Tuesday 31 January 2012

The Fart by Cynan Jones

The Year Of The Short Story (cntd) 
The Mole

Cynan Jones is a true published author with two books (Everything I Found On The Beach and The Long Dry) in print more as 'work in progress'. We interviewed the author and found him to be a most sober chap.  His first novel (The Long Dry) was translated into French, Italian and Arabic but in this short story he demonstrates that he does have a sense of humour. It's not the schoolboy humour that the title may imply but a sort of mature... err... errr... schoolboy humour?

WARNING - This story contains details of a bodily function that some people may find offensive. If this is you then please look away now.

WARNING - This story also contains wry humour that may mean you want to read it on your own - whatever, enjoy it!

How long should a short story be? Perhaps not this short but it's all about entertainment and this certainly entertained me. This kind of thing has never happened to me but I can feel everything that happened in it and smile about it too!

This story can be downloaded for free from Amazon until 3rd February 2012 and if you don't own a kindle then Amazon offer free software on most any device, however I haven't seen one yet for my vacuum cleaner.

Publisher - Kindle
Genre - Adult, Humour, Fiction, Short Story

Get The Fart from Amazon

Monday 30 January 2012

Songs of the Dying Earth edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois

The Year Of The Short Story (Pt 1)
Review by The Mole

2012 is, officially, the year of the short story so maybe it's time to revisit some of those short story collections that are gathering dust.

With the birth of e-readers and the decline of the hardback novel the opportunity for people to read a whole story during a morning commute may mean a return to reading by people. Let's hope that works for at least some people.

This particular collection is written by a group of science fiction writers of repute who feel that they have read, enjoyed and been influenced by Jack Vance. The Dying Earth was Vance's first novel which he wrote while working in the merchant navy and is a book that I haven't read. Each of these stories has been set on that dying world.

The first contributor is Robert Silverberg, possibly one of the more universally known writers who has quite a list of stories and awards to his name. I have read many stories by both authors over the years and enjoyed their worlds, times and events.

The True Vintage Of Erzuine Thale by Robert Silverberg

Puillane of Ghusz is a poet. Well, not just a poet, but a celebrated poet, celebrated as the greatest and most prolific poet alive. He is also a man expecting the planet to die imminently. This constant expectation of the sun's death breeds in him a depression that leads him to drink. But the local wines are rather special and when drinking the poetry spills forth like an uncorked barrel. In his wine cellar is a bottle of the most special wine that there ever was, The True Vintage Of Erzuine Thale. This particular bottle he is waiting to open until the sun actually goes out because he believes that if he drinks it then then the greatest poem ever written will pour from him. All his property is protected by magic and this bottle especially so. Travellers come to see him but will they persuade him to open the bottle early?

Truly a good opening to the collection this story delivers much of it's enjoyment through the telling as all good stories should although to say more would be to give spoilers. And as a first story in the collection it sets the scene and treats the reader to the delights of both Vance and Silverberg leaving the reader with high expectations for what is to come from the rest of the collection.

Publisher - Voyager
Genre -
Science Fiction, Fantasy, Short Story

Buy Songs of the Dying Earth from Amazon

Friday 27 January 2012

The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer by Jennifer Lynch

Behind The Scenes with Laura Palmer
review by Maryom

If you ever watched Twin Peaks you'll remember that it started with the death of popular homecoming queen Laura Palmer. To the world she appeared to be a normal happy teenager but as the series progressed her increasingly dark past was revealed. Her diary starts from the other perspective - from the age of 12 Laura shared her darkest secrets with her only guaranteed-to-keep-silent friend, her diary. The reader is immediately aware of the relationship between her and mysterious character Bob, and follows her as her life descends into a nightly round of drugs and sex while keeping up her 'innocent' daytime life.

Reading this a long while after watching Twin Peaks, I wasn't sure how well it works as a stand-alone novel. I had a feeling that it was mainly filling in gaps from the TV series and leaving a lot unsaid. At times, the device of having pages 'ripped out' is used to avoid giving the reader too much information - surely a better way could have been found.

An interesting read out of curiosity but not one I'd be likely to re-read.

