Friday, 31 July 2009

BOOK NEWS: The Beatles flesh out zombie mash-up craze

US publisher hopes Fab Four will follow success of monster mash-up hit, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison are starring as zombies and Ringo Starr as a ninja in the latest addition to the publishing's hottest, and oddest, new craze: the monster mash-up.

Alan Goldsher's Paul is Undead: The British Zombie Invasion has been snapped by US publisher Pocket Books for publication in June next year, following in the footsteps of the surprise hit Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which was published this spring, and the forthcoming Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter and I Am Scrooge: A Zombie Story for Christmas, all out this autumn.

Goldsher's story starts in a Liverpool maternity ward in 1940, as a newborn Lennon is bitten by a zombie and doomed to wander the Earth for eternity. When he meets McCartney in 1957 he "bites off Paul's ear and sucks out his mate's grey matter, after which he spits a healthy amount of his own brain into Paul's carotid artery - and thus is born the greatest songwriting team in rock history," according to Goldsher's version of the encounter.

Harrison is quickly zombified, and "seventh level Ninja Lord Ringo Starr" is then welcomed into the fold. The Beatles enslave "hundreds of lusty teenage girls", invade the US where they mind-meld millions, releasing albums with hidden messages such as "Please please me by biting your young", "Dear sir or madam, won't you eat your neighbour", and "All you need is eternal life".

Their world begins to crumble when Lennon starts to date eighth level Ninja Lord Yoko Ono, and a band called the Zombies – whose members, Goldsher says, are not actually zombies - seeks revenge.

For those who are less than enamoured of the new trend, however, there is some relief: Goldsher's literary agent, Jason Ashlock, is unconvinced of its staying power, telling the New York Observer that "this monster mash-up craze can only last so long". "We chose this idea because it was inventive enough with the Beatles element that it could outlast what might not be a long-lasting trend," he said. "We were trying to think of something that wouldn't just be cool next year, but would continue to sell as an interesting item for many years to come."

Monday, 27 July 2009

BOOK NEWS: Mark Billingham wins crime novel of the year award with 'Death Message'

Mark Billingham's London copper DI Tom Thorne has seen off Reginald Hill's Yorkshire duo Dalziel and Pascoe and Peter Robinson's much-loved Inspector Banks to take the Theakstons Old Peculier crime novel of the year award at the Harrogate crime writing festival.

Billingham's Death Message is the seventh in his bestselling series of books starring DI Tom Thorne. This time Thorne is receiving photos of murder victims on his mobile phone, as a dangerous psychopath jailed years before manipulates former inmates into conducting his killings for him.

It beat titles by the cream of Britain's crime writers, including Ian Rankin, Lee Child and Val McDermid as well as Hill and Robinson to take the £3,000 prize, which also includes a handmade Theakstons cask. "Everyone was asking me if it had beer in it – it isn't full of beer, but there was plenty of beer around at the festival," said Billingham today. "Crime writers can definitely drink – there was one night which lasted until 5.30 in the morning."

Billingham won the inaugural crime novel of the year prize in 2005 with Lazy Bones, and said he was delighted and utterly surprised to win this year's award. "It was a stupidly good line-up – pretty much the A-Z of crime writing," he said. "It was incredible to win – usually when you're on a shortlist, even if you've told yourself you've no chance, right at the end you'll think well, there's only five of us, it can happen. But when, as was the case here, it's a big shortlist of 14 people, especially of that kind of quality – Ian Rankin, John Harvey, Val McDermid, Lee Child – you don't even think about it."

The prize is voted for by readers, with more than 5,000 votes cast. "It's the difference between getting a review from a critic and a review from a reader," said Billingham. "It's lovely to get a fantastic review in the Guardian or the Observer but it means a heck of a lot to get this prize voted for by readers."

Previous winners of the prize include Val McDermid and Allan Guthrie, with Stef Penney taking it last year for her Costa-winning debut The Tenderness of Wolves.

