Book Reviews

The Perfect Golden Circle by Benjamin Myers

What Da Cover Says: From a British literary sensation, the story of two rural outcasts and the crop circles they create over the course of a long, hot and very strange summer.

Summer 1989, rural England, the tail end of long decade of mass unemployment, class war and rebellion, and the continued destruction of the English countryside.
Over the course of a burning hot summer, two very different men – traumatized ex-soldier Calvert, and affable and chaotic Redbone – set out nightly in a decrepit camper van to undertake an extraordinary project. Under cover of darkness, the two men traverse the fields of rural England in secret, forming crop circles in elaborate and mysterious patterns, designs so intricate that they inspire the kind of awe that the ancient Gothic cathedral in nearby Salisbury once inspired.

As the summer wears on, and their designs grow ever more ambitious, the two men find that their work has become a cult international sensation – and that an unlikely and beautiful friendship has taken root as the wheat ripens from green to gold.

But as harvest-time beckons — and as media and the authorities begin to take too much interest in their work– Calvert and Redbone have to race against time to finish the most stunning and original crop circle ever conceived: the Honeycomb Double Helix.

What I Says: This is a beautiful story about how nature and art can help with the healing process for two deeply troubled men, it is a story of a friendship with a bond so strong that it is able to surpass the vastly differing personalities and it is a story that is sure to captivate the reader. The writing is so soothing, after a stressful day at work I would sit down and pick up this book, 20min later and it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders as I witnessed the elaborate crop circles being created.

We have here two friends with a special bond, Calvert and Redmond, a friendship that reminded me of The Detectorists or Leonard and Hungry Paul. They each have their emotional baggage and this is shared with the reader as each crop circle is created and we see just how important these creations are to them. This book appears to have been written in a simple style and yet at the same time is very complex, there are so many layers like one of those onion things, you have the beauty of nature (a hare caught in the moonlight), the destruction by humans (fly-tipping and illegal hunting), global warming, war and the magnificence of the universe (an eclipse). When each of these layers is revealed you can’t help becoming involved emotionally, the book had barely started when the fly-tipping happens and I was spitting with rage. There are so many things I could write about here but it wouldn’t be fair to anybody who hasn’t read it so trust me when I say that this is one “most excellent book”.

A wonderful book, so tender and heart-warming with a perfect proportion of humour. There was a horror element to this story so be warned…at one point parsnips are consumed…yuck!

You can use this A****n free link and purchase via you local indie bookshop HERE:

Book Reviews

Spiritless but Actually Not by Kyle Mitchell

What Da Cover Says: Twenty-two literary artifacts. Exceptionally bleak. And then impossibly: Sublime.

A picture of contemporary existence painted with strokes of rawest emotion—contained herein is everything you were told you weren’t supposed to feel. With self-recognition as you stray from the identity thrust upon you in your youth—now your own guilt and horror—find yourself reacting to a world which couldn’t give any less of a fuck about you. You swore you never would, but you’re becoming violent, and extraordinarily upset.

What do all these disparate experiences share? What overlaps between the Berkeley quantum physicist (with his intention for apotheotic omnipotence), and that of the adderall-addled teenager suffering through pre-calc?

What’s the difference in the existential horror experienced by a conservative father exercising his god-given right to purchase a barbecue to feed his suburban nuclear family… and that of the contemporary descendant of a barely extant native culture, peering from a mountaintop into suburbia and badtripping not on drugs but existence itself?

Yes, how many gods and belief systems were culled so that we could have this rendition of society, this contemporary dystopia with its incessant drip of joy, joy, joy?

And more joy?

What I Says: Every now and then before I decide whether I will read a book I’ll go and check out the negative reviews to see what upset the 1 star brigade and boy did this have some upset readers haha. Too much swearing was the common theme of complaints, well that was me sold on the book as I love a good fucking swear. They weren’t wrong though, the first story or artifact really does knock you for six, the language is so vivid and it stays that way for the rest of the book, whilst the swearing is reduced to nominal levels in the proceeding chapters, the strength of the language stays strong. There is a darkness to the writing, such bleak subject matter is sure to bring the reader down but each artifact ends with a glimmer of hope, could the protagonist of each chapter somehow make it?

