Review - Ava and PipAva and Pip
by Carol Weston

Average Review Rating (2 Reviews)
Meet outgoing Ava Wren, a fun fifth grader who tries not to lose patience with her shy big sister. When Pip's 13th birthday party turns into a disaster, Ava gets a story idea for a library contest. But uh-oh, Ava should never have written Sting of the Queen Bee. Can Ava and her new friend help Pip come out of her shell? And can Ava get out of the mess she has made?
Great for parents and educators looking for a heartwarming read incorporating messages of sisterhood, identity, and helping others
"A love letter to language." - The New York Times... more»»
Review by Amelie G. (11) 4th July 2020

Review - Mesmer's DiscipleMesmer's Disciple
by Edward Swanson

Average Review Rating (1 Review)
New York City in 1847 is a boiling stew of ethnic gangs, foul living conditions, and runaway crime. Police Captain Alvord Rawn effectively meets violence with violence until one bloody night he goes too far. Forced to resign, Alvord agrees to help a wealthy society woman locate her missing son, the rising artist Charles Deas, who has been painting and exploring the frontier areas west of St. Louis. Deas has fallen under the spell of the mysterious Count Abendroth, a practitioner of mesmerism. Under the Count’s sinister occult guidance, Deas’s paintings have grown darker and more intense, verging on madness. When Alvord arrives in St. Louis, he finds that Abendroth is much more than a charlatan, and that he is massing his dark powers for nefarious ends. Abendroth is unwilling to let Deas leave without a fight, which is just fine with former Police Captain Alvord Rawn, because fighting is what he does best... more»»
Review by Paul Lappen 1st June 2020

Review - The Hunters of PangaeaThe Hunters of Pangaea
by Stephen Baxter

Average Review Rating (1 Review)
The Hunters of Pangaea by Stephen Baxter was published by NESFA Press to commemorate the author's (and artist's) appearance as Guest of Honour at Boskone 41 in 2004. Collection of eighteen stories and five essays. Introduction (John Cramer and Kathryn E Cramer); The Hunters of Pangaea (a spinoff from Evolution); The Modern Cyrano; Family History; Raft; Clods; Wild Extravagant Theories: The Science of The Time Machine (essay); The Ant-Men of Tibet; Martian Chronicles: Narratives of Mars in Science and SF (essay); The Orchards of the Moon; The Song; Moon Wizard; The Moon is Hell (essay); Behold Now Behemoth; A Midsummer Eclipse; Prospero One; A Brief History of Half Time: Football in Science Fiction (essay); Imaginary Time; The Burster; The Adventure of the Inertial Adjustor; The Dinosaur Hunter; The Flight of the Taikonauts (essay); The Mandate of Heaven; First to the Moon!... more»»
Review by Paul Lappen 1st June 2020

Review - Man DisconnectedMan (Dis)connected
by Philip Zimbardo and Nikita S. Coulombe

Average Review Rating (1 Review)
Young men are failing as never before - academically, socially and sexually. But why is this so? What are the implications? And what needs to be done about it before it's too late? Philip Zimbardo and co-writer Nikita Coulombe examine the modern meltdown of manhood and how this is manifest in the lives of young men today. They consider such factors as absent fathers, and legislation favouring women, which contribute to many men lacking social skills and direction in their lives. Most controversially, Zimbardo argues that readily available hardcore pornography and exciting gaming realities provide digital alternatives that are less demanding and far more appealing for many than sex, sports and social interaction in the real world. Immersion in these alternative realms is playing havoc with these boys' cognitive development, their ability to concentrate and their social development, allowing girls to excel in the real world where social skills are a source of success. By illuminating the symptoms and causes of these gloomy trends, Zimbardo and Coulombe shed light on how we arrived at this state of affairs and, most significantly, what the solutions might be... more»»
Review by Ben Macnair 1st May 2020

Review - Ava and PipAva and Pip
by Carol Weston

Average Review Rating (1 Review)
Meet outgoing Ava Wren, a fun fifth grader who tries not to lose patience with her shy big sister. When Pip's 13th birthday party turns into a disaster, Ava gets a story idea for a library contest. But uh-oh, Ava should never have written Sting of the Queen Bee. Can Ava and her new friend help Pip come out of her shell? And can Ava get out of the mess she has made?
Great for parents and educators looking for a heartwarming read incorporating messages of sisterhood, identity, and helping others
"A love letter to language." - The New York Times... more»»
Review by Molly Martin 1st May 2020

