Book Review: The Fireborn by Trent McDonald

The FirebornThe Fireborn by Trent McDonald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a great story, taking the Arthurian legend into the modern day. The events are delightfully unbelievable, yet they spin together well and the flow and logic is excellent. That is what such fantasy should be all about, and the author is very inventive.

I loved the various levels of baddies, from fireborn, who are naked, blue, resurrected zombies, to the ‘berserkers’ or ‘goonies’, to the regulars, who are drug-induced, stop-at-nothing, fireborn facsimilies. They are all dangerous, but can be tackled in various ways.

The intuitive consultant, who know more than even he thinks, is the main protagonist, Elliot Everett-Jones. His brother features heavily, although not heavily enough in my opinion, and there is much conflict between the pair.

There are many parallels between the contemporary characters and those of Arthurian legend. This makes for an enjoyable read.

The story is great, and the full-on action is gripping. The conclusion is kept me awake until I had finished reading. As I closed the book, my final thought was, “There is plenty of scope for a sequel.” I look forward to that.

The only problem that I had was that there are still lots of irritable typos throughout the text. They distract me from the flow of the story. I have contacted the author and promised to send him those that I managed to record.

As I say, I look forward to the sequel.

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Dan Alatorre’s WORD WEAVER Writing Contest for March 2018! LET THE GAMES BEGIN – with a twist!

This looks interesting and I may enter if I come up with a piece of writing that I consider good enough to submit.
I’ve read “The Box Under The Bed.” It would be thrilling to have a story feature in one of Dan’s future anthologies, so that makes this competition worth a stab.

Dan Alatorre - AUTHOR

Are ya ready?

Because I have something extra special for you this time, with a surprise twist at the end, too – just like a great story!

Word Weaver logi FINAL trimmed 2

Announcing the March 2018

Word Weaver Writing Contest!

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John Darryl Winston 13131361_10154451168558455_2986224098739414197_o Jenny head shot

John Darryl Winston,   Lucy Brazier,   J. A. Allen

color head shot IMG_3024_ruff_jeniferr_small

Allison Maruska,   Jenifer Ruff

(all celebrity judges from 2017 and 2018 will be rotated out and will be invited back for a supercontest at year end)

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and a new bonus

ALL entries will be…

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parkrun 20180106 SA 01.jpgIt was a proud day for me when I completed my 250th parkrun recently with my friend, Matt Jeffery, passing the same milestone alongside me. We had a lot of fun, turning the TV advert 118-118 advert pair into our own version for this special occasion.

Two-five-oh! Two-five-oh!

I’ll let Andover Advertiser star reporter, Anahita Houssein-Pour, take up the story.

Click on the link.

Duo mark 250th Andover parkrun as fancy dress 118-118 icons

There are a LOT more amusing photos in Anahita’s report.
Take a look.


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Book Review: Dog Tails: Three Humorous Short Stories for Dog Lovers by Tara Chevrestt

Dog Tails: Three Humorous Short Stories for Dog LoversDog Tails: Three Humorous Short Stories for Dog Lovers by Tara Chevrestt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review pawed by Ronan

I’d like to make two things very clear before I start my review of this excellent book.


Me – Ronan the Reviewer

Firstly, I am NOT thick! Just because I am Irish and mixed breed, there is no requirement to stereotype me. You humans are just too quick to do that. In fact, I am a very clever border collie, springer, and various other superior breeds, cross. You can tell that I am clever, because here I am, at nine years old, writing my first ever book review.

Secondly, I have a vested interest to declare. My Dad was sent an early copy of Dog Tails to review by his friend in Utah, who is the author, and the Mom of my three cousins, Lola, Pudgy and Jazzy. He left it lying around after he read it, and I decided that I would bound in and write up this review to save him the bother.

Well, I can tell you that I really enjoyed all three of these tail-wagging tales. Although my heart was in my mouth at times as I lived the events with the characters, I kept reminding myself that this is fiction and there was no need to be afraid. The stories really capture how we dogs feel and the things that might happen to us, day to day, if we are not careful. You have no idea!

All three were very funny indeed. I was snuffling and sniggering all the way through. At one point my large tail was wagging so extremely, that I was bruising my sides.

Humans will enjoy the stories just as much as dogs. If cats could read rather than lounge around all day, I dare say that they would enjoy reading these too. There I go: not practising what I preach. I just stereotyped cats! I am sure that there must be an active cat somewhere in the world. I just haven’t met her yet.

I have no hesitation in awarding a whole box of dog biscuits to this book. As this is a human web site, I guess I’ll just have to give it five stars too, as that’s the way you people measure these things.

I send my love to my three cousins across the ocean in Utah.

This review was pawed by Ronan (Mitchell)

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Fishing with Jesus

The sunlight sparkled on the surface of the gently rippling Sea of Galilee dazzling Jesus as he stepped out into the fresh morning air from the darkness of his small, stone beach hut.

Galilea“What-ho, Simon Peter!” he called to his favourite disciple, who was sitting on the sand, wiping grains from between his toes. “And how was your catch this bright and merry morning?”

Simon Peter opened his mouth to answer his master’s question politely, but was beaten to it.

“Fuck all!” grunted the disconsolate Andrew from behind a large rock where he’d been having a quiet slash.

“Oh dear. What a shame. What a dreadful pity,” said Jesus. “What rotten luck.”

“It’s more than that, you fuckin’ asshole!” growled Phil. “While you’ve been snoring in your sack, we’ve been out on that crazy sea, casting our nets since fower o’ the morning.”

“And that means,” said young Matt, “that we’ve nowt for us snap and we’ve nowt to trade for us bevvy.”

“Dear dear,” mused Jesus. “Permit me to ponder the problem for a few moments.” He retreated into his stone hut, calling, “Back in five,” over his shoulder as he disappeared into the darkness. He slammed the door behind him.

In fact, Jesus had already been up for two hours, watching Breakfast Time on his box. The programme always amused him, especially when the lovely Sian Williams sat next to the beaming Bill Turnbull, flashing her shiny knees and her whimsical grin. This morning’s show had amused him even more than usual.

The gang knew nothing of the box and he kept it well hidden. It was a special nepotism from Dad for all the good work that he claimed to be doing: healing repentant sinners and beating up money-lenders in the temple and all that. He couldn’t let the chaps know about the box because it hadn’t been invented yet. Nor had electricity for that matter. As for April Fools’ Day, that was still hundreds of years into the future.

Jesus had laughed out loud when he saw who was being spoofed on the banks of the Tay near Scone Palace with a jazz band playing on the lawn in the background. It was Jolly-old-Jeezman himself! He was amazed. His brain was bally well boggled as he watched Dougie the fisherman, surrounded by helpful Scottish locals, hauling out trout after trout, salmon after salmon, onto the shore to the lively accompaniment of Jimmy Johnson and his Jazzmen. He played the television jape over-and-over on his still-to-be-invented video recorder.

“Thanks Dad,” Jesus muttered, eyes raised, respectfully, to the skies. “You’re a real brick.”
The door of the hut opened and Jesus appeared on his doorstep, clutching his ukulele.

“Hurrah!” cried Phil, sarcastically. “He’s going to cheer us up. But he’s still an asshole. He may be able to twang out a fair tune on that uke of his, bur we can’t eat the bugger.”

“Hang on a bit, old chap,” said Jesus. “Don’t be so damned impatient. The fish will soon be biting quicker than the Vicar of Dibley ever will when chocolate is eventually discovered.”

The reference, understandably, confused his disciples and it irritated them further.

He stepped gingerly across the shingle towards the water, stopping when wavelets broke over his sandaled toes. It was two thousand years later that he was delighted when a cobbler nicked the design and marketed them as ‘Jesus sandals.”

He struck up a jolly tune.

Dance ti’ thy daddy, sing ti’ thy mammy,
Dance ti’ thy daddy, ti’ thy mammy sing.
Tha shall hey a fishy on a little dishy,
Tha shall hey a fishy, when the boh-at comes in.

The twelve brawny fisherman gathered round him on the shore of Galilee and joined his song.

I like a drop mysel’,
When I can get it sly,
And tha, my bonny bairn,
Will lik’t as well as I.

Dance ti’ thy daddy, sing ti’ thy mammy,
Dance ti’ thy daddy, ti’ thy mammy sing.
Tha shall hey a fishy on a little dishy,
Tha shall hey a mackerel, when the boh-at comes in.

May we get a drop,
Oft as we stand in need;
And weel may the keel row
That brings the bairns their bread.

Dance ti’ thy daddy, sing ti’ thy mammy,
Dance ti’ thy daddy, ti’ thy mammy sing;
Tha shall hev a fishy on a little dishy,
Tha shall hev a salmon when the boh-at comes in.

Jesus laughed.

Shoals of leaping fish guggled up to the surface of the sea.

“Spread out along the shore lads. Wade out until you’re up to your waists.”

They obeyed their Lord.

“Now cast your lines out and get to work.”

After two hours of frantic activity, they had caught nigh on five thousand fish between them.

“That should be enough to feed the crowd that I’m expecting for luncheon,” exclaimed Jesus. “They’ll be able to scoff one fish each.”

“But they’ll be wantin’ bread as well, tha knows,” objected young Matt.

“Oh. They shall have plenty of bread too,” responded Jesus, “for there is nobody better bred than I.”

The lads gaped at him, wondering what miracle he would pull off next.

“Hang on a mo. I’ll be right back.”

Jesus disappeared back into his shack and slipped out of the back door.

The Ocado van had just arrived with the large order that Jesus had placed before he’d returned to the gang with his ukulele.

“Five thousand wholemeal loaves for Mister Jesus?” enquired the driver.

“Super! Thanks ever so.”

“No probs,” replied the driver brightly, as he delivered the bags of bread in through the back door of the tiny, darkened seaside cottage.

The picnic that followed in the afternoon was the biggest and jolliest that the land had ever seen.

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Book Review: Sorry by Zoran Drvenkar

SorrySorry by Zoran Drvenkar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Have you ever felt sympathy for a murderer?

What? Never?

Do you really believe that it would be impossible for you generate such feelings?

Well, read Sorry and you may change your mind!

Don’t get me wrong. This story is dark, and sinister, and horrific. But it certainly challenged my own vIews and values.

Initially, the narration is confusing. The chapters flip between the main characters of the book. The narration also flips from first person singular to third person singular and back again, and then into second person from time to time. It is a little creepy and disconcerting to be on the receiving end of “you”, especially when the character in question is one of the darkest in the book!

Eventually, one gets used to the style, and it works really well. However, throughout the book, I was wondering who the he, she or you of each chapter was referring too. But that is part of the mystery and excitement of the story.

The tension builds throughout. There are some horrific, horrible scenes. You can’t afford to be squeamish when you read Sorry, that’s for sure!

Some of the sentence construction irritated me, and there were often commas when there should have been periods (or full stops).

I found it difficult to decide whether this book merits 3 or 4 stars, but plumped for four in the end.

I would recommend it to friends who like a good thriller, but only to those who are likely to persevere through the initially confusing chapters.

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Kisu ya Samaki


The two Turkanan fisherman were visibly startled by my greeting. No British soldier had ever said “Hello” to them in their own language. As far as they knew, no British soldier had ever spoken to any Turkanan tribesman in his own language before today.

They recovered quickly and responded with a chorus of “Ejoka!” This was rapidly followed by a stream of words that were totally unintelligible to me. Although my conversational Swahili was already fairly good, my Turkanan was limited to a single word: “Ejoka.”

I explained this to them in Swahili. They saw the funny side and the three of us were soon laughing together at the misunderstanding. They welcomed me into the relative cool in the shadow of their beached boat and offered me a tin mug filled with hot tea and a piece of their mealie. I accepted with an “Asanti sana.” Thank you very much.

I sat on the carved wooden stool that they proudly offered me. The tea was disgusting but the mealie was palatable. I smiled at them, giving the impression that I was enjoying my feast. Both men smelled revolting, smeared in animal fat in the belief that it protected their skin from the powerful rays of the sun. I learned that their names, or at least the English names that they had adopted for themselves, were Gordon and Michael. The mismatch of these names and the pair of almost naked, northern Kenyans who were sitting in front of me, made me giggle.

Both men wore viatu ya rubba tyre. These are very durable shoes, made from vehicle tyres. The soles are cut from the tread of the tyre and the cross traps and heal straps are cut from the thin walls of the tyre. The Turkanan tribesmen usually either wear this type of shoe or go barefoot.

Michael boasted a pair of Army shorts. Other than his shoes, Gordon was completely naked. Well, almost. Each of them wore a very strange bracelet. It looked like a thin disk of metal, worn perpendicular to the wrist, with a thin strip of leather between the metal and the skin, and another around the outside circumference. I was intrigued.

Our conversation continued for about an hour. They told me how they took their boat out on the lake each morning before sunrise so that they could fish for three or four hours before the heat of the day drove them back to the shore to take shelter. In the evening, they would go out on the lake again for a couple of hours before sunset. Some days, they would catch nothing, but most days they would catch enough to take home to feed their families. On a good day, perhaps once a week, they would catch an excess and be able to take it to the chef in the lodge, who would reward them well. They were very happy with their lives.

Already, I had become a friend. “Come to see us again, rafiki yetu,” said Gordon.

“I would love to. Perhaps I can come out fishing with you one morning?”

Ndio! Ndio! Yes! Yes!”

I bid them farewell and headed back to camp.

Over the next few days, I stopped and talked to Gordon and Michael whenever I got the chance. I learned a few more words of Turkanan, but we conversed, mainly, in Swahili. I would often ask them about their curious bracelets. Al they would say was, “You will see!”

Eventually, we arranged a day when I would meet them by their boat at five in the morning with the intention of joining their fishing expedition.

In the dark, we pushed the boat out into the water and boarded. We paddled for about twenty minutes and then used our crude poles, lines and hooks, which were baited with strips of fish from the previous day’s catch. To my surprise, I was the first to hook a fish. It was a respectable tilapia, weighing almost a pound.

Four hours later, between the three of us, we had caught about a twenty good-sized fish, which lay in buckets in the bottom of the boat. We had drifted a mile north, up past Eliye Springs toward Central Island, so it was a fair row back. I took my turn on the oars but it was sweltering work, even though I was very fit. The pair watched me sweat for a while before Gordon offered to take over.

As he rowed, Michael positioned one of the buckets between his legs as he sat on the for’d thwart.

“Now you will see what we use our ‘bracelets’ for.”

Kisu ya Samaki

Kisu ya Samaki

He slipped his bracelet off his wrist and put his fingers through the centre where his wrist had been. He removed the leather guard from the outer perimeter and poked it into the waistband of his Army shorts for safe-keeping. He selected a fish from the bucket and quickly fileted it with what I now saw was a knife.

He grinned at me. “Kisu ya samaki! Fish knife,” he told me, proudly.

By the time we arrived back at the shore, the two of them had taken turns, rowing and cutting, and all of the fish were nicely fileted and lying in a bucket of clean lake water. The guts had been thrown overboard, and the heads, tails and bones were in another bucket of clean water.

Gordon pointed at the bucket of bones and explained, “Make good soup!”

A small crowd of women and children were waiting, excitedly, as we hauled the boat onto the beach and turned it onto its side, propped on a log, to afford us some shade. I could see that both fisherman had three children each. Their respective wives selected some of the fish and put them into plastic carrier bags before the rest of the women were able to step forward and choose. They handed Michael a few Shillings and thanked him.
It had been a rewarding morning.

Unfortunately, I had duties to perform, so I had to decline their invitation to dine with them.

“Perhaps we’ll go fishing again soon?”

“Yes. You can join us any time, Bwana Mitch.”

After that, I went out with them several times. I was always made to feel most welcome and I really enjoyed my occasional meals with their families. To cap it all, Michael gave me my very own kisu ya samaki at the end of my tour.

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