Each artifact starts with a piece of art, a line drawing of some creepy weirdness, maybe a representation of the character’s spirit? The titles of each piece are impressive, a couple of examples are “nostalgia for suicide” and “hate in my soul“. There were a few stories I just didn’t get and I found those ones to be like wading through treacle, but for the most I enjoyed them for a number of different reasons, the atmosphere on a golf course as the surrounding area burns was amazing, you could almost feel that everything was tinged with a orange hue. The one about the young woman reminiscing about a dark moment in her life whilst house sitting was full of so much loneliness. And the absolute douchebags driving a speedboat whilst showing off about how they were going to make millions had me willing the boat to crash, Mitchell managed to bring the monster in me out.

The most impressive part of this book was the dialogue, Mitchell has got the art of writing a conversation exactly how it would happen in real life, spot on. The characters laugh at themselves, interrupt each other, talk utter nonsense and show off a lot, if you have ever overheard a couple of youths talking rubbish on a bus, the way their conversation flows is what Mitchell has produced here, it must have taken a huge amount of editing to get that just right, it’s a bit like Hubert Selby Jr. where you don’t need any he said/she said’s because the natural flow makes it easy to follow along.

I do have one issue with the book, it is far too long, at nearly 500 pages of very intense experiences I think it was too much for me, the book could be split into two volumes and still work in my opinion….or maybe that is all part of the show, the characters have been pushed to the limit so maybe it is only fair the reader does too? Maybe that means this shouldn’t be classed as a book, is it more a piece of art?

My final thought on this book: the reader has been taken on quite the journey, witnessed much darkness and pain and at the end there is that little moment of joy and hope…almost feels like Hellraiser with the mix of pain and pleasure.

Massive thanks to Kyle Mitchell for reaching out to me to share his book with me, I reckon if he hadn’t I would have missed out on an incredible reading experience.

Book Reviews

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore & David Lloyd

What Da Cover Says: A powerful story about loss of freedom and individuality, V for Vendetta takes place in a totalitarian England following a devastating war that changed the face of the planet. In a world without political freedom, personal freedom and precious little faith in anything comes a mysterious man in a white porcelain mask who fights political oppressors through terrorism and seemingly absurd acts. It’s a gripping tale of the blurred lines between ideological good and evil.

What I Says: What a time for me to read this for the first time, 2023 and the hell hole that is the United Kingdom under Tory rule pairs really well with this dystopian graphic novel with a people repressed under a fascist government, with the public told what to think, carefully controlled and at times considered dispensable. What this graphic novel needed and what reality potentially needs is a hero to step up and somehow produce a reset to bring back humanity to the people.

Up steps V, a rather remarkable character, a hero(ine) who has had no gender applied to them, the fantastic mastermind behind the downfall of a government. V talks in riddles, gives nothing away, we witness their life in a concentration camp and are left with no idea about who they are or what they look like, all that stuff is left to the readers imagination…I liked imagining that V was a reincarnation of Guy Fawkes who has turned up to finish off what he started all those years ago.

The artwork is impressive, I especially liked the fight scenes, you get a real good sense of flow between each frame, another good scene was when one character takes LSD, the flow became disrupted to match the chaos inside his head. There is a distinct lack of vividness to the colours used which feels like it matches the mood of the people. The dialogue is not the traditional speech bubbles, everything has been placed in a way that you can easily tell who is talking. One aspect I did struggle with was the faces, there are a lot of government officials and they all looked similar to me, I found it difficult remembering who was who, one person who I thought had died turned up later on alive and well, I sure this is just me not being a big reader of graphic novels. I found I had to site up and pay attention, one little distraction and I had to go back and re-read.

Good fun with a compelling outcome for the country’s leaders, I can see why it is considered a classic…now to watch the movie methinks.

Book Reviews

You Shall Leave Your Land by Renato Cisneros, Translated by Fionn Petch

What Da Cover Says: Renato Cisneros’s great-great-grandmother Nicolasa bore seven children by her priest, raising them alone in nineteenth century Peru. More than a century later, Renato struggles to wring information about his origins out of recalcitrant relatives, whose foibles match the adventures and dalliances of their ancestors. As buried secrets are brought into the light and is bound up with key moments in the development of the Republic of Peru since it won independence.