Review - The Reputation GameThe Reputation Game
by David Waller and Rupert Younger

Average Review Rating (1 Review)
The Reputation Game – The Art of Changing How People See You. It’s a game you’re already playing, whether you like it or not. You can choose to ignore it and remain at the mercy of what others say about you, or you can take the time to learn how it works. For those who do the potential benefits are unlimited. Through pioneering research and interviews with a host of major figures ranging from Jay-Z and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman to Bernie Madoff and Man Booker prize-winning Hilary Mantel, Waller and Younger reveal the key mechanisms that make and remake our reputations, providing the essential guide to the most important game in business and in life... more»»
Review by Ben Macnair 1st May 2020

Review - The Best Cat in the WorldThe Best Cat in the World
by Leslea Newman & Ronald Himler

Average Review Rating (1 Review)
Even the best cat in the world doesn't live forever, and Victor is very sad when his beloved cat, Charlie, dies. His mother suggests getting a new cat, but Victor isn't so sure. Finally, when the vet tells Victor she has another cat that really needs a home, Victor agrees to give the new cat a chance. But the new cat, Shelley, isn't like Charlie. She doesn't look like Charlie, or act like Charlie, or like to do the things Charlie used to do. With all these differences, is there any chance that Victor can learn to accept and love Shelley? Leslea Newman's gentle story honours the full range of a child's feelings after losing a favourite pet, while Ron Himler's soft pencil and watercolour illustrations capture Victor's poignant emotions as well as the playful antics of his new kitten... more»»
Review by Molly Martin 1st April 2020

Review - The NavigatorThe Navigator
by Eoin McNamee

Average Review Rating (1 Review)
Time travel adventure in which a boy joins a rebel uprising against a sinister enemy – The Harsh – in order to repair the fabric of time. Owen's ordinary life is turned upside-down the day he gets involved with the Resisters and their centuries-long feud with an ancient, evil race. The Harsh, with their icy blasts and relentless onslaught, have a single aim – to turn back time and eliminate all life. Unless they are stopped, everything Owen knows will vanish as if it has never been... But all is not as it seems in the rebel ranks. While Owen is accepted by new friends Cati and Wesley, and the eccentric Dr Diamond, others are suspicious of his motives. Could there be a Harsh spy in their midst? Where and what is the mysterious Mortmain, vital to their cause? And what was Owen’s father’s role in all this many years before? As he journeys to the frozen North on a mission of destruction, Owen comes to understand his own history and to face his destiny... more»»
Review by Paul Lappen 1st April 2020

Review - The Beautiful IndifferenceThe Beautiful Indifference
by Sarah Hall

Average Review Rating (1 Review)
The Beautiful Indifference is a collection of intensely erotic and disarming tales, which span centuries, contemporary life and the future, and evoke landscapes as diverse as London's metropolis and lake Vuotjrvi in the Finnish wilderness. A woman who chooses not save her drowning lover. A frustrated housewife who arranges an appointment with the mysterious 'Agency'. A girl enamoured with a notorious Cumbrian horse-breeding family who innocently unleashes their wrath. Each story rotates on an axis of survivalism - natural and medical, physical and sexual - so that wolves and humans alike are exposed and hunted across the pages, then hung like elegant trophies. Uniquely disturbing and deeply erotic, this collection confirms Sarah Hall as one of the greatest writers of her generation. The Beautiful Indifference includes Butcher's Perfume, which was short-listed for the BBC National Short Story Prize in 2010... more»»
Review by Ben Macnair 1st April 2020

