Tabitha Ormiston-Smith


Tabitha Ormiston-Smith was born and continues to age. Dividing her time between her houses in Melbourne and the country, she is ably assisted in her editing business and her other endeavours by Ferret, the three-legged bandit.

Smashwords Interview

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Who says I'm grown up?
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My bladder. And the fear of what will happen with regard to my dog's bladder if I don't get up promptly and let her out.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Tabitha Ormiston-Smith online

Where to buy in print


Fiona MacDougall
Fiona MacDougall is conceited, stupid, and completely ineffectual. Watch her bumble through life, screwing up everything she attempts yet coming out on top. Laugh till you are glad you did your pelvic floor exercises.
Dance of Chaos
Price: $3.99 USD.
Gift of Continence
Price: $3.99 USD.
Where The Heart Is
Price: $3.99 USD.
Operation Tomcat
A not very clever detective is assisted to solve his cases by his cat.
Operation Tomcat
Price: $1.99 USD.
Operation Camilla
Price: $2.99 USD.
Operation Badger
Price: $2.99 USD.


With Coffee Spoons
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 68,600. Language: Australian English. Published: July 2, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author, Fiction » Literature » Literary
(5.00 from 1 review)
Collected short fiction. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and perhaps you’ll even think about your life.
Bloodsucking Bogans
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 63,190. Language: Australian English. Published: December 6, 2020. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural
(5.00 from 1 review)
Dingo Flats hasn't been the same since the Murphy family moved back to town. Everywhere cop Sam O’Neill looks, one of them is causing trouble. Even their dogs are delinquents. Meanwhile, local shops are plagued with dead rats on the doorsteps every morning, and the day is fast approaching when Sam will have to give up her police dog pup. What's a cop to do?
Reality Ever After
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 61,490. Language: Australian English. Published: October 29, 2020. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fiction, Fiction » Fantasy » General
Rosalie can't remember much about her life before she was ill. Her life in the Gorgon Hotel is the same every day. But lately, Rosalie has started to dream, and the things she sees in her dreams are starting to make her think there is something very wrong at the Gorgon Hotel.
The Secret Summer of Peter Fotheringay
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 41,240. Language: Australian English. Published: May 24, 2020. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Children’s books » Entertainment
(4.50 from 2 reviews)
Left at boarding school over the Christmas holidays, Peter expects to have a boring time. But when he goes exploring in the school’s disused attic, he finds something that will change his world forever.
Ryan's Affair
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 7,170. Language: Australian English. Published: August 5, 2019. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Short stories, Fiction » Women's fiction » General
Liz and Ryan are happy newlyweds... until she answers his phone and sees the text from the Other Woman.
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 219,890. Language: Australian English. Published: July 31, 2019. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General, Fiction » Women's fiction » Chick lit
Whatever the situation, Fiona MacDougall can be relied upon to stuff it up. She bumbles, daydreams and lies her way through the problems of work (Dance of Chaos), marriage (Gift of Continence), and country life (Where The Heart Is), relying on optimism and her cat.
Where The Heart Is
Series: Fiona MacDougall. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 77,730. Language: Australian English. Published: July 29, 2019. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General, Fiction » Women's fiction » Chick lit
Widowed, broke and unemployed, Fiona moves to a country cottage. She expects it to be just like life in town, but with scenery. Country life turns out to be rather more exacting than she had expected, and she must learn many new skills. But one event will completely change her life!
Sophie and the Frog
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 5,700. Language: Australian English. Published: August 9, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories, Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Jenny was suffering from a bad case of Mother-In-Law from Hell.... until Sophie moved in next door.
Grammar Without Tears
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 30,550. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: April 21, 2018. Categories: Nonfiction » Education & Study Guides » Literacy » General, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
Historical and fictional characters explain common grammatical errors in a funny-as-hell book that will forever change the way you see grammar.
Fifty Shades of Grammar
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 53,150. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: November 30, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » Education & Study Guides » Literacy » Composition & creative writing, Nonfiction » Publishing » Self-publishing