What I Says: This was a very interesting book, I really liked the concept behind it, a journey into the author’s family history, not written as a typical memoir but as a novel. Just imagine being able to go back four generations and finding enough material to create a story of epic proportions, love, war, more love, poetry, world travel and many many secrets, too many secrets to count. Renato has merged his family’s history with his own story of trying to squeeze the information out of his still living relatives, it is some of these conversations that I found most intriguing: If you were to reveal to the world your family’s deepest darkest secrets how will the family take it and should you in fact do it?

Renato’s history is tightly woven with the development of modern day Peru, his ancestors haven’t been scared to stand up for their beliefs, especially his Grandfather, who battled against dictators and became a very busy ambassador and still had time to create his own family secrets of epic proportions. Throughout each generation it is the women who stand out for me, the focus is on the paternal line but it is the grandmothers that I ended up adoring, the craziness they had to put up with and standing up so proud, would have you cheering them on. I didn’t know much about Peru’s past but by experiencing Cisneros’s past I have gained a lot more knowledge.

There was one almost throw-away comment in this book that has stuck with me, Renato mentions that family history should be taught at school, imagine how cool that be, finding out about your ancestors and seeing who had the darkest past! This would have been so much more fun than drama or recorder lessons (my worst lessons at school).

I couldn’t fault the translation, not only did the novel flow well but the bits of poetry that were included worked well.

I have really enjoyed this book, a great way to share this piece of history with the world.

Many thanks to Charco Press for sending me this copy to review, you can grab yourself a copy from HERE:

Book Reviews

Tekebash and Saba: Recipes and Stories from an East African Kitchen by Saba Alemayoh

What Da Cover Says: Mother–daughter duo Tekebash and Saba tell their story, and the story of their homeland, Ethiopia, through the lens of food, demonstrating how sharing food from another culture can offer us all a path forward, towards empathy and understanding, and a world that is more cohesive and connected.

Born in Tigray, Tekebash escaped the civil war at the age of 17 to join other refugees in Sudan. She has been on a migration journey ever since. Despite having spent more time abroad than she has at home, she is unequivocally Tigre and has worked with food all her life. Her restaurant, Saba’s Ethiopia, brings Ethiopian food and culture to Melbourne.

Tekebash not only worked with food but loved her daughter Saba through food. The recipes in this book are its backbone and the structure around which personal and cultural stories are woven.

What I Says: This is a very cool idea for a cook book, not just a collection of recipes and tips but a story chronicling the journey these recipes took to get onto these pages. This adds a whole new dimension to the concept of a recipe book, you don’t just quickly flick through and pick the prettiest meals to try, you go deeper, you gain an understanding of what these meals mean to those that grew up creating/consuming this food. And best of all it is keeping a tradition alive that could be lost due to so many of the people of Tigray who have been lost to war, famine or relocation as refugees.

I have read quite a number of travel books about Africa and Ethiopia and the food that is mentioned plays a large part of each experience and it always sends my imagination crazy thinking of these almost banquet-like meals. Reading this book it is explained why the food is like this, it’s a gathering, big plates of food and you just take what you fancy, I really like the idea behind this as meal times can sometimes be rather isolated in our house. One downside is the lack of puddings, I can’t get my head around any culture not having something sweet after a meal haha.

So what are the recipes like in this book? Well there is a recipe with beetroot, so off to a bad start hehe. There is a fantastic range of items, dips, breads, main meals, takes on western food, homemade wine and teas. The only proper negative I can find was the sizes, the recipe gives info on making a big batch of the base spice, but for those new to this food there is not the measurements for making a one-off meal, I didn’t really want to use 500g of chilli powder and find out I didn’t like it, I attempted to convert but don’t think I got it correct, one of the meals I cooked was supposed to be a deep red but my colouring was way off. The meals are simple to make, the instructions are explained well and options for sides and how to eat are included, I really liked the idea that some of the meals are served on top of a flat bread, so you’re making the plate as well as the meal. There are many, many colourful images accompanying the recipes, some of the best I found in a cook book, how much care taken in these photos show just how important the food is to the author. Locating the ingredients has proven quite tough, we have a couple of world food stores near us and I’ve managed to get most of the items I needed but a few may require using the Internet.