CColumn Ends

Review - The Constant RabbitThe Constant Rabbit
by Jasper Fforde

Average Review Rating (1 Review)
England, 2020. There are 1.2 million human-sized rabbits living in the UK. They can walk, talk and drive cars, the result of an Inexplicable Anthropomorphising Event fifty-five years ago. And a family of rabbits is about to move into Much Hemlock, a cosy little village where life revolves around summer fetes, jam-making, gossipy corner stores, and the oh-so-important Best Kept Village awards. No sooner have the rabbits arrived than the villagers decide they must depart. But Mrs Constance Rabbit is made of sterner stuff, and her family are behind her. Unusually, so are their neighbours, long-time residents Peter Knox and his daughter Pippa, who soon find that you can be a friend to rabbits or humans, but not both. With a blossoming romance, acute cultural differences, enforced rehoming to a MegaWarren in Wales, and the full power of the ruling United Kingdom Anti Rabbit Party against them, Peter and Pippa are about to question everything they'd ever thought about their friends, their nation, and their species. It'll take a rabbit to teach a human humanity... more»»
Review by Nigel 1st June 2020

Review - The Shape of NightThe Shape of Night
by Tess Gerritsen

Average Review Rating (1 Review)
If the walls could talk... they'd tell her to leave. Now. When Ava arrives at Brodie’s Watch, she thinks she has found the perfect place to hide from her past. Something terrible happened, something she is deeply ashamed of, and all she wants is to forget. But the old house on the hill both welcomes and repels her and Ava quickly begins to suspect she is not alone. Either that or she is losing her mind. The house is full of secrets, but is the creeping sense of danger coming from within its walls, or from somewhere else entirely.
'Beguiling! Gerritsen is at her atmospheric best in this spine-tingling tale of a lone woman, an old house, and all the secrets everyone tries to hide.' Lisa Gardner... more»»
Review by Ben Macnair 1st June 2020

Review - ChickenfeedChickenfeed
by Minette Walters

Average Review Rating (1 Review)
A body is found in a chicken run...
Based on the true story of the ‘chicken farm murder’ which took place in Blackness, Crowborough, East Sussex in December, 1924. Norman Thorne was found guilty of the murder of Elsie Cameron, but even at the time of his execution there were doubts about his guilt. Still swearing his innocence, Norman Thorne was hanged on 22 April 1925. Bestselling author Minette Walters brings a thrilling story to life in Chickenfeed.
This is a crime novella (121 pages) by English writer Minette Walters, published as part of the Quick Reads, designed to promote literacy through short, simply written and fast moving stories... more»»
Review by Ben Macnair 1st June 2020

Review - The Love DetectiveThe Love Detective
by Angela Dyson

Average Review Rating (2 Reviews)
Clarry is 26, attractive, funny - and on the road to nowhere. Living a makeshift existence as a waitress, she knows life should be led with some sort of plan, but unfortunately planning is something she needs to get around to. Enter her best friend Laura with a seemingly simple request: check out Simon, estate agent and new boyfriend, to make sure he really is interested in Laura and not the solicitor help she can provide. Clarry is no detective, unless you count tracking down where her next tip is coming from. Still, what harm could a little amateur sleuthing do? With the aid of Flan, a glamorous septuagenarian, Flan's lover, and a cast of colourful characters from the restaurant she works at, Clarry plunges into the investigation with a few pitfalls, pratfalls and a dodgy moment where she's mistaken as a pole dancer (and not in a good way). It isn't until 1) she discovers that Simon's a two-timing creep, and 2) in a sinister turn, she uncovers an evil criminal enterprise, that she realises amateur sleuthing is not for the faint of heart... more»»
Review by Ben Macnair 1st May 2020

Review - We Are the DestroyersWe Are The Destroyers
by D. K. Lindler

Average Review Rating (1 Review)
Captain Bel’lar can’t accept that he’s lived all this before. Overconsumption is destroying his home planet, and synthetic foods are turning his people into degenerated mutants under the control of the Brotherhood of Syn. As one of the few remaining but persecuted Organs - those who still live the organic lifestyle - Bel’lar and his small crew must escape from their dying world to the semi-mythical blue-white planet. They are to discover if it is really what the prophecies say it is: a place for humanity to make a new beginning. But the visions of his beautiful companion Ry Sing, a mystic and seer shake Bel’lar. She tells him that eons ago, Bel’lar was also faced with the burden of saving his people from their own greed. Only then he was the Great One, the sacred head of their religion. He had seen no other way to liberate them from their collision course with environmental destruction and spiritual degradation than to purify the planet in a great cataclysm… As Bel’lar, Ry Sing and the rest of the elite team embark on their mission to save mankind, the truth of the vision begins to reveal itself, and Bel’lar’s destiny is set before him. But will he be able to avoid it this time? Or is he fated to live the vision once again... more»»
Review by Paul Lappen 1st May 2020