Warning - sexually explicit a lot of the time.

Maryom's review - 3.5 stars
Publisher - Simon & Schuster
Genre -
adult fiction, TV tie-in

Buy The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer from Amazon

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Vanished by Liza Marklund

How To Disappear
review by Maryom

A woman is on the run from a killer after two men are shot dead in the container port of Frihamnen near Stockholm. When she contacts the Evening Post newspaper offices, she is put through to copy-editor Annika Bengtzon, who in turn puts her in contact with The Paradise Foundation - an organisation that claims it can make people disappear without trace - offering a lifeline to battered wives or criminals eager to escape their past. Annika's further enquiries into the Foundation start to leave her wondering if it is as altruistic as it first appeared and if referring anyone to them was such a good move. Investigating both the dockside killing and Paradise's credentials leads Annika along a convoluted, dangerous trail and to an encounter that will shape her life.

I read my first Liza Marklund thriller, The Bomber, just before Christmas and was curious to see how Vanished would compare. Some crime/thriller series fall into a repetitive mould with the same-old characters going through the same-old motions time and again. Happily, Marklund has avoided that trap. Vanished is set at an earlier point in time than The Bomber. Annika Bengtzon is down on her luck at this point in her life - leading an almost solitary existence in her crumbling dilapidated flat, working odd hours at the Evening Post, troubled by her family relationships. All in all things are not going well for her. There are hints at her backstory - enough to fill in the gaps but not so much that I wouldn't want to read about it. I was fascinated to see how the Annika Bengtzon character had developed over the time between Vanished and The Bomber. Here she is younger, less confident of herself in both personal and work relationships, but still recognisable as the more mature person she will become. She comes over as a real, living, breathing faults-and-all person and through her Marklund examines issues that affect many lives- difficulties with family, care of the elderly, uncaring work colleagues.
It is, of course, mainly a thriller. Her journalistic instincts for a good story lead Annika into situations that will have you biting your fingernails and reading rapidly to get her out of the fix. Most definitely a book that falls into the 'stay-up-late to find out how it ends' category.

Vanished is published next month - but meanwhile I've seen other Annika Bengtzon thrillers on sale in my local supermarket...

Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - Corgi/Transworld
Genre -

Buy Vanished from Amazon

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Year of The Dragon Book Challenge

Another New Year, Another Reading Challenge

Shortly after posting yesterday's review - Tell Me A Dragon by Jackie Morris - I happened to be idly looking at our book shelves and realised how many books we have involving dragons in some way, shape or form. So I've decided to mark the Chinese Year of the Dragon with another reading challenge - I won't be going out of my way to read nothing but dragon-related stories all year, but to keep track of the ones that I do.

Top of my intended list, waiting on the TBR pile for nearly a year since I bought it, is The Ultimate Dragon - a collection of dragon-related short stories from a variety of authors including Tanith Lee, Ursula Le Guin and Robert Silverberg.

It's also a good excuse to read old favourites from The Hobbit to Eragon to the Dragonriders of Pern series or catch up with the latest RainWild chronicle from Robin Hobb - City of Dragons, published in April 2012

If anyone feels like joining in or just sharing their favourite dragon stories, please comment below.

Monday 23 January 2012

Tell Me A Dragon by Jackie Morris

Year of the Dragon
review by Maryom

Today is Chinese New Year and as the upcoming one will be the Year of the Dragon, I thought I'd share one of our daughter's Jackie Morris books with you - Tell Me A Dragon.

Big dragons, small dragons. Ones that fly through the air, ones that swim in the sea. City dragons, country dragons. Icy blue for the Arctic, fiery red for the desert. This book has them all, brought to life in Jackie Morris's inimitable style.

Tell Me A Dragon is not a story book as such but one of magical paintings to en-trance the reader and fire a child's (or adult's) imagination. Encourage your child to interact by imagining their own dragon - would he be fierce or gentle? red, blue, violet with golden spots? gigantic or tiny? - or making up stories about the dragons, and owners, depicted in the book.

A captivating book for all lovers of dragons - whatever their age!