DILIK: A chilli Paste. These are the ingredients for one of the meals, this includes my attempt at the homemade chilli paste known as DILIK

Kintishara Sebhi: Sauteed Mushrooms. This should look red but due to me getting the measurements wrong it is brown instead. Regardless of my error it was still tasty and very fragrant. Favourite part of the method for this was cooking the tomatoes over and open flame.

This was a far more interesting book than I expected, it has opened my eyes to looking closer at my other cook books, because maybe there is more than just pretty pictures of food. After using this book multiple times my culinary skills and food cupboards feel enriched, next up will be to check out the homemade teas.

This was my stop on the Tekebash & Saba blog tour, many thanks to Random Things Tours and Murdoch Books UK for including me, make sure you check out the other reviews.


Nobel Prize Winning Interview with Nuzo Onoh

Wow! I can’t believe this is my first interview of 2023, I’ve been way too busy reading books and too lazy to go hunting for victims…I mean authors…to pester into taking part in this craziness.  Seeing as there has been such a big break it is time to put out a proper big writer, never have I ever interviewed somebody with so many books under their belt, looking on Goodreads there have been more books than I can count.  Today I am interviewing the pioneer of African Horror writing Nuzo Onoh.  So far I have read just the one of her books, A Dance for the Dead, a cracking good book, plenty of chills and wonderful insight into a culture I know nothing about.

Q1: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing?

I think just like most horror writers, I started my journey into the genre by reading and watching horror. My mother was a former headteacher and raised her children with books, especially the Ladybird fairytales series and both the brothers Grimm and Hans Anderson fairytales to mention but a few. I think any child that experienced the morbid tales of the brothers Grimm will almost inevitably veer towards the supernatural if they become writers. I also grew up listening to countless Tales by moonlight stories during my early childhood in Old Biafra, now part of Nigeria. Those tales featured predominantly terrifying ghosts, powerful deities and witchdoctors, evil witches and wicked stepmothers, stupendous transmogrifications and clever, cunning animals, as well as a great deal of fantastical magic. I found I was particularly drawn to the ghost stories during those tales by moonlight sessions. So, this created a passion for story-telling in me and as early as eleven or twelve years old, I started dabbling in writing my own stories. It wasn’t until the age of fifteen, when I read Amos Tutuola’s famous ghost-story book, The Palmwine Drinkard, that my love for horror-writing fully blossomed. It was a book that retold all the wondrous fables I’d heard in our Tales-by-Moonlight sessions, and my excitement was so great that I wanted to write my own book with some of the stories he had missed out in his wondrous book. So, it was only natural that once I obtained my Masters degree in Writing and started writing African Horror, my stories would follow the same ghost-stories trajectory. You’ll find that my stories are always in the main about vengeful African ghosts with unfinished business.

Q2:  How many books have you written?  Which one is your favourite?

African Horror Published books – 6 fiction and 1 non-fiction. Unpublished manuscripts or books awaiting publication from publishers – 7. Plus 5 other non-horror books published under undisclosed pseudonym.

My favourite book from my works is Dead Corpse”, which features my favourite character, Zikora.

Looks like Dead Corpse will be the next of your books for me to check out.

Q3:  How have you found the experience of getting your books noticed?  I see you are on Substack, is that place busy yet?

Thankful and humbling. I didn’t think African Horror would connect with others from outside my culture, so the extremely positive response from my diverse readers is something I’m eternally grateful for.

Substack isn’t very busy yet but it will soon get busy once I get back to business. Apart from Twitter, I’m not active on social media. Recently joined Instagram but still to figure out how it works. So, I’m hoping Substack will become my website equivalent soon.

Q4:  How difficult do you find coming up with names for characters?  And which character is your favourite?

Because of the genre I write, African Horror, it is easy to pick names for my characters. I either use African names or name characters based on some personal trait or quirk as is common in some African cultures. So, for instance, you see one of my characters called “Chicken-Legs” which is pretty self-explanatory.

My favourite character is Zikora, the powerful medicine-woman and high-priestess to the Earth Goddess. She featured in my book, Dead Corpse. Ruthless, uncompromising, and unforgiving, Zikora demands your respect if not your love.

Q5:  What is your process for writing? Do you recreate the scenes in your books?

