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Showing Tag: " fiction" (Show all posts)

"The Surgeon's Obol" by Arthur Williams

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Sunday, June 14, 2020, In : Book Reviews 


This wryly comic and academically enlightening look at the professional day-to-day in the working life of a hospital surgery intern, based on real-life stories and experiences, is a real treat, if a little hard to stomach at times – as is the nature of this type of book: i.e. medical profession fly-on-the-wall.  There are a lot of this extremely popular and growing genre coming into print these days, and although I have to say they really don’t appeal to me personally (as someone married ...


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"As Maryam's Tree Stood Witness" by Ali Kasem

Posted by Margaret Walker on Wednesday, June 10, 2020, In : Book Reviews 


This book had it all for me: love, romance, exotic culture, tragedy, mystery, and relationships. I finished it in a day and highly recommend it.

Salem is a member of a Yemeni family cursed by generational honour killings. That this blood revenge between clans commenced before he was born and has taken the life of an innocent sister does not make things any safer for him, and he is forced in 1966 to find refuge and make a new home for himself in Birmingham in the UK. Here he falls in love wit...


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"Think. Laugh. Cry in 100 Pages" by William Baga

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Tuesday, May 12, 2020, In : Book Reviews 

William says in the preface to this little gem that he adheres to no particular format or type when he writes, and that is absolutely true of what follows.  Quirky, punchy and interesting, the three very short tales in this book are simply the author’s imagination poured onto the page.  That’s not to say that he isn’t a particularly professional author – he is, and a very good one, to boot – he just chooses not to form his work into the moulds of the usual expectations and conventio...


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"Island Boy" by Mark Bulahao

Posted by Margaret Walker on Tuesday, May 5, 2020, In : Book Reviews 


I enjoyed this book. The author, Mark Bulahao, is an artist and has the ability to see the small details in every scene that I would miss. In the story of Paco he impresses me with the importance of these little things. He weaves a tale for me in order that I might pay attention to a less dominant voice in a culture that itself is less dominant in our western world.

Paco is nineteen and yearns to be free. He is ‘an awkward fellow’ physically, the product of his father’s waywardness, ...


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"Hotel Inspire" by Douglas Warren

Posted by Margaret Walker on Thursday, April 23, 2020, In : Book Reviews 


Henry Harris is about to be awakened.  He has passed his entire twenty-nine years in his parents’ comfortable apartment in Manhattan, devoid of relationships, other than with books.  But his passion for creating poetry proves his salvation, when he bravely decides to leave his front door for the first time in his life, to attend a summer writers’ retreat at the Hôtel Inspiré, a guesthouse in the south of France, in a mountain village devoid of infrastructure.

As a special education tea...


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"Ivy is a Weed" by Robert M. Roseth

Posted by Margaret Walker on Monday, March 30, 2020, In : Book Reviews 


If you’ve ever wondered how academics justify their existence, then Ivy is a Weed by Robert M. Roseth is the murder mystery for you.  Set within a university in the Pacific Northwest of the USA, the novel is sophisticated yet still on planet Earth, and the plotting is as finely crafted as any novel I have read by well-known crime writers.  One cares about the protagonist Mike Woodsen, university reporter turned amateur sleuth, so it is a rewarding journey taken with him to investigate his s...


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"Who's There?" by Dimas Rio

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Thursday, February 13, 2020, In : Book Reviews 


This atmospheric collection of short supernatural chillers is right up my street, and I loved every moment of reading it.  The five mysterious tales – which I personally think are suitable for adults and (probably more mature) kids alike – are thoroughly entertaining, and I read the whole book in one enjoyable sitting.

Rio writes beautifully, in a simple, eloquent and professionally elegant style.  His language is easily savoured and although English doesn’t appear to be his first lang...


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"Bullets and Bandages" by Robert J. Saniscalchi

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Thursday, February 6, 2020, In : Book Reviews 



Robert has clearly put a huge amount of work into this Vietnam war drama.  For somebody who never fought himself, but has written this book as a clear tribute to the brave men who fought and died, with help from his veteran brother, the research and passion he has applied to it is admirably on show for all to see.  I have read many Vietnam war memoirs, and I can truly say that this is as authentic an account as you will read from an author who was not present; the terminology, feelings of fea...


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"Boulder County" by Marc Krulewitch

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Friday, January 31, 2020, In : Book Reviews 

In the beautiful forest hills of Boulder County, Colorado, Buddy cultivates weed on his conservation land.  Whilst the growing of weed is not illegal in the state, he is unlicensed and pays no tax… suffice also to say that he grows slightly more than the few plants permitted for personal use.  Now, whilst Buddy has never bothered anybody before with his lifelong hobby and livelihood, he is suddenly attracting all sorts of unwanted attention – the wrong kind - from Colorado’s neighbourin...