(4.50 from 2 reviews)
Everyone, it’s said, has one book inside him, but getting it out can be problematical. Perhaps you can’t English very well, or you work long hours and just don’t have time, or you started writing and then got stuck? Fear not, for help is at hand. Packed with friendly, no-nonsense advice, Fifty Shades of Grammar will answer all those questions you were too afraid to ask.
Dancing Feet
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 18,720. Language: Australian English. Published: October 20, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy, Fiction » Fairy tales
(5.00 from 1 review)
Ashley is devastated when her widowed father returns from his business trip with a new wife and her two daughters in tow. Pushed to one side by the interlopers, can she make a new life for herself?
Melanie's Diary
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 18,760. Language: Australian English. Published: October 7, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Coming of age, Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Melanie's in trouble. Her toxic parents have forced her beloved grandmother into a nursing home to get her house, and she's being bullied at school. She dreams of running away, but won't leave her granny's old cat behind. Can she find a way forward?
Uncle Zan's Dog
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 3,060. Language: Australian English. Published: July 23, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Themes & motifs » Spiritual & metaphysical, Fiction » Inspirational
"It is not wise to discount the supernatural," says Fang, and proceeds to tell us of a love so great that it could bargain with death.
Operation Badger
Series: Operation Tomcat. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 31,170. Language: Australian English. Published: June 1, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General, Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
Detective Senior Constable Ben Jackson is handsome, kind, diligent, dedicated and a total mensch. He's also as thick as two planks. His girlfriend, Tammy, is clever as anything, but sillier than a wet hen. And then there is Tom. Tom is a cat. Follow this unlikely crime-busting trio as they bucket from one disaster to another.
King's Ransom
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 92,820. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: September 1, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Historical » Medieval, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
(4.67 from 12 reviews)
What really went on back in 1193? Was Richard Lionheart really the hero we think? Was John really that bad? And who was Robin Hood, no really, who was he? Find out the answers to all these questions and more, in this hilariously funny counter-history.
The Real Winner
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 9,620. Language: Australian English. Published: August 25, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary
(5.00 from 3 reviews)
Pete Baxter never wanted a dog, and he was not at all pleased when his wife brought home a puppy. A story of one man's love, and the lengths to which it took him.
Danse Macabre
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 7,620. Language: Australian English. Published: August 20, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General, Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Terry Scunthorpe's dance studio isn't doing so well, and he needs to attract more students in a hurry. His unconventional solution doesn't turn out quite as he planned...
Operation Camilla
Series: Operation Tomcat. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 28,510. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: June 13, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General, Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
(5.00 from 3 reviews)
A sleazy solicitor hacks into a dating website in order to boost his failing family law practice. But he doesn't count on Tom...
Operation Tomcat
Series: Operation Tomcat. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 18,580. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: March 6, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Amateur sleuth
(5.00 from 3 reviews)
Left almost penniless after divorcing her cheating husband, Tammy moves to the country to reinvent her life. But life in a country town isn't as simple as it looks....
No Such Thing
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 20,100. Language: English. Published: March 6, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fiction, Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Callie Jones and her dad are devastated when the bank threatens to foreclose on their home. But help comes from an unexpected quarter, and Callie learns that actions have consequences, and sometimes the price you pay can be too high....
Lifestyle Choice
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 4,110. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: March 5, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary
We all make choices that govern the course of our lives. But sometimes, the choice may not turn out to be what we think it is....
Authorised Staff Only