I’m a random writer. I go with the flow of whatever my characters tell me. No plotting exercises. Always a specific music I play in loop for each book. One strategy is to deliberately slow the writing once I come towards the end, because impatience might ruin the ending of a good story. So, writing the final chapter might take me almost the same timeframe it took me to write several chapters. Sometimes, I recreate settings, especially for my stories set in the fictitious evil village, Ukari. Other times, there might be recreated scenes involving a visit to a medicine-man’s shrine for divination. Otherwise, each story is a different and unique work.

Q6:  Are you much of a reader? What is the best book you’ve read recently, and which is the book you first fell in love with?

I used to be a voracious reader, but not anymore these days…life and its psychos happen, alas. But slowly getting back in the rhythm again.

Best book I’ve read recently is To Stir The Heart by Bessie Head and Ngugi Wa Thiong’o

First book I fell in love with is The Palmwine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola

Q7:  Time for some random questions.  If you could have a meal with anybody, dead/alive/undead, who would you pick and what would the meal consist of?

My two daughters

Whatever they desire, prepared and likely burnt by me with love…yeah, I burn even boiled eggs, but my wonderful girls are ok with it.

Q8:  If you could put your name to an award, what would it be an award for and how big a bribe do you need for me to win it?

Nuzo Onoh Wacko-Character Award for creating the craziest characters in fiction. Think Annie Wilkes in Misery or the crazy drug-lord, “Peoples” in the film, Shaft. Basically, crazy characters that brings both chills and laughter by their wacky antics.

You’ve interviewed me now, so I’ll give you the gong without demanding my usual Porn-star Martini cocktail bribe😊

Q9:  If you could go into a book or movie as one of the characters, which would you choose and how would you influence the story?

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

I’ll be Ramona and ensure I don’t get bumped off by Namor. With my secret supernatural powers, I’ll vanish and arise in glory to fight another day. I REFUSE to die!!!

Q10:  If I was to make a biopic movie of your life, it will be an animated movie, who would you want to voice yourself?  Plus can you lend me £15million for animation software.  

Me, I’ll voice myself and lend you the £15m from my Disney pay-cheque😊

Q11:  What’s next for you?  Any new books on their way?

Two stories coming out in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and Nightmare Magazine.

Practical task:  I have a gnome gallery on my blog, every victim I interview gets to create a piece of artwork based on Gnomes, can be any medium and you are welcome to name the piece.

Many thanks to Nuzo Onoh for many things, for being my 50th Interviewee on this here blog, for creating a new award and allowing me to be it’s first recipient, for “lending” me £15million and most importantly for introducing me to African Horror, some interesting recommendations shared today. If you are wanting to check out her writing then I can highly recommend her latest book A Dance For The Dead, it’s sure to get you hooked. And if you fancy stalking Nuzo then you can find her on Twitter and Substack.

Book Reviews

The Ballad Of Buttery Cake Ass by Aug Stone

What Da Cover Says: Two music obsessives embark on a hilarious quest to track down Buttery Cake Ass’ Live In Hungaria, an album as legendary as it is obscure. Their pursuit of one of the greatest bands ever unknown takes them down many a bizarre path teeming with grand ideas and grander egos in this ode to record shopping and what it’s like to be in your first band.

What I Says: Right kids, gather round and listen to this story of the insane apocalyptic life your parents lived when they was young, in the days before the Internet, when a mate tells you about this cool band they’ve heard and you actually have to leave the house and travel around record stores trying to find a copy, this was all the more stressful if the band was slightly unknown. These days the only things you have to worry about is if your phone has enough charge left in it to open Spotify and your abnormally large thumbs have enough energy to type the band’s name (as I type this I realise you can probably use some kind of fancy voice command to save having to type, whatever!). This book is a celebration of that great hunt us oldies went on as kids, I remember looking for albums by Scarfo, Tribute to nothing and Sick of it all and getting blank looks in many stores and then when I found it taking it home and hoping I would like it as all I had to go on was a tiny write up in NME or Kerrang!

If you haven’t heard of Aug Stone before then I highly recommend looking up Young Southpaw on YouTube, it will give you an idea of the tempo you need to read this book and an understanding how the wild tangents work. Next I recommend googling Buttery Cake Ass, you’ll get some tasty results for sure.