The full shortlist was:

Death Message by Mark Billingham

The Accident Man by Tom Cain

Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child

Gone to Ground by John Harvey

Ritual by Mo Hayder

Garden of Evil (David Hewson

A Cure for all Diseases (Reginald Hill

The Colour of Blood by Declan Hughes

Dead Man's Footsteps by Peter James

Broken Skin by Stuart MacBride

Beneath the Bleeding by Val McDermid

Exit Music by Ian Rankin

Friend of the Devil by Peter Robinson

Savage Moon by Chris Simms

Sunday, 26 July 2009


Genre: Detective Thriller, Crime Fiction
Published by: Blue Line Publishing Inc. (Jan 2009)
Pages: 397 (Hardback)

Mike Walsh is promoted to Detective in the elite Robbery-Homicide Division of the Indianapolis Police Department which means more money but also more and longer hours. As he and his partner, Jack, get more and more involved in solving several armed robberies and serial killer cases, his marriage is under strain........and when the pressure mounts something has to give.

My Thoughts:

Michael Phelps debut novel is full of police procedures which he seems to know quite well, but my main problem was that everyone was so nice! Even some of the bad guys. It was just too unrealistic to believe that no-one had any flaws or had anything bad to say about anyone else, and nobody argued, they just seemed to agree with everyone, there was no shouting.

Also, there was too much trivia, I knew every breakfast and dinner meal that Mike and his wife ate, every item of clothing that Mike wore, the exact time he got up, what they watched on TV every evening and what time they went to bed. Too much information! It just clogged up the book and was quite boring to read.

So, while this was not a page turner of a book it did have plenty of good points. I liked the storyline overall, the gradual build up to the search for the armed robbers was quite exciting, it was certainly easy to follow what was happening, no complicated plotline here. As the characters were so well described I felt like I knew them and I was sad when Mike's marriage was in trouble. This is a good crime fiction detective story by someone who knows what he's talking about!

Michael Phelps website (which I think gives far too much of the plot away) informs us that this is the 1st in the Detective Mike Walsh series and another book is in the pipeline.


Special Thanks to Michael Phelps for sending me a copy of the book to review.

Friday, 24 July 2009


Finding himself packed off to friends in the USA, fifteen-year-old English born Fred Squire is not happy. Then he meets Brittany.
Struggling with his feelings for Brit and the language, Fred is further confused when he meets Brit's flirtatious friend, Angel.
Escaping from a confrontation with Steve Harris, the neighborhood bully, Brit tells Fred her dark secret about Harris, and Fred's world is turned upside down.
Life continues to throw Fred a curveball when he catches a baseball worth a small fortune. Further run-ins with Harris, a crazy family BBQ, and a chase through a mall all add to Fred's American adventure.
"Brit and her Brit", know that their young love will be followed by heartache when Fred has to return to England. But not before some final twists in the tale.
With romance, adventure, humor, first love and even a little sport thrown in for good measure. Across the Pond takes the readers on magical trip that all will enjoy, from the young to the young at heart.
This sounds like a fun book, probably aimed at Young Adults, but as I'm 'young at heart' I'm sure I'll enjoy it too! Website for Across the Pond is here

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Book Review: THE JEWEL KEEPERS: Book One: Albion by EJ Bousfield

The Jewel Keepers: Book One: Albion by EJ Bousfield

Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Kings Hart Books (May 2009)
Pages: 210 (Paperback)

EJ Bousfield's debut novel introduces us to two young girls separated by almost 2,000 years. In the year 2008 13 year old Katie's nana tells her the story of a magical Jewel which was 'a gift from the Gods' and has been missing for many years. She says that Katie is a Jewel Keeper who must try and find this Jewel before it gets into the wrong hands.
Katie does have special gifts but dismisses her nana's tale as just a nice story from an old lady who has been in 'The Sanctuary' Hospital for too many years but as Katie is leaving her -

'It is no story Katie,' she heard Nana call as she walked out of the room, 'it is your destiny.'

In the year 23 A.D. 11 year old Mortunda, the daughter of the King of the Brigante tribe, also has special gifts and her destiny too is linked to the Jewel. But in what way? And how is she linked to Katie?

This is the 1st book in The Jewel Keepers trilogy and at the end I was intrigued enough to want to know the answers to many of the questions.

EJ Bousfield's writing was fast paced and never boring, her descriptions and attention to detail made the story come alive. I was fascinated by the mysterious and highly valued Seronydd seers who were 'the eyes of the Gods' who could see into the future and who the rebellious Mortunda was drawn to.

