark, disturbing and wonderfully engrossing are but a few.  James Truax is a fine author, and he doesn’t just present one interesting story in this self-contained tale, but several.  This extremely creative and completely absorbing novella presents as a fable for kids – yet, at the same time it grows darker, and at times genuinely more frightening, with each turn of the page.

When eight-year-old Gabe finds himself lost in the wood...


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"Count It All Joy" by Mitchell Allen

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Friday, August 23, 2019, In : Book Reviews 


Such a wonderful book – thought-provoking, poignant and utterly compelling, Mitchell’s opus re-enters the life of asocial, intelligent Luke, in five-year instalments.  Whilst initially showing signs of a presence on the disorder spectrum, as the book proceeds through his life, you find yourself starting to wonder if Luke is really all that unusual, or is it modern life, in all its mundane absurdity, which is the problem?  Without a specific storyline, we join Luke at the age of six, and w...


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"Voice Of The Sword" by John Paul Catton

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Monday, August 19, 2019, In : Book Reviews 



Not sure quite what to make of this book by John Paul Catton.  Whilst on the one hand it is an extremely knowledgeable and well-researched work into ancient Japanese history and mythology, on the other, the huge YA aspect of this book overpowers it in many ways.  Targeted very firmly at a teenage audience, I feel that the characters are too adolescent to appeal to anybody much older.  Yet, at the same time, Catton is clearly a mature author with an in-depth understanding of Japan, presumably ...


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"Myth Agent" by L.A. MacFadden

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Sunday, August 11, 2019, In : Book Reviews 


“Myth Agent” is a lot of fun, and MacFadden’s quality is apparent right from very early on; an incredibly engaging and intriguing book, which is perfectly written by an author with a wonderful narrative voice.  This inoffensive and universal tale of time-travel is gripping, with a small streak of unidentifiable menace running beneath it, which grows very subtly in tension, eloquently setting up the reader’s anticipation by its midway point.  With its increasingly dark undertone, MacFa...


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"Thirteen Dark Tales: Collection Two" by Michael R. Martin

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Monday, August 5, 2019, In : Book Reviews 


Martin’s collection of tales is both gripping and entertaining, and he does his readers a huge justice by encouraging them to use their imagination.  These thirteen stories are not really horror, as such, but they are certainly dark, with more of an air of mystery and suspense about them than anything else.  Happily, there is more than a small slice of the olde English gothic or occult influence in some of the tales, which I personally am a big fan of.  Overall, I found the collection enter...


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"Secrets To Being Amazing: What Confident People Don't Do" by Denise Wijayaratne

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Saturday, July 27, 2019, In : Book Reviews 


This short book is a self-help guide which could and probably should be designed to easily fit into a pocket or handbag, or downloaded onto a phone for easy access.  Rather than a pioneering psychology manual, it is rather a series of affirmations intended to help the insecure and those lacking in self-esteem to feel better about themselves at a moment’s notice.  Denise admits, right from the foreword, that she is one of those people, her confidence having been undermined by her mother at a...


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"From Foster Care To Millionaire" by Cody McLain

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Friday, July 26, 2019, In : Book Reviews 


Beautifully written and utterly engaging, right from the off, Cody’s intense attention to detail is visible throughout this book.  Whilst I have read a lot of memoirs, many of which project an increasingly bitter adulthood onto childhood trauma and don’t particularly have the desired effect of instilling empathy on the reader, Cody’s is the exact opposite of this – a tale of someone who suffered as a child, and overcame it to take control of his life.  In this boy’s case, I feel utt...


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"Flow Like A River" by Mark Guillerman

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Wednesday, July 24, 2019, In : Book Reviews 


A fantastic book, by an author who is both understated yet imposing in literary stature, “Flow Like A River” is a work of unexpected quality.  Absolutely a book of two halves, the first is a bit of a slow burner, which serves well to develop its endearing and interestingly layered characters; neither overly dramatic or offensive in any way, this easy-going read was engaging from the off.  There is little need for histrionics in this book, nor for gripping violence – the menace of the an...


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"We Have Met The Enemy" by Felicia Watson

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Monday, July 15, 2019, In : Book Reviews 




Although set in the 31st century, I think it is fair to say that the science fiction element of “We Have Met The Enemy” seems somewhat incidental, as this book relies so heavily on its soapy backstory, there could really have been anything going on in real time, and the outcome would have probably been the same. 

Indeed, whilst Felicia actually has a really good sci-fi imagination, the genre does not appear to be the primary objective of her writing.  Rather, family melodrama is the most...


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"Rocky Mountain Noir" by Peter Learn

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Monday, July 15, 2019, In : Book Reviews 


A very dialogue driven and bizarre comedy, with that instantly recognizable quirky, dry Canadian humour, a lot of which is so deadpan it may go over the heads of some Stateside.  “Rocky Mountain Noir” pays heart on sleeve homage to the detective pulp of Mickey Spillane, but does so with its tongue so deep in its cheek it borders on spoof.

Fast-paced and talky, this book is a fusion of pulp, action and outright slapstick, laced with a few moments so laugh out loud funny they had me cracki...


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"Dart" by Dale Renton

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Tuesday, July 9, 2019, In : Book Reviews 


At first sight this sci-fi action fantasy hybrid seems to be similar to many others, but in reality it is quite a distance better than the average.  Set on a  terraformed planet, 600 years from now, “Dart” has not only the very current cautionary messages about the environment and the fears of mass migration, it also handles, rather intelligently, the growing concerns about potential dangers of A.I. in future, taking a more “HAL” approach to it, than “Terminator”.  That doesn’t ...


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THE TRANSLUCENT BOY AND THE CAT WHO RAN OUT OF TIME" by Tom Hoffman

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Wednesday, June 26, 2019, In : Book Reviews 

I was sent this book as a free review copy, and as I read – because I tend not to read blurb before my review reads – it became immediately clear that this was the second in a series.  Because I had also not read the first instalment, this fact did give me a few problems, in terms of context, setting and character backstory; I had to piece much of this together myself.  There were even aspects – such as the era in which it is set – which I didn’t realize until right near the end; fo...


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"DARK CURE" BY CAMERON K. MOORE

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Tuesday, June 18, 2019, In : Book Reviews 


“Dark Cure” is not really what I was expecting, but the surprise was a rather welcome one.  Whilst I was anticipating some sort of medical-corporate legal thriller, this is actually a fully-fledged actioner, somewhere between “Die Hard” and “Universal Soldier”, though with a great deal more maturity; the more fun part of me couldn’t have been more pleased!  Not to say that this book isn’t to be taken seriously: Cameron K. Moore is the real deal – a highly professional author...


