Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Reprise Review: Queenie's Teapot by Carolyn Steele


 Genre: Satire

Description:

“A post-Brexit, post-Trump romp through the world of what-if...

In a world where democracy has been declared no longer fit for purpose, a cohort of randomly-selected British Republic citizens receives their call to serve in parliament. As the strangers gather to learn their tasks for the next three years, the Cabinet Support Team tries to fit jobs to skills—but Queenie can’t do nuffin’. Naturally she becomes head of state. Together the new government muddles through, tackling unrest on the streets and a spot of global bioterrorism in addition to their own journeys of self-discovery.”

Author:

A native of the UK, Carolyn has worked in a number of professions, from psychologist to driving a semi-truck to an editor and proofreader. Then there's this author thing too, with two non-fiction books to her credit as well as contributing to several more. This book appears to be her first published work of fiction.

Appraisal:

I'm not sure where to start in trying to describe Queenie's Teapot, even in picking a genre. The premise is much like you'd expect from a dystopian novel, a “what if” imagined to the ultimate, but things never get bad enough to qualify as a dystopia. (Of course, the opposite of a dystopia is a utopia, and that doesn't fit either.) The author described it as satire, and that's not totally unreasonable.

At least satire is reasonable other than the quibble that satire is typically based on reality, but the world imagined here isn't reality with the figureheads of government (heads of state, cabinet ministers, etc.) picked semi-randomly by people working in the background. Well, not reality unless you buy into some of the more wild conspiracy theories floating around. I'll assume you don't.

Lack of knowing how to describe the story didn't stop me from getting drawn in. The protagonist, Queenie Mason, was likeable and made me want her to succeed. (That's why she got picked as head of state, not because of her name, although that couldn't have hurt.) The deeper into the story I got, the more I understood the satire. I got the point of the what if. Some of you might see it as a dystopia after all. At a minimum it's a fun little political adventure and if you want, it'll also get you thinking.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Uses UK spelling. Also, lots of UK slang and forms of expression.

Original review posted January 25, 2017.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 95-100,000 words

Friday, September 23, 2022

Review: My Secret to Keep by Barbara Conrey


 Genre: Historical Fiction

Description:

“When Maggie Bryan works up the nerve to tell her parents she’s pregnant, they immediately disown her. Later that night, her boyfriend is killed. In desperation, she turns to her brother, Sam. Against his wife’s wishes, Sam brings Maggie to his home in rural Pennsylvania.

While Maggie awaits the birth of her child and navigates the tension in her new home, she decides to finish high school. There, she meets Anne Phillips, a volunteer educator and full-time architect. Over time, Maggie becomes drawn to Anne in ways she doesn’t understand, but she knows enough to keep her feelings hidden.

After a devastating loss, Maggie tries to move on, but secrets and betrayals keep her from living her fullest life. Beginning in the late 1940s and spanning decades, My Secret to Keep portrays a woman at war with society, her family, and herself.”

Author:

A former health care worker who now works in finance, Barbara Conrey lives in Pennsylvania where she tries to satisfy her passions for travel, reading, writing, hiking and exploring antique shops. (Not to mention her beagle, Miss Molly.)

Appraisal:

The book’s first chapter kicks off in 1982 with Maggie, the protagonist, planting flowers outside a house, then coming in the house to discover Anne has died. Who Anne is and what Maggie’s relationship to her isn’t clear. We’ll spend much of the book figuring that out along with Maggie and Annie as the second chapter flashes back to 1948, before Maggie has even met Annie, but is going through another life-shaking and life-changing event.

What happens to Maggie, Anne, and a few other important characters between 1948 and 1982 makes for an intense, thought-provoking story. It illustrates how much the world has changed in some ways and how awful the world was for some people at points in the past. (And you’re right. We’re still far from perfection.) While some parts of the story the reader has an idea of how they’ll end based on hints from the first chapter, the specifics of the route the story will take to reach that end are interesting and at times will be surprising. An excellent read.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 90-95,000 words

Monday, September 19, 2022

Reprise Review: Eulalie and Washerwoman by Malcolm R. Campbell


 Genre: Magical Realism/Fantasy/Folk Tales

Description:

“Torreya, a small 1950s Florida Panhandle town, is losing its men. They disappear on nights with no moon and no witnesses. Foreclosure signs appear in their yards the following day while thugs associated with the Klan take everything of value from inside treasured homes that will soon be torn down. The police won't investigate, and the church keeps its distance from all social and political discord.

