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BOOK REVIEW: Moon over Soho  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: Moon over Soho


Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Publisher: Gollancz

RRP: $29.99

ISBN: 9780575097612

Release Date: May 2011

Pages: 384



Description:



Peter Grant is not just a lowly detective Constable, he's also apprenticed to the last wizard in Britain: policing will never be the same again!

The second in the Rivers of London series of urban fantasy/police procedurals featuring Peter Grant.

'When I was a kid, it was my job to change my dad s records while he lounged around and drank tea. This is why I know my Argo from my Tempo and why, when Dr Walid called me down to the morgue to listen to a corpse, I recognised the tune it was playing as 'Body and Soul'. Not literally playing, you understand, but something violently supernatural had happened to the victim on or around his death, something strong enough to leave its imprint on his corpse as if it were a wax cylinder recording. The former owner of the body was one Cyrus Wilkinson, part-time jazz saxophonist and full-time accountant, who dropped dead of a heart attack half an hour after finishing a gig in a Soho jazz club. He wasn't the first.'

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ben Aaronovitch's work reflects his abiding fascination and love for what he modestly likes to refer to as the 'Capital of the World', where he was born and raised. He works as a London bookseller when he is not writing novels and TV scripts.

Review:

Moon Over Soho is a crime fiction novel with an urban fantasy twist. Moon over Soho gives us a much deeper look at London's magical community, such as the defunct school for magic, Nightingale's past, magical involvement in global conflicts, and a circle of dark magicians.

As in the first book, Aaronovitch's fast paced and well crafted characters, witty dialogue and sex and violence to keep you engaged throughout the story.

I can see Aaronovitch’s series being the next big thing, especially for adults who secretly like Harry Potter.

BOOK REVIEW: The Unseen  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: The Unseen


Author: Katherine Webb

Publisher: Orion Fiction

RRP: $29.99

ISBN: 9781409112617

Release Date: May 2011

Pages: 416



Description:



From the author of the acclaimed debut THE LEGACY comes a compelling tale of love, deception and illusion.

England, 1911. The Reverend Albert Canning, a vicar with a passion for spiritualism, leads a happy existence with his naive wife Hester in a sleepy Berkshire village. As summer dawns, their quiet lives are changed for ever by two new arrivals. First comes Cat, the new maid: a free-spirited and disaffected young woman sent down from London after entanglements with the law. Cat quickly finds a place for herself in the secret underbelly of local society as she plots her escape.

Then comes Robin Durrant, a leading expert in the occult, enticed by tales of elemental beings in the water meadows nearby. A young man of magnetic charm and beauty, Robin soon becomes an object of fascination and desire.

During a long spell of oppressive summer heat, the rectory at Cold Ash Holt becomes charged with ambition, love and jealousy; a mixture of emotions so powerful that it leads, ultimately, to murder.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Katherine Webb was born in 1977 and grew up in rural Hampshire before reading History at Durham University. She has since spent time living in London and Venice and now lives in rural Berkshire.

Review:

If you enjoy a good, historical fiction tale, then The Unseen will be a book that you will enjoy. I’ve not read Katherine Webb’s first novel, The Legacy, but after reading The Unseen, I will be keeping an eye out to grab a copy as I found her writing very smooth and enjoyable.

Set in 1911, the story was quite harsh at time due to the setting of London during this time in history. The characters were brilliantly crafted, with some exciting elements for those who like a touch of supernatural.

Great book.

BOOK REVIEW: Outpost  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: Outpost


Author: Adam Baker

Publisher: Hachette

RRP: $29.99

ISBN: 9781444709032

Release Date: May 2011

Pages: 384



Description:

When the end of the world comes, Do you want to be the first to go? Or the last to survive?

They took the job to escape the world. They didn't expect the world to end.

Kasker Rampart: a derelict refinery platform moored in the Arctic Ocean. A skeleton crew of fifteen fight boredom and despair as they wait for a relief ship to take them home.

But the world beyond their frozen wasteland has gone to hell. Cities lie ravaged by a global pandemic. One by one TV channels die, replaced by silent wavebands.

The Rampart crew are marooned. They must survive the long Arctic winter, then make their way home alone. They battle starvation and hypothermia, unaware that the deadly contagion that has devastated the world is heading their way...

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Before writing Outpost, Adam Baker worked as a gravedigger and a film projectionist.

Review:

A dozen people on a mothballed refinery platform, hiding from the real-world and themselves. But when the rest of the world succumbs to a pandemic, they find themselves more alone then even they anticipated and their fight for survival is just beginning. Their enemies are numerous; the ferocious Arctic winter, their dwindling supplies, the grotesque plague victims and, ultimately, themselves.

Of this skeleton crew we get to know just a few in any depth, including Jane the young priest with a personal problem, Punch the young chef with better plans, Rawlins the man in charge, Sian the young administrator seeking adventure, Ghost the Asian 'caretaker', and Nail the diver who likes to pump iron. As we get to know these characters and the few others who play a significant part we learn that almost each one has a past he or she is trying to escape.

Outpost is a well written and a very well paced apocalyptic drama. It is one of those rare novels that captivates from the very first pages, and that with an initially not particularly appealing character. It manages to maintain the drama and build the tension as the plot develops, and as we gradually learn something of nature of the problem that has beset the world.

It is unquestionably a good read, thoroughly engrossing, but it offers little out of the ordinary for this genre; however it you want to kept on the edge of your seat throughout you can't go far wrong with Outpost.

BOOK REVIEW: Mine to Possess  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: Mine to Possess


Author: Nalini Singh

Publisher: Gollancz

RRP: $22.99

ISBN: 97805751500008

Release Date: April 2011

Pages: 352



Description:

Nalini Singh's psy-changeling series returns with another stunning novel.

Clay Bennett is a powerful DarkRiver sentinel, but he grew up in the slums with his human mother, never knowing his changeling father. As a young boy without the bonds of Pack, he tried to stifle his animal nature. He failed...

Talin McKade barely survived a childhood drenched in bloodshed and terror. Now a new nightmare is stalking her life - the street children she works to protect are disappearing and turning up dead. Determined to keep them safe, she unlocks the darkest secret in her heart and steels herself to ask the help of the strongest man she knows...

Clay lost Talin once. He will not let her go again, his hunger to possess her is a clawing need born of the leopard within. As they race to save the innocent, Clay and Talin must face the violent truths of their past, or risk losing everything that ever mattered to them.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nalini Singh was born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand. She spent three years living and working in Japan and travelling around Asia before returning to New Zealand now - although she's always plotting new trips. She has worked as a lawyer, a librarian, a candy factory general hand, a bank temp and an English teacher, not necessarily in that order. Some people might call that inconsistency, but she calls it grist for the writer's mill.

Review:


This is the fourth in Nalini Singh's series of books about the world of the Psy, Changelings and Humans. The first two books "Slave to Sensation" and "Visions of Heat" featured Psy women who escaped from the world of emotionless beings after finding their mates amongst the Changelings big cats. The third book, "Caressed by Ice", took Werewolf Brenna as the heroine and Psy assassin Judd as the hero. This fourth book is the first that introduces a human as one of the main subjects - Talin McKay. Tally is a social worker whose troubled childhood still haunts her - as did her only real friend in her youth, Clay. Clay is a Leopard Changeling and when he killed Tally's abusive foster father and went to prison for the crime Tally disappeared from his life, requesting that he be told she had died in a car accident.

With the very first book in her Psy-Changeling series, Nalini Singh made this reviewer an instant fan! With seemingly effortless world building, she crafted a fascinating universe that is part science fiction, part paranormal, and part suspense - three genres that happen to be among my favorites. Yet through each book, she has kept the romance first and foremost, with stories that never fail to capture the hearts of the reader even as the hero and heroine are finding love with one another.

Mine to Possess exemplifies this perfectly. With Clay Bennett and Talin McKade, Ms. Singh delivers a couple with a long and tormented history. Although separated years earlier, their love for each other never wavered, and each of them do whatever they believe necessary to protect the other at all costs.

I love this series of books by Nalini Singh. This one is wonderful and I can hardly wait for the next one.

BOOK REVIEW: Hostage to Pleasure  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: Hostage to Pleasure


Author: Nalini Singh

Publisher: Gollancz

RRP: $22.99

ISBN: 9780575100039

Release Date: April 2011

Pages: 352



Description:

Nalini Singh's psy-changeling series returns with another stunning novel.

Separated from her son and forced to create a neural implant that will mean the effective enslavement of her psychically gifted race, Ashaya Aleine is the perfect Psy: cool, calm, emotionless...at least on the surface. Inside, she's fighting a desperate battle to save her son and escape the vicious cold of the PsyNet. Yet when escape comes, it leads not to safety, but to the lethal danger of a sniper's embrace.

DarkRiver sniper Dorian Christensen lost his sister to a Psy killer. Though he lacks the changeling ability to shift into animal form, his leopard lives within. And that leopard's rage at the brutal loss is a clawing darkness that hungers for vengeance.

Falling for a Psy has never been on Dorian's agenda. But charged with protecting Ashaya and her son, he discovers that passion has a way of changing the rules...

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nalini Singh was born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand. She spent three years living and working in Japan and travelling around Asia before returning to New Zealand now - although she's always plotting new trips. She has worked as a lawyer, a librarian, a candy factory general hand, a bank temp and an English teacher, not necessarily in that order. Some people might call that inconsistency, but she calls it grist for the writer's mill.

Review:



Hostage To Pleasure starts right where Mine To Possess left off. The DarkRiver clan has paid off it's debt to Ashaya Aleine and have kidnapped her son and hidden him away in their Pack. With her son safe, Ashaya also manages to escape the Council's sphere but her contact had to abandon her in lynx territory.



As the perfect Psy with perfect Silence(Conditioning that rid the Psy of all emotion)designated M-Psy(medical), Ashaya Aleine, has the rare gift of seeing into the human body at the DNA level. This makes her a prime asset to the Psy Council and the implementation of Protocol I. We learned about Protocol I in series book three 'Caressed by Ice' and it's goal essentially is to make all Psy into a hive mind, destroying all individual uniqueness and personality. And like a bee hive, there must be a leader and the fight over this ultimate power is a deadly one. A fight in which Ashaya is unwillingly a part of. In order to ensure Ashaya's cooperation, the Council is holding her son, Keenan, hostage but Ashaya has put into motion a plan that will save her son and hopefully herself. In exchange for helping DarkRiver save two human children from her underground lab, DarkRiver will kidnap her son from the Psy Council.

Ms. Singh is a writer of unparalleled talent. I remain incredibly impressed with her continuing ability to create such unique heroes and heroines. Each and every character in this series, from heroes to villains, is so real, so distinct, when I read the books it is as if they come to life around me. As for the world she creates, Hostage to Pleasure builds on the world Ms. Singh has established in previous books, but surprised me yet again with the twists and complications that arose.

BOOK REVIEW: Branded By Fire  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: Branded By Fire


Author: Nalini Singh

Publisher: Gollancz

RRP: $22.99

ISBN: 978057510053

Release Date: May 2011

Pages: 368



Description:

Nalini Singh's psy-changeling series returns with another stunning novel.

Though DarkRiver sentinel Mercy is feeling the pressure to mate, she savagely resists when Riley Kincaid, a lieutenant from the SnowDancer pack, tries to possess her. The problem is not simply that he pushes her buttons; the problem is that he's a wolf, she's a cat and they're both used to being on top.

But when a brilliant changeling researcher is kidnapped from DarkRiver territory, Mercy and Riley must work together to track the young man - before his shadowy captors decide he's no longer useful.

Along the way, the two dominants may find that submitting to one another uncovers not just a deadly conspiracy, but a passion so raw that it'll leave them both branded by fire...

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nalini Singh was born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand. She spent three years living and working in Japan and travelling around Asia before returning to New Zealand now - although she's always plotting new trips. She has worked as a lawyer, a librarian, a candy factory general hand, a bank temp and an English teacher, not necessarily in that order. Some people might call that inconsistency, but she calls it grist for the writer's mill.

Review:

Branded by Fire is the sixth book in the Psy Changeling series by author Nalini Singh. If you are a follower of this paranormal series already, then you know what to expect and won’t be disappointed at all. Singh continues the storyline and plot of the series with focus on particular characters in each book. Branded by Fire starts out with some fireworks as Mercy, a top sentinel in the Dark River leopard pack, has a hot forbidden interlude with Riley, the second to the alpha of the Snow Dancer wolf pack. She is a dominant alpha female in her pack which makes her fear that she will never find a mate because she would need someone more dominant than her and she doesn’t think she would be able to submit to a mate the way she would need to. Riley is a stubborn, protective, by-the-rules man who is helplessly drawn to Mercy’s fiery personality. He grew up taking care of his younger siblings and is now the highest ranking lieutenant in the Snow Dancer pack, so he can’t imagine having a mate like Mercy who insists on taking care of herself.

This is also the instalment with more information about Sienna and Hawke so it's just impossible not to love it as we have been waiting to read more about them since the beginning. Many surprises and huge turns develop as well. I believe this is the most important book in the series as what plot is concern. Many changes are coming and you can see how things are not going to be the same any more.

BOOK REVIW: The Rogue  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: The Rogue


Author: Trudi Canavan

Publisher: Orbit

RRP: $32.99

ISBN: 9780356500164

Release Date: May 2011

Pages: 512



Description:

The next compelling instalment in Trudi Canavan's latest epic series, the bestselling Traitor Spy trilogy.

Living among the Sachakan rebels, Lorkin does his best to learn about them and their unique magic. But the Traitors are reluctant to trade their knowledge for the Healing they so desperately want and, while he assumes they fear revealing their existence to the world, there are hints they have bigger plans.

Sonea searches for the rogue, knowing that Cery cannot avoid assassination for ever, but the rogue's influence over the city's underworld is far greater than she feared. His only weakness is the loss of his mother, now locked away in the Lookout.

In Sachaka, Dannyl has lost the respect of the Sachakan elite for letting Lorkin join the Traitors. The Ashaki's attention has shifted, instead, to the new Elyne Ambassador, a man Dannyl knows all too well. And in the University, two female novices are about to remind the Guild that sometimes their greatest enemy is found within.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Trudi Canavan lives in the Melbourne suburb of Ferntree Gully. As well as writing fantasy, she works as a freelance designer and illustrator, and is Art Director for an Australian SFF magazine.

Previous Books:

The Ambassador's Mission, The Magician's Apprentice, The Novice, The Magicians' Guild, The High Lord, Priestess of the White

Review:

The Rogue, the second book in Trudi Canavan's Traitor Spy Trilogy, picks up right where The Ambassador's Mission left off. I thoroughly enjoyed this book despite a slightly slowish start and found myself myself drawn in and getting to the last page surprisingly quickly. A great second book to the series and I look forward to the concluding novel Traitor Queen

The novel and series are full of magic and mystery in a fantasy realm. In this book really I enjoyed the journey back to the Magicians and Theives guilds, with some favourite characters like Cery popping up along the way.

If you're new to the series, I'd recommend reading the first book in the Magicians series and following the series to this book in the later Traitor Spy series, or you won't get the full effect of this book. Just like most series, reading a middle book without reading the initial ones won't give you a great read. You could just read Book 1 in the Traitor Spy Trilogy, but I'd recommend starting at Book 1 in the Magicians Guild series and working your way to this book, for a full enjoyment of all the books.

If you have been following both series, and enjoyed them, then you'll probably love this book too.

BOOK REVIEW: Rosebush  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: Rosebush


Author: Michelle Jaffe

Publisher: Atom

RRP: $18.99

ISBN: 9781907410383

Release Date: March 2011

Pages: 336



Description:

A dark, sexy psychological thriller from a fantastic new voice in YA fiction.

Jane is found, near death, in a rosebush - a victim of hit and run. But as she s convalescing she realizes that her friends stories and her memories of what happened that night aren t adding up.

And now the only thing she does know is that one of her friends isn t so friendly.

One of them tried to kill her.

Sometimes the truth is a very thorny thing. . .

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michele Jaffe is the bestselling author several adult novels, including the thrillers BAD GIRL and LOVERBOY. A native of Los Angeles, California, Michele and her sparkly shoes reside in New York City.

Review:

Jane Freeman is one of the most popular girls in school…so why did someone hate her badly enough to run over her and leave her for dead in a rosebush?

When Jane awakens, paralyzed, in a hospital bed, she has no memory of the accident or the hours before. As time passes with nothing to do but think, she begins to piece together her memories of the night she was nearly murdered—and realizes that just about any of the visitors filing into her room could be the killer. Soon she is receiving thinly-veiled threats that her mother and doctors believe are simply hallucinations caused by her injuries. But Jane knows the killer is out there, waiting for a chance to finish the job. Can she stop him/her in time.

It seems that everyone has a secret to hide and that makes them seem even more like suspects. Well almost everyone is a suspect except for my favorite character her sister Annie, who has a barbie doll that she thinks is a man trapped in a woman's body. All the clues come together and the answer to the mystery surprised me.

The beauty in this book is that Jane is slowly being driven mad but at the same time discovering important information about people she thought she knew. Jane seems to learn more about herself in the hospital room then she ever did among the popular crowd. This is a truly engrossing mystery with a flawed but beginning to change narrator.

BOOK REVIEW: Gillespie And I  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: Gillespie And I


Author: Jane Harris

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

RRP: $32.99

ISBN: 9780571238279

Release Date: June 2011



Description:

As she sits in her Bloomsbury home, with her two birds for company, elderly Harriet Baxter sets out to relate the story of her acquaintance, nearly four decades previously, with Ned Gillespie, a talented artist who never achieved the fame she maintains her deserved.

Back in 1888, the young, art-loving, Harriet arrives in Glasgow at the time of the International Exhibition. After a chance encounter she befriends the Gillespie family ands oon becomes a fixture in all of their lives. But when tragedy strikes - leading to a notorious criminal trial - the promise and certainties of this world all too rapidly disorientate into mystery and deception.

Featuring a memorable cast of characters, infused with atmosphere and period detail, and shot through with wicked humour, Gillespie and I is a tour de force from an emerging writer.

About Jane Harris

Jane Harris was born in Belfast and brought up in Glasgow. In 2007, she was shortlisted for the British Book Awards Waterstone's Newcomer of the Year and the South Bank Show Times Breakthrough Award. Her debut novel, The Observations, was shortlisted for the 2007 Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction. She lives in London with her husband Tom.



Review:



Gillespie and I is a great novel narrated by the character, Harriet Baxter an elderly English woman embarking in 1933 upon the memoir of an artist.

The story is about an artist, Ned Gillespie, who committed suicide at the age of 36, forty years prior to the author’s recount of his life. But Baxter also intertwines her story from 1888 and the international exhibition in Glasgow, where the young Harriet has come for distraction after the death of her aunt to recounts of Gillespie’s friends and family. By chance she makes the acquaintance of the Gillespie family, an extended clan who live close by her lodgings.

Harris is a fine storyteller and controls the twists, turns and pace of her plot with expertise.

BOOK REVIEW: Liar  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: Liar


Author: Justine Larbalestier

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

RRP: $16.99

ISBN: 9781742375380

Release Date: March 2011

Pages: 360



Description:



Secrets, lies, murder and betrayal.

Micah Wilkins is a liar. But when her boyfriend, Zach, dies under brutal circumstances, the shock might be enough to set her straight. Or maybe not. Especially when lying comes as naturally to her as breathing. Was Micah dating Zach? Did they kiss? Did she see him the night he died? And is she really hiding a family secret? Where does the actual truth lie?

Liar is a breathtaking roller-coaster read that will have you grasping for the truth until the very last page. Honestly.

Awards

Winner, 2010 Davitt Award for best Australian Women's Crime Writing - Children's/YA

Winner, 2009 Western Australia Premier's Literary Award - Young Adult

Winner, Fellowship of Australian Writers (FAW) Christina Stead Award 2009

Shortlisted, 2010 Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year - Older Readers

Included in International Youth Library's The White Ravens 2010, an annual selection of outstanding books for children and young adults

Shortlisted, 2010 Queensland Premier's Literary Awards (Young Adult)

Shortlisted, 2010 NSW Premier's Literary Award - Ethel Turner Prize

Shortlisted, 2010 Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) Book of the Year for Older Children 2010

Shortlisted, 2010 Inky Award

Shortlisted, Locus Award, Young Adult novel

A Bank Street Children's Book of the Year

A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year

About Justine Larbalestier

Justine Larbalestier was born and raised in Sydney and is the author of the Magic or Madness trilogy, How to Ditch Your Fairy and Liar , which won the YA Western Australian Premiers book award, the YA Sisters in Crime Davitt Award and was shortlisted for the CBCA Older Readers award, among many other honours. Justine also edited a scholarly collection of feminist science fiction in the twentieth century, Daughters of Earth, and is co-editor, with Holly Black, of Zombies vs Unicorns. She is married to YA author Scott Westerfeld and they divide their time between Sydney and New York City. Liar is the novel that messed with her mind for five years. Now it can mess with yours.



Review:

With so many accoaides to the author's name I had to read this book to find out for myself how good the book, writing and author was. I found the story a well written and fast paced read that lived up to my expectations. The narrator starts of her story by telling you that she is is a liar, but that that she won't lie to you, the reader. For some reason, I found that a bit hard to believe, a compulsive liar was going to be truthful to little old me. Had to read on to find out just how much she was going to fib to me and how interesting the lie was going to be. The narration of this novel transits back and forth in time, giving you glimpses of Micah's life before and after the mysterious death of Zach -- as well as occasional forays into the strange background of Micah's life and family. Then, Micah will suddenly confess that half of what she told you was a lie and revisit the previous events to give you the true story. For real this time, she promises you.

By the time the story takes an unbelievable twist, you've already suspected it and seen it coming, so you believe it totally. And then, once all the details have been fleshed out for you, you wonder if she's fooled you again .

A great read, not just for the YA audiance but anyone who enjoys a good story.

BOOK REVIEW: Honour and the Sword  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: Honour and the Sword


Author: A.L.Berridge

Publisher: Penguin

RRP: $24.95

ISBN: 978014104739

Release Date: March 2011

Pages: 532



Description:

A MAN WITHOUT HONOUR IS NO MAN AT ALL . . .



France, 1636. The Thirty Years War rages across Europe, and a bloody and brutal campaign begins as Spanish armies flood into Picardy.

In their way lies the border village of Dax-en-roi. The Chevalier de Roland rallies a valiant defence, but his household guard are slaughtered, his estate burned and his life forfeit. Only one survivor escapes the invaders' butchery: the Chevalier's son, and lone heir to the Roland name. But André de Roland is little more than a boy. What can someone so young do against so many?

Yet Andre is determined to save his people from the savagery of their invaders. He will uphold the honour of the Roland name – to the death!

HONOUR AND SWORD is a sweeping and epic novel of love and heroism, betrayal and courage in the fine tradition of Alexandré Dumas.

Review:

Honour and the Sword by A L Berridge was a uniquely written book with the story being told by many view points and characters. I enjoyed the action and thrills that Berridge took the reader on over the course of the book.

Set in France in 1636, this book follows the Thirty Years war that ran across the Europe seeing the Spanish armies flooding into Picardy. The story of a heir to the throne, Andre de Roland takes a good portion of the story up and is quite interesting.

BOOK REVIEW: No Time For Fear  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: No Time For Fear


Author: Paul de Gelder

Publisher: Penguin

RRP: $29.95

ISBN: 9781921518577

Release Date: April 2011



Description:



IMPROVISE.



ADAPT.



OVERCOME.



These three words – the mantra of the Australian Army – resonated with Paul de Gelder the first time he heard them. Paul chased adventure wherever he could find it, from his wild ride as a hoodlum teen and his drug-and-alcohol fuelled stint working in a strip club to hauling his way up to the elite echelons of the defence forces.



But trouble hunted him down in the form of a brutal shark in February 2009. Paul lost two limbs, and his career as a daredevil navy clearance diver was flung into jeopardy. Drawing on everything his eventful life had taught him, Paul left nothing to chance in his recovery. He fought through excruciating pain, smashing challenge after challenge, and amazing the medical staff with his will to succeed. His inspiring story takes 'never say die' to a whole new level.



Review:

No Time to Fear is a very inspirational autobioraghpy about an amazing guy, Paul de Gelder. The recount of how a bull shark savagely mauled this Australian Army officer. While this event changed Gelder’s life, there are also accounts of his rebellious life prior to enlisting in the armed forces.

There are some pretty horrific photos in the centre of the book of Gelder’s mutilated arm and leg, so I wouldn’t flick through the pictures with your kids.

This book is a great and truly inspirational.

BOOK REVIEW: The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod 12th Grade Kills  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod 12th Grade Kills


Author: Heather Brewer

Publisher: Penguin

RRP: $19.95

ISBN: 9780525422242

Release Date: March 2011



Description:



IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS.



Part vampire, Vlad, is running out of time. The Elysian Council has given him only weeks to live, and that's if the Slayer Society doesn't kill him - along with all the citizens of Bathory - first. Then there's the issue of Vlad's father, who may or may not still be alive after all these years. And can Vlad recognise Snow as more than just a snack? Oh yeah, and that tiny little detail in the Pravus prophecy about Vlad enslaving Vampirekind and the human race. So much for college applications.



In this epic finale to Heather Brewer's heart-stopping Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, dark secrets will be revealed, old friends will become enemies, and warm blood will run cold. Just be careful it isn't yours.

vladtod.com

Visit the author online at heatherbrewer.com for blogs, forums, minion bling and more . . .

Review:

I love Heather Brewer's writing. LOVE it. I read each of these books in less than entire day. This book is a piece of pure genius....however, the ending drives me insane. For one, what purpose does it serve that Nelly died? Granted, it gives her some points for making the reader feel certain emotions...but this was just too far.

Brewer really delivered with kick ass action, jokes, and plenty of blood that would make Sweeney Tod looks like a Disney, well something along those lines. But I still can't accept -though I'm sure in time I will- that this is the final book.

I love Vladimir, he's probably the most relatable character I've read all year and I'm glad that we got the chance to meet. This book had more death than I expected, and I was really upset when Snow died leaving Vlad more alone than he had ever felt before, but to then kill off Nelly as well - that was just wrong. It isn't until the very end of the book that you are able to smile just a little more after all the killing. I was happy that Henry and Joss survived - that did make me smile.

Overall, I enjoyed the series, and this is a series that I will consider reading again

BOOK REVIEW: If You Ask Me(And Of Course You Won’t)  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: If You Ask Me(And Of Course You Won’t)


Author: Betty White

Publisher: Random House

RRP: $32.95

ISBN: 9781864712902

Release Date: May 2011



Description:

It-girl Betty White delivers a hilarious, slyly profound take on love, life, celebrity, and everything in between.



Drawing from a lifetime of lessons learned, seven-time Emmy winner Betty White's wit and wisdom take center stage as she tackles topics like friendship, romantic love, aging, television, fans, love for animals, and the brave new world of celebrity. If You Ask Me mixes her thoughtful observations with humorous stories from a seven- decade career in Hollywood. Longtime fans and new fans alike will relish Betty's candid take on everything from her rumored crush on Robert Redford (true) to her beauty regimen ("I have no idea what color my hair is and I never intend to find out") to the Facebook campaign that helped persuade her to host Saturday Night Live despite her having declined the hosting job three times already.



Featuring all-new material, with a focus on the past fifteen years of her life, If You Ask Me is funny, sweet, and to the point-just like Betty White.

Review:

If you like Betty White and her sense of humour, then you will no doubt enjoy this autobiography. "If You Ask Me" is a collection of the author's thoughts on many different subjects. She talks about Hollywood, health, and my favorite subject, pets. You really get to understand what a down to earth person Betty White is. She discusses the Mary Tyler Moore Show, the Golden Girls and Hot in Cleveland. You get to hear her feelings about Saturday Night Live and the Snickers commercial. There are tons of funny and touching stories!

As much as I loved Here We Go Again, it was nice to read Betty's thoughts on this part of her career such as hosting Saturday Night Live and Hot In Cleveland. She comes across as so humble and down-to-earth that it's hard not to love Betty White.

BOOK REVIEW: Pig Boy  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: Pig Boy


Author: J.C.Bourke

Publisher: Random House

RRP: $18.95

ISBN: 9781741663129

Release Date: May 2011



Description:



An unmissable novel from the award-winning author of THE STORY OF TOM BRENNAN

DESCRIPTION OF BOOK

On Damon Styles's eighteenth birthday, he is expelled from school. But it's what happens afterwards that changes everything.



Now Damon must come up with a plan. It's the only way he can think straight. First, get his firearms licence. Then, see if the Pigman will give him a job - pig hunting will teach Damon what he needs to know. And he’d better get a lock for his wardrobe so his mother won't find what he's hiding.



Damon’s taking matters into his own hands - but so is the town of Strathven.



A confronting, powerful story for young adults in the vein of J.C. Burke’s CBCA award-winner THE STORY OF TOM BRENNAN.

Review:

Pig Boy by J.C.Burke is about a young boy, Damon, who is bullied at school. Unlike most victims, he is also aggressive and not a very pleasant boy. He is also quite smart, but lacks self confidence and self esteem so he escapes from his insular small town to his room, making lists and playing violent computer games. Likewise his mother has retreated to the house living in front of the tv and eating junk food.

With such a troubled background it is no surprise that he is expelled from school and eventually finds work with the 'pig man', an isolated character who has his own violent past. The pig man is just that, a man who hunts wild pigs. Damon joins him learning far more than just the skills of hunting.

This is a complex story which I would highly recommend for teenage boys.

BOOK REVIEW: Maximum Ride: Angel  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: Maximum Ride: Angel


Author: James Patterson

Publisher: Random House

RRP: $24.95

ISBN: 9780099544470

Release Date: Marcy 2011



Description:



The seventh novel in the bestselling Maximum Ride series

DESCRIPTION OF BOOK

Is this the end of Max and Fang, and the beginning of Max and Dylan? Only Angel knows.



Maximum Ride and her friends have always had each other’s backs because they can’t trust anyone else. No. Matter. What. But now the flock is up against a threat unlike any they’ve ever faced and, just when they need each other the most, Fang is gone. He’s creating his own gang that will replace everyone – including Max.



Max is heartbroken over losing Fang, her soulmate, her best friend. The one she thought would always be there for her. Could it be that she really is destined to be with Dylan? He’s proven that he’ll do anything for her, and she can’t deny that there’s an intensity about him that draws her in. As the flock race to Paris to stop a terrifying cult intent on exterminating the human race, she has no choice but to trust him.

Review:

I think I enjoyed this book more than all the others. While quite a few new characters are introduced, to me, they didn't detract from the story but added more action and a bit more depth. The love triangle fight between Max, Fang and Dylan was a good add as well (although I admit, I suppose I'm still getting used to lovey-dovey Max as opposed to the side that just likes to kick butt and take names but as it's mentioned in the books, the girl is changing...guess I need to get with the program, xD).

I suppose my favorite part would have to be the One Light/Doomsday Group rally held at Ella's school. Not sure if the obsession of the characters to the cause was supposed to be funny or not, but I got many a good laugh from that; I'm still chuckling about it!

Fast-paced, exciting, and not just 300 pages of Max whining about Fang and Angel. I also loved the addition of Fang's flock, and Dylan not being a d-bag. I must say I'm becoming a big fan of Dylan-Max.

BOOK REVIEW: The Emerald Atlas  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: The Emerald Atlas


Author: John Stephens

Publisher: Random House

RRP: $24.95

ISBN: 9780857530196

Release Date: April 2011

Description:

The first thrilling book in the most exciting children's fantasy series since Harry Potter and His Dark Materials.

DESCRIPTION OF BOOK

The first thrilling book in the most exciting children's fantasy series since Harry Potter and His Dark Materials.

They were taken from their beds one frozen night, when the world was covered in snow. The silhouette of a tall, thin man has haunted Kate ever since.

Ten years on, Kate, Michael and Emma have grown up in a string of miserable orphanages, and all memories of their parents have faded to a blur. Arriving at Cambridge Falls, where the rolling fog distorts their sense of time and the town is eerily silent, the children quickly realise there is something different about this place – and Kate feels sure she has seen the dark, crooked house before.

Exploring the house, they discover an old, empty leather book. The moment they touch it, an ancient magical prophecy is set irrevocably in motion, and the children are thrown into a dangerous alternate reality of dark enchantments, terrifying monsters, noble dwarves and entire cities buried beneath the earth. Only they can prevent the terrible event that will ruin Cambridge Falls – and stop the world from falling into complete devastation.

Review:

After 10 years of being bounced from one orphanage to the next, Kate, Michael, and Emma have seen it all. At least they thought they had before they are sent to their latest orphanage. There they find themselves the only children in the big, rambling mansion, and they also discover a mysterious blank book. By chance, one of the children drops an old photograph onto a blank page in the book, and the children suddenly find themselves back in time at the scene of the picture.

One night three children were awakened by their parents and sent away; this began Kate, Emma and Michael being sent from one orphanage to another for 10 years. Uppermost in their minds through the years is their desire to find their mother and father again.

When they are sent to Cambridge Falls (a hidden, magical island), they find a strange green book. When a photograph is dropped on a page, they suddenly find themselves transported back in time where The Countess is holding the village children hostage while their parents are forced to look for The Emerald Atlas.

Kate, Emma and Michael find out that their strange book is The Emerald Atlas; the problem is that the book disappears and they must find it again to return to their own time. In the search for it, they are separated, captured, transported, meet the wizard, Dr. Pym, and, to Michael’s joy, meet a tribe of dwarfs.

The Emerald Atlas is an entertaining blend of fantasy and time travel; it is full of interesting characters and adventures. It is a very good fantasy for middle grade children and is also enjoyable for adults who enjoy epic fantasies. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series to see what happens next to Kate, Emma and Michael

BOOK REVIEW: Faerie Winter  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: Faerie Winter


Author: Janni Lee Simner

Publisher: Random House

RRP: $18.95

ISBN: 9781742750682

Release Date: May 2011



Description:



Here at last is the sequel to BONES OF FAERIE, for all those fans of dark fantasy and dystopian adventure who thrilled to Janni Lee Simner's unique vision of a postapocalyptic world infused with magic.

DESCRIPTION OF BOOK

The war has been over for 40 years, and finally Liza's town is accepting children born with fairy talents. Then a nearby town is destroyed, and Liza discovers that the war might not be over after all. It seems some faeries survived and have crossed over into the human world to continue the fight. And the most powerful and merciless of them all-the Queen herself-may be among them...

Liza is a Summoner. She can draw life to herself, even from beyond the grave. And because magic works both ways, she can drive life away. Months ago, she used her powers to banish her dangerous father and to rescue her mother, lost in dreams, from the ruined land of Faerie.

Born in the wake of the war between humanity and Faerie, Liza lived in a world where green things never slept, where trees sought to root in living flesh and bone. But now the forests have fallen silent. Even the evergreens' branches are bare. Winter crops won't grow, and the threat of starvation looms. And deep in the forest a dark, malevolent will is at work. To face it, Liza will have to find within herself something more powerful than magic alone.



Born in the wake of the war between humanity and Faerie, Liza lived in a world where green things never slept, where trees sought to root in living flesh and bone. But now the forests have fallen silent. Even the evergreens’ branches are bare. Winter crops won't grow, and the threat of starvation looms. And deep in the forest a dark, malevolent will is at work. To face it, Liza will have to find within herself something more powerful than magic alone.

REVIEWS

‘An incredible sequel to one of my very favourite books.’ Aprilynne Pike, number-one NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of WINGS



‘This book has one of the best first chapters I know - and the rest of the book more than lives up to its promise. Pure, stunning, it is impossible to put down or forget.’ Jane Yolen, winner of the World Fantasy Award



‘With its dark, sharply imagined world, this will appeal to readers of Holly Black and Cassandra Clare.’ KIRKUS



‘The plotting is strong, and readers will want to stay with Liza until her questions are resolved.’ PUBLISHERS WEEKLY



‘The mood is strikingly dark, and questions regarding mankind's tendency toward suspicion and xenophobia will loom large in readers' minds.’ BOOKLIST



‘The faerie elements blend seamlessly with the post-apocalyptic setting, and the resulting fantasy and science fiction hybrid will easily appeal to both audiences.’ THE BULLETIN OF THE CENTER FOR CHILDREN’S BOOKS



‘ . . . think of it as a cross between a Neil Gaiman fairy tale and apocalyptic fiction.’ THE POISONED PEN



‘Simner perfectly captures the sense of danger with her stark prose and ratchets up the tension as readers slowly begin to unravel the terrible truth of what happened to the land of Faerie during the war. The characters are well drawn, and the resolution is deftly handled, being both satisfying and firmly grounded in Liza's emotional reality. Fans of Lois Lowry's . . . THE GIVER will thoroughly enjoy this novel.’

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

Review:

Janni Lee Simner's book Faerie Winter is the sequel to the post apocalyptic fantasy Bones of Faerie. BONES OF FAERIE was more of Liza's, the narrator, coming of age in an America ravaged by magic from a past war between humans and the faerie. She also had to deal with her deepest fear: magic, especially since her overbearing father shunned anyone who was born with any magical potential, including her own sister. But the truth was that every child born after the War had some type of power, including Liza herself.

The world in this series is dangerous, plants draw blood, creatures can attack on whim and it is filled with magic and mythical creatures. Liza has come to terms with her magic, the ability to compel people and animals with her voice. She uses this ability with her friend Matthew, who can transform into a wolf, to help the lingering dead cross over. She has learned that not all faerie are evil.

Dystopian themes along with stories featuring faeries can grow weary. They are so popular right now that we’ve seen dozens upon dozens of similar stuff produced, each trying to be more clever than the next to make their world a different shiny, unique butterfly. But what makes Ms. Simner’s world so compelling to me is that she doesn’t try. She doesn’t try to beat you over the head to show you how awesome and unique her world is. There’s such a subtlety in her writing and an effortlessness in the way everything is weaved together that you sink in and simply become immersed in it.

BOOK REVIEW: The Ivory Rose  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: The Ivory Rose


Author: Belinda Murrell

Publisher: Random House

RRP: $15.95

ISBN: 9781742750712

Release Date: Ma7 2011



Description:

An ivory rose charm is the beginning of a terrifying adventure in 1890s Sydney in this gothic ghost story - another thrilling time slip tale for girls from best-loved author Belinda Murrell.

DESCRIPTION OF BOOK

Jemma has just landed her first job, babysitting Sammy. It's in Rosethorne, one of the famous witches' houses near where she lives. Sammy says the house is haunted by a sad little girl, but Jemma doesn't know what to believe.



One day when the two girls are playing hide and seek, Jemma discovers a rose charm made of ivory. As she touches the charm she sees a terrifying flashback. Is it the moment the ghost was murdered? Jemma runs for her life, falling down the stairs and tumbling into unconsciousness.



She wakes up in 1895, unable to get home. Jemma becomes an apprentice maidservant at Rosethorne - but all is not well in the grand house. Young heiress Georgiana is constantly sick. Jemma begins to suspect Georgiana is being poisoned, but who would poison her, and why? Jemma must find the proof in order to rescue her friend - before time runs out.

REVIEWS

'This book is amazing … It had me on my edge for days after I'd read it! To fans of Belinda, this book is a must!' Grace, age 12



'I loved it! A page turner.' Alice, age 13



'I found that this book was thrilling and that I could relate to the characters in the book, especially Jemma. Once I got into it I would stay up late at night reading, to find out what happened next. I learnt about how people would have dressed, talked, walked and acted in the 1900s.' Hannah, age 12



Praise for THE RUBY TALISMAN:

* 'THE RUBY TALISMAN possesses all the hallmarks of a classic adventure novel. The action is fast-paced, the characters gutsy, the settings enticing and the danger ever present. Through the many twists and turns, Murrell never loses sight of her aims to entertain and enthrall. Highly recommended for ages nine and above.' THE SUN HERALD

* 'A real page turner. THE RUBY TALISMAN is another excellent time-slip story from Belinda Murrell.' THE READING STACK

Review:

I found that this book was thrilling and that I could relate to the characters in the book, especially Jemma. Once I got into it I would stay up late at night reading, to find out what happened next. I learnt about how people would have dressed, talked, walked and acted in the 1900s.

Jemma lives in Annandale, Sydney and is very excited about her new job babysitting Sammy, a young girl who lives in Rosethorne, also known as one of the Witches Houses. It is during a game of Hide and Seek and the finding of a small ivory rose pendant, that Jemma sees something disturbing. She flees from the vision but falls down the stairs and is knocked unconscious. When she wakes, she is still in Annandale but it’s 1895. She is rescued by a young Irish lad called Ned and taken to the Rosethorne and offered work as an apprentice maidservant. It’s here she meets the young heiress, Georgiana, who is constantly sick. The two become friends but Jemma soon has her suspicions about why a young girl would be so ill and that perhaps it has something to do with the frightening vision she saw just before her fall down the stairs. This is not only a fascinating glimpse back in time to the Sydney of 1895 but it is a well-written, intriguing mystery driven by a feisty, curious Jemma, who, even in the face of danger, isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes is right.

BOOK REVIEW: Laws of Magic 6: Hour of Need  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: Laws of Magic 6: Hour of Need


Author: Michael Pryor

Publisher: Random House

RRP: $17.95

ISBN: 9781714663105

Release Date: 02/05/11



Description:

The earth-shattering final book of the LAWS OF MAGIC series!

DESCRIPTION OF BOOK

Aubrey Fitzwilliam, renegade and traitor. Instead of clearing his name in Albion, Aubrey has chosen to pursue his enemy, Dr Mordecai Tremaine, deep into the heart of enemy territory. What he uncovers about Dr Tremaine's plans promises to change the course of the war and the future of humanity itself. A hideous combination of electrical science and soul-shattering magic is bringing the world far closer to the edge of the abyss than anyone apart from Aubrey realises.



Aubrey must risk everything, or there'll be no world left to save.

REVIEWS

PRAISE FOR LAWS OF MAGIC 5:

* 'Incredibly addictive … They're truly a seriously great read.' nancyversusdevil.blogspot.com/

* 'The Laws of Magic are a steampunk junkie's delight.' Natlie Hatch, weloveya.wordpress.com

* 'Fans won't be disappointed as Pryor's storytelling continues to deliver. Yes there is magic between the covers of this book.' thereadingstack.blogspot.com

* 'Political intrigue and adventure abound in this tale of high adventure with plenty of wit and a touch of romance … readers will enjoy it for its intelligence, humour and first class storytelling.' FICTION FOCUS

* 'Like its predecessors it is a clever blend of wry humour, action and intrigue. With parallels with real-world history, likeable characters and an absorbing plot, this is fantasy as it should be done … Great stuff for teens and adults.' Sally Murphy, aussiereviews.com

Review:

Michael Pryor’s Laws of Magic, Hour of Need the sixth and last book set in a fantasy world reminiscent of the pre-World War 1 era of our own history. Typical to a steampunk novel the world has added magic and steampunk technology. Each novel in this series picks up from where the previous book left off, so it’s best to read these novels in order.

Hour of Need begins with Aubrey Fitzwilliam, the protagonist of the series, in hostile territory, spying on his enemy, Doctor Mordecai Tremaine, a powerful sorcerer bent on achieving immortality at the cost of thousands of innocent lives. After discovering just how terrifying Tremaine’s plans are, Aubrey and his friends embark on a perilous mission to stop him, which sees them confront – among other dangers – front-line trench warfare and an aerial dirigible battle.

This is a nice tidy closure to a brilliant series and I highly recommend it if you’ve enjoyed the previous five books.

BOOK REVIEW: Stories I Only Tell My Friends  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: Stories I Only Tell My Friends


Author: Rob Lowe

Publisher: Random House

RRP: $35.00

ISBN: 9780593067260

Release Date: 10/05/11

Pages:



Description:

An astonishing memoir by one of Hollywood's top actors

DESCRIPTION OF BOOK

A wryly funny and moving account of an extraordinary life lived almost entirely in the public eye.

Teen idol at fifteen, international icon and founder of the Brat Pack at twenty, and one of Hollywood's top stars to this day, Rob Lowe chronicles his experiences as a painfully misunderstood child actor in Ohio uprooted to the wild counterculture of mid-seventies Malibu, where he embarked on his unrelenting pursuit of a career in Hollywood.

The Outsiders placed Lowe at the birth of the modern youth movement in the entertainment industry. During his time on The West Wing, he witnessed the surreal nexus of show business and politics both on the set and in the actual White House. And in between are deft and humorous stories of the wild excesses that marked the eighties, leading to his quest for family and sobriety.

Never mean-spirited or salacious, Lowe delivers unexpected glimpses into his successes, disappointments, relationships, and one-of-a-kind encounters with people who shaped our world over the last twenty-five years. These stories are as entertaining as they are unforgettable.

Review:

I was never a big Rob Lowe fan until I saw him in Wayne’s World and then in Stephen King’s The Stand. It was his diversity of roles that made me really appreciate how great an actor he was. I was so amazed at the people he's met: Liza Minelli -when he was not even a teenager, Darryl Hannah as a teenager before she was famous, John Kennedy, Jr., Lucille Ball, and the most amazing one I thought was that he dated Cary Grant's daughter. He also talks about his affair with Princess Stephanie of Monaco.

He also grew up with Sean and Chris Penn and Emilio Estevez and his crazy ass bro Charlie Sheen & he later worked with their dad on The West Wing. Other people who Lowe has tales about are Robert Downey Nr, who he went to high school with. I was also amazed with the inside stories of his making "The Outsiders," "St. Elmo's Fire" and "About Last Night." It was also interesting to me to hear about the actual workings of Hollywood and that Rob Lowe is actually smart, took AP French, and that his dad is a lawyer and his mom suffered from bouts of apparent depression.

BOOK REVIEW: BossyPants  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: BossyPants


Author: Tina Fey

Publisher: Sphere

RRP: $32.99

ISBN: 9781847445193

Release Date: April 2011

Pages: 288



Description:



Tina Fey is one of the world's greatest comic writers and performers. Bossypants is her first book.

Once in a generation a woman comes along who changes everything. Tina Fey is not that woman, but she met that woman once and acted weird around her.

Before 30 Rock, Mean Girls and 'Sarah Palin', Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV. She has seen both these dreams come true.

At last, Tina Fey's story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon -- from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.

Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we've all suspected: you're no one until someone calls you bossy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tina Fey was the first female head writer of Saturday Night Live and created, writes and stars in 30 Rock. She has received numerous awards for her comedy writing, including the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, 5 Emmys, and 5 Writers Guild Awards. She also wrote and appeared in the acclaimed and wildly popular movie Mean Girls.

Review:

I’d never heard of Tina Fey before I first saw 30 Rock this year. Now I’m hooked on the program and her strange sense of humour. The book is very much like the series with the same humour scattered throughout the tales Fey tells of her life.

Fey’s autobiography recounts many of the hilarious events in the life of a brilliant comic mind, who has been involved in many successful shows, such as 30 Rock, Saturday Night Live and Mean Girls. I can honestly say that there wasn’t a single page in her autobiography that I didn’t get at least one laugh out of.

Bossy Pants is one of the funniest autobiographies I have ever read.

BOOK REVIEW: Adapt  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: Adapt


Author: Tim Harford

Publisher: Little Brown

RRP: $35.00

ISBN: 9781408701539

Release Date: May 2011

Pages: 320



Description:



The Undercover Economist takes on the world - the new book from global bestseller Tim Harford.

Everything we know about solving the world s problems is wrong.

Out: Plans, experts and above all, leaders.

In: Adapting - improvise rather than plan; fail, learn, and try again

In this groundbreaking new book, Tim Harford shows how the world s most complex and important problems - including terrorism, climate change, poverty, innovation, and the financial crisis - can only be solved from the bottom up by rapid experimenting and adapting.

From a spaceport in the Mojave Desert to the street battles of Iraq, from a blazing offshore drilling rig to everyday decisions in our business and personal lives, this is a handbook for surviving - and prospering - in our complex and ever-shifting world.

Review:

Tim Harford's "Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure" is a book about economic case study, written in an engaging, fast-moving way but without losing any of its erudition.

The book puts forth that there are three essential steps for successful adapting: The first is to try new things with the knowledge that some will fail; to make failure survivable since some of the attempts will surely fail and to make sure you know when you have failed.

The essential steps seem fairly straightforward. But Mr. Harford takes the reader on a journey through history, recalling many failures - Robert McNamara's handling of the war in Vietnam; Donald Rumsfeld's stubbornness dealing with the war in Iraq; The Piper Alpha rig explosion in the North Sea; and the Lehman Brothers financial meltdown.

Book looks into various industries such as: government, military and private sector. Although so called experts have a greater chance in making a correct guess on outcomes of certain actions, their predictions are hardly full proof. Experts are better in making predictions only when compared with guesses of non-experts making guesses on the same topic.

BOOK REVIEW: True Happiness  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: True Happines


Author: Dr Mark Atkinson

Publisher: Piatkus

RRP: $32.99

ISBN: 97807849929169

Release Date: May 2011

Pages: 336



Description:



True Happiness

Your complete guide to emotional health

Mark Atkinson

Experiencing true happiness and emotional well-being is not only deeply fulfilling, it helps you thrive and achieve your potential, and is good for your health. This inspiring, 8-step, drug-free programme comes from an expert in natural health and emotion

Are you happy and fulfilled Do you feel content with your relationships and your life If not, this groundbreaking book is for you. Written by Dr Mark Atkinson, a medical doctor and emotional-health expert, its innovative, mind-body approach will help you live a truly healthy, happy life. Based on the successful strategies he uses with patients, Dr Atkinson shows you, step by step, how to experience the deep sense of inner well-being that characterises true happiness.

Discover: how to identify and overcome the underlying emotional, psychological and biochemical barriers to health and happiness; tools for managing your emotions and thoughts more skilfully; unique drug-free techniques for tackling low mood, anxiety and stress; inspiring case studies; questionnaires, simple exercises and easy-to-follow advice to help you uncover your true self and create a life of fulfilment and meaning.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr Mark Atkinson MMBS is an integrative medical doctor specialising in psychological well-being and emotional health. He is also the founder of the Academy of Human Potential, one of the UK's leading personal development companies.

Review:

I enjoying reading self help books, always looking for advice and tips on how to deal with stress and other issues that arise out of everyday living in today’s world. Every now and then you come across a good book that has some great tips that are easy to follow and don’t take an expert to teach you.

Atkinson’s book was a very interesting and helpful book, covering some new techniques that I’ve already begun applying with some success.

Give it a try if you’ve already had a go with some other books and haven’t had any luck, this one may help.

BOOK REVIEW: The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide


Author: Stephenie Meyer

Publisher: Little Brown

RRP: $32.99

ISBN: 9781905654437

Release Date: April 2011

Pages: 560



Description:



At long last, the pieces come together. . .in this definitive guide to the international bestselling Twilight Saga.

This must-have edition is the definitive encyclopedic reference to the Twilight Saga and provides readers with everything they need to further explore the unforgettable world Stephenie Meyer created in TWILIGHT, NEW MOON, ECLIPSE, and BREAKING DAWN.

Featuring almost 100 colour pages, The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide includes exclusive new material, character profiles, genealogical charts, maps, extensive cross-references and much more, this comprehensive companion guide is essential for every Twilight Saga fan.

WIN AN AMAZING TWILIGHT PRIZE PACK!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER: http://www.hachette.com.au/win-an-amazing-twilight-saga-prize-pack

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephenie Meyer graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English Literature, and she lives with her husband and three young sons in Arizona. Stephenie is the author of Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner and The Host.

Previous Books:

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide, Eclipse (White Cover), Breaking Dawn (White Cover), New Moon (White Cover), Twilight (White Cover)

Review:

I read the Twilight Saga a few years ago, and again a couple of times since, so have been eagerly waiting the release of this guide.

The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide is not just for the hardcore Twilight fans, but for anyone who has shared in the romance of Edward and Bella. It is surprising just how much detail and background information is offered on practically every aspect of this series.

As soon as I opened the book, the first thing I had to do was go through every single page until I got to the end. All I wanted to do was look at the pretty pictures, skim the contents, and smile at some of the very interesting explanations/additions which were made here.

The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide is a stunning addition to any Twilight fan's bookshelf. It's visually beautiful, packed full of info, and is very well made. A lot of care went into putting this Guide together, and it shows. It reminds us why we fell in love with the story in the first place, and why these books and characters have become a part of so many people's lives. I loved it, and will continue to love it.

Wonderful and interesting backstories have been included for some characters, such as James, Victoria, Laurent, and Alice. As became usual for SM starting in Eclipse, far more attention has been paid to the wolves and their history than to the vampires and theirs. There is some new information about the Volturi, but what she imagines for their past is generally out of line with ancient European history. The backstories vary immensely, however, in quality and new information, with some lifting word-for-word the tiny backstory given for that character in the books.

BOOK REVIEW: The Forest of Hands and Teeth  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: The Forest of Hands and Teeth


Author: Carrie Ryan

Publisher: Gollancz

RRP: $9.99

ISBN: 9780575090866

Release Date: June 2010

Pages: 366



Description:

In Mary's world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

But, slowly, Mary's truths are failing her. She's learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets and the Guardians and their power and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future-between the one she loves and the one who loves her.

And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, Carrie Ryan is a graduate of Williams College and Duke Law School. THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH is her first novel. A former litigator, she now writes full-time. She lives with her writer/lawyer boyfriend and two fat cats in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Review:

Like Romero's zombies, Carrie Ryan's undead are both sad and scary. They lurch and shuffle, unable to do anything except fill their desire the flesh of the living. In many of the zombie novels it is often the living that seems to be the worse off, with the victims roaming the world without feeling or emotions.

This is a bleak tale about a bleak and unforgiving world. But it's seen through the eyes of a teenage girl, one who does not give up the hope she inherited from her mother in the form of stories about the ocean, a great place where water runs freely, as far as the eye can see. But all Mary knows is that she lives in a small village, surrounded by a forest filled with the Unconsecrated--zombies, if you will--beings that have no memory, no emotion, and no capacity for anything. They're nothing but mindless hands and teeth who want to feast on your flesh.

I really enjoyed this novel and can’t wait to read the rest in the series.

BOOK REVIEW: The Dead Tossed Waves  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: The Dead Tossed Waves


Author: Carrie Ryan

Publisher: Gollancz

RRP: $14.99

ISBN: 9780575090927

Release Date: April 2011

Pages: 416



Description:

Return to Mary's world in the stunning new novel of dread and hope from international bestseller Carrie Ryan.

Gabry lives a quiet life, secure in her town next to the sea and behind the Barrier. She's content to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. Home is all she's ever known and all she needs for happiness.

But life after the Return is never safe and there are threats even the Barrier can't hold back.

Gabry's mother thought she left her secrets behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, but, like the dead in their world, secrets don't stay buried. And now, Gabry's world is crumbling.

If Gabry is to have any hope of a future, she must face the forest of her mother's past...

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, Carrie Ryan is a graduate of Williams College and Duke Law School. THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH is her first novel. A former litigator, she now writes full-time. She lives with her writer/lawyer boyfriend and two fat cats in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Review:

Dead Tossed Waves is a brilliant sequel to Carrie Ryan’s first zombie novel, The Forest of Hands and Teeth. It is a great example where the sequel is even better than the first instalment.

I really enjoyed this story so much more than the first book, as I feel Carrie Ryan truly displayed growth in her writing abilities, as evidence by the captivating plot she devised, the flawed yet appealing characters she developed, and the intriguing setting she used as a backdrop.

I liked all of the characters that made up this adventure including Gaby, Catcher, Cira, and Elias, who I felt were strong, complex players in this story that kept the action going at a steady pace. It was interesting to learn about the Soulers and the additional back-story of the Return.

Zombie novels are my favourite books and this series looks like will be a brilliant series that I will be following closely.

BOOK REVIEW:The Stolen Ones  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: The Stolen Ones


Author: Shy Keenan

Publisher: H&S Fiction

RRP: $29.99

ISBN: 9780340978658

Release Date: May 2011

Pages: 384



Description:

Hard-hitting crime fiction from the author of BROKEN.

The children are sending her messages...

Cordelia was horrifically abused as a child. Now she is helping the police with their enquiries into a frightening internet paedophile ring.

But when she recognises that a child in a live film is sending out silent messages that only she can understand, she makes it her mission to track down the rapists, and the innocents they are abusing.

Before it's too late.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shy Keenan founded Phoenix Survivors to campaign for justice for victims of sexual abuse and to rescue children at risk. Her work has been recognised by the British government as a crucial part of the battle to protect children. She lives with her family in the countryside.

Previous Books:

BROKEN (9780340937440), WHERE ANGELS FEAR (9780340937471).

Review:

The Stolen Ones is a fast paced and emotional crime novel by author Shy Keenan. With the topic of internet paedophiles and their disgusting inner sanctum, the book is bound to touch raw nerves with anyone with a view on these despicable characters. I found the writing very moving and the characters easy to feel for, apart from the antagonists, who you just wanted to deal with yourself.

With the added element of the MC being able to recognise a silent message in a live film, this book is a real rollercoaster of emotions.

BOOK REVIEW: Geek Nation  

Posted by Scott Wilson

Title: Geek Nation


Author: Angela Saini

Publisher: H&S Non Fiction

RRP: $32.99

ISBN: 9781444710151

Release Date: April 2011

Pages: 288



Description:



The fascinating story of how India is transforming itself into a global science superpower.

India: it's a nation of geeks, swots and nerds. Almost one in five of all medical and dental staff in the UK is of Indian origin, and one in six employed scientists with science or engineering doctorates in the US is Asian. By the turn of the millennium, there were even claims that a third of all engineers in Silicon Valley were of Indian origin, with Indians running 750 of its tech companies.

At the dawn of this scientific revolution, Geek Nation is a journey to meet the inventors, engineers and young scientists helping to give birth to the world s next scientific superpower a nation built not on conquest, oil or minerals, but on the scientific ingenuity of its people. Angela Saini explains how ancient science is giving way to new, and how the technology of the wealthy are passing on to the poor. Delving inside the psyche of India s science-hungry citizens, she explores the reason why the government of the most religious country on earth has put its faith in science and technology.

Through witty first-hand reportage and penetratrive analysis, Geek Nation explains what this means for the rest of the world, and how a spiritual nation squares its soul with hard rationality. Full of curious, colourful characters and gripping stories, it describes India through its people a nation of geeks.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Born in the UK in 1980, Angela Saini is a science journalist and reports for the BBC, New Scientist, Wired and the Economist. She was named European Young Science Writer of the Year in 2009, and in 2008 won a European television news award.

Review:



Geek Nation is a rich and captivating explanation of the evolution of Indian science in many fields and of the conflict between science, modernity and traditional society. Saini travels India in search of stories of the modern science such as biology, genetics, IT, nuclear power, agriculture, and how India is making great leaps forward.



It was quite interesting to see how such a large country often seen as a third world nation, has become such a Geek Nation. There are now a high number of qualified scientists and it is quite cheap to conduct the research and production of technology in India compare to the rest of the world. This is no journey of mere curiosity, but a quest for some answers as to how much science can help solve India's huge problems of corruption, poverty, inequality, power shortages, food shortages and related issues.



A very interesting read about a booming industry in an unlikely country.

FICTION: Fall of the Anchor Grill By A.K. Duvall  

Posted by Scott Wilson

“You just couldn’t take it out there now, could you?” snarled Oliver Simonson, while his doddering old hands scooped money out of his safe under the counter and dispensed them into the bag set upon the register. “By Joe, couldn’t find no means to work for your own sport, could you? Y’know what the Good Lord does to lazy, no-good thieves, lad? Oh! He’ll give you such a dose on Judgment Day, m’boy, he’ll send…”

“Belt up, Ollie!” barked Martha Simonson, the heavy-set old woman next to him. “The cacky little shit’s got a pistol, don’t he?” Her nostrils whiffed the air and her face contorted with disgust. “Bloody Nora! And what’s worse, he’s stinking of whiskey! Don’t think that any of your pompous preaching won’t fall on deaf…”

“Bloody hell!” the hood with the pistol shouted, his voice muffled under a black scarf. “I want both you two stinky old gaffers to just shut the fuck up an’ empty what dosh this rat-trap has into me sack, understand?”

What few regulars the Anchor Grill had that morning vacated the restaurant from both the dining room and the counter, at the sight of the adolescent gunman, except for Fat-Bottomed Bill; a rich old gaffer, who remained at the counter with an aroused smile under the furry whiskers of his white mustache. He continued to watch the youth, while finishing his pork banger over the black beans on his plate that were so dark, that they looked blue.

“An’ I want me a sammich, too!” the thief shouted. “Ya know, the one with the turkey an’ bacon that ol’ Mrs. S recommended for me dear old mum last week.”

“Oh my,” Fat-Bottomed Bill said, winking at the thief, “Quite a lot o’ meat in that sandwich for a skinny young boy, Martha. I’ll buy the young gentleman a butty if he’s hungry enough.”

“Piss off, you old tosser!” Martha picked up a spatula and attempted to scurry away the old pervert with her frightful size and temper. Startled, Bill dropped his fork and wobbled back in his stool to avoid her attacks, but remained in his seat. Martha turned to her husband. “Ollie! Hurry the hell up with giving the nasty little pisser all of our money so that he’ll get the hell out of our bloody restaurant.”

“Yeah, an’ don’t forget me sammich neither, ol’ man!” the thief added.

“Right! Mustn’t forget the little shit’s sandwich!” Martha threw her flabby arms in the air and stormed back into the steamy kitchen, leaving her grumbling husband with a pistol pointed at his balding head. Her screeching voice called for their cook. “Lafayette! Lafayette, Damn it, I need a Tuesday Special, right now!”

“Que?” A voice answered from the kitchen.

“Oh for shit’s sake, Lafayette,” Martha shouted, “Don’t pretend that you don’t understand a bloody word I’m saying! You speak English better than you can even pronounce what little French you still know!”

“Je ne comprend pas.”

“Like Hell you don’t! J’ai besoin une sandwiche de Mardi pour A WRETCHED LITTLE THIEF! SI’L VOUS PLAIT? I want a turkey and bacon sandwich for a sniveling little mug who’s trying to knock over the bloody Anchor Grill!”

“Hey! Keep your voice down back there, ya ol’ crow!” shouted the thief. He scratched his ear with the nozzle of the pistol and then stuck it in the pocket of his coat. He pulled his scarf down under his cracked lips, took a fag out from behind his left ear and lit it. “I can still hear ya jestin’ me, I can! Wouldn’t think twice to be puttin’ a bullet in this ol’ gaffer’s head.”

“Listen to him, Martha!” Oliver pleaded. “The boy must be loony, by Joe, he’s all dressed up like some angry, little mug in backalley Albion!”

The towering frame of a man with a sharp nose and hairy arms covered in Caribbean tattoos, strode out from behind the kitchen door with fierce eyes locked upon the thief. Grease and sweat sopped his apron and the skin on his unshaved face, which was scowling like a nun in a whore house. The presence of the man that the Anchor Grill called Lafayette, seemed to grip the intruder’s loose tongue in its place.

That newly-lit fag slipped from the kid’s gapping, freckled jowls and he blew off one, noticeable enough to darken the seat of his trousers.

“Get your arse back into that kitchen, frog!” Mr. Simonson said. “How the bloody hell is an old man supposed to make back the money he’s losing if his staff is gawking at every mug that comes into me store?”

“Monsieur, Zi-mon-zon, you are zo stu-peed,” Lafayette sneered, pushing back the oily strands of dark hair that fell from his pony-tail. He growled at the intruder with a familiar recognition of disgust and spit on the old man’s floor. “You are afraid of zis leetle bast-aird, no? Eet eez just Gremshaw under ze scarf, ode man!” Lafayette lunged forward and grabbed the scruffy kid by the neck before he could turn to run and then threw him upon the cracked maple floor by the front door, which was covered with snow and mud tracks. The cook reached down and yanked the pistol from the unconscious kid’s pocket.

“Oh Gracious, my dear, sweet Gremshaw!” Martha called out.

“Gremshaw?” Oliver asked, still shivering behind the counter. “Why does that name escape my mind, Martha, my woman?” Oliver asked his wife, adjusting his binns back on the bone of his crooked nose.

“Egad! You don’t have the sense the Good Lord gave a blooming goose these days, do you, Ollie? You old goat! You hired our grandson, Gremmy, and his bastard cousin, Mutt Fitzgerald, last week to bus and dish for us!” Martha spit in a brown bus tray on a nearby table, filled with soiled dishes. “And our daft cook just laid him out on the ruddy floor!”

“Oh…right, Gremmy.” Oliver pondered a moment. “The barmy one that our oldest son swears must have the blood of a retarded chimp. He says the boy goes running all over York, talking and acting like he’s in some bloody Dickens novel! Hang it all, woman! Why the hell would I take on a couple of dumb pillocks such as themselves?”

“Because Gremmy is a nice boy and clever as there ever was one. His mummy says that he just loves Victorian literature. Besides, you said that duckies their age are cheap to hire and dumb enough to order about without giving us too much cheek. Bah! Just like most of the other wretched little urchins you’ve been hiring of late.”

“Now that I think of it, Martha, you were the one who wanted to take on the pair, despite the fact that they didn’t even arrive for their first day of work! I would have been more than happy to have sent Lafayette over to the slums, to offer any parent with nowt a pot to piss in, a bit of hot nosh in exchange for the free labor we would have gotten out of their ankle-biting, little scallywags.”

“If it’s strapping, young boys you’re looking for, old chap, I could arrange to send a few naughty ones over here,” Fat-Bottomed Bill said. “That is, if they misbehave themselves, of course. I do so think they’d prefer that over a good flogging or caning, now and then.” The old pervert rubbed the sweaty palms of his meaty hands. “Do you like blondes, Oliver, old boy? Gingers, perhaps?”

“By Joe, Martha, do you listen to this old bugger?” Oliver waved his arms frantically. “Why the bloody Hell haven’t we booted him out and called a bobby over here?”

“Have you seen the wad that the dirty, old bastard keeps in his clip, Ollie? He keeps us in business with his love for greasy food and the chances he gets to put glances and gropes on the spotty youths that we hire! And he bloody-well-knows it, too!” She glowered at the old skunk sitting at the counter, who continued to eat his meal without so much as a shy glance.

“Blimey!” Gremshaw said, regaining his senses on the floor. “Ya stupid, French nutter. Ya can’t just go ‘bout takin’ a honest man’s shit from ‘em like that! Mrs. S, tell the dumb frog that he can’t just…”

Lafayette kicked the lanky kid’s back with the heel of his boot. Gremshaw let out a howl of pain before shutting his mouth for good. Giving the pistol a quick examination, Lafayette rolled his eyes, sneered and dropped it onto the kid’s head.

“Zis eez a fake, Monsieur Zi-mon-zon! I’d be sure to think about who you peek for ‘ired ‘elp nes time.” Lafayette walked back into the kitchen without another word.

“Oh! Good gracious! My poor, dear, sweet, precious little Gremmy! Are you alright, lovey?” Martha waddled over to help their defeated attacker up off the floor. “Mercy, it’s cold as a well-digger’s arse out there! Ollie! Fetch the poor dear something to bundle up in!”

“Damn it, Martha! The boy just tried to nick us with a bloody firearm. He won’t be staying a moment more to collect another honest day’s pay with his piss-poor work…”

“I was jus’ tryin’ to have a bit o’ fun, Guv’na! Honest I was! Ya really think I’d keep all the money an’ not say a word ‘bout it?” Gremshaw winked at his grandmother, who blushed.

“I know what you were doing, you little pecker and don’t call me Guv’na! It’s the twenty-first century for shit’s sake and this isn’t Oliver Twist!

“Boys will be boys, Ollie! Remember when you were a lad and…”

The door burst open and a squat, piggish-looking boy with stubble for hair and a mean lip tumbled through the door, with the fag-end of a cigar hanging in between two crooked teeth jutting out of his bake.

“Gremmy! Did ya nick all the brass from the ol’ man, yet?” Mutt Fitzgerald asked, as he barged into the Anchor Grill to find Martha helping a banged-up Gremshaw to his feet. He noted the furious scowl over Oliver’s face and his shivering fists with their white knuckles. He took a moment to survey the situation before shutting his mouth of the subject.

“Oh…‘ello all!” Mutt said with an oblivious smile as he took off his ragged hat and patched jacket and hung them over a coat hanger made of antlers by the dusty old grandfather clock. Oliver rolled his eyes and cursed under his breath. He began picking all of his money out of the bag that his grandson had demanded him to fill under the guise of a crook and started depositing it back into the safe, while counting it out loud.

“Mutt!” shouted Martha, “put out that damn cigar in my restaurant!” Mutt trembled at the raised voice of his cousin’s grandma and threw the fag-end of his smoke into a nearby bin.

“Good afty, Mutt, ol’ chum!” Gremshaw said with an innocent nod of his head under the safety of Mrs. S’s pillowy arms. “What brings your smilin’ face to the Anchor Grill, this day?”

“Yes, Mutt, m’boy,” snarled Oliver, who didn’t look up from counting his money or cease the fierce swearing under his breathe, “what are you doing here at this hour, lad? You were only supposed to arrive a day or two ago for your first shift.”

“I think,” Mutt said scratching the bumfluff on his face, “well, Gremmy, weren’t we going to work here for the free nosh an’ to save some money for the diner we was going to make across the street?”

The old man dropped a handful of coins from his hand.

“What did you say, lad?” A threatening look crossed Oliver’s wrinkled face. “Gremshaw! What talk is this, now?”

“Don’t you yell at Gremmy, you sallow-skinned old git!” Martha shouted.

“Martha, my woman, our own kin is kindling a mutiny! He’s planning on cheating an old man out of the fodder of this business and then opening up for himself, a diner of his own to drain what business you and I have left here in York!” Oliver turned to his grandson, who now had loosened himself from his grandmother’s arms to help Mutt put on his apron. “Oh-ho, child, the Good Lord keeps his deepest circle of Hell for betrayers, m’boy, you’ll be burni…”

“Ollie, shut the bloody hell up! They’re just children. Its bait that these here duckies couldn’t even open up a squash-stand in a place like Liverpool.”

“Yeah, come off it, Guv’na, don’t go makin’ a dear ol’ dove like Mrs. S kick up such a fuss as that.”

“Stop calling me, Guv’na!” Oliver shouted at his grandson. “And Martha, my woman, they are not children.” He stomped his foot like a child throwing a benny. “Our son’s oldest has got to be sixteen or seventeen and so is her drunken husband’s bogtrotter of a nephew over there! Yes sir, them two conniving little sneakers are quite capable of doing something of the sort that would banjax the Anchor Grill and leave us flat!”

“Come on, dearies,” Martha said, ignoring her henpecked husband, “Let’s get the both of you into aprons and I’ll put you to some chores. Gremmy, you can sit with me while I take carry-out orders, so one day you’ll be able to do it all by yourself. I’ll get you a lemonade and some crisps to munch while you work,” Martha scuttled her grandson up on a stool on the right side of the counter, farthest away from old Fat-Bottomed Bill, who brought a cup of tea up to his mustache and waved his pinky at Gremshaw with a wink. She fetched he grandson his snack and set it on the counter by an old, avocado-green phone.

She then turned to Mutt, who stood there catching flies. “Mutt! I want you to bus these tables all over the shop and then go in the back to help Lafayette peel the taters and onions, and then run some raw chickens through the spits. After that, I want you to mop all the shit up from the bloody loo. Lord only knows it’ll need it, since Frankenstein the Frenchy is doing all the cooking for us until eight o’clock tonight. Hurry along, now!” She grabbed Mutt by the ear and jerked him into the back.

“Hey, Mutt, don’t bogart all the fun for yourself, now!” Gremshaw smiled to his pitiable cousin from the comfort of his cushioned stool. Oliver Simonson stood there with his unorganized funds spread about the counter and glared in between his grandson’s smirking face and the lusty, wrinkled bake of his most despised, yet profitable customer.

“By Joe, the people here are to be the death of this place,” he muttered.

#

The office of Old Man Simonson laid in ruin. That faint, musty smell of aged housing familiar in buildings of historic districts was masked by the sulfuric odor of a hidden pile of feces, purposely placed somewhere out of sight. Shelves were knocked over; the fish tank in the corner was cracked and leaking upon the Victorian carpet; the windows were smeared with soap and the desk and sofas were torn and piled with junk from all about the room, including a dusty elk head, a large stuffed marlin, several pictures, busts, statues, a dislodged old captain’s wheel and an antique, bronzed diving helmet.

Although it wasn’t particularly glamorous, it was the biggest of only three rooms found up the narrow, rickety stairway hidden behind a door that was small enough to be commonly mistaken for a supplies cupboard. The door was marked, Quarters: Keep out, on a rusted plaque nailed into the doorframe. A booth in the dining area was strategically placed near the door that that nobody ever sat in because of what was kept directly across from it: a stinky, saltwater fish tank filled with algae-and-slug infested water that could be heard gurgling in the corner anywhere in the diner. It was home to a sour-faced moray eel. The slimy, grinning fish was the only possession that Mrs. S’s father left in his will to his miserable son-in-law, Oliver.

Lined up in front of a large bookcase filled with musty books, yellowed magazines, tacky book-ends and gaudy knick-knacks, stood the irritable Lafayette, in between Gremshaw and his bumbling cousin, Mutt. Mr. Simonson shook in leftover rage as he fumbled over his keys to lock them all in his office with him, sputtering curses to the devil and his wretched life of misfortune.

“Psst, Mutt, ya think that the ol’ man bubbled what we was up to?” Gremshaw quasi-whispered to his cousin with an arrogant smirk, loud enough for the whole room to hear. Lafayette growled and rubbed his temples, as if overwhelmed with petty drama.

“What-ev-air you two deed to ze ode man’s off-eez, leave me ze fuck out of eet,” Lafayette hissed. “Just because ze ode man eez too stu-peed to figure anything out on ‘is own, doesn’t mean I should ‘ave to suffer more zen I already do everyday.”

“Blimey,” Gremshaw said laughing, “ya catch a whiff o’ that, Laffy ol’ chum? Ya should have seen the monster shit that ol’ Mutt took under the ol’ man’s desk when we broke in last night!”

“Yeah,” Mutt added, choking on suppressed laughter “and then I wiped me hairy bum with a few ripped leafs out from his newest issue of The Distinguished Gentleman, I did!” Adolescent laughter erupted in the room.

“Alright!” Oliver said turning about, “I want to know which-ough-oooww” he stumbled over an overturned bust of some salty captain, but regained his dignity by finding his feet and ignoring the laughter of Gremshaw and Mutt. What was left of his coarse, grey hair was standing on end over his ears and his crinkled face was red under his wire binns that wouldn’t stay on the bridge of his nose. “Alright, you little sacks of shit, I want to know which one of you little motherfuckers ransacked my bloody office and shit on my carpet!”

“Monsieur Zi-mon-zon! Zis eez a complete waste of my time. I am not a child! Let me keep what dignity I ‘ave left in zis dump! Eef you keep me standing ‘ere with zeez two baffoons while you-”

“Belt up, frog! If I say that you’re going to stand here and have a dose from me, along with these two colleagues of yours, then so be it. You were scraping pubic hairs out of piss-pots before my wife took the lice out of your grimy hair, gave you a job and the room across my own office!”

“Ze room eez not a room at all. Eet eez a janitor clo-zet!” Lafayette exclaimed.

“And a rather spacious janitor’s closet, at that. Just be grateful that it isn’t a jail cell for French, ex-criminals who aren’t qualified, in my opinion, to work a single job in all of bloody England and don’t speak enough of the language to swim the English Channel back where they right belong! And you two!” he sprung on the boys, “Stop your God-forsaken snickering before I box your ears into your fat pates!”

“Tsk-tsk, Guv’na,” Gremshaw said. “Mutt an’ I just wanted to know if dear ol’ Mrs. S knows ‘bout what a pigsty you’ve let your office become. Ya know what a fuss she kicks up ‘bout keepin’ the Anchor clean.”

Mr. Simonson looked like he was on the brink of hurling himself out of his office through the glass window and onto the street two stories below.

“And that is another reason why I have you three baboons in my office right now, Gremshaw! Martha’s mother is the old goat that gave us the funds to raise this junk-heap of a mess hall into a reasonable establishment for food and drink.” There was bitterness in the old man’s voice as he added, “Lovely woman, really. She’s coming over here from London to eat with us tonight.

“Bloody Nora, Guv’na! Ol’ Mrs. S has a mother that’s still alive?” Gremshaw asked, slapping Mutt’s back and sounding off another round of laughter.

“I thought I told you to stop calling me, Guv’na, you nasty, little maggot! This isn’t Great Expectations!”

“Nasty ol’ crow has got to be ten years older than water, she has!” Mutt added with his stupid-toothed grin. Even Lafayette seemed interested in the news.

“Nasty old crow, you say, mick?” Oliver asked.

“It’s Mutt,” Mutt corrected, “Mutt Fitz…”

“By Joe, I know your bloody name, Irishman! And Martha’s mother is not a wretched ol’ crow, neither. No. She’s a cruel, bloodsucking, decrepit old harpy with a heart as black as burnt cheese and cold as the lips on a bloody corpse! By Joe, the only reason that monster of a woman allowed us the money to bring up our dream of owning a restaurant was to see me bring it down by the likes of my own incompetence.

“Hah! But By Joe, I’ve kept it alive these past forty years, so help me I have! Oh, you better believe that the wretched old crow will take that to the grave with her, m’boys. I haven’t told any of you about her all this time because I believed that none of you would ever be granted the pleasure to face the likes of her until she greeted all of you in Hell, after you’re all dead. She doesn’t come around because she knows the Anchor Grill stays afloat!”

“But I thought you said, she weren’t no wretched ol’ crow?” Mutt said.

“Shut-up, mick!”

“Zis eez all very touching, Monsieur Zi-mon-zon, but what does zat ‘ave to do with zis office being a mess?”

“Everything! You idiots are what brings this dump to the brink of Hell and back! Tonight, when the devil boards the Anchor Grill and stinks the place up with sulfur and brimstone, I want everything to be perfect. My dream for the past thirty years has been to see the ugly look on that vile woman’s bake when she sees her dear son-in-law, running a successful business with her precious daughter. I want her to remember that it was she, herself, who handed over the funds to make it all possible, so that when we seal the old devil back into her crypt and Hell welcomes her home...”

“I dunno, Guv’na,” Gremshaw interrupted. “I’m not sure if it’s possible for me an’ Mutt here, to meet such expectations with what little trainin’ we been getting’ from dear, ol’ Mrs. S, bless ‘er heart,” a bait smirk crossed Gremshaw’s pasty face.

“Nasty little pisser! What do you want from me? Name it! And by Joe, quit calling me that wretched pet name, you self-absorbed, little git. This isn’t fucking, Hard Times, lad!”

“My word, Mr. Simonson! Are ya suggestin’ that Mutt an’ me want a backhander in exchange for behaving ourselves whilst workin’ tonight?” Gremshaw smiled sheepishly.

“If it’ll get you chimps to run this place right-well for just one blooming night, then whatever it takes, I’ll see to it done.”

“Haw! Zen I want in on zis leetle deal, ode man, ozerwize I might forget that ze limeys pre-fair shicken ov-air frogs and snails,” Lafayette said, as Mr. Simonson pulled what was left of his hair out in rage and then buried his face in his worn hands.

“An’ what ‘bout you two? What do you two codfuddles want to take from me in exchange for what should be an expected hard-night’s-work?”

“Well, we want…” Mutt tried to say,

“We want the wheel to the Anchor Grill, ol’ man,” Gremshaw finished.

“Have mercy on an old soul, what did you say, lad?”

“Ya heard me. You an’ dear ol’ Mrs. S are getting up there in years, mate. Instead o’ having me an’ Mutt here continue to sabotage this place under the protection of your wife in order to build us our own business just across the road, just entrust the restaurant to me an’ Mutt here. If ya stay an’ work for us, we’ll even allow ya to share a room with Laffy up here, an’ receive two free meals a day.”

“What? I won’t allow zis!” Lafayette exclaimed. “I want a raise and some of ze profit zis feelth-trap makes on a monthly basis. I want ze ozer room to myself, as well.”

“So,” Oliver Simonson said, sitting down at his clustered desk while he shook and cringed. “All you devils want is my soul in exchange for a simple favor, do ya? By Joe, if it means putting that crotchety, old bitch in her grave once and for all, then I’ll just pray and hope that the Good Lord offers me mercy at all your slimy hands when this is over.”

“Aw, now don’t say that, Guv’na,” Gremshaw said. “Mercy from us won’t be nowt worth frettin’ for, next to the mercy you’ll be needin’ from dear, sweet Mrs. S, when she finds out what you did.”

#

Oliver Simonson cleared the mess from his office all by himself that afternoon. He did it without a uttering a word of complaint to his wife over their heathen grandson’s reckless savagery, or muttering curses under his breath about ankle-biting, little scallywags, brutishly disregarding the sanctity of a poor old man’s private quarters. All the rest of the afternoon, Gremshaw, Mutt and Lafayette worked an honest shift’s work, seeing to it that The Anchor Grill was as spotless as it could have possibly been, while Mrs. S loomed over them all, adding her two bits whenever she felt it necessary.

When the old man walked downstairs in his best grey suit, complete with bowler and walking stick (in an unsuccessful attempt to look smart), he found Mutt and Lafayette sitting in the booth next to the eel tank, dressed in the nicest, second-hand clothes that they could have possibly acquired (which was not saying much). Mutt taped down the slit of a dusty top hat that he found in the old man’s closet upstairs and wore a brown, corduroy suit that was too small to button all the way down his pudgy figure.

Lafayette wore a clean apron over a stained undershirt, stiff blue-jeans, and stuffed the long tail of his greasy hair up under a ridiculous, muffin-shaped chef’s hat. The old man’s grandson was at least in a reasonable-looking pinstripe suit with only minor wrinkles. His wife was combing the mop of his greasy hair back against his bottle-shaped head.

“Oh, my precious Gremmy looks quite the handsome gentleman tonight, he does,” she said, pinching his freckled cheeks and turning to her husband as he entered the dining hall. “Ollie, he’s sporting your old suit from before we was married.”

“Indeed,” Oliver said glaring, “quite an establisment we have here, Martha: a pudgy, Artful Dodger, a pirate dressed like the Swedish Chef Muppet, and a flustered old hen, clucking over her ugliest chick, Gremshaw.

“Very nice old threads do a lot for a gentleman, Martha, my woman. Nevertheless, in Gremshaw’s case, it wouldn’t matter if the suit was made of motley or cassimere. I daresay the boy still looks as ugly as his mother.”

Mutt laughed and even Lafayette snickered at the old man’s sardonic wit. Martha’s enraged face looked like a boiled cabbage, ready to burst.

“A good evening to you as well, Guv’na,” Gremshaw said. “A pity that you was once able to sport such a nice suit, ya ol’ buffer. Tell me, Mrs. S, did the Guv’na always look like a’ bulimic Churchill, minus the cigar?”

Martha and the boys burst into a fit of laughter, while Oliver stood still, his flaky skin, reddened and his body trembling with rage.

“Yeah,” Mutt added. “He looks like a crooked-boned corpse, all dressed up for an open-casket, he does.” The laughter continued, even harder.

“Enough! All of you!” Oliver shouted. “Martha, have we shooed all the customers out of this dive, my woman?”

“All, but Fat-Bottomed Bill and that little boy, Stephen, I think is his name,” Martha said. “The boy who’s parents you paid a cottage pie and a pint of lager, in exchange for him to clean dishes for us for a couple of nine-to-seven shifts.” Growling, Oliver stormed over to the counter where he found the perverted old gaffer, trying to share a hot malt with a little boy too hungry and exhausted to mind.

“Out! I want both of you out!” Oliver scuffled the large man out of his seat and shoved his cane into his hands.

“Now Oliver, my dear chap, it’s not closing time yet!” Bill said, glancing at the pocket-watch he pulled from his suit. “I was just sharing some stories and a scrumptious sweet with this delightful young gentleman, here.” Stephen looked up at Oliver with eyes pleading for mercy. Oliver grinned.

The visitor bell clanged as he shoved the old man out the front door and into the dreadful winter night. “There are far too many devils under this roof everyday, Bill, that we don’t need the lusty assistant of Beelzebub stinking it up any further. Riddance, I say!” Oliver shouted, slamming the door shut with a satisfied smile. He turned to find little Stephen, staring up at him with saucer-sized, brown eyes.

“And what’s your story?” Oliver snarled.

“It’s snowing outside, Mr. Simonson, sir. I’m worried ‘bout me mum an’ pa. They haven’t showed up yet to retrieve me. I haven’t had a bit to eat all day, neither.” Oliver sighed, seeing the tears that were forming in the small child’s glossy eyes. Kneeling down to embrace the child around his tender arms, he lifted him up and kicked open the door with his foot.

“But-but-the snow, sir! And that dreadful ol’ man…” Oliver dropped the boy in the snow, slammed the door shut, pulled the shades over the glass door and stormed back into the diner, calling out to his crew.

“Hang it all, the horrible old trout will be here any minute now, and if she finds this place…”

The bell to the front door chimed again and the room flooded with both silence and tension. Lafayette ran in the kitchen to add the finishing touches to the meal. Oliver swallowed the lump in his throat as he watched a hunched old woman step into the dinning hall of his restaurant, with the help of her gnarled cane.

Her presence emanated the lingering stink of talcum powder and Bengay in the air, fused with flowery perfume that smelled like a cheap, retirement home. Skinnier than Oliver, Martha’s mother’s liver-spotted skin hung over the brittle bones of her fingers and gaunt skull. Her thinning hair was wrapped in a wool hat and her body was bundled up in layers of flower-patterned black silk, under a conservative dress and a great white, wool shawl. Her bobbing head shook as her yellow eyes swept the place over.

“Mummy!” Martha shouted, waddling over to embrace her mother with feigned enthusiasm.

“My poor, little girl,” Martha’s mother managed, once released from her daughter’s vast bosom. “By Joe, look at you! That bottom-feeding husband of yours hasn’t kept you fed t’all, has he? Bless your dear heart.”

“Edna,” Oliver interjected, “by Joe, I’ve kept your daughter plenty fed, if your bleeding old eyes can’t see how much weight she’s gained since I married her!”

- Show quoted text -

“Did you hear how your husband just spoke of you m’dear?! Lord knows my husband, if that man were still alive today, would have done away with such a rodent long ago if he had heard him call his daughter a sow!”“I did nowt of the sort, woman!”“I came here for a nice visit and to share a meal with Martha and our little Gremmy, Oliver,” Edna said, “If you’re going to stand her and shout, and insult us all night, then I’ll take our duckies away and dine someplace else. Now, where is Gremmy?”“I’m righ’ here, Grandmum,” Gremshaw said, approaching the old woman. He took a wrinkled hand from her and planted it with a gentlemanly kiss. “It’s a pleasure to see you.”“My word, Martha,” Edna said, “I haven’t seen the boy since he wore diapers under his breeches. What a delightful young gentleman he’s become.” She stood and stared at him for a moment, before a foul look crossed her face. “Although his hair is far too long, I must add. Martha, why haven’t you seen to it that the boy gets a proper, Christian haircut? And what sort of guttural name is Gremshaw, now that I’ve heard it spoke in my presence? Is it German? Nasty Krouts, the Germans are!” Martha was taken back by the change of tone. She stuttered, not knowing how to protect her grandson from such an offense.“Awful name, really,” Edna continued. “It was a Simonson decision, if I remember correctly. Brutes on my son-in-law’s side forced it upon that poor child who married Oliver’s son.” Edna took her cane and struck out for Oliver’s ankles, but the old man was swift and his reflexes remembered the nasty old woman’s last visit.“And who is that pudgy bloke in the corner with the ridiculous hat, Martha?” Edna asked, pointing to Mutt. “Isn’t that the base-born, great-nephew of ours? Twice-removed, I do hope? Come here, boy, I want a word with you,” she said, raising her cane with one hand as she urged him to come forward with the bony forefinger of her other gloved hand.Mutt took a cautious step forward, but Oliver put a hand on his shoulder to stop him.“Enough! Terrible old trout, I want you to belt up and listen well. I’ve kept this restaurant afloat for the past fifty years!”“Forty,” Gremshaw corrected.“Be that as it may, Gremshaw,” Oliver continued, “I’ll be damned if I’m going to allow this-this…ancient carrion-eater to set foot in the place of business I call my home and threaten my family like that! So help me, God, I won’t allow it!”Mutt, Martha and Gremshaw were stone-still. The old man had actually stood up for the three of them. Edna, taken back by the outburst, suddenly broke into a fit of laughter.“Oh dear, Martha, listen to the dose that old Colonel Blimp is giving me, this night,”“Why don’t we sit down for dinner?” Martha stepped forward. “Can Gremmy and Mutt take your shawl and purse, Mummy?”“I’d prefer to keep it on. Its dreadful cold in this dive your husband calls a restaurant. I’ll allow Gremshaw to take my purse, Martha my dear, but I’ll not have that bogtrotter touching my things,” Edna said. Mutt held his tongue while his cousin took the old woman’s purse and hung it on the antler coat-rack.“We have a real French cook tonight to make us an authentic French cuisine,” Martha said, as they all sat at the three tables that were pushed together for them all to dine together.“I don’t care for the French, Martha,” Edna said, “Snail-eating, Mary-worshipping, stuck-ups have been almost as much of a thorn in the side of the Royal Crown as the Irish, the Yanks, the Zulus, the Indians an’ the Chinese put together.” She looked over at the fish tank on the other side of the room, to find the moray eel, with its slow-moving jaws hissing at her in its murky water. “Speaking of heathens, I see you still have Mongrel.” She snickered. “Martha, your father was so insistent upon leaving that ridiculous fish to your husband.”“Oh, yes, Papa was very proud of Mongrel,” Martha said.“Proud!” Edna exclaimed. “Your father hated that bloody fish! Such a pain in the arse to take care of, the bleeding thing always was. Your nuncle Albert caught it in a net while vacationing in the Great Barrier Reef and brought it home to his brother. “Although,” Edna said after a vague pause, “I daresay I’m most happy to see it now. If it were missing, well, I can only imagine that frog in the kitchen coming out here moments before my arrival, reaching his meaty arms into that cesspool, choking the bloody thing to death, boiling it, stuffing it with cheese and having it served to us for supper.”“Ze eel was to be for our de-zert, Madame,” Lafayette said, appearing in the dinning room from the kitchen, carrying a steaming tray of cod and seasoned vegetables. “We fry zem an’ zerve zem at funerals, with znails an’ zeaweed.” He towered beside the wrinkled guest and plopped the tray onto the table with a hateful glower. “Bon appétit,” he snarled and stormed back into the kitchen.Gremshaw, Mutt and Oliver snickered, but were silenced by the abrasive stares received by the ladies at the table.“Rude as uneducated savages, everyone of them!” Edna exclaimed, throwing her napkin on the table and getting to her feet. “No wonder this-this-this, rat-trap can barely sustain the funds to survive, let alone not earn a single shilling to improve the likes of it! Martha, fire that brute this instant or I’ll walk out that door.”“I’m getting a bit of tea to calm my fucking nerves,” Oliver mumbled to himself. He got up and walked over to a booth in the corner where he kept a hot pot of Earl Grey seeping by the window. Pouring the tea and squeezing the lemon wedge, he returned to his seat, shaking the entire way.“But, Lafayette ain’t got no where else to go, Mum. I can’t just simply tell him to pack up his bags and leave. We took him in several years ago, after…”“Do I look like I give a damn? How dare you give cheek to your mummy, young lady!” Edna scolded.

“By Joe,” Oliver said and stood, “don’t you talk to my wife like she’s your child, you wretched old trout! My woman has a heart of gold. She went and took that tramp off the streets the day before Christmas, seven years ago, without as much as a second thought.”

“And I’m sure, Mr. Simonson, that it was at your decision. Lord only knows you needed the cheapest help possible and of course you never did allow the angel of the house to make a single, bloody choice on her own during the course of her life,” Edna said.

“Hey! Don’t fuss at the Guv’na like that!” Gremshaw said, pointing at Oliver. “I’ve seen dear ol’ Mrs. S grip that ol’ gaffer’s ball-sack in a bloody vice plenty of times, I have! That one ain’t half the man Mrs. S is.”

“Gremmy,” Mutt said, “Fish smells good. Is it awright if I have bit of nosh, now?”

“Food and drink!” Edna howled, reaching over the table to continually slap Mutt on the hand and arm with a wooden spatula. “That’s all the micks ever think about! Strife, food and bloody drink!”

“Ow, ow ow ow owwww”

Mr. Simonson sipped his Earl Grey to help calm his nerves, but the sudden attack on Mutt threw him off balance. He spit a mouthful of his drink across the table and accidently flung his hot cup at his mother-in-law. Edna screamed as the hot tea scolded her face and stung her eyes. Blinded and enraged, she grabbed her cane and started taking swipes at Oliver.

“Bumbling, stupid, wrinkled old fool!” Edna screamed. Oliver was helpless, shielding his face with his shivering arms.

“Possessed!” Oliver said. “By Joe, the shriveled old harpy is possessed by the devil hisself!” For once in her life, Martha Simonson couldn’t inflict her rage upon her husband. Instead, she found herself helpless against protecting him from the only person in the world she was afraid of. She got out of her chair and waddled to the kitchen on the brink of screaming with anxiety.

Click-clank

The room fell silent at the sight of Gremshaw, pointing a pistol at Edna.

“I want you to sit your wrinkled, moldy arse down righ’ now, understan’?”

“Har! Right, keep the bloody pistol on her, m’boy!” Oliver said. “I’ll get the rope!”

The old woman screamed even louder. Abandoning her seat, she ran without seeing where she was going.

“Gremmy, ain’t that the fake piece that Laffy took from you, back when we tried to rob the place?” Mutt asked.

“It’s what?” Edna asked, attempting to come to an abrupt halt.

But it was too late.

She smacked her head right onto the glass of Mongrel’s aquarium. The tank cracked and came tumbling down right on top of her, like a tipped-over Coca-Cola machine. The room panicked as the glass shattered all about. The slimy saltwater rushed out all over the room and soaked into the carpet. The frightened moray eel slithered and bounced, making its way up the frail leg of the old woman, who was too long gone to feel it slid up her skirt and into her bloomers.

“Fuck! J’ai chaud!” shouted a voice from the kitchen.

“Bloody Nora! You’re not hot, you faux Frenchman! Tu es sur le feu! You’re on fucking fire! FIRE, FOR SHIT’S SAKE, FIRE!” Martha shouted, bursting out of the kitchen. “Everybody out!” Oliver pointed at the kitchen door and screamed as Lafayette came running out of the kitchen with his trousers and the puff of his chef’s hat ablaze with fire.

“All you lot, abandon ship, I say!” Oliver shouted, as He, Martha, Gremshaw and Mutt scuttled out of the dining room. Lafayette hurled himself onto the floor to roll out the flames, until the shards of glass all over the carpet started to dig into his skin. Grunting in horrible pain from the fire and broken glass, he saw the big white shawl covering the old devil that had fallen to her death. Without a second thought, he jerked it from the limp, old woman’s body and started slapping out the flames with it. The corpse rolled about from the force of the strong chef’s movement and most of her bundled clothes rolled off her body, revealing her wrinkled, spotted hide as she floppped about all over the hazardous carpet.

“Bloody Hell!” Mutt shouted, pointing, “she looks like some sort of bloody alien or a half-starved manatee, she does!”

“No worries, Guv’na, I got it!” Gremshaw entered the dining room wielding the dusty old fire-extinguisher that the old man was forced to buy upon inspection two years ago.

“Geev zat to me!” Lafayette demanded, as he finished putting the fire on his clothes out. He snatched the extinguisher from Gremshaw’s hands and smacked him across the back of the head. He pulled the pin and went fast to work, putting out the grease fire spreading from the kitchen.

Amidst the chaos of the Anchor Grill, Mrs. S walked back into the dining room from the counter room and paused. There, standing stone-still in utter silence for what seemed like moments, she began to bawl, looking down at the horror of the sight of her dead mother.

Oliver Simonson, her crotchety, but still-loving husband of over fifty years, approached her from behind, and draped a lanky arm across his wife’s wide back to embrace her; offering nothing but the comfort of silence and his caring presence.

Putting his hands in his pockets, Gremshaw walked over to stand beside his grandfather, while Mutt took off his hat and stood to join them, blessing himself with the Catholic sign of the cross.

Cursing out loud in broken-French from the kitchen, Lafayette extinguished the last of the flames and walked out to witness the bizarre scene spread out in dinning room of the Anchor Grill. It was something that he thought he’d never see his entire life. His mouth trembled when he saw the dear old woman, who whisked him away from the cold of winter and the pain of hunger those seven Christmas’s ago, crying like he never thought the woman capable of. Resisting the sudden urge to flee from what was probably the saddest and most nauseating thing he’d ever have to do, he approached his family and embraced them all with his strong arms. Together, including the callous chef, they all started to bawl out loud, ridiculously clasped in one another’s arms.

“By Joe,” Oliver said in between sobs, “if you weren’t that woman’s daughter, Martha, I’d daresay that eel erupted that hideous old woman’s shriveled hymen.”

#

The authorities arrived not long after the fall of the Anchor Grill. Later on, a pair of incompetent insurance representatives arrived with faulty estimates that just added more stress to Oliver Simonson’s miserable life, but the satisfaction of experiencing his mother-in-law’s death was enough for him to admit he could die happy.

Eventually, the deteriorated Anchor Grill did re-open and was a tad better off, run by the silver-tongued Gremshaw and his bumbling associate, Mutt Fitzgerald. By the request of Martha Simonson, a family funeral banquet was held in the dining room of the restaurant, with only the five of them.

“The Good Lord, will take care of her, Martha, my woman,” Oliver said, as the five of them sat down to supper. “Her black heart meant well. I’m sure The Good Lord won’t fault her for what a menace she was in life.” Martha glowered at her husband’s poor attempt at kind words and spit a mouthful of white wine in his face. Cursing, he removed his binns and wiped them clean.

“Gremmy, didn’t you say that Laffy was going to have some afters for us?” Mutt asked.

“Oh Laffy? Chop-chop, mate!” Gremshaw said, looking at the Frenchman. Lafayette rolled his eyes and got up to fetch the dessert.

“Hey Guv’na?” Gremshaw asked Oliver, “What ever happened to Mongrel after it slithered up ol’ Edna’s beef curtains? Did you ever capture it an’ find a home for it in one o’ the tanks upstairs?”

“For the last bloody time, this isn’t Bleak House, boy, so quit calling me, Guv’na! And by Joe, I didn’t save the damn thing! No. It bit me twice when I tried to retrieve it from between that old wretch’s vile twat, so help me, it did. I had the frog choke it for me, which I daresay he rather enjoyed.” Oliver chuckled to himself, while Gremshaw and Mutt grinned. Lafayette returned from the kitchen with a steaming tray and plopped it down upon the table. Everybody at the table stared at it in with gaped bakes. The exotic dish before their eyes appeared to be a type of fried seafood; long, yellow-green planks cut up in fine slivers and surrounded by escargot and leaves of kelp.

“Bon appétit,” Lafayette said, putting out a fag in one of the planks on the tray. He threw a towel over his shoulder and walked towards the tiny private quarters door, next to the bare space in the wall where the eel tank used to be. He opened it with a swift yank and stormed up the staircase to enter what was now his bedroom: the room that was once Mr. Simonson’s office, now belonging to Gremshaw and Mutt, was transferred to the spacey janitor’s closet across the hall.