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"THE SINISTER URGE" BY FRANCES NEWTON

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Monday, June 17, 2019, In : Book Reviews 



Review published at author's request.
I’ll be honest, I was curious to read this book, in part because of some of the harshly critical reviews it has received. And, in truth, it is perhaps not as bad as some of them suggest, if you can get past its biggest flaw, which, for me, was the flippant, tongue-in-cheek way in which the author depicts the somewhat repugnant subject of consensual incest. Don’t get me wrong: I didn’t find the subject matter particularly disturbing in any way, more s...


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"LOOPER" BY MICHAEL CONLON

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Monday, June 10, 2019, In : Book Reviews 



“Looper” is not quite what I was expecting, but rather a pretty laid-back, inoffensive affair, telling the tale of a teenager who spend his 1980 summer break caddying on a pro golf course.  Although the tagline suggests this is a “coming of age” tale, I think perhaps the main character Ford is a couple of years too young to be described as that.  There are none of the usual puerile high-jinks which often accompany such a genre, and to be honest that is refreshing; Ford and his friends...


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"MONOLAND: BEYOND THE MONOCHROME" BY E.A. MININ

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Sunday, May 26, 2019, In : Book Reviews 



I have been fortunate enough to get first peek at all three books in Minin’s excellent “Monoland” trilogy, and as a collective piece of work, the premise and story are interesting and well crafted.  Bringing a sense of full circle and completeness, “Beyond the Monochrome” is a creative and satisfying end to this mind-bending fantasy saga; in my opinion, it is also the best book of the three.

With the world in the grip of nuclear war, the grey afterlife stepping stone of Monoland is...


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"CRAZY ABOUT KURT" BY WILL LINK

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, In : Book Reviews 



Will Link is a brilliant author, who a fantastic use of language (both description and dialogue), which will easily relate to younger and older adults alike.  While some of his subject matter may be a little coarse for the former, just remember that it is their age group this refers to, and they know it better than our nostalgic view of it.  Older readers can reminisce about the days of their youth, while the youngers can laugh at the commonalities between us, which still characterize their g...


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"THE FRIAR'S LANTERN" by Greg Hickey

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Friday, May 17, 2019, In : Book Reviews 



Greg Hickey is a wonderfully gifted author, and “The Friar’s Lantern” is extremely articulate and well-written.  Add to this that the author is also, evidently, a talented mathematician and sociologist, and you might have some idea of what to expect from this entertaining, engrossing first person role-play challenge.  Be warned, though, if you are expecting action, or the excitement of the Fighting Fantasy series, this is not what you will find; in this respect, perhaps the book’s tit...


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"GHOST DOG" BY TIM WHITE

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Sunday, May 12, 2019, In : Book Reviews 



“Ghost Dog” is a pretty entertaining, gripping crime adventure story, with a short enough word count to fit in over an evening or two.  Tim White is a pleasant and engaging author to read, though, although - for the most part - well-written in good, articulate English, his language may be a touch simplistic in nature for some; if you are expecting a dark and downbeat crime drama, you will not get that with “Ghost Dog”.  Instead, it is a quickly paced and very dialogue-driven small-tow...


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"FAITHFUL SERVANTS" BY MARC CURTIS LITTLE

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Tuesday, May 7, 2019, In : Book Reviews 


Interlaced with a significant proportion of fact, “Faithful Servants” is a superbly written, enlightening and objective fictional account of one teenage boy’s resolution to integrate the ethnically divided population of New Jersey in the 1960s, against the backdrop of an explosive racial equality movement, which was described by some as “rioting” and others as “rebellion”.  In spite of many who want nothing more than to prolong the historical segregation of black and white commu...


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"GNOSIS" BY RICK HALL

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Monday, April 29, 2019, In : Book Reviews 


“Gnosis” is generally entertaining and well-written by Rick Hall, even if, for my tastes, there aren’t things about it which particularly stand out.  It falls very firmly in the young-adult / sci-fi / fantasy camp and features all the usual formulaic elements of this contemporary cross-genre: the resourceful but unwitting teen heroine, with psychic abilities bordering on superpowers and shady government figures in pursuit, to either kill her or harness her ability.  The author himself, ...


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"BUY OR DIE" by Theodor Ventskevitch

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Tuesday, April 16, 2019, In : Book Reviews 

In this obscure, yet wonderfully poetic metaphor, Theodor’s writing is artistic, warm and endearing, despite “Buy or Die”s darkly comic, somewhat disturbing subject.  Although the author’s English is perfectly crafted, I suspect much of the true prose has been lost a little in translation.  Yet, even in the resulting form it has an attractive, creative voice all of its own, and once I was able to level with his dry wit and surreal depiction, I started to enjoy reading it.

Set in a fr...


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"I, CLAUDIA" BY LIN WILDER

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Thursday, April 4, 2019, In : Book Reviews 



Lin Wilder is a tremendously good author, on the highest tiers of quality, and with her books, you are always treated to a masterclass in author research for fiction.  “I, Claudia” revels in this, giving Lin the perfect vehicle to apply this trade – and “trade” is the perfect word to describe Lin’s work, as she goes about her business of historical research with the thoroughness of a data analyst.  Additionally, if you were in any doubt about the credibility, she readily reference...


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"FORTUNA AND THE SCAPEGRACE" BY BRIAN KINDALL

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Thursday, March 28, 2019, In : Book Reviews 

There is a wonderful, melodious tone of voice to Brian Kindall’s writing – his language is always classical and sometimes sublime – the nineteenth-century San Francisco prospectors’ era effortlessly permeates every carefully chose word and sentence and his knowledge of American historical setting appears almost innate, as he places you, vividly at every scene.  In a nutshell, he is a tremendously talented author.

But, as with most creative talents, there is a flaw on the flip-side.  ...


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"WHEN I TURNED NINETEEN" BY GLYN HAYNIE

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Sunday, March 24, 2019, In : Book Reviews 



Glyn Haynie is a superb author, with whom I am already acquainted, having read and reviewed the follow-up: “Finding My Platoon Brothers”.  One thing which struck me when reading this book, compared to his reminiscences in the sequel, is that his humanity appears much deeper nowadays, than then at 19 – though perhaps this comes with age; perhaps reflection.  I couldn’t help thinking that very quickly into his tour of duty (weeks, maybe) he appeared already to be desensitizing to the ho...