Conjure woman Eulalie Jenkins, her shamanistic cat, Lena, and neighbor Willie Tate discover that the new 'whites only' policy at the once friendly mercantile and the creation of a plantation-style subdivision are linked to corrupt city fathers, the disappearing men, rigged numbers gambling, and a powerful hoodoo man named Washerwoman. After he refuses to carry Eulalie's herbs and eggs and Willie's corn, mercantile owner Lane Walker is drawn into the web of lies before he, too, disappears.

Washerwoman knows how to cover his tracks with the magic he learned from Florida's most famous root doctor, Uncle Monday, so he is more elusive than hen's teeth, more dangerous that the Klan, and threatens to brutally remove any obstacle in the way of his profits. In this follow up to Conjure Woman's Cat, Eulalie and Lena face their greatest challenge with scarce support from townspeople who are scared of their own shadows. Even though Eulalie is older than dirt, her faith in the good Lord and her endless supply of spells guarantee she will give Washerwoman a run for his ill-gotten money in this swamps and piney woods story.”

Author:

Malcolm R. Campbell lives in north Georgia and has worked as a corporate communications director, technical writer, and college journalism instructor. He now works as a grant writer for museums and other nonprofit organizations.

“Campbell's fantasy novels were inspired by his work in Glacier National Park, an aircraft carrier cruise, and time spent in Florida's swamps. His paranormal ghost stories were inspired (of course) by his experiences with things that go bump in the night.”

To learn more check out Mr. Campbell’s website, blog, or follow him on Facebook.

Appraisal:

I love Lena’s irreverent narration throughout this story. She is able to give us a unique perspective of an era from the past most of us haven’t experienced. Since Lena is a cat she can’t be bothered by human emotions, unless you are scratching her behind her ears. This tale, while being fiction, rings true on many facts. The addition of magical realism brings us an eccentric, enthralling, and entertaining history of days gone by.

It wasn’t all white mistreatment and abuse on the black population, there was black on black abuse as well. Greed is the common agent that knows no color. Thank goodness Eulalie is around to try to set some misdeeds right. Pitted against a powerful hoodoo man, who practices black magic, it’s questionable whether Eulalie can outwit and best Washerwoman to return a more even balance of powers in her corner of the world. The struggles are realistic of the time.

I love that Eulalie’s and Willie Tate’s relationship is more fully explained and I am glad Adelaide, Eulalie’s daughter, is back in town. Old family secrets are exposed and this made my heart smile. Please be aware that the language in this story is not always politically correct, however it is true to the era. I found this a thoroughly enjoyable tale and while the main story arc was brought to a satisfactory end for the time being, things are still open. Also, Eulalie takes off on a whole new adventure that is sure to be entertaining on an emotional level.

I can’t wait!

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Eulalie and Washerwoman is book two in Malcolm R. Campbell’s, Florida Folk Magic Stories. I believe this can be read as a standalone, however the characters are unique and some depth could be lost. Also, please be aware that the language is not always politically correct, however it is true to the era.

Original review posted January 23, 2017.

Format/Typo Issues:

I came across a small number of proofing issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 40-45,000 words

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Review: Going Home, At Your Age? by Jacqueline Diamond


Genre: Romance

Description:

“Her hidden past is about to explode!

Sara returns to her hometown for Christmas, to face her sisters—and the man she left behind—with a stunning secret. The baby she gave up for adoption years ago is having her own baby, and wants her to be the grandma.

Young, pregnant and feeling abandoned, Sara rebelled against everyone she knew, including the man she secretly loved. Now, about to celebrate her 50th birthday, can she finally claim the family that should have been hers, right old wrongs, and find the home she believed lost forever?”

Author:

Jacqueline Diamond has written numerous books in multiple genres, primarily romances and mysteries, over her more than forty years as a published author.

For more, visit her website and like her Facebook page.

