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Oscar McCloud (Glasgow Scotland)

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LEAVING GEORGE: A gripping thriller, full of suspense
LEAVING GEORGE: A gripping thriller, full of suspense
Price: £1.99

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leaving George I understand, but the cat?, 7 Feb. 2015
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I enjoyed this story of suspense where the well-prepared plans by the character Pauline to leave her husband to start a new life are undermined by a series of unpredictable events.

Pauline has been planning to leave George, who during their marriage has had affairs, dominates her, has been violent and eventually isolates her from her friends. But at the age of forty after twenty years being married to George an inheritance from her Grandfather gives her the opportunity to escape. When George is at a conference in Edinburgh she has a five-day start before he could possibly come looking for her. She plans to hide in Cornwall and then move to France, where the inheritance money will provide her a place and the opportunity to start afresh.
She walks out of her house, with its beautiful garden, leaves behind her telephone, her car and the cat. But on the way to the bus stop there has been a motorbike accident on the road and she stops to help the injured rider, she wraps him in her jacket to keep him warm and by searching the semi-conscious man she finds his mobile telephone and summons emergency help.
To avoid George from finding her, who would force her back home, she provides the police with false information; a bogus surname and address, that she was single and a scrambled telephone number.
Once in her hideaway holiday cottage in Cornwall a lurking stranger appears in the area and it seems as if she has not covered her tracks as well as she thought.

The author weaves an intricate plot from this point on where Pauline has to make some life or death decisions and her dream of a new life in France become remote and perhaps an impossible dream.

I think the author has made a great choice in Pauline as she is not the typical action adventure woman, but has found herself in the situation where she needs every ounce of physical and psychological strength to survive. Plus, she has woven in some great depth to the story with believable background details and location descriptions.

If you enjoy a thriller with compounding suspense I would recommend this. I enjoyed the gripping read, which flowed coherent from one unpredictable event to the next and found myself still reading at three in the morning. I just couldn’t put it down.

Who Follows
Who Follows

5.0 out of 5 stars A novella that stalks you., 20 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: Who Follows (Kindle Edition)
Unexpected in many ways, it creeps up on you as you read, you start with great empathy for the main character and then as you learn more about the motives, you are hooked, you almost feel like a victim.

Ghost Written
Ghost Written
Price: £1.13

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is this Plagiarism?, 14 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Ghost Written (Kindle Edition)
Within this story there is a heart rendering wartime romance that emerges with a subtle shift at the end.

Lynne Brown’s grandparents and parents have died recently and her failing marriage has finally broken down. She moves into a new house to revitalise her life and pursue her ambition and aspirations of becoming a writer. It appears the stress has caught up with her when she falls asleep at her computer in her ‘writer’s room.’ However when she wakes she finds that there are over sixty pages of prose on her machine giving an account of a wartime pilot’s experiences. Believing this is some kind of subconscious action during her blackouts she gains the confidence to submit the initial chapters of the novel to a publisher. (Called Max). He immediately is enthralled by the story and gets her to sign a contract. Her dream is coming true, however she realises that she has no idea how the story emerges and every effort she makes to continue the novel is somehow deleted from her computer and replaced.
Her friend Molly comes to stay and encounters a ghostly apparition that leads to an accident. Lynne has grave doubts about her ability to complete the novel and feels she is a fraud but doesn’t know how to tell her publisher. The ghost that frightened Molly lingers in the background and Lynne fears she is going insane. Should she call the police, and tell them that her printer keeps printing?

I found this a light ghost story and an easy read as it comes across in a warm conversational tone. There were no spine chilling scares for me but yes the characters were frightened but were able to overcome their fear and confront the suspected intruder. The initial tension is released through laughter.

I found the extracts from the wartime novel interesting and a delight to read, although incomplete and wished there were more. Their writing quality was contrasted against the occasionally stumbling prose of the character as she related the tale. I wondered if this was a clever format by the author to provide a juxtaposition of the present and past narratives.

I would conclude this is a recommended light read, as it is neither a chilling ghost story or a soppy romance.