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"THE CUCKOO COLLOQUIUM" BY MICHAEL A. GRECO

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Tuesday, March 19, 2019, In : Book Reviews 



Michael Greco is a good, professional author and a brilliant writer, with a real flair for offbeat comedy, which borders on the farcical.  But, you definitely have to immerse yourself in his wavelength, pretty quickly, because “The Cuckoo Colloquium” is very busy; he has a tendency to jump around a lot, making it quite difficult to keep track of what is going on from one moment to the next.  Once you get used to this, you realize that he is really very clever at writing with an ensemble c...


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"TREADING THE UNEVEN ROAD" by Lorna Brown

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Tuesday, March 12, 2019, In : Book Reviews 


Lorna is a lovely author, with a calm, easy tone, which makes you feel relaxed and deeply involved at the same time.  Her prose is delightful and you can almost hear the soft lull of her voice in it.  Her short tales, about little more than slices in the lives of ordinary, working class folk in a variety of Irish locales, are bleak, sombre and thick with melancholy, yet warm and comforting simultaneously.  Told from the different viewpoints of a various range of characters, there is yet somet...

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"Delivering Virtue" by Brian Kindall

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Tuesday, March 5, 2019, In : Book Reviews 



Reading “Delivering Virtue” can probably best be described as an “experience”. What begins as a genuinely amusing and light-hearted read starts to change tone as it progresses, into something potentially much darker and more macabre. The real star of this book is Brian Kindall himself. He is, quite simply, a tremendous writer – and a fantastic wordsmith – with prose which flows like poetry; the language he uses throughout feels authentically frontier, is genuinely quite stunning, ...


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"Finding My Platoon Brothers" by Glyn Haynie

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Saturday, March 2, 2019, In : Book Reviews 



Instantly, even before starting the book, and then reading the introductory matter, the poignancy of this book strikes you, and you know immediately it is going to be an affecting read, compounded not only by the terrible trauma these poor young boys (little more than children, in many cases) experienced in the Vietnam war, but, perhaps in some ways more upsettingly, by the disgraceful injustice of vilification by their own country, upon their return.  To draw a positive, though, these experi...


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"DIE BACK" by Richard Hacker

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Thursday, February 7, 2019, In : Book Reviews 


Nicely written by a good quality, professional author, this fantasy is more a time-travelling actioner, which is exciting and engaging.  Richard Hacker has a good knowledge of history, and has done his research very well, but, gladly, doesn’t overplay it – the focus of this book is the formula, with its 3 acts, its heroes, love interest and a ruthless super-villain, who craves no less than total domination of the space-time continuum. 

The story is a good, interesting one; the ability o...


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"Gone to the Dogs" by Simon Gary

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Thursday, January 24, 2019, In : Book Reviews 



Very quickly when you start reading this book, the author’s affection for the era and its naivety come pouring through.  I didn’t know what to expect, realizing that the sitcom to which it refers - despite Simon Gary’s misleading foreword and blurb – is actually a fictional one, as are all the characters therein; though, clearly based on an element of reality and, by the looks of it, some industry experience on Gary’s part.  With its nods toward the “Carry On” movie style, and s...


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"READ TO SUCCEED" by Stan Skrabut

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Saturday, January 12, 2019, In : Book Reviews 



As somebody who reads prolifically in the course of my work, the title and tagline of Stan Skrabut’s “Read to Succeed” struck a particularly resounding chord with me, and I was very eager to find out more from what I assumed was a study into the nurturing power of reading as exercise for your brain; reinforcement of my own belief that reading increases ones wit, intellect, wisdom, logic and general capacity to improve one’s character.  This book does all that and more – it is incred...


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"Victoria's Voice: Our Daughter's Dying Wish To Share Her Diary And Save Lives From Drugs" by David and Jackie Siegel

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Monday, January 7, 2019, In : Book Reviews 



“Victoria’s Voice” is a tragic account of teenage depression and self-destruction, more tragic still because the tale is so common as to seem familiar, even though in reality the world Victoria occupied was probably a million miles from the majority of our own.  It seems very clear, right from the opening paragraphs, that Victoria was another sad victim of the American dream’s flipside, with all the artifice and superficiality that goes with that life of luxury; her death was one of m...


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"I HAVE DEMONS" BY CHRISTOPHER ADAM

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Thursday, December 27, 2018, In : Book Reviews 




Adam is an extremely articulate author, who is flawless with grammar and very easy to read; I absorbed the whole of this trio of tales in one sitting.

Set in both rural and urban Canada, the stories are short and relatable slice-of-life snippets, character-based, without any real sense of drama; the basis of the book seems to be a metaphorical one. Moreso, the tales have an unexpected air of bleakness about them - forlorn and almost foreboding. In the foreword, Adam hints at a common theme,...


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"THE DAY MY KISSES TASTED LIKE DISORDER" By Emmanuella Hristova

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Sunday, November 25, 2018, In : Book Reviews 



Through truly heartfelt, gut-wrenching poetry, Emmanuella tells the deeply personal story of the rise and fall of a relationship, against the backdrop of the devastating sadness of loss.  She is a lovely poet, who feels every word, not so much writing them as sobbing, then eventually roaring them onto the page.  Written like a journal, its entries in prose, you do find yourself suspecting this book is the direct publication of a genuine diary this author composed.  Whilst feeling somewhat voy...


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"WRITTEN BY BLOOD PART ONE: CONVICTION" by Dwayne Gill

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Thursday, November 22, 2018, In : Book Reviews 




I’m always a touch wary when reading a book, the title of which includes the words “part one”, having been left hanging on many occasions by infuriating and sometimes ridiculous cliffhangers.
  However, this is not one of those books, I’m pleased to say; I don’t think I’m spoiling it in any way by saying that “Conviction” is satisfyingly self-contained, whilst leaving a tantalising hint at the bigger picture of the series generally – as Marcene says: “A storm is coming”, ...

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"THE ROOM ABOVE" BY LAURA HERGANE

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Tuesday, October 30, 2018, In : Book Reviews 




Laura is a wonderful writer, in her own way; you can tell the use of language is of huge importance to her, and is more the point than any other aspect of her writing – she uses interesting prose for its own sake.  Laura is of Eastern European origin, and the English transcription of her work perhaps still needs some work.  Don’t get me wrong – clearly highly educated, she has a hugely proficient, eloquent vocabulary, and her grammar is of the highest standard; only, perhaps, her phrasi...