Appraisal:

While this book fits the basic plot that all books classified in the romance genre are expected to conform to, it illustrates how much the specifics used to make up that story can vary from the norm and still make for a comfortable fit. The premise of the story, that the protagonist, Sara, had put a newborn baby up for adoption and, due to conflict with much of her family fled her hometown decades ago, having only minimal communication with them and not returning to visit is certainly not a typical romance setup.

However, through the current state of the art in DNA testing and DNA databanks, Sara is now headed home to meet the daughter she gave birth to, who had a great childhood, but is now pregnant herself and wants to give Sara a chance to step in as the grandmother in place of her adoptive parents who are both deceased. Of course, for this to work Sara is also going to need to make some contact with her estranged family, old friends, which includes the guy who got away who some incorrectly thought was the father of her baby. I’ll give you one guess who the potential romantic partner will be.

Yeah, I said potential in the last paragraph, but if you know anything about the romance genre you know how it is going to end up. That’s part of the definition of the genre. But the journey is the reward and, in the case of this book the route the journey is going to take is much harder to guess and much more complex than a typical romance novel since we’ve got the family, friends, and the guy in question with 30-ish years of connections, baggage, and history that has been built while Sara was out of the picture. It makes for a unique story with more complications and difficulties than you’ll typically see in a romance, yet I found it easy to believe something like this could happen in real life. Probably already has.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

This is the third book a the “Sisters, Lovers & Second Chances” series, however, it stands alone. I assume the plot of those in the series have some common aspects, but each story can be read without having read the others.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 60-65,000 words

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Review: Three in the Morning and You Don't Smoke Anymore (Insomnia Edition) by Peter J. Stavros


 

Genre: Short Story Collection

Description:

Three in the Morning and You Don't Smoke Anymore follows a down-on-his-luck young man pursued by his past into the rabbit hole of despair and desperation before emerging renewed, and (relatively) unscathed, to face a new day. Narrated in the second person, and layered with gritty, dark humor, these nonlinear vignettes place the reader directly into the mind of the protagonist as he struggles to get his life in order.”

Author:

“Peter J. Stavros is a writer and playwright in Louisville, Kentucky, and the author of Three in the Morning and You Don’t Smoke Anymore, winner of the Etchings Press 2020 Book Prize for a Chapbook of Prose. Other works by him include the short story collection, (Mostly) True Tales From Birchmont Village.

A former reporter for the Associated Press, Peter has published his writing in literary journals, magazines, newspapers and anthologies …”

Appraisal:

This is an interesting collection of short stories. Many of these have been previously published in various periodicals, so they obviously stand alone just fine. But one thing I didn’t pick up on until I was reading it, although it is now obvious from reading  the description, is that these all have the same protagonist. The stories are out of order, but touch on some of the same themes (difficulties he’s gone through and actions he’s taken in the past that he sometimes regrets for a few examples). A quick thought-provoking read.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Some adult language.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 15-20,000 words

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Reprise Review: Fireworks by Mardeene


 Genre: Erotic Romance/Short Story

Description:

“On the 4th of July, former basketball star Brandy Sue Barnes declares her own personal ‘Independence Day’ from her unreliable boyfriend she realizes will never show up for her when it matters. The blonde statuesque fifty-one-year old, disappointed for the last time, asks for a real man she can depend upon. He shows up in the most unexpected of places—a burning building. Not just any building—her burning building: the Barnes Pyrotechnic warehouse. In this explosive sizzler of a romance in an unexpected twist, it is the beautiful lady who ends up rescuing the fire captain from the fire.”

Author:

“Mardeene has worked in the publishing and film industries for over 32 years as a photojournalist, scriptwriter, nonfiction book author, literary manager and producer of events for writers in Northern California’s Silicon Valley, Hollywood, Atlanta, and Brazil.

She's launching her debut fiction with her collection of short erotic romances as a celebration of life after a near death experience and an affirmation of living and loving full out at any age! Read a free story on her website.”

Appraisal:

Brandy Sue Barnes may be fifty-one-years old, but she is smart, spunky, capable, and knows what she wants. She also knows that she is tired of her thoughtless boyfriend who was supposed to pick her up early to escort her to the Independence Day Fundraiser for her children’s cancer center. Claiming her own independence she decides to drive herself. On the way to the gala she notices a glow in the sky in the direction of her family’s warehouses for Barnes Pyrotechnics.