Sea Penguin Part Five:  Our Front Door (Sea Penguin Selections Book 5)
Sea Penguin Part Five: Our Front Door (Sea Penguin Selections Book 5)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Who is the thin man from Paris?, 2 Oct. 2014
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Mrs Tuppfinder discovers that Tuppy and Geoffrey have been reading her secret diary recording her youth in |Paris. Like any woman whose privacy has been invaded she goes quite insane. Our heroes are chained up and locked in the Towers dungeon that is flooded with each tide, they have to escape or drown. Geoffrey decides to be come a stand up comedian and tries his talent in the Puff Inn where Mrs Tupfinder reeks revenge by serving up her Black Sausage rolls and renders everyone with the dreaded turmoil of diarrhoea
Tuppfinder General experiments with giant South American Wasps to breed a garden variety that can produce a highly psychoactive venom. Tuppy gets trapped in ivy up a 330ft wall and suffers hallucinations about twirly wirlys and Killer Twins dressed in kilts.
Mrs Tuppfinder’s revenge with food continues with a giant Easter Egg made from sausage meat, in fact this whole episode is obsessed and you can get quite obese just reading about it. Tuppence continues his musical career with a solar powered guitar and although underage, he is drinking tequila mixed with Vimto. The community of the Rocky Outcrop are concerned that the Vimto might rot his teeth. His smuggling and illegal guns as leader of a gang of criminal rats are the least of their worries, it seems.
A new arrival in the form of Melaena Slovelbum Steele makes an appearance, Mrs Tuppfinder’s neice. She brings politix and introduces a fast day along with a routine of healthy living. This goes against the hard and fast culture of salty snaxs and lashings of Medeira and she has to be dealt with! Tuppfinder General points out that people go missing all the time, hereabouts.
Dave and Valerie Nark the eco campers have returned from their travels wearing Peruvian hats. They take over the tourist car park with their Yurts, and invite their vegan friends to holiday around the Rocky Outcrop. This causes mayhem with the locals burning out the Yurts…
Part five is just as weird and as confused as the previous adventures and with the use of laudanum and opiates and extravagant binging on food I can understand why. I am not sure I can continue observing the madness from the Rocky Outcrop and still eat sensibly.

Sea Penguin: Part Four - The Soul Extractor - Still More Tall Tales from the Rocky Outcrop (Sea Penguin Selections)
Sea Penguin: Part Four - The Soul Extractor - Still More Tall Tales from the Rocky Outcrop (Sea Penguin Selections)
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5.0 out of 5 stars “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade”., 28 Sept. 2014
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The new year starts with Tuppy and Geoffrey determined to live a healthy life and give up their addictions to salty snaxs; but can they keep their resolution or does events overtake them? Geoffrey decides to go traveling with the migrating geese and eats only seaweed and fish. He sends letters home to keep his friends informed of his travels, which includes getting his feathers scorched by a Nuclear Power station.
Technology starts to arrive with the new road for the Wind Turbine farm that the residents decide has to be stopped. But advancement in other devices come along, there are digital cameras, a Hadron Colider, a giant gym with running machines and a useful device, the Laser gun. The gun’s sole purpose is to blast the skin off the top of rice puddings.
Of course there is the Tuppfinder’s Soul Extractor machine, which causes fear and disruption. However this device seems to take second place to the other escapades on the Rocky Outcrop.
Tuppence the delinquent lamb has embarked on smuggling by wrecking ships, he continues singing with his rock group including the backing group of rats at the lock ins at the Puff Inn. He goes on to devise a ‘munny’ making scheme by turning Baby Orca into fish fingers. The point that Baby Orca is a mammal and not a fish is lost on him. This leads us on to learn the true ‘Hierarchy of Meat’ or better put; as your place in the food chain. In an attempt to warn Baby Orca our heroes are left adrift on the high seas and need to be rescued once again.
There are plenty lashings of Medeira, cocktails of Purple Peril, cravings for salt snacks and poor Geoffrey develops a craving that becomes an addiction to Black Bun and he needs to be saved from his downward spiral into hell.
Although this is a continuation of the previous Sea Penguin parts 1- 3, the story line has become adrift and is bobbing on the ocean currents, the reader therefore needs to keep their wits about them to stay engaged, but otherwise an enjoyable adventure around the Rocky Outcrop.
Fun reading and a must after parts 1 - 3.