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 7,070. Language: Australian English. Published: December 7, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias, Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
(5.00 from 1 review)
In a rigidly stratified, decadent society, one man makes the mistake of crossing the class line.
Restless Legs
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 3,840. Language: English. Published: August 4, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Occult, Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction
(5.00 from 1 review)
Pat's parents didn't believe his symptoms were real. Big mistake....
Once Upon A Dragon
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 38,690. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: July 20, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author, Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
(5.00 from 5 reviews)
A non-themed, cross-genre collection of short fiction, including fantasy, science fiction and horror as well as general fiction.
The Dragon of Butter
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 4,170. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: June 8, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Historical, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
(5.00 from 3 reviews)
Being an Account of how Sir Leopold de Draco-Butyris was Elevated to the Rank of Baronet.
Nigel's Holiday
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 6,410. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: January 10, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary, Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
(4.50 from 2 reviews)
Bestselling romance writer Nigel Hawthorne, brought low by writer's block, seeks inspiration in a walking tour of Romania, and finds more than he bargained for.
Professor Tomlinson's Last Experiment
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 3,640. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: June 23, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories, Fiction » Science fiction » General
(5.00 from 3 reviews)
Professor Tomlinson thought he had it made. His new invention was bound to win him international acclaim and a Nobel Prize. But there was one thing he failed to take into account....
Dance of Chaos
Series: Fiona MacDougall. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 70,600. Language: Australian English. Published: May 29, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Humor
(4.83 from 6 reviews)
Lazy, frivolous, conceited and totally self centred, Fiona MacDougall is not an asset to the workforce. When she applies for a transfer to the Infotech department of her company, she does so only in order to get an afternoon off work.
Sophie's Revenge
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 3,480. Language: Australian English. Published: May 14, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Urban, Fiction » Fantasy » Urban
(4.67 from 3 reviews)
Sophie was sweet and kind - until the day someone messed with her.
Excuse of the Day
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,320. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: March 14, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General, Fiction » Women's fiction » General
(4.83 from 6 reviews)
In this hilarious short story, a young woman explains to her boss why she is very, very late for work. Winner of the Gearpress Short Fiction challenge.
User Pays
Price: Free! Words: 4,280. Language: English. Published: February 20, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Themes & motifs » Political, Fiction » Horror » General
(5.00 from 4 reviews)
What if we took our political leaders' rhetoric seriously? What if we implemented their dodgy policies in real life? In this chilling parable, the User Pays doctrine is examined as applied to a typical Australian family.
The Last Dragon
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 3,380. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: March 8, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
An old king with three sons. A dragon menacing the farmlands. A noble quest. One son is strong, one clever and the other one is Lorn. Which will defeat the dragon and inherit his father's kingdom?
Perspectives on a Dragon
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 6,250. Language: English. Published: February 27, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
(4.33 from 3 reviews)
Perspectives: In this pair of short stories, the same event is narrated from two very different viewpoints. The Last Dragon: An old king with three sons. A dragon menacing the farmlands. A noble quest. One son is strong, one clever and the other one is Lorn. Which will defeat the dragon and inherit his father's kingdom?
Gift of Continence
Series: Fiona MacDougall. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 73,840. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: January 29, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General, Fiction » Women's fiction » Chick lit
(4.88 from 8 reviews)
With the perfect wedding dress, what can go wrong? A great deal, as Fiona McDougall rapidly discovers. From the wedding from hell onwards, Fiona successively discovers that her new husband is stingy, bad-tempered and an adulterer. WARNING: do not attempt to read this book while drinking hot liquids, as they may shoot out of your nose.

