Tag: Indie Authors

Sweaty and Pals Again by Mac Black

4 and half 1

Review by Angela

This is a lovely follow on from Sweaty and Pals. The main theme is fun and adventure for Derek (Sweaty) and his five pals. The style of writing, the length of chapters and the illustrations are very much like the original book and reading it felt very much like carrying on a school year later with more adventures of the Blytheton Road Gang.

Sweaty & Pals Again

The familiar characters we loved are still there, Gran, Grandad and the children’s favourite teacher, Miss Taylor, as well as the rather grumpy neighbour, Mr Murdoch. There are plenty of newcomers too with a couple of girls showing their faces to this all boys gang.

The chapters are just the right length to read one at bedtime and each chapter is a complete short story in itself. Young children will love the realistic tales of birthday parties, trips to the zoo on a bus and making the best of a rainy day inside. The illustrations are lovely and simple and depict the story perfectly.

 

 

Joyful Trouble by Patricia Furstenberg

3-and-half-star

Review by Angela

Ana and Tommy, aged 9 and 5, are staying with their grandparents. Their grandfather is telling them a story of ‘Trouble’, a Great Dane dog who was signed up to join the Navy – and this is based on a true story – yes, really! This reality made the story for me. I must admit that it’s not the most gripping of children’s stories, but knowing that there was an element of reality and truth to the story, it gave additional intrigue. Trouble, later to be named Joyful Trouble, is a big slobbery dog who loves to hang around with the seamen of Simon’s Town near Cape Town. Being such a lovable dog he was adopted as ‘one of their own’ by the seamen and travelled, slept and ate with them.

Joyful Trouble

The two children are lovely to hear about, especially inquisitive and spirited 5 year old Tommy, and the dialogue presents polite, well spoken children.  The grandfather is with the children for the whole of the time in the book so there is always adult talk and guidance. The grandmother is fairly stereo-typical, cooking, feeding the children and preparing picnics etc., but an obvious stable character for children.

For UK readers, just be aware that this is written by in South African English and is, at times, a little strange to our ears. 

 

 

Things We Never Said by Nick Alexander

four-and-a-half-stars

The book opens with the prologue at the aftermath of Catherine’s funeral.  It is a little bit sad but it is a good opportunity for the reader to be introduced to the main characters – Sean, April and Maggie.  After everyone has left the wake, Sean, now a widower, is visited by his neighbour and friend, Maggie, just to check on him and also leave him a simply wrapped cardboard box.  Sean later opens the box to find that Catherine has left him twenty-nine numbered envelopes, each containing a photograph and a cassette recording of her memories of the time the photograph was taken.  The first instructs him to open the envelopes at weekly intervals.

Things We Never Said

The chapters of the book start with a short description of each photograph of the weekly opened envelopes, and then the verbal contents of the cassette which Catherine recorded during her final weeks in hospital. We go back to the beginning of Catherine and Sean’s relationship when they first met at a fairground and hear from Catherine her first hand impression of meeting Sean. The following chapters give milestone markers of their marriage, the birth of their daughter, April, and various parties and workplace memories – some of which even Sean had forgotten about.

I thought this was a very clever, if not quite unique, way of telling the story of an, at times, troubled marriage through snapshots of memory. Although the premise sounds depressing, it has very uplifting and amusing moments. It is written with emotion and sensitivity and also shows how father and daughter come to terms with the loss of wife and mother in different ways.  I am ashamed to say that this is the first book by Nick Alexander I have read, but it won’t be the last.

 

Nick Alexander

 

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The Half Life of Hannah     The Bottle of Tears     The Other Son

The French House     The Photographer's Wife     Things We Never Said

 

Defiance by Eric Gardner

3-and-half-star

This is an action packed, fast paced apocalyptic style thriller. The book opens with Gabriel being forcefully taken from his own home in front of his wife and children. Outside the house, a woman in a van is orchestrating the whole operation including intercepting the anticipated emergency phone call to be made by Gabriel’s wife moments after his abduction. At that point, just a few pages in, I was hooked and just didn’t know who to trust – Gabriel must be somebody bad for the authorities to take him in that way, but then again, were they really the authorities?

Defiance 1

The story moves back a few days for us to understand why Gabriel was taken from his home. There is a long conversation between Gabriel and his friend Naheen, in which Naheen tells of a prophetic dream/premonition he’s had in which Gabriel changes the world and Naheen sees only black. Moments before Gabriel is abducted, he hears on the news that Naheen and his family have all been brutally murdered. The story then moves to Afghanistan where an archaeological dig is taking place and after a sand storm, there is a marvellous revelation. From here the story takes off Indiana Jones style!

