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Michael Todaro

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The Love in a Hopeless Place Collection: Gritty Short Stories of Working Class Life, Love and Romance
The Love in a Hopeless Place Collection: Gritty Short Stories of Working Class Life, Love and Romance
Price: £3.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An impressive collection, 30 Sept. 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of short stories, and have recommended it to male and female friends. The stories are all character-driven, and firmly rooted in the workaday world. Of the five unrelated stories, I was most affected by the eponymous "Love in a hopeless place". The heroine is a middle-aged woman who undergoes a transformation during a party at a working men's club. Her desire and intimacy with her husband Wayne falters, as her sexual instincts rekindle and bloom. The story is quirky and seedy, yet it has a pleasing moral centre.

The other four entries are almost as good. "Escape to Love" runs to the gamut from suspense, fear and romance to a mother's tenderness towards her autistic daughter. They may be only a few chapters long, but Emma Calin fits many touching human moments into each narrative.


The Ripple in Space-Time: Free City Book 1 (The Free City Series)
The Ripple in Space-Time: Free City Book 1 (The Free City Series)
Price: £1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good new sci-fi, 6 Sept. 2013
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I was pleasantly surprised by 'The Ripple in Space-Time', a detective story set in a noir, urban future.

The events of the book, which is composed of short, punchy chapters, take place in the year 2445. The premise is that an immense structure on Luna has been destroyed in an explosion that killed hundreds of people, including a brilliant quantum physics researcher. Ryo Trop of the Free City Inquisitor's Office, respected for its impartiality amidst Earth's autocratic politics, is obliged to investigate. Trop is an ethical Taoist, and conscious of his advancing age. That makes him a little unusual by the standards of sci-fi heroes, but his interesting personality adds flavour to the story. Many of the secondary characters, which range from daredevil space pirates to despotic Tsar-warlords and slave girls, are also memorable.

I finished 'The Ripple in Space-Time' over a weekend, and would recommend it as light reading.


Dreams
Dreams
Price: £2.20

3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 2 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: Dreams (Kindle Edition)
This book by new author Imran Najafi has an interesting premise. The narrator is a downtrodden man; he says that a monkey could carry out his job, and his dreams are the only colour in a dull and repetitive life. This problem is resolved, after a fashion, when his dreams begin to puncture the real world. Visions of a mysterious woman in white, threatened by demons, manifest themselves as a real-life mugging.

The sarcastic commentary of the narrator as he describes the increasingly bizarre fusion of fantastic and mundane phenomena is a highlight of the story. Like a classic episode of "The Twilight Zone", the author doesn't allow the plot to slip into a predictable rut, but serves up a piquant and unexpected finale.

I would give the book five stars on the strength of the story. However, I would have preferred it to be a bit longer.


How To Avoid Capital Gains Tax in 2013/2014
How To Avoid Capital Gains Tax in 2013/2014
by Lee Hadnum
Edition: Paperback
Price: £23.95

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent guide, 13 July 2013
This is perhaps the definitive guide to minimising capital gains tax. Furthermore, since this book is about UK tax law in 2013/2014, as of now the reader needn't worry about recent changes to tax law, which happen frequently and tend to make books like this obsolete after a few years.

If you've recently sold an asset, such as property or shares, capital gains tax is going to be a major concern. It's important to pay legally mandated taxes, of course, but within the letter of the law there's a lot of leeway to make use of good tax advice. In particular, one can creatively manage one's finances in order to obtain all of the available reliefs. The reliefs tend not to be obvious or self-explanatory. I had already read about Entrepreneurs' Relief before I picked up this book, but not Gift Relief, EIS Relief or Rollover Relief. Now, not only do I understand the technical details of these forms of relief, but I know how to maximise my advantages within the law.

Apart from dealing with reliefs, there are abstruse techniques such as 'bed and spousing' that make it possible to maximise the capital gains tax exemption, which is worth up to several thousand pounds per annum.

Lee Hadnum's book is great: just the right length, very detailed, and clearly explained. I would recommend it to anyone who has to deal with a heavy capital gains tax.


Another Space in Time, Returns
Another Space in Time, Returns
Price: £1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A fun slice of sci-fi, 27 Jun. 2013
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You will enjoy this novel. It is entertaining, fast-paced and fun, yet deals with deep topics at the same time.

The continuing story is set on Axa-Goranas, a cultural melting pot of mysteriously reborn Terrans and alien humanoids who speak an English-Latin creole language. The hero Rodwell lives in the state of Albion on Axa-Goranas, and his nemesis is a subversive, criminal organisation called the ETT, who hate the transmigrants from Earth. The plot kicks off when Rodwell is asked to cooperate in bringing down Edvard Youzhny, a high-ranking member of the ETT conspiracy, by impersonating his twin brother who is affiliated with Youzhny. Youzhny is a deadly foe, so if Rodwell is to gain a tactical advantage he will have to push the limits of his determination.

