BOOK REVIEW: Is this a children’s story… a parent’s how-to perhaps? I was unsure what to expect with this book, but it captivated me immediately and held me spellbound throughout. I’m giving a full 5 stars because this is a brilliant story – could make it as a classic. It’s a wonderful read for children, and it shows us all the bullying experience through a child’s eyes. The tale itself is clever and highly impactful (had my lip quivering once or twice – the shoes). Expertly detailed and written.
BOOK REVIEW: A terrific action adventure told by a natural storyteller. The artwork is excellent and wonderfully apt for the feel of the story. The graphic violence here is offhandedly dealt with, and it works. It’s just normal for these ninjas to fight, shed blood and kill. Incorporating that into a story about a bunch of kids was handled with just the right, low level of sensationalism. The individual characters were fun and interesting. Spending time in each of their heads makes for excellent reading and was definitely the best way to tell this tale. A handful of misfits trained, tested in battle and building into a tough little fighting force with an unknown mystic power on their side, their foes beaten but not defeated and planning their next move… Great stuff!
BOOK REVIEW: Good versus evil, but wait a minute – not so simple. Two victims of bullying suddenly being bestowed with awesome powers… What better test of character and inner strength than to see how they each respond? How these two youths are transformed (or not) by this ‘gift’ is handled in an intelligent and complex way. Understanding the origin and ultimate purpose of this force is shaping as an intriguing supernatural thriller. One aspect of this power I’m finding particularly interesting is the sensing/exposing/manipulating of people’s emotions, and how this sword is double edged, with the loss of control happening inwardly as well. This volume ends in a blaze of action – the scene set for who-knows-what next… The main characters here are young adults, but I’d recommend a youthful spirit of adventure is all that’s needed to enjoy this story.
BOOK REVIEW: The princess of good trekking across the kingdom to battle the darkness of evil. This is a well tried concept and is handled wonderfully right here in a fast moving tale. If you don’t spend a lot of reading time in fantasy, you can need just the right balance of description and action to hold your interest. It’s a completely foreign world, so you need to be informed of the surroundings. The characters are often creatures, so you need plenty of detail about who and what they are. I find it easy to get bogged down in all this description in fantasy stories, but that didn’t happen with The Darkness Of Gold. Not at all. I found the characters to be intriguing and the scenery vivid, yet the story moved quickly and kept me very much interested and in anticipation of what would come next. I ended up with an impression of a richly three dimensional kingdom, with a lot to the story remaining mysterious and untold. The different kinds of communities briefly encountered were fascinating and offered adventures for the imagination well beyond the scope of this quest. You find yourself wondering what was going on there as you’re passing by. I liked that. The action scenes were quite powerful and, again, vivid. I think the romantic element was sweet and in just the right proportion with the rest of the plot. I didn’t pick the ending. That was a good twist… To an occasional fantasy reader, this was quite a good Sunday’s entertainment.
They called them the soccer field bones:
Her head bumped across the corrugations in the floor of the late sixties Valliant station wagon. The corrugations were two inches apart, with the aperture about a quarter of an inch deep. It was enough to make her head bounce over each ridge as she was being pulled from the open tail-gate of the rusty old vehicle, her body still warm from life and, as yet, soft and pliable.
Her long brown hair left streaks of blood on the cold metal surface. Her head clunked over the hinged gap where the tail-gate joined the corrugated floor. It slid more quickly as her body slumped, and her head then landed in the mud with a wet thud.
She was dragged along steadily. She was fairly light—a slight girl. She was only twenty-three, and would always be.
Her white uniform was stained with brown grime from a grubby kitchen floor and watered down blood. She had been left outside in the rain for a while before being dragged up into the back of the Valliant wagon. It was still raining, lightly yet steadily, the drops washing her young white skin. The skirt of her uniform was bunched up her back and above her waist, exposing her thighs and hips. Her underpants were around her waist with the crotch slashed. Two buttons from the front of her uniform were still lying in the grime on that kitchen floor. Her bra was cut in the middle in front. Her uniform covered her right breast, the light, steady rain washing saliva from her left.
Her hair slithered through the mud as she was dragged along by her bare ankles: Her shoes and stockings were back on that grubby kitchen floor, one shoe resting on its side against the stove, the other right-side-up in the doorway to the lounge. Her stockings were on a round cane mat in front of the sink, but one leg was protruding onto the polished wooden floor surface and was, right then, soaking up a trickle from a pool of her blood.