The Children Act
The Children Act
by Ian McEwan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.44

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bleak House Charles Dickens., 17 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: The Children Act (Hardcover)
I was struck immediately by the nod to Bleak House. (London. Michaelmas term lately over. Implacable November weather, and later in the narrative we have soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot falling in the fireplace.) I compared this with the beginning to The Children’s Act. (London. Trinity term one week old. Implacable June weather. And later blackened raindrops falling into the fireplace.) I thought how the author maybe trying to indicate that perhaps very little had changed since Dickens’ time regarding some attitudes within the Law society. (A system described as a careless mob of professional).
I found the main character Fiona Maye, a High Court Judge, a rather sad person who seems to be in a state of constant regret for choosing a successful career and not having children. She is appalled when confronted by her husband Jack, who is sexually unsatisfied, and he seeks her approval to have an affair with a younger woman. I wondered at this point about the idea of the younger woman accepting the role as a plaything to this 60ish man. This thread just fell away.
It seemed ironic that the childless Fiona was responsible in making judgements over the welfare of children in family disputes and where the point of law takes precedence. But the main issue to me was about the adolescent Adam who required a blood transfusion and the real substance of the book. It brings into conflict Religion, Law and the dilemma of the welfare of the child. Fiona deals well professional with the situation but I thought that her personal conflicts indicated an Achilles heel showing a weakness of doubt and self-dissatisfaction.
I detected occasional rebukes throughout that painted some within the Law courts as having class prejudices and willing to convict the perceived lower classes as a matter course regardless. I didn’t consider these added any value to the main plot.
I found these asides irrelevant to my understanding of the main story, Fiona Maye and Adam, which in my opinion never really developed to maturity and died out rather sadly. I wanted so much more from the characters, they seemed subdued and superficial.
After reading this I was left feeling as if I didn’t care that much about Fiona and wished there had been more to the story.

Sea Penguin: Part Three;  Death at your Fireside - Yet More Tall Tales from the Rocky Outcrop (Sea Penguin Selections Book 3)
Sea Penguin: Part Three; Death at your Fireside - Yet More Tall Tales from the Rocky Outcrop (Sea Penguin Selections Book 3)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Is Death Avoidable and is Purple Peril the answer?, 8 Sept. 2014
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The not so ordinary adventures at the Rocky Outcrop continues with a seemingly innocent discussion around the fireside. Is death avoidable? Tuppy decides that something has to be done about the Grimm Reaper who is stalking the area and collecting their souls.
There are so many intertwined and interconnected depths in these tales where the characters take on almost real human identity that if you let your imagination free you will certainly go mad but in a pleasant way.
Tuppence the lamb has now become a menace with his gang of rats and has retreated into the tunnels beneath the Outcrop where he is stealing electricity from the Fulmars to drive his prog rock band.
Tuppy has enough of Dr Wilson’s warnings about Swine flu and the obesity dangers of eating fudge doughnuts and he and Geoffrey set off for St Kilda. Blown off course they end up on Flannan Isle and are trapped there by Tuppence who steals their boat. They get rescued and return only to try and escape to Cuba, once again they are blown off course and end up in Greenland and dragged into the ‘Christmas spending fever’.
There are lashings of Purple Peril cocktails, a meth and Madeira mixture and lots of salty snacks with the act of blowing up of crisp packets and bursting them in the Puff Inn. As well as lashings of satirical fun about eco warriors living in Yurts, tourists dropping their litter of snuff movies, second homes and expenses and 62 inch televisions on which they watch the Eurovision Song contest and Britain’s got Talent. Of course there are the never-ending poke at unhealthy living and warnings from Dr Wilson who lives on seaweed.
The conflict with the Baby Orca, a killer whale determined to have revenge on Tuppy for killing its mother continues. A new visitor Nippy Grimshaw who is spreading doom and gloom is sent over the cliff by a gust of wind and has to be rescued from the Baby Orca. Tense moment of awfulness ensues.
I must admit a felt a moment of nostalgic thoughts of my younger days when butterscotch angel delight was mentioned and my mouth began watering.
I found this an exciting but weird continuation of the Rocky Outcrop Adventures and enjoyed the tongue in cheek dig at contemporary society making me chuckle at the truth of it all. I almost feel and wonder if the author through the voice of Tuppy is actually living out these mad escapades and her best friend really is a Seagull in her mind at least. A fun read and recommended escapism.

