Book Review – Oscar of the Bismarck

Title – Oscar of the Bismarck

Author – Frances Y. Evan

Genre – Historical fiction, Young adult

Oscar of the Bismarck is a fictional account of true events surrounding a ship’s mascot during WWII. A stray cat named Oscar by the crew of the German battleship Bismarck, found itself on board the warship in 1941. While the legendary feline made it to the annals of history as a survivor and prisoner of war when Bismarck was sunk, the book adopts an interesting approach to this historical retelling – by narrating the course of events from the perspective of the cat. As the mighty Bismarck was built, launched and commissioned, Oscar witnessed the making of the great wartime ship. We hear the cats story of interacting with the crew, officers, sailors and cooks, and his adventures in hunting mice and rats on board.

An intriguing tale told from a very different point of view. The author has researched the maritime events well, and the epilogue and list of ships involved in the Bismarck attack are well presented. Oscar of the Bismarck is an uplifting historical novel for young readers, and the end notes provide an additional history lesson for those interested in the subject.

My rating – 3/5


England was Frances’s childhood home.  She emigrated to the United States with her family as a teenager many years ago.  Although she loves America, a part of her heart always remains in the country of her birth. 

Frances has been a storyteller for as long as she can remember with her first audience consisting of neighborhood playmates sitting on the curb listening to her tall tales. More recently, she has  written and told or performed her nautical themed stories for school children visiting on field trips at a local seaport association where she worked. 

She has visited numerous organizations, upon request, to speak about The Forgotten Flag, her first published work, and continues to visit classrooms at local schools to meet students who have read the book as part of their American History curriculum.

Frances worked for twelve years at Staples High School in Connecticut in the English and Social Studies Departments which provided the perfect environment to inspire her love of history and writing.  She has self-published several books, The Brass Bell, The Curse of the Shark’s Tooth, and Oscar of the Bismarck which are young adult stories, as well as St. Katherine’s Dock: Target Tower Bridge adult historical fiction.   While working at the school, she prepared presentations for teachers to enhance their curriculum and subject matter when it pertained to British history.  These have included the Elizabethan Era to better understand the time of Shakespeare, the Victorian Era to portray the time of Charles Dickens, and World War II – the British Homefront. 

When her mother passed away several years ago, she decided that her story must be told. Vera’s Story: Hidden Scars of War tells the tale of a not so ordinary, ordinary woman whose memories of war were never far below the surface.

Follow her at:



Thanks to Zooloo’s Book Tours for having me on board the blog tour, and for sharing a copy of the book.

Writing for Children – An Interview with Callum Pearce

Storyteller Callum Pearce is a writer, editor and publisher at House of Loki – an imprint of the publishing house Nordic Press. While Nordic Press publishes adult fiction, House of Loki caters to young readers, with a focus on children’s books. On Children’s Day, Tomes and Tales talks to Callum about writing for children and the indie literature scene for stories for kids.

  1. Hi Callum, could you tell us about House of Loki? What led to the creation of this publishing house for children’s books?

    There wasn’t a lot on the Indie scene for stories for young people. I wanted to make sure that there was something else for those people that shared my feelings in this area and new people that wanted to try writing for young people.
    David Green, Tim Mendees and myself all started out in this writing world at roughly the same time and we have worked on lots of projects together. When I mentioned starting out on my own, David suggested joining as an imprint of Nordic Press. It was important to me that we be the writer’s publisher and create a supportive and interesting environment for writers. Any level of confidence or experience should be able to join us and find an environment that pushes them forward. It was also important that we looked at the whole world and incorporated customs and folklore from everywhere. Now we’re proudly nestled into the Nordic family.

  2. While Ghosts, Ghouls and Ghastly Creatures contains spooky stories, Magic, Mischief and Mayhem falls under the fantasy genre. HOL also has YA and steampunk books pending release. How challenging is it to create multi-genre books for young readers? What do you look for to connect with your target audience?

    As far as how challenging it is, that falls to the authors. I like to set up group projects and bring people together with different levels of experience and even if I’m involved, sit back and watch the magic happen. We take on as many voices as we can and find a way to harmonize along the way.
    We have an amazing group of people in House of Loki and we’re always able to bounce ideas off each other.
    As far as what I look for personally, Magic Mischief and Mayhem is the name of the book that is about to come out. That is also our motto at House Of Loki. As long as your story has elements of those three then it’s at the front of the list. The other thing is not patronising your readers, (true for any age but young people won’t stand for it ). Young people are far more discerning and aware than they’re given credit for by some writers.
    I know that a lot of young people need support with reading, and I also try to see if there is something for the adult reader. So you think as a kid first but also do I enjoy it as an adult too.