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Tabitha Ormiston-Smith's favorite authors on Smashwords

Smashwords book reviews by Tabitha Ormiston-Smith

  • Witchwood Estate - Going Home on March 19, 2013

    This short section is a very tantalising look into what promises to be a wonderful book. It has the smoothly competent writing that we've come to expect from Ms Roberts, but the tone of this book is lighter and more humourous than that of the Paradox series. I am very much looking forward to reading the whole book.
  • Spill on May 16, 2013

    This darkly satirical comedy, depicting a failed schoolmaster’s attempt to take on the American political system evokes memories of Our Man in Havana. Mr Attwood has the true comedian’s lightness of touch, and there is hardly a dull moment in it. Particularly fine were the descriptions of Our Hero’s experiences as a schoolmaster. The action moves well throughout the book, and although I found the ending a little abrupt, on reflection I don’t know that the more conventional, drawn-out epilogue chapter would have added anything worthwhile to it. Comic fiction lives or dies by its characters, and this is a particular strength in Spill. Even minor characters are lovingly drawn; no cardboard cutouts here, they are all real and alive. A traditional third person narrative is used, with subtle shifts to its tone depending on the point of view. I have always felt that it is in his use of narrative that a writer shows his true quality, and Mr Attwood passes this acid test with flying colours. There were a very few proofreading errors, but by and large the book’s presentation is excellent, providing a good, clean read. All in all, the book is a joy to read, and will particularly appeal to anyone who has worked in the education system, or in politics.
  • Dragon Sword on Oct. 08, 2014

    I found Dragon Sword immensely entertaining. It's a fast-paced, action-packed urban fantasy with a smart-arsed young heroine. Unlike most books I have read in this genre, though, it doesn't fall into the trap of taking itself too seriously, so a leaven of humour lifts the tone throughout, like yeast bubbling in warm bread. And the dragons! Ah, the dragons. Who doesn't love dragons, and good, noble dragons are even better. This book is evidently the second in a series, and another common fantasy series mistake Cogan has deftly avoided is banging on about forerunners. There's enough backstory that one isn't left floundering, and one is aware that there's a book before this one, but the point is not laboured and one has all the information one needs. As far as form goes, the work has been edited to a high standard, and I was delighted to see this, for it is a common failing with indie writers that quality issues are neglected. Chapter heading quotes from the Tao Te Ching provided a delightful counterpoint to the book.
  • As You Wish on Oct. 09, 2014

    A beautiful tale of three second-chance loves, this book twines about like a vine, bearing fruit at the end with two lonely people finding love and a lost faith regained. On the way, the vine offers various flowers of wisdom as Daniel faces the many obstacles he has placed between himself and his God. The book opens with a delightful air of mystery as two strangers meet in a park at dead of night. Neither knows who the other is, and neither is completely honest with the other. The intensity of dark mystery that is conveyed is almost Gothic. The central question of the book is undoubtedly the male protagonist's faith journey, but it is twined so completely with the love story that the two quests merge into a harmonious whole. Very nice writing, and a well thought-out plot from a writer who obviously is blessed with a deep and informed faith. The beautiful treatment of the age-old problem of evil on its own makes the book worth reading. This book will appeal to anyone who is, or wishes he were, close to God. The specific faith setting is Christian, but I am sure there is plenty here for those of other religions too.
  • Dogs in Space! - Astro's Adventures on Jan. 21, 2015

    I don't get many children's books to review, so Dogs In Space was rather a treat. It's silly in the way that books for small children are, but it is the magnificent silliness that one finds in the best children's books. The earnest, bumbling dogs are very dog-like, and the wonderful arch-villain, Speed Bump Charlie, is beautifully wicked. Such a very catlike cat. This faithfulness to the animals' essential natures gives the book a level of realism that I found pleasing, despite the traditional elements of children's book that have paws functioning as hands, things being removed from pockets, and so on. The book is well paced and the action is kept up and does not flag at all; there's an evenness to it that is very pleasing. It would work well if read to a child in a number of sessions. I note with approbation that Dogs In Space is the latest volume in a fairly extensive series, and feel sure that future generations of adults will look fondly back on the Astro's Adventures books as a childhood classic.
  • Strange Courtships: Nine Romantic Stories on Jan. 30, 2015

