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‘BIG, SICK HEART’ by Mike Markel

I read Book 2 in this series before reading this opening book, so I had already decided Mike Markel was a master of this genre. This book confirms it. What takes it beyond the usual, clever ‘are you as a reader astute enough to pick up the clues the writer has artfully woven into the proceedings as you move towards the eventual solving of a crime?’ is that the author is as interested in the struggle of his main character, Karen Seagate, to solve the problems that are messing up her life as he is in her solving the crime...

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“Deviations”: A Detectives Seagate and Miner Mystery by Mike Markel

Mike Markel is a master of this genre. “Deviations” is exceptionally well-written throughout, with no wasted words: “Age had defanged the Reverend Barry and was draining the lifeblood of his organization.” It’s the stripped-back writing style of this genre at its best: “I give him money. He gives me drinks. A streamlined relationship.” The author has a similar relationship with his reader: s/he gives him a little money, he gives her/him a great story, skilfully told. I read this one in one go during a ten-hour flight from Manchester to Cancun. He can get across a whole heap of hurt...

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“Kālong” (Book 3 of ‘The Dreamwalkers of Larreta’) by Carol Holland March

“What a piece of work is man: how noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god” (Hamlet II ii). And yet, how ‘bestial’, ‘tyrannical’ and ‘fiendish’ can the behaviour of this ‘paragon of animals’ be under certain conditions? In human consciousness, ‘good’ and ‘evil’ have always engaged in an apparently eternal struggle for supremacy. Hebrew mythology has it that ‘God’ cast out ‘Satan’ from ‘Paradise’ and threw him into ‘Hell’. Satan, however, travelled between his world of despair and hopelessness and...

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‘The Rending’ (Book 2 of ‘The Dreamwalkers of Larreta’) by Carol Holland March

I hope you have read ‘The Tyro’ (Book I in this series). I said in my review of it (https://myrddinsheir.com/2017/07/the-tyro-dreamwalkers-of-larreta-book-1-by-carol-holland-marsh/): “This is a superbly imaginative and very well-crafted book.” I am very happy to be able to report that that is also true of Book 2. Do read the series from the beginning, and study the glossary. The story will flow better for you if you do. “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep (The Tempest, IV i)”. Two ‘dreamwalkers’ of Larreta are particularly talented: Leo in his ability...

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“THE FORBIDDEN SCHOOL FOR DINOSAURS Book 1: The Lost World

This promises to be a great series. What child has not dreamed of dinosaurs, and what it would have been like to be alive alongside them? Charles Eades provides children with an imaginative foray into this possibility by time-travelling a group of them (together with a cluster of school buildings that had also – appropriately - become extinct) back into the Jurassic Era. With a tongue-in-cheek nod to Enid Blyton’s ‘Famous Five’ series – and doubtless with the hope of achieving similar commercial success - the group comprises two girls, two boys and a dog. These children, however, are not from...

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“MONA LISA’S GHOST” by Nancy Kunhardt Lodge

This is a brilliant book, beautifully written. It's right up there with Alice in Wonderland. Witty, perceptive and spectacularly imaginative, it is the story of how Lucy Nightingale gave Lisa Gherardini her smile back. In it, the real and the unreal, the impossible and the possible, all take place at the same time. If that doesn’t unclog your perception lattices, nothing will. Anyone who has read my review of Ms Lodge’s first book about Lucy and Wilbur – The Crystal Navigator – will know that I am a fan of her work for a bunch of very good reasons. Mona...

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DAVID A. GIBBS “Humbug to happiness: Breaking The Chains Of The Past”

According to the author, this book may be of “no benefit whatsoever” or “an amazing epiphany”? He has written it to try and help everyone whose self-image is in any way negative or critical, and who therefore struggles with relationships, feelings of failure, addictions that are ultimately harmful (like smoking, drinking, overeating), emotional instability and the recurrent conviction that he or she isn’t good-looking enough, strong enough or clever enough to succeed in the way so many people seem to be able to. His contention is that for every person who may have established a strong sense of self and is...

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“THE OTHER TWIN” by Lesley Hayes

Subtle, intricate, perceptive, deadly and beautifully written, this is “a psychological mystery with the notion of true love at its heart," The Other Twin "explores the noxious legacy of suspicion, hatred, revenge, and duplicity – and asks of the reader: just who can you trust?” For me, the most important thing about any book is the quality of the writing, and I read this one in the sure and certain knowledge that the writing would be superb. This is the fifth book written by Lesley Hayes that I have read and reviewed, and I know what to expect. She is an immensely...

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THE SECRET OF THE SACRED SCARAB by Fiona Ingram

“’Oh my gosh’, Justin hissed. ‘This is some kind of plot.” This rip-roaring yarn is so utterly in the genre of ‘Boys’ Own’ adventure stories that it took me right back to my weekly journeys to the local library more than sixty years ago on the lookout for another selection of Tarzan / Biggles / Famous Five – type adventure stories to get my pre-pubescent teeth into. If it had anything to do with treasure, I was in, just like Adam and Justin. Revisiting the genre at the age of 75, one sentence towards the end resonated: “No adult would...

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“Protected by the Light” Debra Roinestad

The author was horrifically abused by her psychotic, violent, drug-dealing parents and other members of her totally dysfunctional family – literally tortured into unconsciousness time and time again for their own hideous amusement. This is a story of survival – understanding the body’s and the mind’s mechanisms for dealing as effectively as it can with terrible abuse until - in adulthood and in a safe place at last – the brain unlocks the terrible memories in order to flush out the poison and enable a healing process to take place. Debra’s journey is very painful to follow through childhood, but...

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