Monday 28 February 2011

Next World Novella by Matthias Politycki

Secrets of a Marriage
review by Maryom

On the surface Hinrich and Doro have a happy marriage. Then Doro dies suddenly and Hinrich finds that things were not as he thought. He reads through the papers she's left on her desk and discovers that Doro was not only aware of the things he'd tried to hide from her but that she too has a secret life that he was never aware of. When they first married they made a promise to wait for each other in the limbo just after death and to complete the journey into the next world together. Although never quite believing in Doro's vision of the afterlife, Hinrich now finds himself desolate with the thought that they won't meet there. Following an operation, Hinrich's eyes had been, quite literally, opened to a world of new possibilities, more enticing and exciting than his quiet domestic pleasures. He now finds they were no substitute for his long-term relationship with Doro.

Short, compelling and thought-provoking is what I've come to expect from the novels published by Peirene Press and Next World Novella by Matthias Politycki is no exception. An amazingly compelling read, one I managed to find time and quiet to read despite the disturbances of a school holiday. Politycki takes the reader on a journey into the murky depths and undercurrents beneath the seemingly placid surface of this relationship, exploring the deceptions and self-delusions that have kept them together. Doro feared death and the judgement she might face in the afterlife but it's Hinrich, the survivor, who is being judged here - by Doro's written comments against which he has no real comeback.
The story is told through a series of 'flashbacks' as Hinrich reads his forgotten novel and his wife's commentary on it and the atmosphere of the room changes from light and sun filled, while Hinrich sits companionably beside his dead wife's body, to dark and oppressive as he storms up and down the room ranting at her. The view of their life together changes as the reader sees it first from one perspective, then another and is left wondering whether a little bit of blindness might be best for all of us.

Next World Novella may be a short read at 138 pages but one you'll be thinking about for a long while after.

A word for the translator -I'd just like to add that Anthea Bell's translation reads seamlessly with none of those stumbling, halting moments where the reader feels the translator was still searching for the appropriate word.

Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - Peirene Press

Genre - Adult Literary Fiction

Check Peirene's web site for special 'subscription' offers
Buy Next World Novella from Amazon

Other reviews; Iris on Books

Friday 25 February 2011

The Necromancer by Michael Scott

The Mole read The Necromancer By Michael Scott for Nayu's Reading Corner but was, unfortunately, not unduly impressed.

Monday 21 February 2011

Belle's Song by K M Grant

A new Canterbury Tale
Review by Maryom

Belle feels she is to blame for an accident which crippled her father and decides to join a group of pilgrims heading to the shrine of St Thomas at Canterbury, to pray there for a miracle to enable her father to walk again. Among these pilgrims is the famous story teller Geoffrey Chaucer, accompanied by his new scribe, Luke, who after visiting Canterbury intends continuing to France to join a monastery there - and another of the pilgrims believes Luke and Chaucer to be involved in carrying messages from the young King Richard II to his French counterpart. On the journey, Belle finds herself tangled in this intrigue and caught between attraction to Luke and Walter the wealthy son of a knight with a troubling secret of his own.
Belle's Song is set against the familiar background of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - but don't expect a hard English lesson slog, it is an excellent blend of romance and intrigue with a rapidly moving plot, lots of historical details and believable 'modern-feeling' characters to identify with. Recommended for teenage lovers of historical fiction.

Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - Quercus Books

Genre - Teenage Historical Romance

Friday 18 February 2011

Dead Frog On The Porch by Jan Markley

Frog Slime
Review by The Mole

Sisters Cyd and Jane are propelled into an international plot involving evil scientists and giant, genetically stretched frogs. Will the twins win this hilarious race to save the frog kingdom?

An admission first.... This was my first ebook and it proved quite an experience as we learned some of the technicalities and difficulties that it posed us. We are not Kindle owners nor do we have smart phones. Our ebook reading is done either on a shared laptop or a small, very limited capability, 'net browser' and actually reading a book on a screen was also quite an eye opener. I don't think it detracted from my enjoyment of the book though. We were asked if we could take it as an ebook and we felt it time we at least tried one. I would stress it is available in the UK from Amazon as a paperback.

It is described as suitable for 8-12 year olds but I would extend that to include 7 year olds although both my girls were early and avid readers.

The story is a light hearted, easily read, mystery involving the twins, Cyd and Jane, as they try to protect the frog kingdom from unscrupulous scientists. The humour will appeal to the younger reader and older reader alike and parents can be sure that they are in good hands when they come to read Jan's first novel. Thoroughly enjoyable although with two young heroines I can see some boys being put off but this would be totally unjustified. As the book gets towards the end the pace speeds up and it becomes more difficult to put down. Recommended for young readers.