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"LEGENDS OF PERSIA" BY JENNIFER MACAIRE

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Wednesday, October 24, 2018, In : Book Reviews 




I was quite critical of the first instalment of the Alexander series, so did try to read Jennifer’s review copy of the first sequel with an open mind.  She is something of an oxymoron, in that she is an extremely talented author, with a fantastic writing style and an undeniable knowledge of not only her subject, but her craft, yet her choice of storyline and genre is at best a little immature, and at worst somewhat offensive.

As a semi-fictional account of the life of Alexander the Great a...


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"MERMAIDS ARE REAL: THE MYSTIQ PRONG" by BO WU

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Friday, October 12, 2018, In : Book Reviews 




This vivid and colourfully descriptive book goes straight into full-scale fantastical with very little warning.  Telling the tale of Benji, a thirteen-year-old boy who finds out he is, in fact, a mermaid/man, it seems two-parts children’s book to one-part grown-up.  Personally, I feel it is much better in its mature moments, because the story, once it starts to form, is a pretty good one – and an important one at that.

Wu is clearly passionate about the life in our oceans, and the messag...


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"MASTERMINDS INCORPORATED: AN APPOINTMENT WITH FEAR" BY CHAD LEE ERWAY

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Monday, September 17, 2018, In : Book Reviews 




Wow!  The 5-star books just keep on coming!

This is a great book for kids and adults alike.  This fun horror-adventure was the perfect use of my time, and just the right amount of it, too; I couldn’t put it down, and read the whole thing in one sitting.  You can tell immediately an author who has fun with his work, and Chad clearly does that.  Entertaining and creative, with some genuinely quite scary moments, this is a book I would recommend very highly to middle-school kids and young-at-he...


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"THE DOG THIEF AND OTHER STORIES" BY JILL KEARNEY

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Wednesday, September 5, 2018, In : Book Reviews 




Jill is a wonderful author, articulate and engaging, with a prose which is so calming as to be almost hypnotic.  Her slow-burning short tales and novella are not actioners, nor even particularly dramatic, but they are engrossing and charming.  With a strong element of emotional morality and an even stronger one of melancholy, all feature a prominent animal welfare message.  Jill’s writing is gritty and real, with no attempts at any kind of sensationalism.  They are also, at times, infuriati...


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"THE REVOLUTIONARY YOUTH" BY JOHN SIMPSON

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Thursday, August 30, 2018, In : Book Reviews 



In some ways paradoxically, this is an excellent book, not very well presented, by a fantastic author.  The first-person mock autobiographical prose in this work of fiction is so authentic that it must be either genuine biography, or incredibly well-researched by John Simpson.  He deserves a huge amount of credit for creating a real gritty slice-of-life tale, so vivid you feel that you are there living it with the anti-hero, Tommy.  There is no issue with the language, but rather the editing ...


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"WINNING WITH DATA: CRM AND ANALYTICS FOR THE BUSINESS OF SPORTS"

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Friday, August 24, 2018, In : Book Reviews 

This is an incredibly relevant book which, although primarily based in the sports business, can certainly be applied to most industries in the modern, data-driven world.  In fact, for large parts, the sports aspect feels notably incidental; “Winning with Data…” is, in fact, much more than this: a must-have business guide, written by what is clearly a top professional in her field.  Fiona has a pedigree of the business side of sports; she is clearly highly connected, and I was left in li...


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"FATHER DIVINE'S BIKES" BY STEVE BASSETT

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Sunday, August 19, 2018, In : Book Reviews 



“Father Divine’s Bikes” is a fantastically written and utterly enthralling book by a very talented author.  It is at its best when a slice-of-life cultural expose, and for the most part this is what it is.  Set in wartime 1940s New Jersey, it portrays a melting pot of immigrant culture, with all the racial segregation, paranoia and employment resentment which comes with that.  The racial language is raw and offensive – there is certainly no whitewashed rewriting of history here, and t...


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"THE ROAD TO ALEXANDER" BY JENNIFER MACAIRE

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Tuesday, August 14, 2018, In : Book Reviews 


“The Road to Alexander” is one of the strangest books I have ever been asked to review, in that it is possibly the most contrary.  Ordinarily, I love books which cross genres, if done well, and this book certainly does that.  It doesn’t take itself too seriously – at least, surely it can’t – and seems, for the most part, to have its tongue buried very firmly in its cheek. 

The premise is an interesting one: a time-travelling journalist from the future returns to the 4th century ...


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"47 HOURS: THE COUP THAT SHOOK THE AMERICAS" BY CLINCHANDHILL

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Friday, August 10, 2018, In : Book Reviews 



Without doubt, Clinchandhill is an excellent writer and “47 Hours…” is a work of immense quality, right from the very first line.  The author’s grasp and narration of political history and Latin American political culture is insightful and/or incredibly well researched, and you suspect that this book was a long time in the creation – the outcome was definitely worth the investment.  I am left in little doubt that Clinchandhill has had first-hand experience of the country in which th...


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"MY GROANS POUR OUT LIKE WATER" by Frances Bloom

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Tuesday, July 31, 2018, In : Book Reviews 



Poetry is a unique expression of art, and the perfect medium for bereavement therapy, in the respect that the author can pour random words of helplessness and despair onto the page without order, as chaotic in prose as it is in their mind.  “My Groans Pour Out Like Water” is actually a hugely appropriate title for this book, the “groans” in reference being Frances’s groans of pain and misery. 

Although there is something more than a little voyeuristic about reading this extremely ...


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"FEAST OF SAPPHIRES" BY MATT NAGIN

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Friday, July 27, 2018, In : Book Reviews 


A prolific collection of poetry by a hugely creative author.  These poems, although short, are very bittersweet, and they yell “quality”, from beginning to end.  I do enjoy reviewing poetry from time to time, and it is fair to say that this collection is of my favourites to date – I liked it a lot. 

There is an underlying theme – not in terms of the subject matter, but in general overall mood and context: there is anger, cynicism and despair in this work.  Be prepared, the writing i...


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"THE WAREHOUSE TOUR" BY K.A. CUMMINS

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Sunday, July 1, 2018, In : Book Reviews 




You know immediately within the first couple of paragraphs that this is standard cliched horror – or at least you think you do.  By the next paragraphs, it is also clearly obvious that it is classic YA or even teen fare, with the usual stereotypes of the popular girl and the high-school jock – basically all the things many horror fans like to see.  But this is where the similarities abruptly end. 

The first half of this book is atmospheric and gripping, with a nail-biting sense of menac...