  3. You also write for adults in the horror genre. What do you keep in mind when switching between age groups? Is it more fun writing for kids or adults?

    It is definitely more fun writing for young people and something that I’m deeply passionate about. My writing doesn’t change a great deal between the two. Most of my adult work with maybe a snip here or there would be fine for young adults. I’m not interested in writing extreme horror. I find it more fun to get gory and scary but have your tongue firmly wedged in your cheek. I loved all of the 80’s horrors that I grew up with that could go quite far but there is a sense of fun and silliness to it. If I write demons and devils they always have a bit of a deliciously evil thing like the evil queens in fantasy stories. There is always something to bring it back from the edge of full horror.
    When I write anything that is really dark, it tends to be for things with a very short word count that you have to hit hard and fast, then step back from. They tend to be stories about bigotry and abuse of others which you shouldn’t sugarcoat anyway.
  4. As a writer, editor, illustrator and publisher, how do you juggle multiple literary roles? Which one is your favorite, and why?

    Illustrator is a bit of a stretch. I have done a few things for Nordic Press’s Worlds Collide as they only needed some simple drawings. Some turned out well and some not so well. But that was the first time I’d picked up a pencil to draw anything other than doodling in my writing book margins. I did the Ghosts Ghouls.. cover as a last minute thing. I try anything once but know my limitations. I’m so glad we have the brilliant Greenspike doing most of the covers right now.
    With everything else, I set a period for each thing. Editing and formatting is something that needs all of my concentration as it reflects on the authors if I make a mistake. So if I have those jobs , they come first. Then I will set some time for the animation and trailer stuff that is separate.  Then editing the websites will all be over a few days. With everything, I have to give it its own block, not try to do a bit of everything. I’m autistic so my brain wants to do a bit of everything all of the time and I have to keep training myself to block things off and focus on one thing at a time. My favourite is just sitting in front of a blank page and letting a story fall onto it.

5. What advice would you give to parents trying to build a reading habit in their children?

Every child is different but for me as a very young person, my dad and one of my teachers practically acted out the stories with all of the necessary voices. They were as engaged as me and opening up this whole world in front of my eyes from a pile of paper they had in their hands.
As they get older, find books that you honestly enjoy,  recommend them and talk about the different aspects of it. You’ll usually find they have more interesting insights than your adult friends. Just make sharing and talking about stories part of your relationship.

6. What are your favorite children’s books and authors? Any reading recommendations?

I adored everything by Roald Dahl. I really would read anything but Roald Dahl was my comfort zone. My teacher reading George’s Marvellous Medicine really set me off on what fun you could have with stories. All of his work has a lot of spiteful, mean, hilariously evil stuff but then with a good heart in the middle. I would reccomend Rik Mayall reading Georges’s Marvellous Medicine (available on Youtube)  to all children and adults as it is just pure fun. I loved the Hobbit more than the rest of Tolkien, and Terry Pratchett’s adult and youth stories.

7. As a publisher of children’s literature, what advice do you have for kids wanting to write and publish stories?

Every writer everywhere when you ask this question will say the most obvious answer… Write! Find time to write about your dinner today or a holiday you just had. The other one is read, read EVERYTHING. Pay particular attention to fantasy stories if you want to write fantasy stories or horror etc. But read everything. Share your stories if you have good friends to share them with and listen to what they say. As far as the publishing side, a rejection can be heartbreaking but that could mean either that your story needs more work or it isn’t right for that publisher. Listen to other people but trust yourself, you know what you want to write and it will find its home.

Blind House – Book Review

Title – Blind House

Author – Jamie-Lee Brooke

Genre – Horror

The Halloween season reading list was filled with books about the macabre. Nothing like a haunted house novel to up the spookiness quotient. The synopsis of Blind House ticked all the boxes of a horror-mystery-thriller – the current inhabitants of a mansion experience strange occurrences related to the house’s mysterious past. Blind House was left to celebrity make up artist Deborah by her parents who moved to Australia. All she knows about its history is that it was run by a reputable doctor as a treatment facility for psychiatric disorders. Now she is treated to poltergeist activities and is determined to find justice for the patients she believes were abused under the guise of medical help. Deborah’s husband Ross is a famous film star, and doesn’t want any negative publicity clouding his upcoming movie release. The couple decide to hire a paranormal investigator to get to the bottom of things, and make her sign a confidentiality agreement so that no one outside Blind House knows what’s happening inside.

Only, this seems far to familiar for Blind House. Previous guests who signed contracts mysteriously disappeared, because they couldn’t tell anybody they were at the house. Just like the patients who disappeared years before them. What happened in Blind House? And what’s happening now? Are the past and present events connected? Blind House blends the lines of horror and thriller, causing the reader to question whether there are ghosts involved, or people out to haunt the ones they hold grudges against. The timelines alternate between different centuries, as we learn the back and forth narrative of what conspired in Blind House, earlier as a hospital and now as a celebrity abode.

I love gothic thrillers, and the premise of Blind House was interesting. Author Jamie-Lee Brooke takes the reader into the world of celebrities – the need for privacy in a very public life, the ego clashes between famous spouses, the fine line between loyalty and jealousy from their staff, the intrusive media. Is confidentiality a good or bad thing when you can’t gossip, but are also legally bound not to speak the truth? The paranormal investigator Megan deals with her own ghosts of the past – an estranged sister, an indifferent mother, the death of a close friend. Blind House raises the question of who the real monsters are – real and imaginary.

The storyline was very interesting, with its dual timelines both centered around the house. The characters are complex and well carved out, causing the reader to trust no one. Blind House falls short in execution – there are too many typos which distract from the story. I found myself reading back several lines to make sense of the sentences. The two segments of past and present are not evenly spaced out and the shifts in timelines are abrupt. Tighter editing would have made the book a much better reading experience. The author had a wonderful story in mind, but it lacks severely on paper. Combining ghost-busting with psychiatry was an ingenious approach towards a common trope of a haunted house. I look forward to reading more from this author and see what else she has in store. And I hope future editions of Blind House are edited better – it’s a good story that could be made into a great book.

My rating – 3/5


Jamie-Lee Brooke is the pen name of Brooke Venables who lives with her twin sons in the Worcestershire area. She is an author of both horror and thrillers and works as a dental nurse which gives her plenty of scope to imagine putting people in uncomfortable situations. She loves her job and takes great satisfaction in helping people to smile.

Jamie-Lee’s biggest achievement to date is graduating after studying with the Open University for six years, achieving a BA Honours in Humanities with classical studies and creative writing. It was no mean feat whilst working and being a mum to twins who both have autism and learning difficulties.

Follow her at:




Ouija by Zoé-Lee O’Farrell – Book Review

Title – Ouija

Author – Zoé-Lee O’Farrell

Genre – Horror

As the title suggests, Ouija offers a spook-fest set around a Ouija board. A perfect pick alongside the Halloween season, debut author Zoé-Lee O’Farrell doesn’t disappoint at all. The novel moves across dual timelines. In the past, the prestigious Rayner High School is met with a scandal involving its principal, following which a teacher massacres several of his colleagues and students. In the present, six friends decide to hold a séance in the now derelict school, hoping to find out what happened all those years ago. Only, they encounter someone (or something) that isn’t one of the victims of the incident. The motley group is now bumped off one by one, and they need to complete the game for the killings to stop. But how do you end the game when the spirits refuse to say ‘Goodbye’?

The Ouija board is a common trope in horror books and movies, and I was curious how the author would approach the subject. I liked the fast-paced narrative – the story picks up from the first page itself, and keeps the reader on the edge of the seat all through. The alternating timelines do not distract, and the author seamlessly blends two different stories, bringing them together in the end. The characters are well developed – each of the six primary characters is a protagonist in their own way; their backgrounds and personalities well defined. It was refreshing that the author didn’t introduce numerous characters just to have more to kill off, but has actually spent time in carving each character. Ouija doesn’t read as a gore fest, and the writing is atmospheric and chilling. The mythology of demons, supernatural occurrences, spirits out to help, entities seeking destruction, haunted dolls, mirrors trying to communicate, the rules of the board – Ouija fells like watching a horror movie with all the tropes done right.

Ouija is a commendable debut novel. It has been marketed as YA, but it reads as adult horror and is recommended to all readers who enjoy the horror genre. Kudos to Zoé-Lee O’Farrell for a well conceived and written first book. I look forward to reading more from her.