I think that young and not so young adults will be fascinated to learn more of the girls' destinies.

The 2nd book in this fantasy fiction series is called 'Mona' and The Jewel Keepers website is here


Friday, 17 July 2009

BOOK NEWS: The Rise and Rise of Stephenie Meyer in the UK

Stephenie Meyer worth more than £12m in 2009 so far . . .

Stephenie Meyer was worth more than £12m to the UK book trade in the first half of 2009, according to Nielsen BookScan. Her success has helped propel the young adult fiction genre into the fastest growing sector of the retail book market. By contrast fitness and diet books, food and drink titles, and memoirs have become the worst performers.

In the week that Meyer's Twilight sold its one-millionth copy in the UK, analysis of the first half of the year showed that Meyer has helped her UK publisher Little, Brown record sales growth of 40.4% (£35.5m), while the young adult fiction category has now become the fastest growing sector, with revenue growth of 123% (£19.4m). Its growth is more than double that of the politics and government genre, which has grown 46% year-on-year, thanks chiefly to Obama-mania.

The figures, from Nielsen BookScan's Total Consumer Market for the 24 weeks to 13th June, showed that across the market sales were down just 1.3% year-on-year at £684.2m, despite tough comparisons with 2008, when the trade had hits from the likes of Delia Smith, and Katie Price, as well as a fully functioning Richard and Judy Book Club.

Meyer has helped her publisher Hachette grow its market share, and pull away from nearest rival Random House, the pair now standing at 16.1% and 13.1% respectively. But neither Hachette, nor its subsidiary Little, Brown, are among the fastest growing publishers in the first half: Canongate with revenue of growth of almost 200%, and Grove Atlantic, with growth of 117% lead the top five. Titan Books, Sweet & Maxwell, and John Blake have all seen growth above 50%. Of the top 10 publishers, only Hachette and Oxford University Press have grown sales, while Wiley's have remained flat.

Philip Stone, charts editor of The Bookseller, said: "Although the bottom line is that book sales are down 1.3% on last year, there are some genres bucking the trend. The economics sector is performing incredibly well, spurned on by people keen to understand the current crisis. The poetry sector has been buoyed by a popular new Laureate and a BBC poetry season. And the 'pet memoir' is the new 'mis mem'."

Taken from

Monday, 13 July 2009

Book Review: The Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato

The Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Beautiful Books (2008)
Pages: 348 (Paperback)

First Paragraph:

As Corradino Manin looked on the lights of San Marco for the last time, Venice from the lagoon seemed to him a golden constellation in the dark blue velvet dusk. How many of those windowpanes, that adorned his city like costly gems, had he made with his own hands? Now they were stars lit to guide him at the end of the journey of his life. Guide him home at last.

Of all the Glassbowers in Murano in the mid 17th Century, Corradino Manin was the best and most famous. His name was legendary. Down the centuries his ancestor Leonora Manin, living in London, whose marriage had just ended, has decided to make a new beginning in the city of her birth, Venice. It is then that she discovers the age-old rivalries that have been hidden for so many years and which have far-reaching effects on her new life.

Marina Fiorato's knowledge and love of Venice shines through on every page, as this tale of past treachery and jealousy slowly unfolds and the vivid descriptions of the Glassblowers art were a fascinating look at a dying tradition.

The only negative comment I have is regarding the love interest, Alessandro. I never felt that I knew him or what he was thinking, and the relationship between them seemed very contrived.

However, this doesn't really detract from the story as I found myself thoroughly engrossed in this mystery and Venice is now on my list of must-see places!

Marina Fiorato's website can be found here


Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Book Review: Sea Changes by Gail Graham

Sea Changes by Gail Graham

Genre: Difficult to categorize - part Fantasy, Fiction, part Mystery
Publisher: Jade Phoenix Publishing (2009)
Pages: 401 (Paperback)

Sarah, a middle-aged American living in Australia, is recently widowed. Her daughter, Felicity, who "was born angry" wants her to 'move on' with her life, something which Sarah is finding difficult to do.

One day she swims out to sea, intending to commit suicide. There she meets a young girl, Bantryd, who takes her to the bottom of the ocean to a whole new world where Sarah finds friendship, peace and trust. Back home she wonders if she was dreaming or was it real. Bantryd bears an uncanny resemblance to a missing heiress and when Sarah becomes the chief suspect in her disappearance she begins to find resources within herself she didn't know she had.