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"SPARROWHAWK ON THE HORIZON" BY A. SCHOLTE

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, In : Book Reviews 



The moment you begin reading “Sparrowhawk on the Horizon”, you know immediately it is an undeniable work of quality.  Scholte is an articulate, educated and highly professional author, who evidently spent ten years researching and creating this book; her diligence shows. 

Her informative semi-factual account of the birth of the Americas Cup is a homage to the time – a period of innovative ship-building, in the years following the Industrial Revolution – and provides a deep insight i...


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"LIONS, LEOPARDS AND STORMS... OH MY!" BY HEATHER L. BEAL

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Tuesday, June 5, 2018, In : Book Reviews 




This is the second I have read of Heather’s lovely, heartfelt educational books for early-grade kids, after “Tummy Rumble Quake”, and it is part of the same weather-related safety series (which also includes “Elephant Wind”).  Very similar in vein, I did feel that this book was in some ways more accomplished, yet simultaneously lacked the quality of content of the first.  It features the same group of friends and, as before, the same beautifully colourful illustrations, which are fu...


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"AQUILA: CAN SILVANUS ESCAPE THAT GOD?" BY VINCE ROCKSTON

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Friday, June 1, 2018, In : Book Reviews 



I’ll be honest, “Aquila…” is far from the action adventure I was expecting, and I would strongly advise that to fully enjoy this book, the reader needs to understand what it is about.  In this respect, I would say that the blurb is a touch misleading - there is no action element, and in some ways a huge aspect of historical non-fiction.  I won’t say I was disappointed, because as soon as it become clear what Rockston’s tale is (about midway), I developed a whole new respect for it...


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"THE ROVING MIND: A MODERN APPROACH TO COGNITIVE ENHANCEMENT" by Anthony Simola

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Saturday, May 26, 2018, In : Book Reviews 

There are two aspects to this fantastic book by Anthony Simola, however, neither of them are really what I was expecting.  When I think of cognitive enhancement, I imagine a range of behavioural and decision-making techniques, such as CBT, and while Simola does touch on methods to enhance one’s own cognitive skills via pure psychology, it is a brief excursion from the real theme of this book, which is enhancing intelligence by artificial means, such as medication and advanced technology.  I...


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"GOD: CHALLENGES FROM PHILOSOPHY AND SCIENCE" By Lynne Renoir

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Wednesday, May 16, 2018, In : Book Reviews 





If you are expecting an entertaining theological debate, or easy-reading brain-fodder, this is not the book for you.  What it appears, in fact (at least, the first half), is the publication of Dr. Renoir’s dissertation - a completely academic book, which would serve as a very useful study tool, rather than bedtime reading.  While she is an incredibly well-educated and highly eloquent author, the majority of readers will probably not be equipped to read and absorb such an academic style of w...

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"NO ONE LISTENS" By Lady Byrd

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Sunday, April 8, 2018, In : Book Reviews 

I enjoy books of poetry, and I enjoyed this intense and personal collection from Lady Byrd. With a theme of love and a need to be heard, “No-One Listens” is clearly a very profound therapy for the perhaps troubled author, and suggests an underlying trauma. It does feel a tad voyeuristic, as though we are privy to Lady Byrd’s heart and mind, as well as her private demons.

She expresses herself frankly and creatively. With its self-contained assortment of fonts and formats, this collecti...


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"JUST ANOTHER GIRL'S STORY: A MEMOIR ON FINDING REDEMPTION" By Laura Eckert

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Friday, April 6, 2018, In : Book Reviews 


People write books for a variety of reasons – sometimes they have a lesson to teach, or a message to share, sometimes it is to make money, and sometimes for their own therapy. In Laura’s case, you get the distinct impression throughout that therapy is her reason; however, as you start to reach the final chapters of “Just Another Girl’s Story...” , you come to realize that the “redemption” to which she refers in the title, she is assuming from spreading her pro-life mess...


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"THE NIGHT ALPHABET" By David Donachie

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Sunday, April 1, 2018, In : Book Reviews 





My second 5-star review in a week!

I love short stories, and I was delighted to be sent “The Night Alphabet”, which is a collection of wonderfully compact coffee-break tales, each based (albeit tenuously) on a theme beginning with the corresponding letter of the alphabet. They are truly enthralling, grabbing you straight away with the heartbreaking story of an angel living amongst us, which has a very current socio-moral message.

David Donachie is an incredibly creative writer, weaving hi...

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"GOODBYE BUTTERFLIES: THE 5-DAY STAGE-FRIGHT SOLUTION" By Dr. David Lee Fish

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Monday, March 26, 2018, In : Book Reviews 


This is a very interesting and surprisingly entertaining self-help book, by an articulate and highly qualified author. Dr. Fish is not, as you might think from reading this book, a psychology professional, but, instead, a music industry one. Still, if reading this book assured me of one thing, it is that he more than possesses the credentials to write it. The book is touted as a “stage-fright solution”, and it certainly does offer this, but I feel a more appropriate title for this book w...

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"FISH FARM" By Walt Sautter

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, In : Book Reviews 



This is a great little novella, gripping and entertaining, which I managed to read in one short evening.  “Fish Farm” is a wonderful cautionary thriller, written in an otherwise entertaining voice, with some really good setpieces – a well-told vigilante tale (and who doesn’t love one of those?) in the mould of “Death Wish” and “Harry Brown”.  The characters are interesting, with intriguing back-stories, and the story is simple yet enticing, with a great ending which I didn’t...


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"CHANGE OF CHAOS" By Jacinta Jade

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Monday, March 19, 2018, In : Book Reviews 


This book is a long, yet surprisingly easy to read first instalment, to what looks like a very promising YA saga. I have to admit, I gulped when I saw the word count – almost 150,000! – yet, those words flew by pretty quickly. Jacinta has a very appealing writing style, which draws you in and does not tax the brain a great deal; her characters seem likeable enough, and there are some promising elements. However, it is ultimately a tad disappointing, a fact probably compounded by its lengt...


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"MY WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY..." By Andreas Michaelides

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Thursday, February 22, 2018, In : Book Reviews 





If you are expecting “My Weight Loss Journey...” to provide a fad diet to help you lose weight fast and easy, you will be disappointed. In fact, Andreas consciously chooses to dispel those two very words from your mindset, to his great credit. What this book actually is, right from the off, is more of a lesson than a ten-a-penny self-help guide. It is chocked full of good, honest advice; there are no tricks or agendas here - no lip service – just the hard truth: weight loss takes hard w...

