BROWSE BOOK REVIEWS:

"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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No Quarter: Dominium
***
Adventure

A Trinity of Wicked Tales
****
Horror


****
Short Stories

The Day I Made Good
****
Crime Drama

Complete Poetry of Norman AJ Berisford
*****
Poetry

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

Living Blind Without the Internet
****
Documentary

Devil in the Countryside
****
Historical Thriller

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

Not Exactly Shakespeare
****
Comedy

Finding the Narrow Path
****
Biography

The Wyndham Werewolf
****
Short Stories

Only Human
***
Supernatural

What is Justice
**
Documentary

The Rat Tunnels of Isfahan
****
Historical Fantasy

I Once Was Lost But Now I'm Found
*****
Documentary

Never Too Late To Die
***½
Thriller

Understanding the Patterns of Your Life
***
Non-Fiction

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

The Lucky Winner
***
Crime Thriller

Endohuman
***
Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Tummy Rumble Quake
****
Children's

Monoland: The Shimmering Mist
****
Fantasy

Goodbye Butterfiles
*****
Psychology

Treading the Uneven Road
****
Short Stories

The Cuckoo Colloquium
****
Comedy

When I Turned Nineteen
*****
War Memoir

Fortuna and the Scapegrace
****
Comedy

Gnosis
***
Young Adult

Buy or Die
***
Satire

Faithful Servants
****
Drama

Ghost Dog
***
Crime Adventure

Looper
****
Drama

The Sinister Urge
**
Drama

Read to Succeed
*****
Self Improvement

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

Die Back
****
Fantasy

Finding My Platoon Brothers
*****
War Memoir

Delivering Virtue
****
Comedy

The Room Above
***
Fantasy

Written By Blood: Conviction
****
Action

The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder
****
Poetry

I Have Demons
****
Short Stories

Victoria's Voice
****
Real Life

The Revolutionary Youth
*****
Drama

The Dog Thief
*****
Short Stories

Appointment With Fear
*****
Children's

Mermaids Are Real
***
Fantasy

Legends of Persia
***
Historical Fiction

My Groans Pour Out Like Water
*****
Poetry

47 Hours
*****
Political Thriller

The Road to Alexander
***
Historical Fiction

Father Divine's Bikes
****
Drama

Winning With Data
*****
Business

Aquila
****
Historical Fiction

Lions, Leopards and Storms, oh my!
***
Children's

Sparrowhawk on the Horizon
***
Historical Fiction

The Warehouse Tour
***
Short Stories

Feast of Sapphires
****
Poetry

The Night Alphabet
*****
Short Stories

Just Another Girl's Story
***
Autobiography

No-one Listens
***
Poetry

The Roving Mind
*****
Science

Malthus Revisited
***
Suspense/Thriller

My Weight Loss Journey
****
Self-Help

Change of Chaos
****
YA / Fantasy

Fish Farm
****
Thriller

Songs to New York
****
Short Stories

I Claudia
*****
Historical Fiction

God: Challenges From Philosphy and Science
****
Philosophy

The Friar's Lantern
*****
Role Play

Crazy About Kurt
****
Comedy

Dark Cure
****
Action

Translucent Boy
***
Sci-Fi Fantasy

Dart by Dale Renton
****
Sci-fi Fantasy

Monoland: Beyond the Monochrome
*****
Fantasy

Rocky Mountain Noir
***
Comedy

Rocky Mountain Noir
***
Science Fiction

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