PS My favourite dragon? I'd have to have two - the 'big as a village' cover dragon, 'jade-winged and amber-eyed', daintily choosing a cupcake, and the pale as moonlight 'sparkled with stardust' dragon 'made from the sun and the stars', flying across the moonlit sky.

Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - Frances Lincoln
Genre - picture book

Buy Tell Me a Dragon from Amazon

Thursday 19 January 2012

How To Win Friends and Influence People

Perhaps The First Self Help Book
Review by The Mole

This book has been a massive success in so far as it has sold 15million copies since it's first publication in 1936. It's title alone is an enticement to pick it up - who does not want to make more friends and, perhaps, get more from the friendships they already have?

This version has been updated to reflect "the digital age". You might expect that this would cause a drastic reworking and almost obviate the original teaching, but in fact it highlights how, with the internet and other digital social connections, it is fact quicker and easier to destroy all goodwill and friendships than ever before. It stresses, though, that the same rules that applied in 1936, about face to face, letters and phone calls then apply equally apply today for all digital communications as well. In fact the same rules apply whichever form of communication you choose to use. It's not about how and when to use Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn but about how to deal with people. It includes examples of how not to achieve it (where things generally went spectacularly wrong) and how things have been done well. These examples are not from the original publication but are modern events where they exist and are relevant.

I picked this book up expecting all sorts of rules and actions but was very surprised to find that there is one underlying message - be positive and interested in what everyone has to say. Sounds easy? Well, maybe not. If you can be self critical and really want to achieve what the title says then you need to commit a lot of time and effort to read this book - not just once but as often as needed to reinforce your understanding of the many types of encounter you may find yourself in.

Another important fact is that this book works at the micro level (you and your wife, you and the barman, you and the neighbour, etc) as well as at the macro level (a managing director and his company of 10,000 employees). This book is about people and the reader and is a long term project to achieve, not just friends, but with friends comes contentment and happiness.

The Mole highly recommends this book.

Publisher - Simon & Schuster
Genre - Non Fiction, Self help

Buy How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age from Amazon

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Fludd by Hilary Mantel

A New Broom
review by Maryom

The small parish of Fetherhoughton is about to brought up to date. The Bishop has decided that Father Angwin, the local priest, is too old and set in his ways. that the Church needs to move with the times and catch up with the 1950s and modern ways. Among other measures, the Bishop suggests that maybe a young curate would be of assistance so when mysterious stranger Fludd arrives, all assume that's who he is.

If you thought all Hilary Mantel's novels were as long as Wolf Hall, think again! Fludd is a short humorous tale (just under 200 pages) in some ways reminiscent of Cold Comfort Farm. The enigmatic new curate breezes into the village in the way Flora Poste does, bringing with him a breath of fresh air and tantalising glimpses of the possibilities that exist in the great world outside Fetherhoughton.

In a comparatively small space, Mantel creates amazing 'stay with you' characters - the elderly priest now merely going through the forms of worship, Mother Perpetua who rules the convent with a rod of iron yet flirts with priests, the young nun striving for something more fulfilling than her dreary existence and even, in the very few lines given to her, the nun's 'man-mad' aunt.

I picked this book up through Bookcrossing and it's been sitting waiting on the TBR pile for a while - too long really, I wish I'd read it sooner. I also have An Experiment In Love waiting to be read and after enjoying Fludd so much, I'm tempted to push it up the pile.

Maryom's review - 4.5 stars
Publisher - HarperCollins
Genre -
adult fiction

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Tarzan - The Greystoke Legacy by Andy Briggs

100 year old Super Hero  
Review by The Mole 

First I must hang my head and admit that I have never read Tarzan - the original stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Andy Briggs here has set about updating the stories and making them relevant to today's young readers.

Jane's mother has run off leaving her father, a respected doctor, with a pile of debt and loan sharks on his tail. He has decided to go to Africa, taking Jane with him (kicking and screaming by all accounts!), to take up logging exotic woods and make a fortune. Amidst the unrest and turmoil that is in the jungle, things start to go wrong for Jane but she meets and makes friends with Tarzan. A time of chaos is coming caused by the rebels in the jungle which threatens Tarzan's and Jane's very existence.