So for the actual review…this is one hell of a fun trip, Aug has written a fantastic musical documentary which is somehow full of auditory sensations, I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced anything quite like this; when the band play live the writing matches the tempo and I felt I was there, I could hear the music and see the lights, the band were suddenly with me…and then it ended and I have no recollection of what I had heard. I suspect these pages have been coated in something. We have two sides to this story, Aug and Trig going around the record shops looking for records by this mysterious band they had never heard of and as they interview somebody with a connection to the band the story seamlessly cuts away to the band and you gradually start to see their life play out. It was interesting reading about Buttery Cake Ass, how they formed, settled on a name and gradually found their sound, there is a lot of discussion about the band’s influences and I found this affected the playlist on my commute to work. I don’t know if it was intentional or coincidence but I spotted the odd musical link now and then, my favourite was the character called Brouce, the way I read this made me sing that line in the ELO song Don’t Bring Me Down.

This is a great book, loads of fun and an amazing amount of effort put into creating this, including a discography of all materials by the band members…I think what this now needs is to be made into a movie and for Band T-shirts to be available, man! I’d love one of them. If you’re old enough to remember that hunt for a record, or are a young historian investigating life from the 80’s then pick up this book, with a name like The Ballad of Buttery Cake Ass you know you’ll not be disappointed.

Many thanks to the author for sending me a copy of this book.

Book Reviews

Visions of Taiwan No.1

What Da Cover Says: Visions of Taiwan is an anthology comic series focusing on the lesser-known land of Taiwan.

Featuring a range of new voices from around the world, each artist has made Taiwan their home and has a unique take on what it is truly like to be there. With seven stories in total, Visions of Taiwan is sure to have something for everyone.

There’s “Nineteen and Moving Along” by Erique Chong; “An Island of Inspiration” by Fabienne Good; “Some People” by Joel Fremming; “How Not to Get Your Scooter License in Taiwan” by Ray Hecht; “Green Island” by Bronwen Shelwell; “Walk & Talks” by Patty Hogan and Todd Allen Williams; and “ConSequential” by Jon Renzella.

Each story contains its own perspective about what makes life worth living in Taiwan, told with humor and depth. It’s not always easy and there are all kinds of experiences, but above all it is never boring…

What I Says: I really like the concept behind this anthology, outsiders who have come to Taiwan and learnt to make it their home, it is a mix of what Taiwan means to them, some tips on how to thrive and that the place is so perfect that you’ll never want to leave. The range of different styles of artwork means this doesn’t get dull, whereas one style is so vivid it almost explodes from the page the next one will be much calmer and the way these have been ordered has been done so that the movement between comics is seamless. Two I particularly like were by Joel Fremming, where the pen has been given free reign of the page and you’ve gotta work your way around to follow the story and by Fabienne Good, this style of drawing is where each image is done in one single line and it’s very clever, reminds my of my youth playing with an etch-a-sketch trying to make rude drawings. The only artist here I had heard of was Ray Hecht and I’ve always enjoyed his work and if you stalk him on Instagram you’ll see how accurate his drawings are by how easy it is to identify him, here he gives some valuable advice on how to pass your bike test in Taiwan.

A great first outing for this series and I’ve got high hopes for what comes next.

Many thanks to Ray for sending me out this review copy, ya totally should check it out HERE:

Book Reviews

Dr. No by Percival Everett

What Da Cover Says: A sly, madcap novel about supervillains and nothing, really, from an American novelist whose star keeps rising

The protagonist of Percival Everett’s puckish new novel is a brilliant professor of mathematics who goes by Wala Kitu. (Wala, he explains, means “nothing” in Tagalog, and Kitu is Swahili for “nothing.”) He is an expert on nothing. That is to say, he is an expert, and his area of study is nothing, and he does nothing about it. This makes him the perfect partner for the aspiring villain John Sill, who wants to break into Fort Knox to steal, well, not gold bars but a shoebox containing nothing. Once he controls nothing he’ll proceed with a dastardly plan to turn a Massachusetts town into nothing. Or so he thinks.

With the help of the brainy and brainwashed astrophysicist-turned-henchwoman Eigen Vector, our professor tries to foil the villain while remaining in his employ. In the process, Wala Kitu learns that Sill’s desire to become a literal Bond villain originated in some real all-American villainy related to the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. As Sill says, “Professor, think of it this way. This country has never given anything to us and it never will. We have given everything to it. I think it’s time we gave nothing back.”

