The first two quick flicks come via my Sony Reader. Both were sent to me as PDFs to review.
In Emu Patrol by Iain Wells one honest, though hapless, mistake sets in motion a farcical sequence of events. Not quite Hornby, but with a soundtrack he would certainly approve of, this is a decent attempt at a contemporary romantic comedy from the male perspective. It could do with a bit of polishing but I chuckled my way through the opening chapters and was able to ignore my editorial quibbles.
Good Morning Afghanistan has a terrible cover (sorry, but it does) which may well detract from a cracking book. This is the true story of how Waseem Mahmood set up a daily radio show in post-Taliban Afghanistan. It reads like a thriller, although if it were fiction you would think it too far-fetched. The author was recovering from a dodgy goat kebab when he saw the 9/11 attacks on television. If he hadn't been suffering from a dicky tummy that day then he would have been on American Airlines flight 77 which crashed into the Pentagon. A close shave if ever there was one. His subsequent story is no less remarkable. I just hope readers aren't scared off by the jacket.
Mair Watkins drives from Wales to Torre de Burros in Spain in a battered yellow Beetle. The town is popular with pilgrims, many of whom climb the 99 stone steps to the church on their knees to honour the Virgin. Mair is searching for information about her grandfather, a Republican volunteer in the Spanish Civil War. She teams up with local beggar (sorry, seller of religious trinkets) Hector and together they uncover a disturbing history. Hector's Talent for Miracles is written by Kitty Harri who also writes as Kitty Sewell. Her Sewell persona was responsible for a wonderful hidden gem called Ice Trap a couple of years ago. The opening chapters have lured me in and I will definitely be finishing this one. Sadly, another book with a poor cover. Small publishers need to have good book jackets if they are to stand any hope of selling copies to the big chains.
In A Necessary Killing Julie attempts to keep her farm going through the foot and mouth epidemic following the death of her husband, a struggle that leads to revenge and murder. Author Hilary Lloyd brings the reader into the story slowly, but perhaps too slowly for me. I couldn't engage with it, despite it being well written. Yet another terrible cover though, it looks very amatuerish which negates a cracking cover quote from Kate Long. This book will appeal to some, it just didn't work for me.
Another cracking quote, this time from Gervase Phinn, adorns the cover of Boozers, Ballcocks and Bail by Stephen D. Smith. He reckons it is 'guaranteed to lift your spirits and make you laugh out loud'. It didn't quite do that for me, but then neither does the work of Mr Phinn, although I did smirk a bit. The book is an account of the author's career as a criminal lawyer in Rotherham and is very much from the Phinn school of anecdotal memoir and therefore bound to appeal to his fans.
Alex Bailey is not a great writer (he uses about five times as many commas as he needs) but he is a great photographer. He has been a stills photographer for over 25 years and has worked on movies such as Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, Phantom of the Opera, Tomb Raider, Troy and The History Boys. Movie Photos is a frank, honest and straightforward guide to making it as a photographer in the film industry. It is also packed with stunning shots from the movies he has worked on. To be honest, the slightly clunky writing style can be ignored as the author's enthusiasm for his subject and his desire to impart his years of knowledge win through making this essential reading for amateur snappers and students of the art. I have already had two people ask to borrow my copy since I mentioned it in a previous post.
I like the idea of Giles Goodland's Capital more than the execution, if I am being honest. Each poem in this collection is constructed from fragments of text taken from other sources. So, in Cancer Capital, you have lines from Newsweek, Irish Times, Vanity Fair and several other publications. Each is from a different year, each is presented in sequence and each tackles or mentions or alludes to the subject of cancer. Other poems include Liquid Capital, Murder Capital, Working Capital and so on. Sometimes the cut and paste lines collide with serendipitous results but more often they sit uncomfortably alongside each other. It is a bold experiment that doesn't quite work for me but I urge you to check it out if the idea remotely appeals.
And finally, I have kept Not Enough Room to Swing a Cat
in the toilet for a while. It is the ideal lavatorial library volume, taking the reader through the origins of many words and phrases that started out as naval slang. 'Taken aback', 'at loggerheads', 'under the weather', 'binge' and many more are included. Some will be obvious but most are surprising entries. Much fun to be had.