    Devotees of the Barbara Cartland school of romance will not enjoy this book. There's nothing sloppy, nothing trite or hackneyed in this sparkling collection of stories. As always, Sarett's work is informed and enlivened by her acutely penetrating observation, and her immunity to pretension of every kind. From the sweet, strange String Theory, to the achingly sad A Strange Courtship, to my personal favourite, Victor's Proposal, and at all points in between, Strange Courtships takes us on a tour of some of the less-travelled possibilities of love. It's a good illustration of what I sometimes think is the difference between a Real Writer and a mere producer of paperback fodder - that ability to see something different even in the most ordinary of situations. I often see people in writers' groups remarking that some subject (love, zombie apocalypses, vampires, murder etc) has been 'done to death', and that there is no new thing under the sun. This book is an answer to, and a complete rebuttal of, that view. It serves as a reminder to us all that there is always something rich and strange, if we have but the talent to write it. These stories deserve from me the ultimate accolade: that I wish I had written them myself.
  • Understanding Your Dog. on Feb. 09, 2015

    This short and charming book give us a run-down on what dogs are all about, from a dog's viewpoint. It's well written and nicely illustrated, and, best of all, within the humour are buried many very true and important facts that all dog guardians should know.
  • Astro is Down in the Dumps on Feb. 25, 2015

    Susan Day's Astro books are all charming, but this one is something special. Designed to educate young children in defensive strategies against depression, the book follows a day in the life of Astro, a dog who has become depressed. Astro's dog friends arrive to visit him, and each one describes a technique that can be used to overcome or prevent depression. The theory behind Astro's friends' suggestions is all very sound, and the verse format, as well as being quite delightful, will go a long way to ensure the lessons learned remain in a child's memory. The technique of 'teaching verses' is a very old one, and it's old because it is effective. The illustrations are plentiful, suitable to the text and well done, and there is just nothing to criticise about the work, particularly when one reaches the end and finds an activity sheet that can be used by each child to reinforce what has been learned, personalise it to his own situation and create a ready-made action plan for himself to use should he ever fall prey to depression. This is a truly wonderful resource for any parent. A gift that can help to make your child proof against one of the most frightening threats of modern life. In the back matter, I learned that proceeds from the sale of this book will be used to fund a project to provide copies to every school and library in Australia. I hope the project succeeds, because it is a truly valuable book and should be disseminated as widely as possible.
  • Fat Chance on March 10, 2015

    The revenge of a betrayed spouse is a terrible thing, and in Fat Chance it is more terrible than most. What made this book really special to me is that, while most 'revenge' books deal with evil revenge, fantasies such as hiding prawns in the curtain pelmets and sugar in the petrol tank, Spencer's hero brings about his revenge by using the qualities that made him a first class husband - his skill in the kitchen, his skill at home repairs, his kindness, generosity and friendliness. They are the skills of a good man rather than the fantasies of an evil one, and the punishment of his erring wife is effective, complete and dreadful, even including remediation of the other marriages she has damaged with her infidelity, although a twist at the end leaves the reader wondering if he is not about to be taken down with the sinking ship. The narrative style is rather flat, but this works well with the first-person voice of the betrayed man - he's a plain-spoken man, not over-educated but thoughtful, and his voice comes through clearly and authentically, making the book work in a way that otherwise it might not have.
  • Lane 1 Closure on March 18, 2015

    In the Dickensian tradition of the Christmas story, Lane One Closure approaches Santa from a very different point of view, as we have come to expect from Mr Spencer. It's difficult to be really original with a Christmas story, but Spencer has done it. I did feel the story could have used a little more polish, but it's a fun, upbeat read.
  • Who Shot Father Christmas? on March 20, 2015

    Those readers familiar with Mr Spencer's work will know that what you expect is hardly ever what you will get. In this novella, another Christmas story is promised, and of course delivered, but you'll be amazed at what else you get. Lest I spoil a reader's surprise enjoyment, I shan't say more about the plot other than that in true Spencer style it juxtaposes elements that no one has ever put together before. The writing is a little rough and the book could do with a good polish, but the plot is so wildly original and the situation so very entertaining that one forgives this. Nevertheless, the manuscript could, I felt, have done with a bit more work. In particular, there are far too many long explanations, which should have been integrated into the narrative.
  • Know-Nothing Nigel on March 27, 2015

    I just loved everything about this story! It's fun, heart-warming and has a happy ending after a horrible concatentation of coincidence and accident.
  • Kiss a Girl in the Rain on May 06, 2015

    A fine piece of work indeed, Kiss a Girl in the Rain is so much more than yet another love story. It's about taking chances, about leaving the comfort zone, about reaching out to life. The characters are well drawn and believable, something that is always a deal breaker for me, and the story moves along at a good pace. I could have done without the insertion of scenes of graphic sex, which I felt added little if anything to the story, but there were only a couple of these and I am aware that the majority of Warren's readers are unlikely to share my views. As noted above, the story is a good one, addressing real issues in a way that engages the reader from the first page to the beautifully satisfying conclusion. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and have added Ms Warren to the small category of romance novelists I actually like to read, alongside Nora Roberts.
  • Smashwords Style Guide on July 28, 2015

    I have this book always on my kindle and often refer to it. It's the best guide I've found for formatting an ebook. I love the way it is broken into tiny simple babysteps. I recommend it constantly to clients and other writers.
  • Clarence. The Snake from Dunolly on July 29, 2015

    A new Susan Day is always a treat, and although this one is very different from the dog-related books we've come to expect from this author, it is certainly no disappointment. I thoroughly enjoyed the adventures of Clarence, which were related with wit, charm and sympathy. A nice introduction to the various wildlife to be found around the Dunolly area, and I was particularly pleased to see snakes receiving a friendly treatment. With charming line-drawings to set off each story, this book is bound to be a favourite with the children.
  • Government Men on Oct. 14, 2015

    As I started reading Government Men, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. The opening was that good. Davies portrayed the geeky scientist so beautifully, with such empathy and wry humour, that one knew he was writing from extensive personal experience. For those first few chapters, I dared to hope that I had discovered another Leaky Establishment. Sadly, however, the book did not live up to its initial promise, degenerating into a chaotic and unstructured saga of hostile aliens, unicorns, Quetzalcoatl and Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all, which failed to engage me, partly because it was much too long, partly because it was unstructured, and partly because it just isn't that good. I was so very sad at this. Davies clearly has enormous talent, and if he would just play to his strengths and write about the things he knows well, I really believe he could be another David Langford.
  • Genevieve on Oct. 26, 2015

    At first this book presents as a deep, broad, wide family saga in the tradition of R.F. Delderfield. And a very nice one, too. But wait - there's more! As the book unfolds, more and more aspects become evident, each one nestling within the enfolding hills of the story of the extended Wetherby family like wrapped gifts under a Christmas tree. The first surprise is the element of erotica, with its naughty spanking scenes. Although I'm not in general a fan of erotica, I had to say this is very well done, with authenticity (as far as I can tell) and grit, while at the same time good taste is never offended. Peabody well knows the distinction between erotica and pornography and never strays from the right path, even while one can almost taste the sweat. I've not often seen erotic passages handled so well - especially given the extreme nature of some of it, the fact that at no time did this rather prudish reader find it offensive speaks volumes. The second surprise is the gripping adventure novel of the trenches of the First War, which emerges in the second half of the book. Again, I'm not a fan of battlefield scenes, but I could hardly put the book down. I could smell the cordite so that it stung my eyes. Beautifully executed, and if Mr Peabody is not a veteran of active service I should be very much surprised. Finally, as the book draws to a close, the mounting tension of the final chapters gave me one of the most exciting espionage reads I've ever encountered. It's an unusual combination, but the disparate elements somehow manage to combine and work well together, giving the reader a wonderful read across at least four genres, even if romance is not taken to be one of them. There were a few places where I felt the work could have done with a little more polish, but all in all a highly satisfying read, and I really cannot wait to see what Mr Peabody will give us next.
  • Hostile Witness, a Josie Bates Thriller on Nov. 24, 2015