Sea Penguin:  Part Two - More Tall Tales from the Rocky Outcrop (Sea Penguin Selections)
Sea Penguin: Part Two - More Tall Tales from the Rocky Outcrop (Sea Penguin Selections)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Is Tuppence the Lamb in for the chop?, 5 Sept. 2014
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I couldn't help but feel for the characters struggling to make sense of the world around the rocky outcrop. Tuppence, the lamb, discovers that his main purpose in life is to become the chops on the BBQ. A ship full of sheep are in the harbour waiting to brought ashore for slaughter and Tuppence has to save them. He decides to build a time machine in the garden shed. For me the visual imagery that came to mind was like a long episode of the well loved TV series 'Wallace and Grommet and the sheep. Lots of 'Black Ops' and espionage adventures with skeleton keys made from human bones that sends the plot deeper and deeper. A great follow on from part one. If you enjoyed part one like I did then I would recommended you continue the madness of the characters with a good glass of Madeira before it runs out. I enjoyed the light fun laced with dark twists.

Gutter 11: The Magazine of New Scottish Writing
Gutter 11: The Magazine of New Scottish Writing
by Helen Sedgwick
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Something for everyone., 17 Aug. 2014
I bought my copy at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and enjoyed reading the poetry and stories in the sunshine. Don't be misled by the word 'magazine', this is bound as a book. A collection of work from many authors new and established, which is certainly comparable in quality to any present day literature. I enjoyed reading the metaphorical "Plein Sud" by Carol McKay which used a deformed lump in an orange to alert us to the fear and frustration of breast cancer. i didn't know if I should laugh or cry at "Starbucks" by Tendai Huchu, a story about a low status male who has lost his ambition to become a doctor but over coffee in Starbucks is being encouraged by his girlfriend - basically to pull his socks up. The interview with the author Dilys Rose about her professional life was in my opinion an inspirational insight to her dedication and hard work. further, although I am not one for poetry of which there is an abundance - however, "hospital tea break" by Charlie Gracie captured the humour of elderly ladies and embarrassment of a young man, this was worth the mental image it conjured in my mind. I think the variety presented is worth the time spent, although and unless I had not browsed the copy at the book fair I may not have bought it. I would say it is a recommended read as you can dip into it any time and find something new each time.

The Dundee International Book Prize: The Shortlist 2014
The Dundee International Book Prize: The Shortlist 2014
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beat the Judges., 11 Aug. 2014
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I have great respect for the judges of any literary prize and particularly for the difficult task they endure to select a winner from a range of great writers. From this shortlisted selection I have my favorites, note the plural. This mixer of debut novels explore a wide range of subjects set in locations from across the world. In the Black Mountains of Wales for instance the character struggles with failings in their life, where a fictional exploration of the self is portrayed in a very captivating story. In another an American woman visits her great aunts in an English country house after a split with her husband and becomes entangled in a world of Victorian attitudes. There is a story of corruption, fraud and drugs from Africa and an other which is an intense thriller of American criminal psychology. There is a life story of Ida which starts with her almost drowning her sister on the Bournemouth beach and takes her to London. A tale of the lives of soldiers in the Yemeni/Aden deserts before the British withdrawal shows a time of egotistic military attitudes. It will be interesting to see to which novel/author the judges do award the prize and to fathom out the criterion they may have applied. I am reluctant to review these stories at any depth but would recommend them to be read by anyone who maybe interested in determining how they would judge literature and see if the judges agree. Please note that on my kindle the contents page did not list all the ten extracts, however they are all present in sequential order. This was slightly irritating as the find function from the contents page is one of the key features of e-pub on Kindle. I did nevertheless enjoy having a preview of these new novels.

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