The first review in June was for a collection of short stories reflecting the human condition in all its glory and potential for loss – Comes this Time to Float: 19 Short Stories by Stephen Geez
My review for the collection June 4th 2022
This is a collection that touches hearts, brings old memories to the surface and provides thought provoking moments. Enhanced by images and individually introduced by the author, creating anticipation for the enjoyment to come.
Stephen Geez has a rich writing style that treats the reader to a beautifully detailed narrative bringing the settings of the stories and their characters into focus.
“Magician’s-box swords of sharp sunlight stab the gloom. Leaves turn and reach. An urgent rivulet slaps rocks. Water falls”.
‘The vapors would rise strong and true on this rare night when neither of the two moons dared show a shiny face to warn the emboldened tingle-winds back into the chasm where they bide.’
From the first story, about an unlikely sidekick of a superhero, to the poignancy of a red tractor in the middle of a field, the author ensures that you are fully engaged and ready to believe his characters have something to share that will reflect something in your own life.This makes the stories personal and relateable as we feel the loss, joy, love and the humour within them.
It is tough to suggest particular favourites, but Sidekick, Holler Song, Blind is Love, The Age-Eater and Time and Space touched me deeply.
Highly recommended as a collection of stunningly created vignettes about the human condition.
Next my review for a highly interesting novel set in Malaya post WWII which is both an adventure and a love story. Have You Eaten Rice Today by Apple Gidley – on pre-order for September 6th.
My advance review for the book June 11th 2022
This is a book I found difficult to put down. Excellently written with memorable characters faced with the dangers of guerrilla warfare, interlaced with a once in a lifetime romance.
There are many books and films written about World War Two, but few about the conflict in Malaya from the late forties and throughout the fifties. A time of a rejection of colonial administration in India echoed around the British outposts, and before the advent of worldwide broadcasting and the Internet, the public was dependent on newspaper articles based on official statements that were veiled in secrecy.
The author lived in Malaya as a child, and clearly absorbed both culture and language which provided an authentic and fascinating background to the story. Well researched, the activities of the Ferret Force and the local Malay and Chinese who supported them, offered heart stopping action as they moved through dense jungle, battling the natural elements and diseases, as well as the communist activists hiding in its depths. Without modern communications and only carrying the barest of supplies, young men and women put their lives on the line, often for just scraps of vital information.
Those civilians living on plantations, or working within the interim government preparing for independence were also in great danger of reprisals. This included Dee Cunningham in her role as a Red Cross nurse, moving along the rivers to bring aid to villagers along the edge of the jungle. Her upbringing in the outback of Australia definitely gave her remarkable resilience even under extreme pressure and danger. Simon and his unwillingness to settle back into the life on a farm in Dorset, and determination to work towards bringing peace to the region even at the risk to his own life, is the perfect match for her spirited personality.
The romance was beautifully choreographed and written against the backdrop, of not just the jungle and its dangers, but the stunning scenery along the coast and in the mountains.
Just when you begin to wonder where this story will lead we are time shifted 60 years to 2010.
There is now a younger generation eager to find their place in the world and part of that journey will involve their discovery of the past and revelations that will change their lives forever. We return to Malaya to bring all the threads together in a wonderful climax to the story in the hands of a master storyteller. There were times when I was reminded of the writing of Pearl S. Buck and Nevil Shute, two of my favourite authors.
I can highly recommend this book to everyone who loves well written modern history novels and heart-warming love stories.
Another terrific read from C.S. Boyack and here is my review for the 5th book in The Hat series Good Liniment.
My review for the book June 14th 2022
Another colourful and creative fantasy adventure with Lizzie and The Hat working together to seek out monsters and help others within the supernatural world to remain secret and safe.
The band is back together after a brief hiatus as Lizzie comes to terms with previous events that have shaken her confidence in the path chosen for her. Into that path come new characters to add to the fantastical ensemble always present in these stories.
We neet the rather world weary witch Cyrus and his apprentice Dash, the wonderfully playful Noodles and ethereal but feisty Destiny. The local coven is full of visually disturbing but colourful members who the author describes in quite nightmarish detail in some cases…Humour however is never far away and even the most outlandish become endearing.
We are treated to the art of trog hunting, not for the faint hearted, an introduction to the precious elements needed to create the spells and magical potions to enhance and heal, and a glimpse into the secrets of witchcraft.
The coven and Lizzie have lost a dear friend who it appears is victim of a killing spree with witches the target. This monster is the first human that Lizzie and The Hat have hunted and it brings an additional element of danger that could be fatal.
As always the author has created a fantasy that flows and engages with wonderful characters, plot and humour that I can highly recommend.
I was delighted to share my review for the literary thriller The Silent Brother by Simon Van der Velde
My review for the book June 18th 2022
There is an expression – ‘It if was not for his bad luck, he would have no luck at all’. That seems to sum up Tommy’s unforgiving and relentless passage through life.
Family is Tommy, his younger brother Benjy, and a mother who seeks comfort in a bottle, and in relationships that are addictive and dangerous; for herself and her children.
Like a row of dominoes one event sends Tommy’s life crashing. The only glimmer of light in his dark childhood is a scrap of a girl with a love of chocolate caramel.
There is no escape from the path Tommy finds himself on, guilt and a need to find his place in this uncertain world he inhabits, deliver blow after blow.
This book is set in Newcastle at a time when major industries, the lifeblood of the city, closed down leaving a generation of hard-working men and women without purpose. Lacking adequate support, the heart of a community dies, leaving the young with no future to work towards and a vacuum filled by those happy to take advantage. When criminal organisations are the only ones hiring… what is a lad to do?
This is not a cosy mystery but an edgy and gritty look at a life at the mercy of circumstances, poverty and criminal dominance. It is also compelling and filled with characters that are vividly drawn and whose every thought, word and deed ooze the menace that comes with ingrained hardship and deprived upbringings.
As a reader you are drawn into the turbulence of Tommy’s life. You absorb his desperation and also his passion for his brother and Annie whose life he becomes enmeshed in again as an adult.
Risks have to be taken, trust has to be given and a plan must be carried out to drag Tommy and Annie away from the precipice they are clinging to. Secrets long hidden offer a chance at a future and redemption.
There is light at the end of the tunnel. The author brings all the threads of this story to a close masterfully with revelations and hope. A reward not just for the characters, but for the reader who has become so engaged in their story.
I recommend this book to those who enjoy gritty novels about ordinary people who strive to fight their way out of difficult circumstances.
Delighted to share my review for the latest poetry collection by Balroop Singh…Hues Of Hope: Selected Poetry
My review for the collection June 25th 2022
Balroop Singh writes poetry not just from her heart but verse that touches the hearts of those who read it.
There are so many elements in her verse we can all relate to. The love of nature with its emotional and physical impact on us with its raw beauty and power, the variations on the theme of love and relationships, and the chains that bind us created by expectations of our own or others. The author shares her thoughts on finding our own identity, conquering pain, finding forgiveness and the sanctity of family. Each tells a story and all highlight the author’s ability to appreciate and understand human nature.
The collecton is divided into these areas of nature and the human condition and that provides a flow that moves you seamlessly from one poem to the next. Some of my favourites include Tread Softly Here, Magic, A Concert, When Love Whispered, and Don’t Dwell On It! Really?
One poem in particular struck me with its emotional elements. The Golden Cage
Trapped in the golden cage
The cage of unfulfilled desires
The cage of love and expectations
The cage with vast vistas
Each door so welcoming
Yet so deceptive
This is a lovely collection of poems and I can highly recommend.