Taking a small detour to the offices and warehouses she finds one building totally demolished. As the firefighters are putting out the last of the fire on one of the five story structures a firefighter needs rescuing. During his rescue the fire chief falls through the roof. Since Brandy knows the building and is sure she knows a better way to get to the hunky injured chief. As soon as she is able to get past the line of distracted firefighters, and taking proper safety precautions, she heads off to rescue the sexy fire chief who has caught her eye.

The plot is well written and suspenseful. I found the characters well defined for a novelette. Mardeene uses a lot of sexy humor in this story that involves sparks and heat that will keep you reading. I would recommend this for a little afternoon delight any time of the year.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

While this is an erotic romance there are no overly graphic sex scenes and only two small F-bombs.

Original review posted January 30, 2017

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues with proofing.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 10-11,000 words



Saturday, September 3, 2022

Review: The Intruders by Brett McKay


 Genre: Supernatural Thriller

Description:

“After an unexpected turn flushes his chosen career down the toilet, Dex Sanders is struggling to make ends meet as a used car salesman. Despite the drudgery of the job, he manages to put on a brave face for his wife, Reagan, and their two boys, until the day an unsettling encounter with a stranger coincides with a mysterious package appearing on their doorstep.

Later that night, Dex and his family are abducted by a group of armed men and taken to an underground bunker, where Dex is tortured. When Dex can’t answer any of their odd questions, the strangers conclude they’ve nabbed the wrong guy, and the entire family is marked for execution.

With the clock ticking, Dex must free his family and retrieve the strange box that seems to hold the answers. But doing so means running from relentless killers, uncovering the truth behind an evil as old as time, and stopping a supernatural power that threatens the entire world.”

Author:

“When Brett McKay is not conjuring demons and bloodthirsty psychopaths to put on paper, he sells landscaping. He loves all types of music, but hard rock and heavy metal fuel him the most. He enjoys the outdoors, spending time with friends and family, and curling up in front of a good movie with his wife and a bucket of popcorn.

Brett lives in Utah with his wife and two sons. Fall is his favorite time of year because he gets to decorate his house for Halloween much too early for his neighbors.”

Appraisal:

This book’s forward explains that the book was first available on Amazon’s Vella platform which consists of serialized novels with an episode getting released each week over an extended period of time. Each episode would include a brief author’s note which, depending on the note, tends to do one or sometimes both of two things, at least in this author’s case. One thing it can do is give a glimpse into the process of writing a novel with comments on what prompted a particular characteristic of a person in the novel, the inspiration for a strange turn the story takes, or why the author included a particular event in the novel. These notes also often provide a bit of foreshadowing, giving a bit of a clue as to where the story is headed. Since I understood the full history of why and how these notes were there, I liked them and felt they added to the story. (Without that knowledge, I suspect they would have felt quite strange.)

The story itself kept me engrossed and involved in trying to figure out what was going to happen. The story world is pretty much a place that felt like an average town in the US in contemporary times with some strange things happening that don’t have a logical explanation for either the reader or Dex, the protagonist. Over time the explanation comes out, but the adventure the reader experiences with Dex as he, his family, and some others try to work through the complications caused by these strange happenings kept me engrossed to the very end.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Some adult language.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 55-60,000 words

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Review: Pretty Short Stories - Unsettling by Stevan Serban, Aleksa Serban, and Milica Serban

 


Genre: Short Story Collection

Description:

“The world is weird. Horror can be funny. You decide.

Great stories don’t always have to be long stories. Thrills and chills are not beholden to word counts. A tale that leaves you wanting more is the best kind of frustration.

Aliens, killers, and neighbors share their secrets, plots, and riddles in this unique collection of short stories. From the apocalypse to apathy, humor and horror go skipping hand-in-hand through the pages. If the fantastical can be comical, then the ordinary can be downright terrifying.

Unsettling is the first in the ‘Pretty Short Stories’ series.

Author:

Stevan Serban’s bio on Amazon is pretty good at telling you some of the qualities he doesn’t have. These all seem like the kind of cliched things some authors would put in their bio, so I guess we can assume he’s trying to tell us that he’s just a normal guy or at least not a typical author. He teamed up with two of his kids to write this book (they get credit in the Amazon book listing, even if they receive no mention on the cover).