She was dragged through leaves and twigs, and her body slumped into a hole in the ground. The hole was about three feet in depth, the bottom a few inches deep with rain water. She was on her right side with her left leg crossed forward and her left arm slung back. A leather boot pressed against her hip, rolling her onto her back. Her head remained to the right with her mouth and eyes open. Raindrops went into her mouth, and they splashed off her glazed eyeballs. A shovel full of mud, gritty with tiny pebbles, landed on her belly—on her white uniform. The next shovel full of mud and twigs and leaves landed on her upper chest and neck.
Her torso was covered first, then her mouth and eyes. Her long brown hair was still strewn above her head as it was slopped with mud. Her left leg was still bent up slightly as her thighs were buried. Her right arm was wedged beneath her body. Her left arm was above her head, and her left hand was the last part of her young body to be covered, the leather boot pressing down, forcing it into the mud less than two feet from the ground surface.
Over the next half hour the hole was steadily filled, then patted down and covered with wet leaves, an arrangement of eight small rocks and a dead tree branch. The leather boots then trudged off through the mud toward the Valliant wagon. Then the engine roared and the rusty old vehicle rolled away into the night.
It was well into the night, close to dawn of the 17th of April 1985. The air was cool, yet the rain clouds had kept the temperature mild for a southern autumn. As the sun lightened the clouds, the rain eased and left a mist hanging in the air above the grave site. The ground was soaked, and with the clouds dissipating that afternoon a short burst of sunlight made the air steamy.
The day was short, though, and it rained again that night, but on into the winter months the soggy earth covering the young woman’s body gradually compacted and leached of water. The dead tree branch remained in place, although it was essentially out of place. There were no trees nearby, and it had been dragged there purposefully.
There were shrubs and vines. There was a thicket of prickles that kept children well away as they walked from the back of the school, across the creek to the local swimming pool. The dead branch was from a gum tree a hundred yards distant. It took several years to lose its leaves and for those leaves to blow away or disintegrate into the mat of undergrowth that had covered the grave.
In September 1990 an eleven year old boy picked up the stick that was the remains of the gum tree branch and took it with him. He snapped twigs off it to fashion a spear and chased after his little sister, trying to poke her with it before tossing it at a magpie that swooped from the tree line along the creek. In July of 1992 a man stood by the gravesite and urinated into the thicket of prickles. He then walked off, kicking one of the small stones and treading on the ground directly above the pelvis of the young woman buried there. Her flesh had blended into the earth by then, and the fabric of her uniform was rotten and brittle. It had all but dissolved. Her hair was fossilised into the leached clay. Her bones were intact. The remaining three plastic buttons from her uniform were inside her abdominal cavity where the clay had caved in. There was a gold friendship ring on the bone of her right ring finger.
In April 1994, the thicket and the remaining seven small rocks were swept away by the blade of a bulldozer, clearing the area for the development of a sporting field. The following summer the ground was cultivated and fertilized, a healthy coverage of grass nurtured along. It was a local council project that struggled for funding, though, and another two years passed before a three foot high mesh fence was erected about ten yards away from the gravesite. Beyond the fence was a soccer field with children training weekday afternoons and games on weekends.
The gravesite was close to the corner of the field, away from the seating area. A tin amenities building had been constructed where the thicket used to be, which protected the ground above the young woman’s remains to some extent. Occasionally someone would walk around behind the building but not often. In the summer of 2004 a new brick amenities building was constructed, though. It was to upgrade and replace the tin structure, and a machine was brought in one Monday morning to dig a trench to run a water line to the new building.
The water line was to run directly through the grave site. The PVC pipe was to be buried at a depth of two feet. The small machine roared into place. The trenching blade sunk into the earth, digging its way down to the required depth. The young operator flicked his smoke away and guided the machine forward. He dug from the wall of the old amenities building straight toward the corner of the new one. The blade of the machine churned the damp clay, spewing it aside as it crawled directly through the length of the gravesite. It missed bone completely. It unearthed it, though. It exposed a part of Grace McKenna’s skull, her ribs and pelvis, and her right leg……
From the Mystery loves Romance novel Ever Since April
BOOK REVIEW: Brooding, sinister, atmospheric…The feel of this book takes me back to the musty halls of the Hermitage Museum and the iron curtain mentality of the real Russia that still smoulders today. We are expertly pulled into this mood chapter one and never really get to crawl up out of it. The characters and plot – the mystery of Brodsky – kind of tumble in on top of us, abstract and disjointed at first, building and tightening as we crawl through the maze (walk the endless corridors of The Hermitage, the towering portraits of lives past eyeballing us)…. Yes, I found the setting here to be tremendously powerful. The mystery itself is classy and intelligent, and develops into a killer of a finale…. Try this one if you like your art-heist thrillers to be gritty, real, and steeped in history.