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"MALTHUS REVISITED: THE CUP OF WRATH" By Lin Wilder

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Monday, February 19, 2018, In : Book Reviews 



The latest instalment in the Lindsey McCall series immediately feels as though you are still reading the same book.  Lin Wilder spends a good deal of time recapping “The Fragrance Shed By A Violet” and “A Price For Genius”, creating what can perhaps more accurately be considered a saga than a series.  Although the main plotlines do stand alone, as in this book, they seem of secondary importance to Lin than the subplots involving her favourite character ensemble, all of which find a ro...


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"SONGS TO NEW YORK" by Myrtle Brooks

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Friday, February 2, 2018, In : Book Reviews 




"Songs to New York” is a light-hearted and tender anthology of ten short stories, with overtly bountiful references to the author’s love affair with her home city – a quality which I, as a proud Londoner, relate to completely, and find more than a little endearing.

These sometimes mystical, sometimes fantastical, and always utterly charming tales are loaded with metaphors, commonly underpinned by two in particular: the city itself, as a breathing, living, warm and loving being, and the c...


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"MONOLAND: THE SHIMMERING MIST" by E.A. Minin

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Monday, January 22, 2018, In : Book Reviews 



I was delighted when Jevgenijs sent me this sequel to “Monoland: Into the Gray Horizon” – the second in the series – and have been anticipating its arrival for some time.  The first was one of the best, most imaginative books I have reviewed to date, and, in many ways, “The Shimmering Mist” is better.  It picks up at the very moment its predecessor ended, with Owen and Dizz facing imminent punishment by the justice system of their grey-scale afterlife Purgatory. 

More so than the...


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"TUMMY RUMBLE QUAKE" by Heather L. Beal

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Sunday, January 21, 2018, In : Book Reviews 




I had a few minutes to spare, so I picked up this short educational children’s book, and it brought a smile to my face.  The concept is advice for young children in the event of an earthquake, in a fun way that they can easily remember, without being frightened.  My favourite thing about “Tummy Rumble Quake” is the clever way Heather explains the scientific cause of an earthquake – like a jigsaw puzzle, in which sometimes the pieces argue for space; I thought this was a great analogy ...


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"ENDOHUMAN: LOVE vs. DUTY" BY NICK DREAM

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Tuesday, January 16, 2018, In : Book Reviews 



“Endohuman Part One...” is a very strange book to review, in that it unexpectedly crosses genres in several respects. While this is ordinarily something I very much like to see, and the author deserves huge respect for constructing this imaginative story, I finished it with mixed feelings.

The writing was very good, and I was enjoying the book a great deal, in spite of the fact that up to a point, pretty much half way, in fact, it seems your average YA fantasy, with all the usual elements:...


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"THE LUCKY WINNER" By Tomi Farrell

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Wednesday, January 10, 2018, In : Book Reviews 



This crime thriller is entertaining and engrossing right from the off, at least in the first half – midway it appears to change genre and audience entirely. What began as a clever young-adult mystery, with all the usual character and plot cliches, develops in the final third, into pure, glossy pulp-fiction thriller, with all the far-fetched character development and Hollywood gloss. It initially strikes as YA for the main reason that most of the lead characters do seem to ...


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"HAPPINESS IS JUST A PILL AWAY" by David Grad

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Wednesday, December 20, 2017, In : Book Reviews 




This hugely impressive book is a very cynical, bittersweet and, at times, funny attack on the drudgery of the 9-5 day-to-day, compounding the constant disappointment of underachievement, in a society based on fallacy, superficiality and promise. A book which is easy to relate to in its hopelessness, and the motivation (or lack thereof) of its unnamed protagonist (/antagonist?).

There are laughs – including some real belly ones - but “Happiness Is Just A Pill Away” is not comedy,...


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"UNDERSTANDING THE PATTERNS OF YOUR LIFE" By George Kouloukis

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Sunday, December 17, 2017, In : Book Reviews 





Initially I was expecting a self-help book, based on inward reflection and psychological therapy, but straight away I realized I was wrong, and what George Kouloukis’s book actually is is a mathematical theory, suggesting the existence of some natural global phenomenon which directly influences our luck in life, influencing good and bad “seasons” which change every 16-17 years.  In fairness to the author, the book’s blurb does explain this quite clearly.  Still, its content came as so...

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"NEVER TOO LATE TO DIE" By Pablo Palazuelo

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Wednesday, December 6, 2017, In : Book Reviews 




An exceptionally well-written thriller, about a group of retired service agents who decide to investigate the disappearance of a young woman, only to uncover a complex web of espionage and brutality. This character-based tale is intricate and vivid, and showcases wonderfully Pablo Palazuelo’s competencies as an author; he is certainly very high quality – talented, intelligent and stylish – and the translation of this book from his native Spanish to English is all-but flawless. T...

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"I ONCE WAS LOST BUT NOW I'M FOUND" By Laura Koerber

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Monday, November 27, 2017, In : Book Reviews 




This book is devastating, heartbreaking and guilt-inducing, yet ultimately endearing - it is also very difficult to read without inward reflection. Right at the very beginning, Laura Koerber makes the point that we all turn a blind eye to the worst animal cruelty atrocities, under the false assumption that we are powerless to help, and methodically then spends the next 150 pages dashing this fallacy; as a so-called “animal lover”, it made me feel ashamed at my lack of action. I don’t th...


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"WHAT IS JUSTICE: A QUEST TO UNDERSTAND THE TRUTH" By T. Ajay Shankar

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Saturday, November 11, 2017, In : Book Reviews 




REVIEW PUBLISHED AT AUTHOR’S REQUEST.

I had half an hour or so to spare, so I thought I’d peruse “What is Justice?”, as one with a background and interest in this field.  It was sent to me as a short book, with the tagline “A Quest to Understand the Truth”.  In T. Ajay Shankar’s defence, I feel some of the unpleasant and actually quite rude reviews I’ve seen are a touch unfair, and it does sting a little seeing a fellow author treated to such harsh criticism.  That said, howe...


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"THE RAT TUNNELS OF ISFAHAN" By Alejandro de Gutierre

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Saturday, November 11, 2017, In : Book Reviews 





Within just a few sentences of starting to read it became clear to me that this is a work of quality from a good, professional author.  The language, grammar and formatting are all close to perfect and, from the very first line, Alejandro draws the reader into a vivid and well-crafted tale.  The opening chapter is intriguing, horrifying and gripping, and I have to be honest: I read the whole thing from cover to cover in a very short space of time.  We are quickly personally enveloped in the p...