It only occurred to me as I really got into this book that ERB, in creating Tarzan, not only created the icon of a perfect character in an idyllic setting but also perhaps the first 'Super Hero'. No man, or beast, could ever succeed in doing half of what Tarzan achieves/achieved, however we never challenge this, instead we cheer him on - if Tarzan thinks it's right to do it then it must be right! Andy Briggs has captured all of that and successfully brought Tarzan to the age of the iPhone - even if there is no signal for it to work!

I have to be honest and say that I found the early part of the book a little 'rigid' and forced, although totally readable. But when the plot picks up, the action and story are delivered with a speed and ferocity that drags you along cheering on the home team (or is it the away team in this case? Read it to find out.)

I did enjoy this book and I'm sure that many younger readers will love this story.  

Publisher - Faber Kids  
Genre - Children's 9+, Adventure

Buy Tarzan: The Greystoke Legacy from Amazon

Monday 16 January 2012

Secret of The Sands by Sara Sheridan

review by Maryom

In 1833 although slavery has recently been abolished in Britain, elsewhere it is still flourishing. Zena, an Abyssinian beauty, is captured and taken to the slave market of Muscat in Arabia where her captors expect to raise a high price for her. Passing through different hands she is given to Lt James Wellstead, a British naval officer involved in mapping the coastline of the Arabian Peninsula and about to embark on an arduous trip into the desert in search of two missing fellow officers. In charge of the rescue party, though, are the two slave traders who captured Zena. Their knowledge of the desert makes them ideal guides but not the best companions.

Secret of the Sands is a book I came across through a Twitter friendship with the author. Initially I wasn't sure that it would be my kind of book as I'm not really a reader of romantic fiction but I decided to borrow it from the library and give it a go. I'm glad I did, finding it to be an exciting adventure story rather than a purely romantic one.
The starting point for the novel was an account of the real life adventures of James Wellstead - maybe not quite as exciting as this fictionalised account but something that lends a good historical backing to the novel.
The telling alternates between the viewpoints of Zena, Wellstead and the 2 missing officers - conjuring up the atmosphere of 19th century Arabia, of bustling towns and sea-ports backing onto the endless, empty desert. A world peopled with a large cast of diverse plausible characters - not all the bad guys are totally bad, and the good ones aren't too good to be true!

Maryom's review - 4 stars
Publisher - HarperCollins
Genre -
romance, historical fiction 

Buy Secret of the Sands from Amazon

Friday 13 January 2012

India Dark by Kirsty Murray

To Darkest India..
review by Maryom

Tilly Sweetrick encourages Poesy Swift to join her as part of Arthur Percival's Lilliputian company of child entertainers - enthralling her with tales of their 2 year tour to America. Although Poesy loves the singing and dancing she finds that, when they set out from Australia on a new tour, things do not live up to her expectations. Financial problems mean the company cannot head straight for the U.S. but must put in a series of performances across the Far East and India to raise money for the rest of the trip. Very few of the company are happy with this and when Percival tries to clamp down on the behaviour of the group, particularly the older girls, he runs the risk of all-out revolt.
Based on real life events, India Dark is an enjoyable, engaging read that pulls the reader in as the story unfolds and life as it is really lived by these teens is revealed. The story is told from two alternating points of view, Poesy's and Tilly's - having Poesy as a newcomer to the company allows the reader to see events through her innocent eyes in contrast to Tilly's more experienced viewpoint. I could almost feel the steamy atmosphere of Indonesia and southern India and the relief as the company headed North.
The only slight disappointment was the lack of a great dramatic finale which the book seemed to have been building to but otherwise a great read.

Maryom's review - 4 stars
Publisher - Templar
Genre -
teen, historical fiction

Buy India Dark from Amazon

Thursday 12 January 2012

Dark Goddess by Sarwat Chadda

review by Maryom

Billi SanGreal is a Knight Templar - part of a group dedicated to fighting dark supernatural forces. At the scene of a particularly savage werewolf attack she rescues Vasilisa, a child with special powers, who is in dreadful danger as the Dark Goddess is hunting her. Although the Templars try to protect her, she is snatched away and they, including Billi, must travel to Russia in a desperate attempt to save the girl and the world. In Russia Billi finds more werewolves, untrustworthy allies and love interest in the shape of Ivan...