My rating – 5/5


Zoé O’Farrell grew up in Watford but left the town life to live by the sea down at the White Cliffs of Dover.
She spends her days working with numbers before escaping in the evening to the world of words and movies. Her go-to relaxation is watching a scary movie or reading a terrifying book!

She is a book blogger and tour organiser just to keep her extra busy. When she is not reading or writing, you can usually find her watching Watford FC or at a gig. Failing that she can be found rolling her eyes at her husband as he acts the same age as her spitfire of a Mini-Me whilst separating her two cats.

Ouija is her debut novel.

She can be reached at:



Website :

Love, Loss and Life in Between – Book Review

Title – Love, Loss and Life in Between

Author – Suzanne Rogerson

Genre – literary fiction, short stories

Love, Loss and Life in Between is a collection of short stories set across various themes in contemporary fiction. The subtitle mistakenly refers to the book as an anthology. It is a compilation of short fiction by the same author. We read about preparing for death, visiting mediums to connect with the dead, domestic violence, single parenthood, losing a child, losing a parent, adopting animals, planting a garden. Suzanne Rogerson covers myriad topics in a collection that addresses grief, hope, building connections and severing ties. The stories range from thriller to supernatural, fantasy and romance.

I loved each of the stories. Rogerson writes beautifully, and her style is warm and concise. The mixed genres make every story different and interesting in its own way. Her way of writing about human emotions and commonplace issues strikes a chord. The collection has something for all readers.

It also includes an excerpt of the author’s fantasy novel, which felt out of place with the rest of the stories, and rather tends to distract from the overall tone of the book.

My rating – 4.5/5


Suzanne lives in Middlesex, England with her husband, two teenagers, a crazy cocker spaniel and an adopted cat that thinks she’s the boss.

Suzanne’s writing journey began at the age of twelve when she completed her first novel. She discovered the fantasy genre in her late teens and has never looked back. Giving up work to raise a family gave her the impetus to take her attempts at novel writing beyond the first draft, and she is lucky enough to have a husband who supports her dream – even if he does occasionally hint that she might think about getting a proper job one day.

Now an author of four novels including the Silent Sea Chronicles trilogy and her debut, Visions of Zarua, Suzanne hopes the dreaded ‘W’ word will never rear its ugly head again!

She loves gardening and has a Hebe (shrub) fetish. She enjoys cooking with ingredients from the garden and regularly feeds unsuspecting guests vegetable-based cakes.

She collects books, is interested in history and enjoys wandering around castles and old ruins whilst being immersed in the past. She likes to combine her love of nature and photography on family walks, but most of all she loves to escape with a great film, binge watch TV shows, or soak in a hot bubble bath with an ice cream and a book.

Social Media Links –









Thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for having me on board the blog blitz, and for sharing a copy of the book.

Mr Magenta – Book Review

Title – Mr Magenta

Author – Christopher Bowden

Genre – Literary mystery

My second book in Christopher Bowden’s literary mystery series, after I read The Purple Shadow last year. Another title that intrigued me, in keeping with the author’s use of colors to name his books.

A city-dweller employed with a prominent law firm, is bequeathed a mansion when his aunt passes away. He reluctantly moves into her small village, leaving his job and ending his relationship with an actress from the city. With nothing else to do but potter around his new inheritance, our protagonist spends time reading books and sorting through his aunt’s stuff. Here’s when he comes across Mr Magenta – just a name in a postcard, but a name that subsequently starts popping up at other places. There are also photographs with their heads cut out, dedications in books, hotel tickets, travel itineraries and theatre pamphlets. Who is Mr Magenta? Does he go by other names, or are those different people? While investigating his aunt’s life after her death, the protagonist also addresses his own life and questions the way he has been living, as he seeks to revisit an old relationship.

Mr Magenta is an interesting literary adventure, that helps the reader unravel the mystery of Mr Magenta, while simultaneously solving the mystery of aunt Flora – who she was, the people she knew, the places she went to. The protagonist Stephen is a well carved out character caught between life and death – using the death of his beloved aunt to build a new life for himself, while also learning about her mysterious life. The secondary characters are enjoyable, as they aid Stephen in his quest of finding Mr Magenta. I loved the sections about books – Stephen being an avid reader and book collector, going through his aunt’s book collection.

A well written mystery with a beautiful cover. The only drawback was that the ending fell flat, after all the build up towards who Mr Magenta is and why he is significant in aunt Flora’s life even after her death. It felt rushed with no clear solution; the narrative continuing into an altogether new direction.