Publisher - Gumboot Books
Genre - Children's Mystery

Buy Dead Frog On The Porch from Amazon

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Empire of Gold by Andy McDermott

Action-packed Archaeology
review by Maryom

When archaeologist Nina Wilde is called in to help with an Interpol investigation into the smuggling of ancient artefacts, she realises the trail could be leading to an undiscovered Inca settlement, possibly the legendary El Dorado, city of gold. Along with her ex-SAS husband Eddie Chase and a team of archaeologists and Interpol agents she heads to South America - only to find herself caught up in a military coup and hunted down by ruthless drug dealers and insurgents.
I've come late to this series as this is the seventh adventure for Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase, and I think I've been missing out. It's certainly not Time Team's brand of archaeology - much more Lara Croft meets Indiana Jones. There's a fabulous golden treasure, a city hidden from everyone's eyes since the days of the Spanish Conquistadors and at every turn bad guys standing in the way! Almost non-stop action with only occasional pauses to catch your breath - the kind of undemanding adventure I like for holiday reading, though at over 500 pages a Kindle version may be better for holiday packing!

Maryom's review - 4 stars
Publisher -
Genre - action adventure

Buy Empire of Gold from Amazon

Monday 14 February 2011

The Accidental Proposal by Matt Dunn

Rom Com for Valentine's Day
Review by Maryom

Ed Middleton thinks he's just got engaged but he isn't too sure. For one thing, his girlfriend, Sam, did the proposing; for another, she might just have been talking about marriage in general rather than theirs in particular; the more he thinks about it, the less certain Ed is. With help and advice - such as it is - from his best friend Dan, ex-girlfriend Jane turning up and Sam holding furtive meetings with a strange man there's enough to bring back all Ed's insecurities and make the road to the registry office one filled with pit-falls.
To be honest I didn't find the last Matt Dunn novel I read, The Good Bride Guide, to be as funny as his earlier ones but with The Accidental Proposal he is back to his brilliantly funny laugh-out-loud best. Ed is loving and endearing, though confused - the kind of guy any one would want. Side-kick Dan is an appalling "love 'em and leave 'em" TV presenter beginning to think there's something he's missing out on. Together they make a brilliant comic double-act. This is one of those books that are so irritating to others as they have to listen constantly while I read the funny bits out to them. Sorry folks - but admit it, it was funny.

Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher -
Simon & Schuster
Genre - Chick Lit- Rom Com

Buy The Accidental Proposal from Amazon

Friday 11 February 2011

The Tygrine Cat by Inbali Iserles

A Cat with a Difference
review by Maryom

Mati the Cat is sent away from his home, overseas by ship to a strange land where he finds a new home with the cats of Cressida Lock, until an unseen presence starts to cause trouble and lay the blame on Mati. Mati, though, is not an ordinary cat. He is the last of the Tygrine cats - and someone is following him, sent by the Tygrines' ancient enemy, the Sa Mau, threatening him in both the physical world and the shadowy, spirit world. Mati must win back the trust of the Cressida Cats to defeat this evil and save not only himself but all other cats.

The Tygrine Cat is a wonderful engaging adventure story, told from the perspective of the cats, but without any sloppy sentimentality. Alongside Mati, we enter into their world, the catacombs and market place of Cressida lock. Humans barely figure there - other cats may own a 'hind', as humans are called, but the Cressida cats are fiercely independent, led by their chief, Pangur, with their own society and strict rules of conduct amongst themselves.
Although aimed at children, anyone who loves cats will love this book. I thought it was absolutely brilliant and can't wait to read the sequel The Tygrine Cat On The Run - out today, 3rd January

Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher -
Walker books
Genre -
childrens' adventure. 9+

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Cats by The Mole

The competition we are running For Inbali Iserles's book - The Tygrine Cat has caused me a little melancholia as I have been remembering Puddin - a stray who came to stay - had a road accident that broke the bank thereby losing about 8 of his lives and then, just before Christmas 2009 he died thereby breaking our hearts.

He was almost feral when he came to stay and wouldn't stop biting. He wasn't refined like so many cats can be and he certainly lacked the skill and subtlety of MacCavity whose reputation as The Hidden Paw reflected his skill.

He lacked the appeal of ZaZa from Hector's House but was a little mischievous at times like Tom Kitten.

People saw his lack of tail and assumed he was a special breed like Varjak Paw the Mesopotamian Blue by the author S.F.Said - they were wrong he was a heinz cat who had lost his tail. Unlike The Cate Who Lost His Purr by Michele Coxon who found his purr again when his people (or staff as he probably saw them) returned home Puddin would not see his tail again as the vet took it! He could however purr for Britain. Despite his lack of tail he would fight - anything - but lacked the skill of Varjak Paw or the children in Cat Kin in Nick Green's book who acquire the skills of cats as they learn a martial art.

Puddin was not the first cat we owned but was the only one our youngest daughter knew and he died at the age of 13 - a mere youngster by comparison to Inbali's Wilma who lived to 22. Perhaps he may have been a Time Travelling Cat like the one Julia Jarman wrote about but it would seem a lot of effort for Pud.

He did have his own blog though, the wonders of modern technology, something Te Bubas "The First Cat" would not have enjoyed.