Hoping the above has whet your appetite with intrigue, I shall say no more about the story but it is quick paced and, although at times I wondered where the story could possibly be going, it all comes together by the end. You will then need to read book two to follow the series for further revelations to unanswered questions.

Available on Amazon.com & Amazon.co.uk

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Italian Sonata by Emmanuelle de Maupassant

four-and-a-half-stars

Italian Sonata is the second volume in Emmanuelle de Maupassant’s noire trilogy, the first being The Gentlemen’s Club. This one is a full and complete story in itself but to get the most from the characters, particularly Maud and Henry, I would advise you to read The Gentlemen’s Club first.

Italian Sonata 1

Italian Sonata is set in 1899, mostly at a castle on cliffs high above the sea near Sorrento, Italy. Henry fell deeply and unconditionally in love with Maud in The Gentlemen’s Club and this book follows straight on, travelling through Europe for Maud and Henry’s honeymoon. Henry’s sister, Cecile, at the insistence of Maud, accompanies them on their honeymoon. Part way through their European tour, Cecile stops off at the ‘Castello’ for a few days to give Maud and Henry time and privacy on their honeymoon. Little does naïve Cecile know that she is a sexual pawn between debauched Lorenzo and his promiscuous sister. The Castello holds its own dark secrets and before long Cecile is out of her depth.

Emmanuelle’s writing is impeccable. She writes beautifully and poetically of places, people and, of course, erotic sex scenes.  She uses different language depending on the scenes – sweet roses and moist petals for loving scenes, and thrusts, clenches and aggression for brute sex.

This noire series is a work of art.  The eroticism, especially in The Gentlemen’s Club, is second to none and, unlike many other books of the erotic genre, Emmanuelle’s have a great storyline.  There is a good sense of time and place with the countries of Europe being accurately and beautifully described, and the dark, gothic feel of the castle, the clothing and smells, puts you right back to the turn of the Victorian century.

The Gentlemen's Club 1Italian Sonata 1

 

Visit Emmanuelle’s website for articles on sexuality, writing craft and recommended reads.

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Web of Scars by Farah Ali

Four Stars

If you like your psychological characters to be absolutely psychopathic nutcases, then you’ll love reading about Hester in Web of Scars.

Web of Scars

The opening chapter is of a car crashing down a cliff side with Frances being the only survivor. Her friend and fellow passenger, Rosie, is dead and so is Rosie’s daughter, Nilah.  After so much heartache, injury and relationship deceit, Frances leaves her husband and goes to live in her grandmother’s house which she has recently inherited.  She tries to start a new life for herself with the comfort and familiarity of her childhood neighbours and village, continuing to write her series of children’s book for income. Things really start to take off when Frances hires Josh and Hester to tend the enormous garden.  Josh is a lovely quiet local man with an unfortunate stammer and Hester is a vile and evil individual – except she’s sure to have Frances only see the good in her.

Lots of things mysteriously start to go wrong for Frances and we, the reader, get to see Hester’s cruel and vicious ways.  But why? Who is Hester, why is she so cruel and what has any of this got to do with Frances?

Written in third person, each of the chapters have the individual characters’ viewpoints and a full picture emerges around their relationship to and with Frances.  This gripping story gives a climatic end, allowing the reader to breathe again for the final concluding chapter.

Farah Ali’s Amazon author profile

Tess Bloom (Chemical Attraction Series) by Holly Hudson

3-and-half-star

This is a very delightful story of Tess Bloom, a perfumerer, living in Paris with her daughter, Natasha.

Tess Bloom

Unfortunately, Tess has lost her sense of smell and is finding it increasingly difficult, almost impossible, to stay on top of her job. The bills are piling up and then there is a phone call telling her that her mother has died back home in Ohio. From here, Tess and her daughter go back to Ohio for the funeral and to sort the house ready for selling and each have adventures which were totally unexpected.

Tess Bloom is a likeable character and the story is well plotted and interesting with a splash of humour here and there.  There is an element of predictability but the story telling is so flowing and charming that it really doesn’t matter – the journey to the end is a pleasure.  It could do with a bit of proofreading (I had a private giggle at Tess laying prostate on the floor when I’m sure she would have been prostrate) and if you can ignore the little errors, there is a really great story here.