Appraisal:

Have you ever read a book review that was longer than the book? I’m not sure how many words this review will end up being, but knowing my propensity to go on and on and on and … well, you get the idea, I think the odds of this review having a word count that exceeds the 623 words in the book (not counting front and back matter) is fairly good. It will be a new experience for both of us. But I’ll bet you’re wondering how a book could possibly be that short. Good question.

First, I should make it clear that we aren’t talking a children’s picture book here, aimed at a new reader with the pictures telling most of the story and the words being simple, straightforward, and there more to provide practice to the new reader. (I’ve reviewed a few of those with my granddaughter, but I don’t think the review has ever been more verbose than the book. Or maybe I’m wrong. However, I’m sure my reviews have never exceeded the word count of the book for a book aimed at adults or even the young adult or teen audience.) So how does a collection of short stories, 36 of them if I counted right, only amount to 623 words?  Well, if you grab a calculator, you’ll see that the way to do this is to make the average story roughly 17.3 words each. I’ve heard of flash fiction which is generally considered to be a story of 1,000 words or less, with different names for stories that are even shorter. I’ve even read and reviewed multiple books that were collections of drabbles, flash fiction stories of 100 words or less. But can you really tell a story in seventeen words?

Well, obviously I can’t. Everyone I know is getting a glazed look in their eyes and thinking to themselves that I can’t tell the most simple story in less than about seventeen minutes of droning. That story would include taking the tale off on several tangents that really have nothing to do with the main story (kind of like what I’m doing here). It would include giving many more details than the story really needs. (Yeah, I know. I’m doing that too. I can’t help myself. Plus, I have a specific word count to reach and being succinct isn’t going to get me there.)

But apparently other people can (Stevan Serban and his two kids, Aleksa and Milica for three examples). In fact, there is a tale that Ernest Hemingway was out at the bar with a group of friends one day and bet his friends that he could make them cry with a short story that was only six words long. These stories are almost three times that long. Whether the story told about Hemmingway is true is doubtful. There are multiple versions of the story out there, I believe some of them using different people as the alleged author, but the one consistent in all of the retellings I’ve seen are the short story the hero of the story came up with. Here it is for you to consider:

“For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”

Six words that pack a punch. Most stories, even novels that are tens of thousands of words long, let the reader fill in some of the gaps and this story certainly does that. At least it holds back on the details. But it sets things up for the reader to let their imagination run wild. These seventeen word stories aim to do the same thing and do a pretty decent job of setting the imagination off. Each story consists of a short title (usually a single word, but sometimes two or three words), followed by the text of the story which is three fairly short sentences. (Do the math. Seventeen minus one word for the title means five or six words per sentence. Not wordy at all.) Maybe I should have tried this approach in writing my review. This long rambling screed is already well over the length of the book. Maybe the book has something to teach me about minimalism or something. For those who think this is tl;dr, the alternative review is just below. (It’s only seventeen words, just like each of the stories.)

“Different”

This book is different. Lots of short three sentence stories. Kicks the imagination into high gear.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 600-700 words

Friday, August 26, 2022

Reprise Review: Scattered Souls by Erica Lucke Dean

 


Genre: Time Travel/Romance

Description:

“Ava Flynn is cursed. After barely surviving an epic battle between her warring soul mates, Ava is stranded in the past with Laith, while Maddox frantically searches across the decades. Laith will stop at nothing to prove his love to Ava, and a desperate Maddox must race against time to find her before his brother can win her heart.

Torn between the two brothers, and with her eternal soul at stake, Ava comes to the horrifying conclusion that only she can break the curse. But the cost may be more than she is willing to pay.”

Author:

“After walking away from her career as a business banker to pursue writing full-time, Erica moved from the hustle and bustle of the big city to a small tourist town in the North Georgia Mountains where she lives in a 90-year-old haunted farmhouse with her workaholic husband, her 180lb lap dog, and at least one ghost.

When she’s not busy writing or tending to her collection of crazy chickens, diabolical ducks, and a quintet of piglets, hell bent on having her for dinner, she’s either reading bad fan fiction or singing karaoke in the local pub. Much like the characters in her books, Erica is a magnet for disaster, and has been known to trip on air while walking across flat surfaces.