I had a bit of difficulty getting into the swing of this book - primarily I suspect as it's book 2 of a series and I hadn't read book 1. The reader is rather launched straight in at the deep end and it took me a while to get to grips with the characters. As the story moved from London to the wilds of Russia, I found myself swept up in Billi's struggle - against outside foes and the forces inside herself. The Dark Goddess is a very action-packed, thrilling re-imagining of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table as contemporary fighters against dark forces in general - and this time werewolves and the Dark Goddess, Baba Yaga, specifically.

Marom's review - 4 stars
Publisher - Puffin
Genre - Teens, Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure

Buy Dark Goddess from Amazon

Wednesday 11 January 2012

The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz

Classic Sherlock
Review by The Mole

A while ago I blogged about this book's publicity campaign and felt it was a real taster that had me, and I'm sure a great deal more people, looking to finding a copy. Well I found a review copy in my stocking and have now had chance to read it.

"The first official new Sherlock Holmes mystery, written by global best seller Anthony Horowitz" is how Orion Books introduce this book on their website and I would agree that this book is worthy of the title.

An art dealer has a suspicious watcher who he now believes has burgled him and he wants Holmes to investigate and recover a necklace which has monetary but great sentimental value. This investigation opens up a complex and multistranded case that nearly brings the great man down.

I have to say that very early on I knew where The House Of Silk was and felt a little disappointed but the further the story went on and bent and twisted the less important this fact turned out to be. At the end there is the traditional summing up to tie up any loose ends. I had lost track of all the ends that could be loose but they were all there being tied up. At times I had started to wonder how we jumped from one line of investigation to another and I thought "How? Coincidence? Plot device?" but it turned out the answer was simple... Anthony Horowitz hadn't missed a trick and knitted everything together in a totally logical way with no contrived 'cheats'.

Excellently written, plotted and delivered and I believe Arthur Conan Doyle would have been happy to endorse this book into the annals of Sherlock Holmes.

Publisher - Orion Books
Genre - Adult, Fiction,Crime

Buy The House of Silk: The New Sherlock Holmes Novel from Amazon

Tuesday 10 January 2012

Seven Years In Tibet by Heinrich Harrer

Journey to The Roof of the World
review by Maryom

Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer finds himself caught in British India at the start of WW2 and interned along with other foreign nationals. His determination to escape increases when he is moved to a camp at Dehra Dun in northern India, within sight of the Himalayas. With such a temptation on the horizon, he and a group of fellow climbers make a bid for freedom, travelling on foot over some of the highest mountain passes in the world, heading for the neutral but forbidden country of Tibet.

This is a book I've wanted to read since I first saw the film of the same title starring Brad Pitt. Every time I watch the DVD I say 'I must track down that book' and at last (thanks yet again to the library service) I have.
It's an utterly fascinating and astonishing account of Harrer's journey to and through Tibet, catching a snapshot of a culture soon to be over-run by Chinese invasion of 1950.
The film certainly gave no feeling of the difficulties they encountered, not so much getting into Tibet, but staying there as well, putting more emphasis on Harrer's friendship with the young Dalai Lama. I certainly wasn't aware that the Tibetans tried several times to expel him, that he had run-ins with bandits as well as officials or that most of the seven years had passed before he finally reached Lhasa.
In some ways the book is less personal than the film - for example there's no mention of the wife left behind in Austria or any hint of any friction between Harrer and expedition leader Aufschnaiter as seen in the film - but the reader still gets to know Harrer and share his disappointment when he has to leave Tibet. It's main loss, though, is the stunning scenery (though I discovered the film was shot in the Andes rather than the Himalayas due to political problems) and some photographs would have been nice.

All in all a fascinating real-life adventure book.