BOOK REVIEW: Interesting, believable characters and a fascinating look into history and ancient culture. This intriguing thriller pulls you in and builds steadily. It’s the kind of story that gets you thinking – calls on your intellect while stringing you along. The climax is hard hitting, the resolution warm and satisfying. As with all detective stories, you need a strong, likable lead character. Juan Morales works!
BOOK REVIEW: Full-on wit and intrigue… Standouts in this novel are the realistic characters and their dialogue, and an intelligent plot. The club of old men at the centre of things seem ordinary and innocuous. You are fascinated by their interactions and their minds, but you wonder where it’s all leading. You are actually pulled quite unsuspectingly into the intrigue – or perhaps it’s a case of the characters being so interesting and well written that you are distracted from the plot and freshly surprised by the way it steadily builds and escalates into a powerful political thriller. Yes, the strength of both the plot and the characters are quite impressive. I’d highly recommend this novel to readers who like an intellectual challenge to go with their serving of wit, humour and suspense.
BOOK REVIEW: I like the Braxians. From the opening scenes of this story it’s easy to imagine them. An alien race enslaved by humans. It’s easy to get on board with their plight and cheer for them. The conflict here is the kind that immediately pulls you into the fictional universe depicted. What transpires from there is a pretty good thriller and an excellent romance. We are given plenty to satisfy the appetite in this fast paced, action packed episode, and where we end up feels like it’s just the beginning. Classic sci-fi romance with a good serve of intrigue.
BOOK REVIEW: Assuming we don’t wipe ourselves out one way or another, what will the world be in 600 years? What will be our social structure? In what way will technology have advanced? Rune Logic is not far-fetched. The subtle descriptions and clever dialogue have us spending time in a world that is very believable. There is a range of well developed, highly identifiable characters around us. We are led on an adventure where pure logic clashes with emotion on a personal level as well as on a scale where millions of non-conforming citizens may need to be subtly done away with. This is a good read.
BOOK REVIEW: Meanwhile, in another corner of the universe… This sci-fi setting is like real. It’s actually quite brilliantly understated. When imagining the universe being depicted here, it’s as if there’s nothing to prove – as if it’s just a matter of fact that this place exists and we all know it. This is a powerful human drama and romance set elsewhere, not on Earth…. The depth in the story itself is also impressive. We can easily imagine the prequel, which would be potentially even more intense and dramatic. I quite enjoyed joining in at the tail end of a story, with lives already blown apart, and seeing everything come together…. An intelligent and nicely constructed read.
BOOK REVIEW: No BS. Straight shooting! Anyone able to match the clarity and concision of this guide in an approach to online freelancing would be well on their way to success. I read this with an open mind, thirsty for an understanding of what opportunities might exist in the field for me in semi-retirement. What I took from the book was a YES, but that there are no shortcuts. This step-by-step instruction manual identifies the pathway to establishing a potentially successful online freelancing business, detailing what you’re going to need in terms of attitude, approach and skill. It gave me the sense that the author has already pioneered the pathway and is shining a light to follow – that whilst there are no shortcuts, there are long, unnecessary and costly detours to be avoided. Every word is entirely believable and starkly logical. There’s a hell of a lot here that makes me want to know and learn more.
BOOK REVIEW: Cards on the table…Not being any kind of expert on marriage, it’s hard to say whether the topics addressed in this guide are comprehensive. They strike me as a package of important and useful things to know about your partner. Through open communication, you get to know each other better. I like the notion put forward here, that when you and your partner encounter one of the typical issues in marriage, you will be better equipped to address it if you have built a foundation by having previously discussed it. Sitting down together and opening up about a defined list of difficult and possibly embarrassing topics is obviously a useful exercise in itself – learning to communicate. This makes perfect sense. This book makes perfect sense.
BOOK REVIEW: What I take from Soul Searching is simplicity. Not that nature and human nature are anything short of vastly complex – but that the key is always simplicity. To stop and feel the truth settle over you. To give in to the simplicity of nature’s will… Of course, it is often so hard to see things clearly in life. This series of wise and insightful poems offer a lot of hope and comfort. They also ask some very meaningful questions.
Here are a list of my favourites: Board Game. No Regrets. Who Says? Old Soul. A Promise. Seasons of life. Forgive us Mother. The Whisperer.
And the individual ideas that intrigued me most:
Go on and Seek: Go on, dare yourself and then do. Your life owes it to you.
Nature’s Songs: The richness of a dark starry night. Silence, yet pregnant with promises of a new day….
Death: Her life she had lived it well, no soul she had hurt no lies did she tell.