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"Beautiful Things" by Eloise Kelly

Posted by Margaret Walker on Sunday, January 19, 2020, In : Book Reviews 

Thank you for sending me this lovely book. Quite honestly, I don’t know why it hasn’t been snapped up by a mainstream publisher. I have just finished ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ (2 million copies sold), but I enjoyed ‘Beautiful Things’ more. It’s warmer, more human and believable. It contains valuable insights into mental health issues. In my opinion it would reach more people. The differences between the two are probably that Eleanor Oliphant gets you in immediately, ...


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"Stronger Than Blood" by Allan Mason

Posted by Margaret Walker on Sunday, January 5, 2020, In : Book Reviews 



Stronger than Blood by Allan Mason is a complex thriller, devised with considerable imagination, and cleverly written. The author has a firm grasp of the world of electronic manipulation that we live in and a wonderfully warped sense of humour. He has used these skills to morph the present American political system into a new order all too believably.

USA, 2055. Albert Woods lives in Washington in a world of absolute government control. His personal life is overseen by Victor, the interactiv...


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"Promises to the Fallen" by Glyn Haynie

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


This is the third I have read from the consistently brilliant Glyn Haynie, and it is a remarkable change in direction from him, as he moves away from his trademark Vietnam memoir format, into fiction.  Glyn has proven to be every bit as superb a fiction author as he is when sharing his non-fiction autobiography series.  Still on the familiar ground of the Vietnam war, this time Glyn has crafted a riveting, poignant, detailed and hugely authentic story of a young man’s tour of duty in 1969: ...


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"His Most Italian City" by Margaret Walker

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Sunday, November 17, 2019, In : Book Reviews 


This book is not just entertaining, interesting, well-written and professionally crafted, it is also educational and enlightening, with regards to a period of European history which is perhaps often overlooked.  Set in 1928, in the aftermath of the first world war, Istria has fallen under the ownership of a now Fascist-run Italy, the land wielded and occupied with ruthless complicity by Mussolini.  The formerly Croatian citizens now find themselves being naturalized by Italy’s ethnic cleans...


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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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"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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"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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"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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"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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"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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"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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"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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"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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"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 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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"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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"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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"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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"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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"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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"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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"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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"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 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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Thryke by Simon Gary
*****
Comedy