Maryom's review - 5 stars
Genre -
adult non-fiction, autobiography,

Buy Seven Years in Tibet (Paladin Books) from Amazon

Monday 9 January 2012

The Daily Joke

A Laughable Christmas Present
Review by The Mole

"The Daily Joke"?  Who can pick a joke book up and read just one? Well, not me and that's for sure!

A Present from my teenage daughter designed to raise a little smile all year round. What it did was create a BIG smile for several days as I kept dipping into it and reading many of them (my favourites) out while she was trying to do other things.

As I kept "dipping in" I kept finding delicious pockets of humour that I had previously missed and so it took several days to finish, however I still keep picking it up for my favourites.

Of the 365 jokes, some are humorous quotes, some old favourites retold and a lot were very new to me. There are just a few I wouldn't read out in front of small children, but I am a bit of a prude.

"Englishman, Irishman and a Scotsman walk into a bar and the barman says...'Is this some kind of a joke?'".

I am intrigued by the 'Pencil Rest' in the corner as this is printed  on each page across the centre and so seems totally inappropriate for a pad to leave by the telephone... perhaps a 366th joke?

Purchased from one of the Next stores it appears not to be for sale anywhere now, so if you didn't find one in your stocking then you may be out of luck... maybe I'll share mine with you...

Genre-Adult, Non-Fiction, Humour

Friday 6 January 2012

Cooking for Christmas

Among Maryom's Christmas presents were 2 exciting cook books!

Firstly a "serious" cook book from the proprietor of Britain's largest organic delivery box scheme. Although I've never actually used Abel and Cole for groceries, as a firm believer in growing-my-own veg their thinking mirrors mine - in cooking and eating what is in season rather than importing produce from the far side of the world. The snag to this is that sometimes I find myself stuck in a rut, serving the same old meals over and over again.
Not any more!!
This book is chock-a-block full of easy-sounding recipes, divided by seasons - so no more being lost trying to find something to make with the runner bean or beetroot glut from the allotment or trying to put aubergines or courgettes in the same dish as parsnips or swedes.
A great book for anyone who 'grows-their-own' or who just wants to try to eat more seasonally.

Publisher - Collins
Genre - Non-Fiction,Cookery

Buy The Abel & Cole Cookbook: Easy, seasonal, organic from Amazon

On a slightly more humorous note - a book on baking for the family pet.
A range of fun bakes made with ingredients that are easily found in the kitchen or on the supermarket shelf. Although they are all aimed at dogs they actually look quite appealing to me - although I will avoid the tripe recipes - a taste I have not managed to acquire. Some are vegetarian, some have fish, some have meat - there is even a Christmas cake and a muffin recipe.

Publisher - Parragon Books Ltd
Genre - Non-Fiction, Cookery, Pets

Buy Doggie Biscuits from Amazon

Thursday 5 January 2012

Blast Off by Malachy Doyle and Gill McLean

The Final Countdown!
Review by The Mole

When the toys find a spaceship then it becomes necessary to find a way to choose who will be the astronaut and so they set out to find which of them has all the skills required.

Each page is not only brightly and colourfully illustrated but also carries a countdown to the final launch. The selection  is done is a sensible way and at each point each toy that drops from the selection does so without disagreement.

The back of the book contains teachers and parents notes to help get as much as possible from the book.

It can, in contrast, just be read as a fun story - and that gets my vote!  A lovely book and well executed!

Publisher - QED Publishing
Genre - Children's, Picture Book

Buy Blast Off (Storytime) from Amazon

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Samphire Coast by Robert Greenfield

More than the book says...
Review by The Mole

"A daringly candid over-the-counter view by the owner of a unique boutique ‘staycation’.
Robert Greenfield a former British fashion designer risks everything for a ‘No Going Back’ adventure that turns his and Michael Bell’s comfy city life upside down; as a dramatic new life beckons the budding hoteliers…After an awe-inspiring renovation of a rundown ancient house, the word quickly spreads and their books are FULL to overflowing. Anecdotes abound of the dreaded hotel inspector, and eye-popping ‘Guests from Hell’ that will have you laughing and gasping at their blatant turgid audacity... A real life Boy’s Own spirited ‘derring-do…’ epic roller coaster ride that will have you crying out for a sequel with these two uber-stylish hosts, and their urbane hippy dog, Barnaby-Boo. Entertaining, and spellbinding; maybe you will be packing your bags and heading for the hauntingly scenic North Norfolk coast…"

I am not sure I agree with the "boy's own" aspect but... This book is not really what that summary says. So what is it?