My rating – 4/5


Christopher Bowden lives in south London.  He is the author of six novels, each with a colour theme.  His books have been praised variously by Andrew Marr, Julian Fellowes, Sir Derek Jacobi, and Shena Mackay. Of his third novel, The Red House, Sir Derek said, “Very entertaining, cleverly constructed and expertly paced.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

He can be reached at:



Thanks to Zooloo’s Book Tours for having me on board the blog tour, and for sharing a copy of the book.

Literally Dead – Book Review

Title – Literally Dead: Tales of Halloween Hauntings

Author(s) – Multiple

Editor – Gaby Triana

Genre – Horror, anthology

Literally Dead is the first book in the holiday hauntings series, set around Halloween. Nineteen horror writers come together to create a collection of spooky tales for the Halloween season. There are stories about haunted dresses and shady bookstores, real life monsters and costumed creatures, murder victims and ghostly insects, soldiers of war and civilians affected by war. There are monsters in refrigerators, and serial killers disguised as ghosts; suspicious postcards, and corn fields that harbour more than corn. We read about scavenger hunts to collect ghosts, and ghosts that teach us how to get rid of ghosts; physical entities and demons of the mind. The crew of esteemed authors in the horror genre brings to us an assortment of stories under the theme of hauntings.

With such a narrow theme, I wondered what new ideas the writers would present for Halloween. But each one is outstanding in its own way. The collection covers a range of subjects from war to folklore, including genres of crime and contemporary fiction, with tones ranging from humor to out-and-out horror. Literally Dead brings together common Halloween tropes of haunted houses and spirits to beware of, costumes and candy, memories associated with October 31st that have nothing to do with Halloween, and presents these well worn concepts into a rich anthology of holiday horrors. I loved the touch of Chinese, Ukrainian and Welsh folklore and customs associated with Halloween, contemporary social issues and significant historic moments, nostalgia and beauty associated with a season of darkness.

Some of my favorites were The Ghost Cricket by Lee Murray (a touch of Chinese folklore with a noisy cricket that refuses to be quiet even in death), The Ghost Lake Mermaid by Alethea Kontis (the ghosts of murder victims discuss racism and the law, when the color of your skin decides if your corpse gets justice), Ghosts of Enerhodar by Henry Herz (the ghosts of Ukrainian folklore feature against the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine war), Halloween at the Babylon by Lisa Morton (a theatre patron tries to prevent other guests from becoming ghosts like herself), Ghosts of Candies Past by Jeff Strand (a quirky, sugary fest of long-eaten Halloween treats that return to haunt), Soul Cakes by Catherine McCarthy (the living and dead collide at a special time of the year, under the veil of Welsh folklore), Always October by Jeremy Megargee (about a ghost hunter on the look out for her replacement).

Editor Gaby Triana has done a fabulous job in curating this anthology. A wonderful collection for the spooky season that keeps the reader wanting to read more. It feels like nineteen stories aren’t enough and thirty-one would have been just right – one for each day of the Halloween month. The cover has an old-fashioned vibe with costumed trick-or-treaters and pumpkin baskets, and I love how the book emphasizes the nostalgic aspect of Halloween. There’s a brilliant piece by the cover artist that makes for an equally good read, like the rest of the stories.

Some quotes:

-He didn’t believe in ghosts and haunted houses. Maybe they believed in him.

-You weren’t supposed to run up the stairs of a house that was disproving your assertion that it was not haunted.

-Thoughts crash into my head now; everything falls into place, a well-ordered avalanche.

-An old ghost once told me that if my story faded, I would fade with it.

-The ghostly insect set up a mournful song, the wistful notes as pure and sharp as a mountain stream.

-Are you running from ghosts, or are they running from you?

-Even death couldn’t tame her – if anything, it only seemed to make her more defiant.

-This tradition isn’t to appease her ghost. It’s to keep the ghost in her place.

-Alex had always been a ghost. Long before he died.

-I’d counted twenty-five casseroles. I wondered if they were some kind of charm, or talisman. Bringing something not just to feed the grieving family, but to appease the ghosts.

My rating – 5/5

The Turkey Shed Gang – Book Review

Title – The Turkey Shed Gang

Author – Ruth Young

Genre – Children’s Fiction

Joe has been having a hard time at school. He finds reading difficult, and can’t tell right from left while playing sports. His grandmother is the only one who understands and encourages him. But granny Sal has been getting forgetful lately. This morning she stole a bag of money from the bank, having picked it up assuming it was hers. She confides in Joe, who believes the only way to keep grandma out of prison is for them to run away. Granny Sal was recently bequeathed a sulphur-crested cockatoo by her deceased neighbour, and the bird is promptly taken along for the trip to nowhere.