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"Only Human - Act One: The Pooka's Tales: Speak of the Devil" By Leigh Holland

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Friday, October 27, 2017, In : Book Reviews 




I wasn’t sure what to expect from “Only Human: Act 1…”; the blurb is a little mysterious, hinting at a humorous, perhaps satirical journey with an ambiguous protagonist.  In reality, the book is actually quite a bit darker than I expected – though this is always welcome for my tastes – playing on themes of demonology, Hell on Earth and the Devil.  The concept is that a strange, shape-shifting mythological creature called a “Twyleth Teg” (I still don’t know what that is) is b...


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"THE WYNDHAM WEREWOLF" By Fallacious Rose

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Monday, October 2, 2017, In : Book Reviews 


“The Wyndham Werewolf” is a collection of intriguing bedtime tales from the mysterious Fallacious Rose, an excellent author, as it turns out, with a great tongue and use of grammar – the book is copy-edited to perfection.

The short stories, downbeat and downplayed, yet strangely entrancing, are told in a soft yet menacing style.  Although not so on the surface, there is a sense of common theme running through them, though this may simply be the tone underlying them all.  Set in a sma...


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"FINDING THE NARROW PATH" By Lin Wilder

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Sunday, September 24, 2017, In : Book Reviews 


This is the third of Lin Wilder’s books I’ve read, and the only non-fiction title, the first two being instalments 1 and 2 of her Lindsey McCall series.  It is the memoir of Lin’s own life and her diversion from, then return to religion.  Ironically, and somewhat surprisingly for me, it is the best I’ve read from her, without a shadow of doubt.  I may not be a believer to any degree, yet Lin’s biography had me spellbound, and I simply couldn’t put it down until midway (and even ...


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"NOT EXACTLY SHAKESPEARE: THE SHORTEST BOOK YOU'LL EVER BE FORCED TO PRETEND TO HAVE READ" By Martin Freznell

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Monday, September 18, 2017, In : Book Reviews 


I grabbed this one from my TBR list because it was short, and took my curiosity.  I wasn’t doing a cop-out – looking for an easy ride to shrink my review pile (honest) – it was more that the mysterious blurb sold me on this book.  What was it about?  Was it a short story, a funny monologue… a witty self-help guide?  I had literally no idea; all I knew was that it looked like a lot of fun, and something I could read with a cuppa.

What it actually was is the second of those three, mi...


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"THE EYE OF NEFERTITI: A PHARAOH'S CAT NOVEL" By Maria Luisa Lang

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Saturday, September 16, 2017, In : Book Reviews 


Although I knew this book was the second in a series, I hadn’t read the first, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  It was very quickly clear (at least to me) that “The Eye of Nefertiti” is aimed at slightly older children – perhaps pre- or early-teen (though, if this is the case, it should be said that some of the language might be a touch coarse). 

Straight away this book is light-hearted and fun, tinged with a great harmless humour throughout. Although it is a sequel, it is ...


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"The Fragrance Shed By A Violet: Murder In The Medical Center" by Lin Wilder

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Thursday, September 14, 2017, In : Book Reviews 

When you read Lin Wilder, you pretty much know what you are going to get: writing of the highest quality, from an incredibly learned professional author, and “The Fragrance Shed By A Violet…” falls firmly into this category.  I’ve recently read this and its sequel “Do you Solemnly Swear?  A Nation of Law: The Dark Side”, albeit in the wrong order, and have, on both occasions, been awestruck by the depth of Wilder’s knowledge.

Though, if I am to be ruthlessly honest, I have to a...


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"SUPERI: REBORN" by Clint Thurmon and Christina Williams

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Tuesday, August 22, 2017, In : Book Reviews 



The first impression of “Superi: Reborn” is that it is incredibly well-written, by a very skilled author (or two, in this case).  Even before the book has opened, the attention to detail is made clear, as is the passion the authors have for the world they have created, by the detailed map and character index provided – elements which are often hallmarks of the fantasy genre.

There is an immediate air of oppression in this book, and it is clear straight away that the world of Superi is on...


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"CORROSIVE" by J. Kariuki

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Sunday, July 23, 2017, In : Book Reviews 



This novella grabbed my attention, not because of the cover (which, if I’m honest, could really do with a complete reboot), but because of the blurb – the author sells the story very well with his synopsizing of it, and it intrigued me.

I have to say I was well impressed – the story grabbed me instantly, from the outset a mixture of mystery and repulsion; I couldn’t wait to get from one scene to the next, if only just to find out more.  The book is incredibly well written and edite...


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"The Fear" by Rae Louise

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Monday, July 10, 2017, In : Book Reviews 


From very early on when reading this book, two things become immediately clear: first, this is a particularly formulaic horror book, and second, Rae knows her genre very well indeed.  It opens with a great, attention-grabbing, wince-inducing scene, which grips the reader firmly by the throat, in typical fashion, and, for those seeking a standard get-what-you-see supernatural horror thriller, it continues in the same vein relentlessly throughout.

“The Fear” is Rae Louise’s homage to the...


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"Woodiss is Willing" by Henry Woodiss

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Sunday, May 28, 2017, In : Book Reviews 



Immediately when you start reading this book, it gives the impression of being a lot of fun – humorous, cheeky and entertaining, and straight away the author (who, confusingly, is not the editor who wrote the alluring foreword), displays a great degree of good, old-fashioned English sense of humour, from a time before it perished at the hands of political correctness; and this is very welcome.  The first quarter of the book reads like a “Carry On…” movie with a modern-day 18-certifica...


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"Monoland: Into The Gray Horizon" by E.A. Minin

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Friday, May 19, 2017, In : Book Reviews 




I was drawn to “Monoland: Into The Gray Horizon” by the cover and the premise: that of a young man trapped in a “land of grey”, immediately following the moment of his death.

“Monoland” is another name for Purgatory – it is neither Heaven or Hell, but a biblical world in between, which runs parallel to our own dimension, here on Earth.  The book deals with some interesting concepts: the feelings of love and loss, the realization that eternity is forever, and a being has to ca...


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"DEVIL IN THE COUNTRYSIDE" by Cory Barclay

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Friday, May 19, 2017, In : Book Reviews 




“Devil in the Countryside” is strange, in the respect that it deserves a huge amount of respect, while slightly disappointing in terms of its content.  By the blurb and the cover style, I was expecting a more conventional werewolf horror story; in fact, this was neither a werewolf tale as such, or part of the horror genre.  More accurate a description would be a Reformation-era whodunnit/political intrigue thriller, in the vein of “From Hell”, “The Name of the Rose”, or perhaps ...