This is one of the most unusual books I've ever read, it was part fantasy and part real, and I loved the idea of a world underneath the ocean! As Sarah struggles to cope with a life turned upside down she constantly thinks "What would Charles do?" (Charles being her late husband).

None of it could have happened, and it did. ........maybe she's going mad. But she doesn't feel mad. The police didn't think she was mad. This must be what it's like for people who are kidnapped by aliens. Nobody believes you. You don't even believe yourself.

People who have lost loved ones will identify with Sarah, she was confused and sad and had no-one to talk to who really understood her. I think that's why she felt so secure in the undersea world, everyone trusted and believed in her.

Gail Graham's writing was simple, the type was double line spacing and the words were easy to read (always a bonus for me!). If you're looking for something a little bit different I would recommend this for a Summer Read.

Special Thanks to Jade Phoenix Publishing for sending me this Review Copy

Friday, 3 July 2009

Book Review: Women, Wisdom & Dreams by Anne Scott

Genre: Mind, Body & Spirit
Publisher: Nicasio Press (2008)
Pages: 131 (Paperback)

Have you ever wondered what your dreams mean, what they are trying to tell you?

In Women, Wisdom & Dreams, Anne Scott believes that

Dreams show us what we need to know, over time. If a woman accepts a dream as the beginning of a fertile process, and learns simply to hold it with curiosity and acceptance, then this vital energy, this forgotten language, can begin to tell the truth of who she is.

Throughout the book there are many instances of womens dreams and Anne Scott's interpretations of them is fascinating; she also explains how women can heal themselves once they have begun to understand their meaning, as "dreams are messengers bearing images that heal and restore life."

She recommends that we should get into the habit of writing down our dreams when we awake in the morning (or if we awake in the night) as "this sends a message that you are receptive, that you are listening, and will often make it easier for you to recall your dreams. This is how to welcome the wisdom that comes from our depths."
I think this book is an excellent introduction to the dream world which certainly made me more aware of them and whilst reading this book and afterwards I found that I dreamed more and definitely remembered the dreams in the morning so maybe the book's magic is working already!

"While dreams may not make our lives easier, they can help us to live more mindfully, aligned with the soul."
This was a nice, easy to read book and, at only 126 pages long, it can easily fit into your bag and be dipped in and out of when you just want to remember a few thoughts.

TITLE: WOMEN, WISDOM & DREAMS: The Light of the Feminine Soul

Special Thanks to Lisa Roe at Online Publicist for the review copy

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Book Review: North from Calcutta by Duane Evans

Genre: Espionage, Political Thriller, Action
Publisher: Pecos Moon, LLC (2009)
Pages: 348 (Hardback)


In a gripping story torn from today's headlines, Tarek Durrani, a westernised Pakistani intelligence officer races to stop an attack against India by a Kashmiri terrorist group. A successful attack could mean war between India and Pakistan, with possible nuclear ramifications. Of more immediate concern to Tarek, the attack also will take the life of Sahar, the seductive Indian architect, who has cracked the combination to his soul.

Duane Evans is an ex CIA Officer turned author and this is his debut novel.

This book took me completely by surprise in that what I was expecting it to be turned out to be totally different. I thought it would be a macho book, with plenty of bad language, have an extremely complicated plot, torture scenes with gory details, etc. but it contained none of those which was possibly one of the reasons why I enjoyed it so much.

I thought the slow and steady build up was compelling throughout (the explanation at the beginning regarding the situation with Kashmir was a nice touch as the reader doesn't always know everything and I found it invaluable to refer back to while reading the book).

The writing flowed easily and the main character, Tarek Durrani, the Pakistani Intelligence Officer, was both believable and very likeable. His love for the beautiful Indian Sahar gave him an extra reason for trying to stop the attack.

Ambassador Salim watched Tarek's arrival and took advantage of his momentary distraction to take his first hard look at this man on whom so much would depend. As Tarek's gaze swung round to meet his own, a slight smile came to Salim's lips. Yes, he knew in an instant, Major Durrani was the man for the job.

This is a thrilling action tale (with a little romance) that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.

Duane Evans website can be found here



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