The story follows the escapades of a child, a senior citizen and a bird, as the unlikely trio get into all sorts of trouble trying to avoid trouble in the first place. Joe’s dyslexia and Sal’s dementia lead to challenges of reading road signs, railway station names, counting money, remembering where to go and what to do. And try as they might to stay low, they are faced with a cockatoo that refuses to stop talking out aloud.

The Turkey Shed Gang is an endearing book about adventures for children. I liked the parts of Joe supporting his single mother by believing he needs to take care of her and grandma, and grandma helping Joe overcome his reading disabilities and focusing on his strengths instead. The story teaches children to be mindful of geriatric ailments, be imaginative and adventurous, and to cultivate a strong social support system. The humor is light and pleasant.

The drawbacks of the book are the significant amounts of grammatical errors and punctuation mistakes. Considering the book is aimed at 7-8 year olds, attention should have been paid towards young readers who are building reading habits and language skills at this age. I would have liked to see more of the Turkey Shed Gang itself since it leads the story, but they hardly occupy much page space besides fleeting references within the larger storyline. The secondary characters aren’t well developed, making the story all about Joe, granny and the bird, and the story often meanders and gets repetitive about them being on the run. Also, the book is pure text with no illustrations, and running over a hundred pages. This might make younger children lose interest while reading a longer story that isn’t captivating throughout.

The Turkey Shed Gang is a good idea of a story that fails in execution.

My rating – 2/5


Ruth Young has been a teacher for a very long time. She loves being in the classroom making learning fun and specialises in teaching reading and spelling.  Now retired, Ruth teaches children with learning difficulties at her home and it doesn’t matter how old they are, she loves to help!

Ruth has always told stories to the children she teaches. Her book, The Turkey Shed Gang, is for 7–8-year-old independent readers. She also writes for dyslexic children in mind so that they can read a book, maybe with a little help, which is age appropriate for them.

When she’s not teaching, Ruth loves walking in the Surrey Hills where she lives with her husband, who is a retired airline Captain. They take every chance to travel worldwide and it’s on trips away that Ruth comes up with her ideas for her books, always scribbling notes down in her purple notebook which she carries everywhere.

Ruth loves baking bread and cakes and is always in the kitchen with her vast collection of cookery books. She has been interviewed by the BBC three times about writing, environmental issues and her work with dyslexic children, and had an article published in a national magazine for parents.

Thanks to Zooloo’s Book Tours and Blossom Spring Publishing for having me on board the blog tour, and for sharing a copy of the book.

Lunar by Steve Simpson – Poetry Book Review

Title – Lunar

Author – Steve Simpson

Genre – Poetry, Speculative fiction

The poetry collection Lunar is one among a set of speculative fiction books, alongside its prose twin of short stories Solar, in The Purpose of Reality series. The innovative creation combines poetry with art, set in a world far removed from ours, but not entirely different. The pieces are disconnected and yet bound, by story, thought and imagination. A Martian princess features in several poems, but the stories are not linked. A detective morphs into various creatures, but he isn’t the alien. Or is he? There’s a peculiar doctor, an interesting take on egg whites, questions and answers on reality and fantasy, time and space, the sun and moon, humans and non-humans. The poems vary in length, from short poetic musings to full blown lengthier stories.

My favorites from the collection include The Detective and Solar Disenchantment, but every poem is excellent in its own way. Lunar is a book that needs to be read many times over; you come out with something new each time, the longer you dwell in Simpson’s world. The lines are beautiful; the author’s command over language is quite exceptional and he impresses with the worlds he creates with words. The imagery, word play, surrealism is outstanding. The words come to life just as the art does – vibrant and magical, real and imagined.

Some quotes:

~I’d never liked my neighbor, who needlessly complained about my midnight bagpipes.

~That summer, no birds flew. They walked, or took the bus and paid half price.

~You’re an acolyte of the darkest arts: logic and science.

~What will you think when you’ve thought all your thoughts?

~The air is curdled and afraid, stinging in my throat.

~We’re made of what we make ourselves.

~Memories, if compressed by force, achieve solidity.