Heartbeats: But feelings have a home in our hearts, good or bad.
Innocence: Touching in its simplicity.
Rewind Button: We cannot undo the moment that just passed.
The Well of Hope: She looks up, tired eyes searching for respite. Dried out clouds offer her no hope, no shade.
Rain: Finally it rained and the earth drank its fill.
Hope: Hope has left her heart. A place too dark for it to survive.
Seasons of Life: The soul, too tired to remember its past. Now sits in the dark, awaiting a new chapter.
Self Acceptance: Self acceptance can grow in the rockiest of gardens.
Self Acceptance: Your life meant just for you, and no other.
The Whisperer: The one that makes the glitter in gold. Overshadow everything else in the world.
BOOK REVIEW: Brilliance brilliantly presented… The title of this book is spot on. Inspiration and wisdom indeed. More of both than any one of us could probably consume in a lifetime. So what becomes important here is the layout and presentation, which is five star… Pick a field of knowledge from the table of contents. Click on it, flip a page or two, read a quote and soak in the brilliance of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Back to the TOC and click another…. This is a terrific selection of quotes, laid out and presented simply and intelligently. What a great pocket book to fill a spare moment here and there and get you thinking.
I was writing this short memoir about the failed relationships in my not-so-extraordinary life the other day, and toward the end the term horror-love story jumped out of the keyboard and onto the page…. Yep. A real-life horror story about a beautiful thing like love. Perfect…. I bet almost everyone would have one to rival mine: which is posted in full here.
BOOK REVIEW: I’m just going to lead in with a word or two about Chapter 5: Lord Of Devil’s Night. Let’s make it two words: frigging awesome… Overall this is a varied line-up of creepy and erotic stories with a sometimes conversational tone that adds clever subtlety. Ratz in the Machine tells us to beware the nerdy nice guy, and has a surprising and quite brilliant shift from erotic to horrifying. The Hangin’ Tree, almost poetic, takes you down deep and has you wondering. The Bag Snatchers is freaky, imaginative, and nails the spirit of All Hallows Eve. Voices is the creepy, atmospheric one of the bunch, and A Grim Tribute is grim alright. It’s a seriously twisted tribute to a fairy tale that was little-kid-scary already. But getting back to Lord Of Devil’s Night… You know how it’s so great when you are right inside the characters head? Well perhaps you won’t want to be inside this particular guy’s head but you don’t have any choice. You’re pulled in and forced to experience a blend of eroticism and pain that is thematic metaphor on overload. And… well… good luck with that.
BOOK REVIEW: This story has a lot going for it in a number of ways. Awesome detail and imaginative ideas create a tangible and believable fantasy world – believable enough to pull you out of the real world that is. The heroine and hero both rock. You’re on their side from the start (although they’re on opposite sides) and you’re right there with them when all seems lost at the end. The emotional journey here is expertly crafted. It’s simple and true – a wonderful exposé of the power of love, including the flavours of lust and physical pleasure. The overall idea is tantalising with a touch of humour – life in the Men’s Tent looks pretty good to me… way to be imprisoned:) This is a captivating tale with an ending that tops everything I’ve mentioned so far.
BOOK REVIEW: A sensational read with not an ounce of sensationalism. That’s my overall take on this multidimensional tale of life in Southall, London. Most stories quite rightly use something for shock value – romance, action, intrigue, horror…. Within this book there are no less than half a dozen incidents/circumstances that could be expounded and sensationalised, but they are not. Their masterly subtle telling is what gives this tale such depth and dimension – there for us to wonder and imagine as we experience the real lives of these humble, ordinary people…. This was a cultural journey for me. I’m sure readers from within will enjoy the familiar surrounds. I found the experience enlightening – also interesting in the way love finds a way, even if the original union has been arranged…. To me this novel reads as understated. It’s impressive the way the author leaves the conclusions to us – the way she gives us just enough to inspire contemplation. It reads as absolutely real and true to life, and, as such, fascinating!
BOOK REVIEW: My first impression first: the creation of the bully and the victim of bullying is brilliant. Next, I thoroughly enjoyed the time period and location. I’m old enough to remember a little of the 60s. This book took me there. I also grew up in an underprivileged neighbourhood. This book dragged me back there too. The quality of the storytelling blotted out the here and now completely. Those are the aspects of this novel I want to praise highly. The story itself is solid and quite intriguing. It’s raw and violent, and has plenty going for it. A terrific array of characters brought to life – they feel real. It’s like the whole novel is neither under nor overstated. Just real… I’d recommend reading a sample and seeing if you can put it down.