What I Says: I remember having an argument at school with my maths teacher on how pointless maths was, I said I was never going to find a use for the numerical mumbo jumbo he was throwing at me, he said “trust me one day you’ll need maths and you’ll be thankful for what I taught you”, well the jokes on him as when reading this book I needed maths and “nothing” he taught me helped me to understand what was going on in this madcap novel. It is quite the odd book this one, it doesn’t take itself seriously whilst trying to put over a serious message, it tries to draw in the reader with wonderful characters that you’ll love and at the same time it pushes the reader away with the impossibly confusing way it deals with the nothingness of nothing…there is almost a physical pulse on these pages, for me it was “my head hurts” quickly followed by laughter and then “my head hurts” and repeated until the final page.

I really liked Sill, the man is mad but he is one h-e-l-l of a villain, he is rich beyond measure, has everything he needs and has one wish in life, to make it as a Bond super villain, the proper old school cat-stroking kind of bad guy, not the boring nonsense that the recent Bond had to face. Then you have Wala and Eigen a couple of mathematicians who get pulled into Sill’s orbit and find themselves as far outside of their comfort zones as it is possible to get…well maybe not quite as they didn’t have to do karaoke. Wala is our protagonist and you can’t help but like him, he has very simple needs and a way of seeing the world that makes you smile. And then there is Trigo, a dog with one leg who talks with Wala in his dreams and helps him to make sense of the current situation and plan his next move, a true hero.

There are some fantastic lines here (see the one above that is on the cover) and whilst I found myself scratching my head over the mathematics I still was thoroughly entertained, the scenes move fast and the humour is very clever, although a certain orange ex president wouldn’t be laughing if he could read. The second book by Everett I’ve read and so far I’ve loved what he has written.

Many thanks to Influx Press for sending me this copy to review. Support the publisher by buying it direct from HERE:

Book Reviews

Dream Island by R. M. Lockley

What Da Cover Says: In 1927, R. M. Lockley became the custodian of Skokholm and its derelict farmhouse, where he spent twelve years with his wife and daughter, building his utopia from the bounty of the sea, recording and studying migratory birds, working the land, living out his dream until it was shattered by the outbreak of the Second World War. Dream Island is an inspiring journey of how R.M. Lockley, a naturalist of international renown, discovered his love of nature and the freedom and struggle of living a self-sufficient life.

What I Says: Who out there hasn’t had that dream of living on their own on a remote island, getting away from the chaos of life and not only surviving but actually thriving…I have, but the issue for me is that an island isn’t the best environment for storing all my books and I go where they go. Lockley is one of those rare people who successfully followed their dreams when he became custodian of an island just off the Pembrokeshire coast, it is a rugged place inhabited by a large colony of birds, a derelict farmhouse and incredibly difficult to access via boat…for Lockley this was perfect.

His first job was to get the island liveable for himself and his new wife, buildings needed to be fixed, walls rebuilt and gardens prepared, a huge undertaking…made all the more easier with a fortuitous ship wreck filled with a lot of the stuff he needed. Once the island is ready his wife moves in and they work together to become self sufficient which requires a huge amount of hard graft and they still find time to document life on the island, both theirs and the natural world…and when they need a break from island life there is the odd storm to go sailing in.

The writing here is spectacular, Lockley is a natural entertainer on the page, he can ramp up the excitement during a storm one moment then describe some tedious hard work cutting peat and instantly change the mood as he stops work to admire some young fledglings taking shelter near him. He saw beauty in everything on the island and it was so easy to get caught up in his enthusiasm…at one point he was looking for help and I almost had me bags fully packed before I realised I’d missed my chance. One amusing quirk to his writing is how little time was spent describing his wife and daughter whilst the shipwreck takes up a large number of pages, you can still see that he adores his wife, anything she requires doing he jumps right on it and gets it done…nothing like how my dad deals with my mum’s demands.

This was a wonderful book, filled with excitement, bravery, humour and a proper love of nature, highly recommended for an adventurer out there.

You can get yourself a copy of this direct from the publisher to help support them in producing more books for me from this LINK: