"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 elem...


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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 carv...


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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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THE REAL “ME” GENERATION – OUR AGEING PARENTS

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Friday, August 22, 2014 In : Observations on Society 



So there I was yesterday, approaching the A41 near my home – a particularly busy arterial route - descending the slip road, about to join the carriageway.  Keeping a steady, controllable speed (one which would permit me to either slow down or burn rubber as required), I checked my wing mirror and looked over my shoulder to confirm plenty of a gap ahead of the next approaching car, if necessitating a bit of rev, calculating the speed consistency of that vehicle.  So I put my foot down and pr...

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FREE SAMPLE OF MY NOVELLA "GRANJY'S EYES"

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Thursday, August 21, 2014 In : My Work 


ONE

Granjy’s eyes punish.

They threaten, warn, scold and torment me. Blind and blinding, milky-white like acetylene, they cut deep into me; the agony is every bit as excruciating.

I’m the only one that can see them, as clear as day - as clearly as I see that light-switch, or that chair, or those curtains. I see them all the time.

Nobody else even knows they’re there – nobody sees them; but one day, maybe soon, maybe not so, they will. They’ll all see them, and they’ll know, just like ...

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