This is a great premise for speculative fiction, and the book delivers on its promise. The prequel is also pretty good, so I look forward to reading more of Bunning's work.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 10, 2013 3:34 PM BST


Handcuffs and Hedge Funds (Kris Storm #1)
Handcuffs and Hedge Funds (Kris Storm #1)

5.0 out of 5 stars Romance and intrigue, 8 Jun. 2013
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This novella is a witty blend of erotica and political intrigue. Kris Storm, whose passion lives up to her name, is a high-level employee of Zoggle, a big data firm. She has bright green eyes and a lustrous mane of red hair: weapons of intoxication. Zoggle is considering whether to acquire its publicly traded rival Clickon--but as Zoggle's shares tumble and Clickon climbs, is something amiss?

Kris, her erotic impulses emerging for a long spell of corporate hibernation, must engage with Ivan MacTavish, a hedge fund superstar. He would make a great business contact, and he also happens to be one of People magazine's most eligible bachelors. Ivan wants Kris for her insider information; but once he sees her, his thoughts begin to stray elsewhere. How many pairs of handcuffs will he be wearing by the end of this sultry tale? Either way, the reader is in for a treat.


Cassie's Call
Cassie's Call
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Femme meets femme, 8 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: Cassie's Call (Kindle Edition)
This book is short and ever so sweet--great for a quick read in the airport lounge or on the train.

Cassie is 27, and bored with her life as a customer service operative. When Séverine, a sultry Parisian with an exotic tongue, calls her at work, she is hooked into an increasingly erotic conversation. It looks like soul mates can meet in the most unlikely ways, and she begins to fantasise about the mysterious French woman. Heat ignites deep inside both of them, but sadly they are miles apart.

Is it unfortunate that bosses record these conversations for "quality and training purposes"? I guess it usually is, especially when the phone sex is of exquisite quality. But as it happens, Cassie's boss Maxine is very understanding indeed. It is at this point in the story that things become seriously hot.


Books 1-3 (Magic England)
Books 1-3 (Magic England)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good for reading with kids, 7 Jun. 2013
I found "Magic England" to be suitable for bedtime reading with the children. There is lots of dialogue, so the kids have plenty to do if they play the characters and I read the narration. All three stories are quirky and fun.

The first and longest story is about a married history teacher who is caught kissing a colleague by three of his students: Swick, Topper and Haley. They proceed to wind him up mercilessly, and take the opportunity to involve him in a harebrained scheme to steal someone's fortune. The second story, "The Lovers", is a more sophisticated tale, whose moral concerns the perils of self-pity and hero worship. The final story is "The Fashionables"; everyone wants to know who these popular women are dating, rating and hating. This is another timely tale for our celebrity-obsessed age, and perhaps the most entertaining of the three.


Trouble in Paradise (Paradise Florida Keys Mystery Series Book 3)
Trouble in Paradise (Paradise Florida Keys Mystery Series Book 3)
Price: £2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Madison's on the case, 7 Jun. 2013
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This hard-boiled detective novel is an enjoyable and easy read. In sweat-soaking South Florida, private investigator Madison Westin investigates the brutal murder of a family man. Aided by her friend Fabiana Merceau, and her on-again boyfriend Zach Lazarro, Madison must pry open the closed community of The Cove, and discover the identity of the murderer.

Madison is a tough cookie, and the aesthetic of the book reminds me of Sin City: everyone leads a double life, women pack handguns, all have secrets, and nothing is wholesome. This is paradise for the reader, but maybe not the characters. The slow-burning mystery is compelling, and I'll be sure to check out the other books about Madison Westin.


Black Tide
Black Tide
by john g rees
Edition: Perfect Paperback
Price: £9.42

5.0 out of 5 stars The black tide washes over, 1 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Black Tide (Perfect Paperback)
This is a thrilling prequel to John Rees's other stories about Megacorp, such as "Anoxic Zone". In a corporate future straight out of Noam Chomsky's worst nightmare, ranks of "reusable" humans are worked to death, then resurrected and prodded into hard labour once again. This is what economic efficiency looks like in a future dominated by the Umbrella-esque Megacorp, which has sucked up municipalities and legal systems alike, ruining minds and dumbing down the populace.

Jake Strom is a diver. It's a tough job, especially for a geezer of thirty-five. However, it turns to be peanuts in comparison to the horrible events and confrontations that await him and his small circle of friends in this book. Can their technological nous cripple Megacorp once and for all?


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