    Hostile Witness is billed as a legal thriller, and I don't know that I really agree with that classification; although it's true that the whole thing is about a murder trial, nothing in the plot hinges on a matter of law; it is all about matters of fact. To me, it seemed more appropriately designated a psychological thriller. This, though, is just by the way - this quibble certainly didn't affect my enjoyment of a complex and brilliantly excecuted thriller. It was exciting, believable and scary as hell. The courtroom scenes were beautifully done, and if Ms Forster is not in the law herself I am sure she has at least logged many courtroom hours in the pursuit of verisimilitude. The characters were engaging and realistic, in the psychological sense. An excellent beginning caught the reader from the first page, and the book didn't let go. I'd certainly like to read more from this author. I was slightly irritated at the apparent carelessness of the proofreading of this fine book. Frequent homophone errors (not that frequent, but I did notice at least four or five, and that is four or five too many for a published work) were a nagging irritant.
  • UnEnchanted on Nov. 25, 2015

    I'm a big fan of fairytale retellings, and UnEnchanted didn't disappoint, although I found the concept slightly derivative. As a fairytale retelling it was competent, as a high-school story it was competent, and all round the book was a pleasant way to idle away a couple of hours. But somehow it never realised its early promise; it was not so much that there was anything missing - klutzy, lovable heroine, check - loyal sidekick, check - ancient evil, check - just that there was nothing special to make this book rise above the great mass of similar books out there.
  • Nikola Tesla: Imagination and the Man That Invented the 20th Century on Dec. 06, 2015

    This brief account of the life of the interesting Nikola Tesla, who apparently invented everything important in today's technology, was fascinating and nicely written. I did think the notion of proof was tossed about with a little more abandon than I like to see in a work of non-fiction. To demonstrate a thing is not to prove it. But as the main thrust of the book was an historical account, this is not of such moment as it would be in a more technical work.
  • Rhyming Words Are For Everyone? on Dec. 15, 2015

    Treading in the hallowed footsteps of Mr Kipling comes Barry Peabody, with verses replete with warmth, wry wit and social commentary. From the chilling warning of The Man Who Drinks Alone to the saucy humour of Selling Oneself and Just Before the Dawn (my personal favourite) we ride a roller coaster of laughter and sobriety. Of particular note to me were the capable way in which the rhythm made dear to us by Mr Kipling is wielded by this poet, exemplified in Song of the Sword, and the rich visual imagery his lines call forth, most particularly in the wonderful river song, Alpha and Omega. In many of the poems, the poet's passionate love for his wife beats so strongly. Mrs Peabody is a lucky woman, I think. And Meeting A Friend had me crying real tears, as I am sure will be the case with anyone who's lost a dog. All in all, a wonderful collection, which will appeal greatly to any admirer of Kipling.
  • Daylight Stealing Time on Dec. 24, 2015

    Although the premise was interesting, I found the fundamental premise of this book naive - computer log files don't overwrite themselves just because the TOD value is altered. DST cutover does not result in data loss in any functional system. Further, for the clocks to be set back, to overwrite earlier logs and transaction data, they would have to have been going OFF DST, not onto it. The other problem I found with the book was that the characters were insufficiently developed, which detracted from the reading experience. So much more could have been made of what was a basically good plot idea.
  • The Socialist on Jan. 07, 2016