Well it's like one of those evenings you sit down with friends and start chatting about the traffic on the ring road and look up at the clock and it's 3 am and the last bus went hours ago and you can't for the life of you remember what it was that got you onto the subject of political unrest in third world countries. You're not sure how you got there but you sure as hell enjoyed the journey! The first half of the book criss crosses between the decision to make this massive leap of faith and the events that shaped the author's life leading to him being in the position to make the decision. The second half covers some of the weird and wonderful people and events that happened at Holly Lodge and how 1 group of picnickers brought him to realise where this journey had finally taken him.

Both saddening and uplifting as well as containing many memories of places on the North Norfolk coast, this book is like making a new friend, reading a travel brochure and taking 'life choices' advice and I felt like I had made a new friend in the author afterwards.

An enjoyable and different kind of read.

Publisher - Pegasus Elliot Mackenzie Publishers
Genre - Adult, Non-Fiction, Autobiography

Buy Samphire Coast from Amazon

Monday 2 January 2012

New years resolutions...

Really only one and that's to reduce the TBR pile!

They have come from MANY place...

Some from Book Crossing...
Some purchased ....
Some from Freecycle....
Some as prizes....

Sunday 1 January 2012

Lia's Guide To Winning The Lottery by Keren David

Life, Love and a Huge Lottery Win
review by Maryom

Lia has just turned 16 and with her absolutely first lottery ticket, bought by her friend, Jack, as a birthday present, she wins 8 million pounds! When she starts to get over the disbelief, she has a million plans of what she could do with it - a luxury flat of her own and a life of leisure with no need to worry about exams, school or university figure high on the list - but her parents have different ideas - her Mum would like some cosmetic surgery and Dad thinks Lia should invest in his bakery business. Then there's her school friends, even those who weren't particularly friendly - they all feel she should treat them......and Jack's mum thinks Jack deserves a share...... while best friend Shazia's religion forbids her to accept anything. Although going on the telly and meeting famous people is cool, Lia's not sure about all the attention she's getting from the media and starts to worry about what secrets they may unearth... and she still hasn't won the heart of school heart-throb, Raf.

Keren David's previous novels When I Was Joe and Almost True were edgy thrillers dealing with knife crime and witness protection. Lia's Guide To Winning The Lottery is a much more light-hearted affair. When it turned up on my doorstep I'd been having a run of heavy adult thriller, emotionally draining fantasy and disturbing YA reads - all of them excellent but I was feeling in need of a little light relief and heading towards the Sophie Kinsella book on the TBR pile. Lia elbowed it out of the way!

Keren David has managed to pull off something rather clever here - the book is funny, laugh out loud at times, as Lia comes to terms with her Big Win and the changes it makes to her life and with everyone's attitude towards her BUT at the same time it raises serious issues about our attitudes to money, celebrity, gambling and, dare I say it, teenage sex. While Lia enjoys not having to beg her parents for every fiver, she also discovers that it won't help sort her love-life, that you can't buy friends but that, in the right place, a small amount of money can go a long way towards saving lives.

I was really left wondering what my stance would be in a similar situation - not merely as the parent of a teenager - would I try to insist she invested it all? - but if my parents won a huge amount would I expect to share it? or what if my totally grown-up daughter got lucky? If I personally won, would I be comfortable with all that money knowing that people die every day in underdeveloped countries due to circumstances that comparatively small amounts can solve.

I'm now prepared for what will happen when I strike lucky with that big win - how to deal with the press, with friends and relations, the sudden desire for a spending spree - unfortunately the one thing Lia's Guide to Winning the Lottery doesn't cover is that all important question - How to pick the lucky numbers?

Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - Frances Lincoln
Genre - fiction, teen/YA /adult

Buy Lia's Guide to Winning the Lottery from Amazon