 

Sweaty and Pals by Mac Black

four-and-a-half-stars

Review by Angela

Sweaty and Pals is a good fun read for children of around seven years and upwards to read for themselves, or for parents to read to younger school starters.

Sweaty and Pals

The illustrations are bright, funny and add more depth to the already interesting and amusing stories.  The chapters are set out at just the right length to read one at bedtime and each are a complete short story.

Derek ‘Sweaty’ Toozlethwaite doesn’t live with his mum and dad, he lives with his grandparents.  We don’t get to know why in this children’s book, you will need to read the later adult series to learn why and who his parents are.  In the first few chapters, we meet Sweaty’s ‘gang’ or playmates, and we learn how Derek got his nickname ‘Sweaty’ – and it’s not because he’s sweaty or smelly.  We see Sweaty having a few new experiences – starting school, going to the opticians and going with his friend to the hairdressers – all showing young children in a fun way that these are normal and exciting things to do.  There are chapters with morals, but not in an obvious way, and chapters of reasoning, like why you need to go to bed, even if you don’t feel sleepy.  But most of all, the chapters are fun filled and will be loved by young children.

 

My Fight For My Family (The Mega Pig File) by David Jordan

3-and-half-star

This is a fact based novella partly set out in diary form, partly a memoir.  I’m finding it incredibly difficult to give a star rating because it’s not like the usual fiction stories I read and it’s not written as a memoir or biography either.

My Fight For My Family

David Jordan has given a written statement of what happened to his family when he tried to get improved housing conditions for his partner and their baby daughter. This one action triggered a nightmare of fighting to keep their first daughter, then subsequent son and daughter, for the next eleven and a half years.

Jordan gives a run down of all the happenings – letters, phone calls, visits, meetings and Court Orders – and to be perfectly honest, I read with shocked amazement the contradictory remarks, lack of help or respect, incompetence and ineptitude of social services towards this family. Far from being a body of professional people working to help families stay together and be safe, they seemed to go out of their way to obstruct these parents being with their children and gave little or no reason of what they were doing wrong, why they were ‘bad parents’.  I am quite aware that I have only read one side of the story and that it’s not possible for me to get confirmation of the validity of this story.  Notwithstanding that, if only half of this is true, it makes for a very concerning read.  Not only has a great injustice been done to this family, possibly with long lasting mental effects, but an astronomical amount of public money has been wasted on what seems nothing more than a witch-hunt.

I was curious about the end of the title of the book – The Mega Pig File.  This relates to the name given to Mr Jordan’s file at the social services offices. I couldn’t believe a public office would dare to do that!

The actual writing could do with some editing with regard to the structure of the book, but for a lay-man to put his family’s experience down on paper, David Jordan has done incredibly well with this book.  It is very easy to read, compelling in places, and flows reasonably well, if a little stilted at times and awkward in asking and answering his own questions.  Well worth a read, if only to assure yourself not to start off any unnecessary contact with family and social services – it could back-fire badly.

 

Viking Thunder by Emmanuelle de Maupassant

Five Stars

This short story is another raunchy masterpiece by Emmanuelle de Maupassant. Erotic literature isn’t my usual choice of reading but Emmanuelle’s professional writing style and interesting storylines always make for a good read.

Viking Thunder 1

This story goes way back to the days of Viking invasion, days when we were still living in mud and straw huts and hunting boar in the woods. The descriptions of their home, the clothes they wore and the smells, all give a satisfyingly real feel – you can imagine the matted hair, coarse dresses, the men’s leather bodices and the smell of animal and humans living close together. Being a short story, about an hour’s reading time, the characters are briefly described in their appearance and who’s who, but there just isn’t time to delve into their personalities.

Elswyth is the lead female character who herself is the offspring of a previous Viking raid. She has the flaxen hair of the Norse or Northmen, and is seen as ‘different’ by the others in the village. When the village comes under attack, Elswyth’s husband is brutally murdered in front of her as are all the men of the village. Just some of the women and children are spared for their ‘usefulness’ to the savage Vikings. The Viking leader, Eirik, takes a liking to Elswyth and, in true Viking nature, he takes her as he wants her. But, there is more than a spark of wantonness in Elswyth. Viking Thunder’s sex is raw, base and earthy – what do you expect, it’s about invading Vikings.  An excellent start to this Viking series.

Emmanuelle de Maupassant

 

Visit Emmanuelle’s website for articles on sexuality, writing craft and recommended reads.