The Purpose of Reality is a set to be read and treasured in paperback/hardcover. I read the e-books, but the digital versions don’t do justice to the wonderful creations – words and images are both a work of art to be admired and soaked in. The cover is just gorgeous, like the contents within. Recommended for readers of speculative fiction, but it’s for just about anyone who loves good writing and visual art.

My rating – 5/5


Steve Simpson lives in Sydney, and he’s never been able to work out exactly what he does, although he would probably feed the cat if he had one. His poetry and short stories have appeared in various magazines and anthologies, and in the visual arts, works created with his image evolution software have been shown at several exhibitions. In the sciences, he’s published over 200 research papers, most recently in clinical neurology, where he’s developed a unique system for visualising mental states via EEG. Awards include the Peter Doherty Innovation Prize, for technology to make vehicles safer.

He can be reached at his pages below:

Website   |  Twitter  | Facebook | Instagram

Thanks to Meerkat Press for having me on board The Purpose of Reality book series blog tour, and for sharing a copy of Lunar and Solar. (My review of the latter will follow shortly.)


RELEASE DATE: September 6, 2022


SOLAR: The Purpose of Reality: Solar – Meerkat Press

LUNAR: The Purpose of Reality: Lunar – Meerkat Press


SOLAR:  Meerkat Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

LUNAR:  Meerkat Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

GIVEAWAY: $50 Meerkat Giftcard


The Favorite Child – Book Review

Title – The Favorite Child

Author – Cathryn Grant

Genre – Psychological thriller

Sunday has always been her parents’ favorite, much to the chagrin of her older siblings. As a child, she got the bigger room facing the sea, private horse riding lessons and access to competitions, exotic vacations, elite schools and colleges. Her younger sister, Annie was oblivious to the resentment, not knowing or caring about Sunday’s privileges. As they grew into adults, the fractured family kept up the pretense of a perfect unit, while jealousy and bitterness simmered beneath the surface.

Now Annie is pregnant, and the parents seem to be completely ignoring Sunday. At the annual family get-together, Sunday goes missing. All her things have disappeared along with her, she doesn’t answer the phone, and her favorite necklace is located near the family house. Sunday’s ex-husband knows something is amiss, but he’s found dead under mysterious circumstances. What happened to the favorite child? Why do her parents act indifferent now, after prioritizing her for decades? No one is bothered whether she’s dead or absconding; the family busying themselves with horse riding and croquet. Why have Annie’s parents suddenly shifted their attention from Sunday to her unborn child?

The Favorite Child is a fast-paced psychological thriller that dissects family dynamics. The narrative moves back and forth from past and present, alternating between the three siblings’ viewpoints as we try to crack the mystery of Sunday’s disappearance. The character development is very good – the eldest brother Jake and his wife Bella, elder sister Collette, younger sister Annie and her husband Michael, the father who runs seminars on family values, and the mother who holds on to every word of his. Cathryn Grant keeps the reader on the edge of our seats, as we attempt to unravel multiple mysteries – Sunday’s disappearance, her fractured relationship with her siblings, her seemingly perfect relationship with her parents that is now questionable, the family’s peculiar interest in Annie’s pregnancy, their obsession with horses, the role of the siblings’ spouses in the extended family. Grant gives us clues along the way, just as Annie puts together parts of the gigantic family jigsaw. When you can’t trust any of the characters, whom do you root for?

I liked Grant’s take on dysfunctional families, especially those who put on an act of normality while rotting at the core; where issues are swept under the carpet instead of addressed and resolved. Her take on sibling rivalry was also interesting – how siblings’ relationships are influenced by the parents’ treatment of each child. The writing kept me engaged throughout, and it almost felt like a gothic thriller as one moves through different rooms and members of the mansion. The only downside was that the ending felt too abrupt after all the build up. Much of the dialogue was repetitive as all the main characters keep telling Annie not to worry about Sunday.

All-in-all, an engaging novel that’s well worth a read.

My rating – 4/5


Cathryn Grant writes psychological thrillers, psychological suspense, and ghost stories. She’s the author of twenty-three novels. She’s loved crime fiction all her life and is endlessly fascinated by the twists and turns, and the dark corners of the human mind.

When she’s not writing, Cathryn reads fiction, eavesdrops, and tries to play golf without hitting her ball into the sand or the water. She lives on the Central California coast with her husband and two cats.

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Thanks to Inkubator Books and Zooloo’s Book Tours for having me on board the blog tour, and for sharing a copy of the book.