Monday 7 February 2011

How To Lose Friends and Alienate People by Toby Young

How do you do that then?
Review by Maryom

In 1995, British journalist Toby Young decided it was time to head to New York to make his name and his fortune at Vanity Fair. Unfortunately, somehow things went more than slightly awry - New Yorkers didn't take to his British humour, single women wouldn't look at him twice and Vanity Fair decided he wasn't what they needed and didn't renew his contract. Just how did he manage it?

This wasn't quite what I'd thought it would be. I'd seen the trailers for the film based on it (though not the film) and expected a comic, rom-com, chick-lit sort of book. Although there are undoubtedly comic passages, the overall tone is of fairly serious social and political comment. Young's account of his attempts to bluff his way into the Vanity Fair Oscars party or conquer the New York singles scene are interspersed with his thoughts on the differing structure of American and British society, political correctness, freedom of thought (or its lack) in universities, work ethics ...

An interesting book but not what I expected.

Maryom's review - 3 stars
Publisher -
Abacus Books
Genre -
Adult autobiography

Buy How to Lose Friends and Alienate People from Amazon

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Star of Sakova by Richard S Tuttle

Lyra lives with her mother and father at her father's academy for magic when raiders strike killing everyone with the exceptions of Lyra and two of her friends and kidnapping her father. After hiding until the raiders have finished their work she overhears that they are looking for her to take with them as well. Lyra, Antello and Syman then set off, secretly, to her uncle's academy but end up crossing into Sakova - the land where any who enter never leave alive.

I received an offer to review this self-published book and was fascinated by a couple of things: Mr Tuttle has had quite a few books in print; the story line sounded interesting. As he is self published he must have a great deal of confidence in his stories so I couldn't really say 'no'.

My first impression of the book itself was, like most self published books, smallish print and smallish margins. I had been expecting a large tome, like so many fantasy novels, but at 300 pages it seemed quite small and now I understood why.

This is book 2 of the Forgotten Legacy series and stands well on it's own and while the prologue doesn't 'fit' the rest of the book (I suspect it is the link to the first book) feel free to skip this, although at 2 pages in length why bother, just read it anyway.

I quickly got into reading the story and found that the characters are introduced at a very manageable rate and the plot moves constantly. Something that I found strange and very enjoyable, was that although Lyra is the heroine there are many other characters in the plot that have as significant a role and the book does not revolve around one character. It would be very time consuming to say everything I liked about this book and you would get very bored but one thing I did like is that I am a reader that tends to pick a book up, read a couple of pages, put it down and go and do something else before returning for the next few pages. Frequently this means that at one reading session very little happens but with Star of Sakova this was not the case and it made putting the book down more difficult and easier to do. Does that make sense? It also had the effect of hurrying me back as well. I am told I need to ensure a balance to this review to ensure the reader of this review knows how much I enjoyed it. I cannot say too many times and how much I did enjoy it!

I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to fantasy readers of all ages. The font and layout may put off younger readers, but this story is totally accessible to readers of all ages. The plot is not mind stretching and convoluted, if anything it's simple but well written and fast moving and is as good a plot as the Potter boy's and, if anything, a little more satisfying.

I had two disappointments with this book. The first was the final proof reading was not the quality of a publishing house - but I have commented about this on self published books before. At this point I would make an open invitation to Mr Tuttle- If this is typical of your writing then I would be happy to do a FINAL proof read on your behalf to try to see if anything is missed on future publications.

The second disappointment was the last line of the last page where it said "The End"! I wanted more!

Publisher - Richard S Tuttle
Genre -
fantasy, adventure 9+

Buy Star of Sakova (Forgotten Legacy) from Amazon

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Second Book Competition

The Tygrine Cat by Inbali Iserles

With the publication of "The Tygrine Cat On the Run" it is time to start our second competition. We are, once again, very excited to be running a competition about an author's work that we have really enjoyed (I suppose it's the only kind of competition to run). Please 'share' this competition with your friends and relatives!

This time we are making it a bit harder for people. You will find a few questions in a moment that you need to be able to answer and then  DM from Twitter or leave a comment on the blog and send your answers via email (see our 'contact' button above)! Or you could PM from Facebook. It is that simple. Well let's point out now that the competition is open to UK residents only and followers of our blog, followers on Twitter or Facebook 'friends' but why not go for broke and do all three?? The competition will close Sunday 13th February when the winner will be chosen. 

The prize is a personalised copy of The Tygrine Cat by Inbali Iserles. The story is best summed up by reading Maryom's reviews of The Tygrine Cat and The Tygrine Cat On the Run. Once you have read these reviews you will be better able to answer one or more of the questions.

(1) Complete this phrase: “Macavity’s a mystery cat, he’s called the Hidden _____”

(2) How is Te Bubas otherwise known?

(3) Which author writes The Time-Travelling Cat series?

(4) What breed of cat is Varjak Paw?

(5) In a sentence, tell us what makes cats so special