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Deceit In May by Roz Ryszka-Onions

Four Stars

This is a fluid and easy to read suspense story set mostly in the south of England.

Deceit In May

Keira is clearing and selling the family home she shared with her parents. She’s too sad to stay there after first her mother, then father, were shot in an apparent suicide pact. The story begins with her just moving in to a waterside home when a neighbour, Toby, turns up on the doorstep with a much welcome cafetiere of coffee. The two get on amazingly well and quickly become friends. A few days later when out shopping, Nathan introduces himself to Keira and the two very quickly start dating. Keira likes both Toby and Nathan and there is an obvious battle taking place in her head and heart which one of them she wants to be with, not to mention the jealousy between the two men.

Very quickly after moving in to her new home, Keira feels uneasy following a series of unusual events – banging on her door, damage to the property, and even items going missing from inside the house. After nearly being run off the road, she realises that these incidents are part of a serious scare tactic, possibly relating to her parents’ deaths which she starts to question as being a suicide pact.

Keira doesn’t know what she is mixed up in and the story becomes very fast paced with a good few tense and gripping moments to keep the reader captivated.

Her past is part of a conspiracy she knew nothing of which goes to the heart of British aristocracy, businesses and politics. By the end of the book, with a little help from a private investigator, the bad guys have been sorted from the good, leaving Keira to set up home and live safely with her man.

This is the first book I’ve read by Roz Ryszka-Onions and I’m surprised that I’ve not seen her several books or her name mentioned on the many social media sites, pages and groups which I frequent. Her writing style is easy to read, flows well and is quick paced – well worth picking one up.

 

After She’s Gone by Maggie James

Four Stars

This is an emotionally overflowing novel from the start. Written from the perspective of Lori, sister to Jessie, daughter of Dana Golden, we learn of their slightly disfunctional family set up. Dana split from her husband some years ago and has now moved Jake Hamilton and his son Spencer in to their home. The story begins with sweet sixteen year old Jessie not coming home. She’s never done this before and her mother, Dana, is seriously worried something bad has happened to her. Lori is also worried but tries to keep a calming atmosphere around her mother.

After She's Gone

Meanwhile, step-brother Spencer wakes on the floor of an unknown room feeling very groggy and unable to remember anything of the previous night. There has been a spate of fires in properties around the city and as Spencer is gradually coming round, he smells smoke and realises he needs to get out now. As he is leaving, from the corner of his eye he glimpses an arm on the floor near him. Upon closer inspection he realises it is the dead body of his step-sister Jessie.

Spencer knows this looks bad for him. He can’t remember any of last night, his step-sister is dead on the floor and he has scratches, like from fingernails, on his back.

Lori is struggling with grief of losing her little sister and trying to hold things together for her mother who is in a fragile state, and she’s only holding it together because she has a loving and understanding boyfriend, Ryan. Lori suspects almost each person in turn and by the last few chapters of the book we, the reader, know who the murderer is, but Lori is in much danger.

Maggie James has an easy flowing style of writing. She writes as you would think and speak which gives a feeling of realism to her characters – you could actually know and mix with these people. Her stories are brimming with tension and there’s always something going on to keep the interest level up. After She’s Gone is no different and is certainly a compelling and action packed read.

Maggie James

 

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Baby Love by Emmanuelle de Maupassant

4 and half 1

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. Emmanuelle de Maupassant is known for her writing of erotic fiction and I wasn’t expecting too much ‘steam’ with the book being about the pregnancy of the main character. Well, even with a heavily blossoming tummy you can have a lust or two with hunky Italian lotharios hanging around!

Baby Love

Baby Love is written in the style of a diary and also uses text and phrasing as if you had written your own diary, cutting out all the ‘me’s and ‘I’s which are obvious really.

Delphine’s husband is good looking and good in the sack, he knows it as well as Delphine . . . and so does the lady next door! It’s terrible timing when at Christmas, Delphine finds herself pregnant and husbandless.  I’m sure we’ve all made the wrong choice of bloke somewhere along the line and can feel for the bleak outlook of her life. I loved Delphine as a character, she didn’t deserve the hand she’d been dealt, and I sympathised with her situation.  Delphine has hit rock bottom when her well meaning sisters come to the rescue and cause more hilarity at the spa they’ve booked the three of them into.

Overall, a very good and funny story with moments of pathos. The wry outlook on life and the ironic humour makes this a well worth satirical read.

Emmanuelle de Maupassant

 

Visit Emmanuelle’s website for articles on sexuality, writing craft and recommended reads.

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