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"OFF THE GRID: LIVING BLIND WITHOUT THE INTERNET" BY ROBERT KINGETT

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Friday, March 24, 2017, In : Book Reviews 




When I first picked up this book my initial presumption was that it was about how vitally important the internet is in the life of somebody with such a debilitating disability, and the struggles of life without it.  Of course, the immediate response to that of most people above a certain age is likely to be that blind people have always had to live without the internet, and it is only very recent times that have afforded the opportunity for the better quality of life it provides.  And while I...

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"CHUCK THE ROOSTER LOSES HIS VOICE" BY SIGAL HABER

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Friday, March 17, 2017, In : Book Reviews 



What a lovely, lovely book!

I was looking forward to reading "Chuck the Rooster Loses His Voice", as a markedly light-hearted change to the usual fare I'm offered as a reviewer, and I have to admit I loved every minute of it.  This is definitely a book I would buy for my own toddler, without hesitation - a great little 10-minute children's story, told in verse, about a group of farmyard friends who come together to devise an exciting way to help out the rooster when he falls ill.  Perfect fo...


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"THE COMPLETE POETRY OF NORMAN A.J. BERISFORD" by Norman A.J. Berisford

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Tuesday, March 7, 2017, In : Book Reviews 




Poetry can be a wonderful expression of art, if written well – if not, it can be infuriating.  Like classical music, when beautifully crafted, it is hard not to love.  This emotional collection, by Norman Berisford, is at times a sublime love ballad, at others a celebration of all things “life” – from the leaves on the ground to the sun, from grieving for a loved one, to God’s nature and Creation itself.  The odes and poems in this anthology vary in style from prose to verse, from b...


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"THE DAY I MADE GOOD" By Michael Irwin

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Monday, March 6, 2017, In : Book Reviews 




I’ve read alot from this author, and have come to the conclusion that he is a master of metaphors – the satisfying kind, which make one give a little smile and an understanding nod.  With a penchant for first person narration, he draws the reader immediately into the world of his characters, unsavoury, yet as normal as you or I – a world in which life can change in an instant.  Another trademark of Michael Irwin, apparent in this bite-sized cautionary tale of villains, blags and remorse...


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"FIFTY EGG TIMER SHORT STORIES" By Richard Bunning

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Sunday, March 5, 2017, In : Book Reviews 




The concept of this collection is of 3-minute read flash fiction - the time it takes to boil an egg, or, more specifically, for an egg timer to run out.

These may be 3-minute reads (one or two maybe a little longer), but it is clear from very early on that their composition was far from brief – the author has put a huge amount of work into each one of these stories, and moulded them in a very unique style.  Although only an average of 750 words, each displays a particularly impressive know...


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"A TRINITY OF WICKED TALES - VOLUME 1: JILTED LOVE!" By Kyla Ross

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Sunday, February 5, 2017, In : Book Reviews 


A satisfying trio of dark cautionary tales in the style of Richard Laymon, the 'Trinity...' is good, well-crafted horror, from an author who clearly spends alot of time indulging in the genre - the stories are familiar, the characters stereotypically deranged and deliciously twisted.

I really enjoyed these three tales - each has a great sense of atmosphere, satisfying dialogue and a range of personalities which we have come to expect in such shorts, and would not realistically be found anyw...


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"NO QUARTER - DOMINIUM: VOLUME 1" by MJL Evans & GM O'Connor

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Wednesday, January 25, 2017, In : Book Reviews 



I have to be honest, I felt a little cheated by this book. Obviously, I was aware at the time of reading that it was volume 1 of a 6-part series, but, from a simple viewpoint, it took a little while to start coming together, and then ended abruptly just as it looked as though it were about to.

Set in colonial-era Jamaica, this book opens in dramatic fashion (a shipwreck in a hurricane), and we are transported instantly into a world of slavery, cut-throat pirates and imperial elitism, promisi...

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Freedom Sex and a Meat Cleaver by Sherman Miles
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Freedom Sex and a Meat Cleaver by Sherman Miles
****
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****
Drama

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***
Noir Fiction

Were We Awake by L.M. Brown
****
Short Stories

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****
Crime Thriller

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*****
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World Football Domination
****
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***
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Beware of the Thought Bubbles
*****
Children's

Beyond The Prison Of Beliefs
****
Science/Religion

Rocky Mountain Noir
***
Comedy

Rocky Mountain Noir
***
Science Fiction

Foster Care To Millionaire
****
Memoir

Flow Like A River
*****
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13 Dark Tales: Collection Two
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*****
Children's

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***
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***
Adventure

A Trinity of Wicked Tales
****
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****
Short Stories

The Day I Made Good
****
Crime Drama

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Poetry

Chuck the Rooster Loses His Voice
*****
Children's

Living Blind Without the Internet
****
Documentary

Devil in the Countryside
****
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Monoland: Into the Gray Horizon
****
Fantasy

Corrosive
****
Horror

Woodiss is Willing
***
Comedy

The Fear
***
Horror

Superi: Reborn
*****
Fantasy

Murder in the Medical Center
***
Drama

The Eye of Nefertiti
****
Children's

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****
Comedy

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****
Biography

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Short Stories

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***
Supernatural

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**
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Documentary

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Non-Fiction

Happiness is Just a Pill Away
*****
Comedy-Drama

The Lucky Winner
***
Crime Thriller

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***
Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Tummy Rumble Quake
****
Children's

Monoland: The Shimmering Mist
****
Fantasy

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Psychology

Treading the Uneven Road
****
Short Stories

The Cuckoo Colloquium
****
Comedy

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*****
War Memoir

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Comedy

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***
Satire

Faithful Servants
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**
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*****
Self Improvement

Gone to the Dogs
*****
Comedy-Drama

Die Back
****
Fantasy

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*****
War Memoir

Delivering Virtue
****
Comedy

The Room Above
***
Fantasy

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****
Action

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****
Poetry

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****
Short Stories

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****
Real Life

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*****
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*****
Short Stories

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*****
Children's

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***
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*****
Poetry

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Political Thriller

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***
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Father Divine's Bikes
****
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*****
Business

Aquila
****
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***
Children's

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***
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***
Short Stories

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****
Poetry

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*****
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***
Autobiography

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***
Poetry

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*****
Science

Malthus Revisited
***
Suspense/Thriller

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****
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****
YA / Fantasy

Fish Farm
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Songs to New York
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Crazy About Kurt
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Comedy

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*****
Fantasy

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***
Self-Help

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Memoir

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Author Matt McAvoy
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