How she’s managed to survive this long is one of life’s great mysteries.”

To learn more about Ms. Dean, visit her website or stalk her on her Facebook page.

Appraisal:

Scattered Souls begins with a short jaunt into the past, and we learn how both Maddox and Laith acquired their time-jumping abilities. Ava is also given a small glimpse into Maddox’s, Laith’s, and Elizabeth’s history while falling through time. Timelines are little problem if you know the rules of the game. At least as long as you have possession of a magic stone. Learning those rules were trial and error for both Maddox and Laith. Both are in possession of their own stone.

After Laith rescues Ava from the cliff at the end of book one, Splintered Souls, he settles her in his Chicago home sometime in 1928. From there Laith begins his campaign to win Ava’s heart through a whirlwind series of jumps through time to fulfill her every heart’s desire. These were a thoroughly enjoyable distraction from the vital weightiness of the plot. This plan is working in Laith’s favor until Maddox catches up with them and all hell breaks loose.

Ava has a sharp learning curve and serious decisions to make concerning the curse that has plagued Maddox and Laith since they were born. Although Jane, apprentice witch of the old witch who placed the original curse, insists it was a blessing because her mentor didn’t dabble in the dark forces. Getting to know Jane was an enthralling bonus in this book. She was able to give Ava a lot to consider, and it seems as if Ava will have to be the one to put an end to the blessing/curse. But how can she manage that when she doesn’t wish pain or heartbreak to either brother?

This story is a true rollercoaster ride through history and emotions. The game changing ending will leave the reader reeling. I was totally beside myself. I need the next book NOW! Ms. Dean had better be writing her heart out…

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Scattered Souls is book two in the Flames of Time series. Adult situations and a few F-bombs.

Original review posted January 10, 2017.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant proofing issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 70-75,000 words

Monday, August 22, 2022

Review: Ghosts of Sherwood by T S Maynard and W J McNally

 


Genre: Folklore mashup

Description:

This little book is not what I was expecting. The well known and loved characters from Sherwood Forest are present, sometimes in a book of stories about their deeds, sometimes as LRP gamers, sometimes in ways that are less easy to explain.

So mashed up is the book that I cannot even tell you with any confidence if it is meant for grownups or children. Suffice it to say that I – who am a grownup – enjoyed it, and I believe that children who enjoy stories about characters out of legend and fairy stories will find this well worth their time. The story gallops along: there is never a dull moment.

In short, it is an allegorical morality tale told in a twenty-first century way by using this borrowed genre.

Authors:

Maynard and NcNally have been friends since childhood. This short novel is a joint project between the two of them, with Maynard acting as publisher. Maynard has been writing stories for over 25 years and has recently begun adapting them into books and novellas with McNally. This is their first book.

Appraisal:

The story keeps you on your toes as to where and when the action is currently taking place: are we in Sherwood Forest, somewhere in a bit of 21st century American wilderness, or are we now getting a lesson in work-life balance? The authors generate plenty of sympathy for the main characters, so caught up in work that their family breaks down. The myths and legends in the book have all turned to the dark side at the beginning through espousing the American way of business. However, the book doesn’t take itself too seriously, and the life lessons are delivered with plenty of humour. This is partly generated by mashing together multiple British myths and legends. Half the fun is in spotting these coming, so I will only mention a single example: Camelot Inc is a particularly noxious invention. Much amusement is also derived from juxtaposing ye olde horse-drawn, sword-wielding world of the legends with, eg, smart phones and not being able to get a signal wherever and in whatever century we’re currently stuck.

If your work-life balance is out of whack I recommend you read this with your neglected offspring. You will all enjoy it thoroughly and it will give them an opportunity to perform tutting, tooth sucking and head shaking at intervals, as the book has much wisdom within it, as well as a lot of laughs. You will come to see the error of your overworked ways.

If your work-life balance is tickety-boo, you can pity the poor saps at the beginning with the superiority of one who has all this down pat, worry about the sadly altered state of fairytale land in the middle and feel surprisingly good at the end when nearly everything comes out right.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Format/Typo Issues:

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: Judi Moore

Approximate word count: 25-30,000 words