Review - The Biblical ClockThe Biblical Clock
by Daniel Friedmann & Dania Sheldon

Average Review Rating (1 Review)
Science and religion have two seemingly opposing views of the universe’s biggest questions. But what if the real story told you they were both right? Vancouver, 2009. Physics engineer and CEO Daniel Friedmann loves solving problems. When the avid scientist dives deep into scripture, he’s faced with questions he feels compelled to answer: Is it possible to harmonise the scientific timeline for the development of the universe with the biblical timeline described in Genesis 1? How do the evolution of human history and prophecies surrounding the End of Days fit in? His quest for answers takes him and his nephew Seb on an incredible journey through the ages, discovering the lives and works of mystics, prophets, sages, philosophers, scientists and biblical commentators. Follow Dan and Seb as they discover answers to some of the biggest questions in science and religion. The Biblical Clock is a fascinating and entertaining read, digging deep into the universe and solving its well-kept mysteries... more»»
Review by Paul Lappen 1st May 2020

Review - Ava and Taco CatAva and Taco Cat
by Carol Weston

Average Review Rating (1 Review)
The second installment in Carol Weston's lauded Ava series. Ava Wren desperately wants a cat for her 11th birthday - but gets way more than she bargained for when she adopts a rescue cat. When Ava Wren hears about an injured yellow tabby with mismatched ears, she becomes obsessed and wants to rescue him. She even picks out a perfect palindromic name: T-A-C-O-C-A-T. But when Taco joins the family, he doesn't snuggle or purr - all he does is hide. Worse, Ava's best friend starts hanging out with Zara, a new girl in fifth grade. Ava feels alone and writes an acclaimed story, The Cat Who Wouldn't Purr. What begins as exciting news turns into a disaster. How can Ava make things right? And what about sweet, scared little Taco... more»»
Review by Molly Martin 1st May 2020

Review - The Friendship CureThe Friendship Cure
by Kate Leaver

Average Review Rating (1 Review)
Our best friends, girl friends, bromances, Twitter followers, Facebook friends, long- distance buddies and WhatsApp threads define us in ways we rarely acknowledge. There is so much about friendship we either don t know or don t articulate: why do some friendships last a lifetime, while others are only temporary? How do you break up with a toxic friend? And maybe the most important question: how can we live in the most connected age and still find ourselves stuck in the greatest loneliness epidemic of our time? It s killing us, making us miserable and causing a public health crisis. What if meaningful friendships are the solution, not a distraction? In The Friendship Cure, Kate Leaver s much anticipated manifesto brings to light what modern friendship means, how it can survive, why we need it and what we can do to get the most from it. From behavioural scientists to best mates, Kate finds extraordinary stories and research, drawing on her own experiences to create a fascinating blend of investigative journalism, pop culture and memoir... more»»
Review by Ben Macnair 1st April 2020

Review - Professor Challenger: New Worlds, Lost PlacesProfessor Challenger: New Worlds, Lost Places
Edited by J. R. Campbell & Charles Prepolec

Average Review Rating (1 Review)
Brilliant, belligerent and bearded in equal measure, incapable of suffering fools, or journalists, gladly, the greatest scientific mind of his generation - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Professor George Edward Challenger - returns in ten all-new tales of scientific adventure and wonder. This original anthology, from the authors and editors who brought you the Gaslight Sherlock Holmes series, sees Challenger and his stalwart company including the reporter Malone, big game hunter Lord John Roxton and the skeptical colleague Professor Summerlee, travel across space and witness the ravages of time, narrowly eluding a dinosaur's bite only to battle against the invasive red bloom of alien foliage, then plunge deep into the mysteries hidden within the Earth and reach out to the moon and into the heart of the unknown. Strap yourself in for chills, thrills and challenges to the unknown in exciting new worlds and lost places with literature's foremost scientific adventurer... more»»
Review by Paul Lappen 1st April 2020

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