Short Story Review – A Matter of nurture by August von Orth

January 13, 2019

This is the first single short story I have reviewed as I normally critique complete short story collections.  The story is part of a collection from different authors featured in the Canadian Science Fiction magazine, “Neo-opsis”.  It is an intriguing tale set in a dystopian world.  On reading the first few lines I struggled with point-of-view but as I read on it soon became clear on whose view point the story was written.  This may have been deliberate as the assassin protagonist was clearly mixed up about who she really was.

It took me a couple of readings to determine what was happening in the narrative but this did not matter as the story was brief and it became clear that the protagonist was a victim of mind control.  It made me think and I do not mind that as I like story’s that make me think.  I understand that it is only available in the pages of the magazine so check it out as I am sure sci-fi fans will not be disappointed.

Keith Jahans
Editor, Peatmore Press

Published in Canada

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Book Review – Bridge of Sighs: A Short Story of the Bubonic Plague by Laura Morelli

December 28, 2018

This is a brief story but within its pages the author has captured the essence of Venice and the Bubonic Plague.  It is told through the eyes of a ten year old boy.  The author has done a great deal of research about the plague and I can tell from her biography and her writing she knows the city of Venice well.

During this time the plague was carried by black rats.  The boy refers to his pet as a mouse and I suspect that it is indeed how he views the animal he cares for.  Short stories are an ideal way to while away brief moments of time and if they make you think a little so much the better.  This example is a little gem and well worth the read.

Keith Jahans

Available in the Amazon Kindle Store in mobi (kindle) format


Book Review – 200 Free Tools to Save Time on Social Media Management by Anita Nipane

December 22, 2018

Serious authors need to keep in touch with potential or actual readers through social media.  Not only does this serve to promote their work but it helps in developing a strong fan base.  This handbook is an outstanding guide.  It contains a huge selection of aids to help the busy writer in maintaining most major social media platforms.  There is a massive amount of information here so, just as writers need to be selective in their choice of platforms, they should also be selective with the tools they use to manage them.

The number of social media platforms online is constantly changing.  New ones are arising and some old ones are disappearing.  As a rule of thumb writers should choose those platforms where they know their readers are and only use the tools they find easiest to use.  Anita Nipane provides a wide range to choose from and in doing this has produced a book which serves as an excellent tool in its own right.  Used correctly, it can save time and energy by allowing the busy wordsmith to get on with doing what he or she wants to do most which is to write.

Keith Jahans

Available in the Kindle store as an ebook in Mobi format


Book Review – Sunday’s Child by Rosemary Morris

December 18, 2018

This is not a genre I would normally read but having met the author I was struck by her professionalism.  This is certainly borne out by the way she has crafted this excellent novel.  It is obvious upon reading it that a great deal of research has gone into substantiating the facts surrounding the life of the upper classes who inhabit the Regency period in which this story is set.

I found it an unexpected delight and I am sure that it will captivate the devotees of this form of literature.  The tale of Georgina, her family and her quest to find happiness is set against the background of the looming battle of Waterloo.  In the character of Pennington the author has created the perfect villain against whom Georgina needs all her wits about her to ensure the safety of herself and her sisters.  It is an enthralling story which kept me turning the pages to the end.

Keith Jahans

Published by BWL Publishing Inc.
and available as a paperback and ebook
on a number of different platforms

 

 

 


Book Review – Telling Stories from Chaucer to Joyce by David James

October 16, 2018

This is not something I would normally read or buy but I know some of the author’s other works and know he is a fine writer in his own right.  This book takes us through the work of seven major literary figures from the 14th to 20th centuries.  It chooses one example from the writings of each namely, Chaucer – The Canterbury Tales, Bunyan – The Pilgrim’s Progress, Laurence Sterne – Tristram Shandy, Jane Austen – Mansfield Park, Charles Dickens – Great Expectations, George Elliot – Middlemarch and James Joyce – Ulysses.

David James reviews and contrasts each of these writings with each other, and provides an ongoing commentary on what he believes is the thoughts of the author behind each work.  This clearly provides helpful notes for any budding student of literature.  I have read examples or either watched or listened to screen or radio adaptations of the books listed here.  I have not studied literature formally since my schooldays but David’s analysis provides me with a good insight into the minds of seven great literary geniuses and for this I am grateful.  I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in great literature.  Hopefully, it will also serve to help me in my own writing.

Keith Jahans

Available on Amazon as a paperback and ebook


Medicine in literature

August 15, 2018

I was surprised when Amazon classified my new novel Magic Bullets as Medical Fiction.  But then I read an article I saw on the Wellcome Book Prize webpage (see https://tinyurl.com/yaf3hb7c) where judges and former winners picked their all-time favourite fiction books that touch on this topic and it seemed that their links to medicine appeared rather vague.  So I decided to list three books that I felt could be similarly classified.

The first one on my list is Trouble with Lichen by John Wyndham.  This is about two biochemists who extracted and anti-aging drug from an unusual strain of lichen only to find that it could induce harmful side effects.  My memories of the book are rather vague as I read it a long time ago.  I do remember it as being rather heavy reading but I kept going as I found the plot most intriguing.

The second on the list is The Invisible Man by H G Wells.  In this book Wells goes into great detail about how to change a body’s refractive index and become invisible.  What I liked about the story was that Wells skill in explaining the science behind the plot makes it seem entirely plausible.  I have read this book several times and still enjoy it as an absorbing read

But my favourite has to be The Double Helix by James D Watson.  It is an autobiographical account of the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA.  It is controversial due to Watson’s willingness to appropriate data surreptitiously from others and his sexist attitude towards scientist Rosalind Franklin who, because of the harmful nature of the X-rays she worked with, died early and therefore could not share the Nobel Prize.  Despite these flaws, I found the story fascinating.  It is probably the greatest medical discovery of all time which has lead and is still leading to momentous breakthroughs in modern medicine.  It is the best detective story I have read and is the main reason why I followed a career in biological science.

 

Keith Jahans


Available on Amazon in hardcover, paperback,
as an ebook and audiobook.


Book Review – Game Changer: Eight Weeks that Transformed British Politics by Steve Howell

July 12, 2018

This is a must read for anyone who wishes to understand the processes that go on inside political campaigning in British politics.  It is told by an insider who helped organise Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign during the 2017 British General election.  It is therefore unashamedly biased towards the philosophies of the Labour Party so if you are a supporter of any other British political party, particularly the Conservative Party, many of the views expressed here will be extremely hard to take.  But even so anyone who actively supports such parties will find a great deal to learn from the events described by the Author.

When Prime Minister, Theresa May called a snap election in April that year no one in the mainstream media gave Corbyn a chance.  His party appeared in turmoil as a large proportion of Labour MPs had tried twice to unseat him as leader and the Labour Party was so far behind the Conservatives in the polls.  Consequently, May saw it as an opportunity to strengthen her position as Prime Minister and leader of her Party ahead of her negotiations to take Britain out of the European Union.  However, such was the success of the Corbyn campaign that, despite being unable to topple May’s premiership, their individual political standings within their own parties were reversed.

It was a remarkable turnaround in the positions of the two party leaders and it is a story that is extremely well told.  It is a narrative that the Conservatives will seek to put far behind them but for anyone interested in British politics it is an account that should be read.  The book is skilfully written and contains lots of facts and footnotes relating to broadcast and newspaper reporting at the time.  This is not surprising given the author’s background in journalism and in time it should serve as a useful reference for anyone wishing to look back and study what must surely be a significant event in Britain’s political history.

 

Keith Jahans

Published by Accent Press in
hardcover, paperback and as an ebook