Reborn by T.M. Parris
****
Spy Thriller

Lucifer's Star by C.T. Phipps and Michael Suttkus
***½
Sci-fi

A Prince Who Destroyed My Life by Asia Jamil
*****
Non-Fiction

Straight Outta Fangton by C.T. Phipps
***
Action/Comedy

Killer Instincts by Anna Lee Rose
***
Romance/Thriller

The Surgeon's Obol by Arthur Williams
****
Comedy/Medical

The Perfection of Fish by J.S. Morrison
***
Comedy/Offbeat

Bird in a Snare by N.L. Holmes
****
Historical Fiction

as Maryam's Tree Stood Witness by Ali Kasem
*****
Family Drama

A Sparrow Alone by Mim Eichmann
****
Historical Fiction

Suicide Squeeze by Steve Hagood
****
Action

Dr. Insomniac by Samatha Polisetti
****
Memoir

The Magdalene Deception by Gary McAvoy
****½
Mystery

Lying Beneath by Kevin Moran
***
Mystery Thriller

A Nation Interrupted by Kevin McDonald
*****
Thriller

The Best Week that Never Happened by Dallas Woodburn
****
Romance

The Dead Don't Sleep by Steven Max Russo
***½
Action

Think Laugh Cry by William Baga
****
Short Stories

The Shepherd God by Matt Taylor
*****
Historical Fiction

On the Wrong Side of God by Harry Boyd
****½
Non-fiction

Servant Leader's Manifesto by Omar L. Harris
*****
Business

Photography for Well-Being 1 by Lee Aspland
****
Photography

The Corral Ring by Thomas Richards
*****
Historical Fantasy

Call Numbers by Syntell Smith
***
Drama

No Pianos, Pets or Foreigners by Joe Palermo
***
Memoir

Raven by Sue Loh
****
Mystery

Not Pregnant by Karina Savaryna
*****
Memoir

How to Get the Best From Life by Luis Pisoni and Aurora Mazzoldi
***
Self-Help

Hotel Inspire by Douglas Warren
***
Drama

Return to the Madness by Glyn Haynie
*****
War / Action

The Final Weekend by Neal Cassidy
***
Comedy

Ivy is a Weed by Robert M. Roseth
****
Crime Thriller

Resilience During the Pandemic by Nick Arnett
*****
Motivational

Will and Mysteria by Christa Reynolds
****
Self-Help/Spiritual

The Power of Music and the ADHD Brain by Luz Galindo
****
Psychology

The Latecomers by Rich Marcello
***
Drama

Monsters Inside by Ric Rae
***
Sci-fi / Horror

Butterfly Lake by Robert J. Saniscalchi
****
Action

Our Teenage Years by T.J. Wray
****
Memoir

The Soloist by Donald Gates
****
Espionage

Lady Father by Rev. Susan Bowman
****
Memoir

Catamaran Crossing by Douglas Carl Fricke
*****
Memoir

Black Shade of White Justice by Cattleya
****
Fantasy/Romance

The Strawberry Road by Ritch Gaiti
****
Spiritual

Red Hail by Jamie Killen
****
Sci-fi/Mystery

Bullets and Bandages by Robert J. Saniscalchi
*****
War Fiction

Who's There? by Dimas Rio
*****
Short Stories

Beautiful Things by Eloise Kelly
****
Drama

Golgotha by Guy Portman
****
Dark Comedy

I Learned it From You by Kevin Douglas Wright
*****
Documentary

Boulder County by Marc Krulewitch
*****
Crime Drama

Stronger than Blood by Allan Mason
***½
Sci-fi

Bottomless Cups by Joel Bresler
***
Comedy

Non Obvious Megatrends by Rohit Bhargava
****
Non-Fiction

From Doctor to Guinea Pig by Angelique D.
*****
Biography

Freedom's Light by Robert J. Saniscalchi
****
Action Thriller

Bucket Showers and Baby Goats by Christine Brown
****
Travel Memoir

Four Calling Burds by Vincent Meis
****
LGBTQ / Drama

Promises to the Fallen by Glyn Haynie
*****
War Fiction

An Unwanted and Unwilling Hero by E. Gourm
****
Historical Fantasy

The Girl in the Scarlet Chair by Janice TRemayne
****
Paranormal / YA

Freedom Sex and a Meat Cleaver by Sherman Miles
*****
Travel Memoir

Freedom Sex and a Meat Cleaver by Sherman Miles
****
Historical Fiction

The Intelligence Factor by Mike Logsdon
***
Sci Fi / Action

The Apple by Devashish Sardana
****
Action / Adventure

Destiny's War by Pyram King
****
Historical Fiction

Black Volta by PEte K.J.
****
Drama

Payback by Steve Bassett
***
Noir Fiction

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

Almost Persuaded by Nigel C. Ferguson
****
Crime Thriller

Do We Have A Center by Walter Frank
*****
Politics

World Football Domination
****
Sci-Fi

Sour Blood
***
Crime Thriller

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
*****
Thriller

Secrets To Being Amazing
****
Self-Help

13 Dark Tales: Collection Two
****
Short Stories

The Wooden Man
*****
Children's

Count It All Joy
*****
Drama

Myth Agent
****
Fantasy

Voice of the Sword
***
Fantasy

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 Irregular Inquests of Professor Peppercorn by Brennan McMahon
****
Poetry

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

Choose a Reality by Emmanuel Morfoboss
***
Self-Help

Wacky on the Junk by Kathy Varner
****
Memoir

The Eden Complex by Elise Leise
***½
Sci-Fi / Fantasy

Tomthunkit's Theory of the Universe
***
Political / Non-fiction

Nobody Gets Out of Catering Alive by Joe Montaperto
****
Comedy/Memoir

Turning on the Christmas Lights by Nellie Woods
****
Short Stories

The Body in the Hole by Jonathan B. Zeitlin
****
Crime / Mystery

A Heart on the River by John Bauer
****
Comedy Drama

Let Yourself Be by CJ Lacsican
****
Memoir / Self-Help

Island Boy by Mark Bulahao
****
Drama

Nobody Would Listen by R.A. Merrill
*****
Autobiography

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To help with the backlog, you may find your book has been reviewed by one of my literary friends or colleagues.

GUEST REVIEWER:
Profession: 
Casual teacher; Special Education. 
Qualifications:  
Science degree, Diplomas in Education and Professional Communication. Edited Masters Athletics magazine for three years. 
MARGARET WALKER
Publications:  
One novel, His Most Italian City, published by Penmore Press and half a dozen published short stories.
Author Matt McAvoy
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