    This fine novel falls squarely into a genre which I call literary activism. I am always banging on about how a novelist must never preach, how it is sufficient to hold up undesirable behaviours in all their ugliness and stupidity, to show the good, and in reviewing The Socialist I feel vindicated in my position. There is not a word of irritating preaching in the entire book, yet I can hardly believe anyone could fail to be persuaded of the ultimate truth and goodness of a socialist society after reading it. It is a fine piece of work indeed. Unlike the other books of Wolf's that I have read, this one confines itself to a single point of view and first person narrative, and in this format the author has found his strength. The narrating character is finely drawn, and there are times when one hardly draws breath as one follows his deserved fall and then his redemption. Aside from the book's moral and political payload, it is a riveting, exciting piece of fiction, beautifully written. I have no criticism of this fine book. I would like to see it made required reading in every high school.
  • The Witches' Journal on Jan. 10, 2016

    For sheer fun I don't know when I've seen the like of this remarkable little book. It's a wonderful mixed bag of recipes, bath recipes, Celtic tree astrology, poetry and reference sections with the properties of herbs, colours, and stones. You could dip into it at random like a lucky dip, or perhaps concentrate on a section of interest. A bonus item included is a copy of Witchwood Estate - Going Home, the first book in the well-known Witchwood Estate series by this author. The recipe section contains some very intriguing recipes, two of which were contributed by me and are delicious and super-easy, but the others all also look to be delicious and super-easy. The poetry section contains several poems by Barry Peabody, a poet in the style of Kipling of whose work I am fond. The sections giving the magical properties of stones, colours, herbs et alia could be used as a handy pocket reference by Wiccans and other spell-working New Age people - they are not encyclopaedic, but are solid, with all of the major items covered. Well worth downloading, and I plan to add it to my Reference section just for the recipes.
  • The Lucky Leprechaun - Astro's Adventures on Sep. 27, 2016

    I was more delighted than I can say to receive this, the twelfth and latest book in the Astro's Adventures series. Once again we are taken to far-off places and treated to some educational facts along with the hilarious adventures of Astro's gang and the nefarious arch-villain, Speed-bump Charlie. The eductional content, though, is never obtrusive - it slides under the surface without notice, just as educational content in a children's book ought to do. There is really nothing not to like in these books. They're funny, they're educational, and the good are rewarded and the bad punished, although no one ever dies or is badly hurt. I feel very sure that future generations of adults will look back on Astro and his gang with fond nostalgia, as we do on the Famous Five and their ilk.
  • The Dog Assassins Partly Illustrated. The Adventures of Llewelyn and Gelert Book Two on Dec. 29, 2016

    This second book in The Adventures of Llewelyn and Gelert didn't take me by surprise as the first one did. I already knew what to expect from the first book. This one didn't disappoint, although I thought there could have been a bit more Gelert in it - he wasn't quite so strong a presence as in the first book. Gelert is, of course, my favourite character, chiefly because he is just such a real hound, with his constant pissing, noxious farts and predilection for eating vile substances, he resonates in a way that fictional dogs seldom achieve. Regardless, it's a tremendously fun read, and this is one of the very few books where I regretted buying the Kindle version instead of hardcopy; that's because the illustrations, all drawn by the author, are an absolute delight. Bell is a talented artist as well as a writer, and some of the pictures are so lovely they are framable. This book and its predecessor are for this reason absolutely ideal to be given as gifts.
  • Capturing Faith (volume 1) on May 29, 2017

    In these days when so much Young Adult fiction is packed with hardcore sex and even bestiality, Capturing Faith is a breath of heavenly-scented fresh air. I thought at first I was going to criticise it for being rather unexciting, but that changed a few chapters in when shock and horror suddenly exploded. Full marks for excitement, and for a really difficult situation well defined and well resolved. Without preaching, the book does explore several faith-related issues. These could be relevant to both Christians and people from other religious systems. Altogether a good read.
  • Tabitha Tickham and the Cake Crisis on June 04, 2017

    Within a page of starting Home Economics for Girls I had slowed down to approximately the reading speed I use for people like Kant and A.J. Ayer. Not that it's hard to follow, at all - but there is a level of enjoyment above which one just has to prolong the experience, and I didn't want to miss a syllable of this wonderful book. Tabitha Tickham is a wonderful character, with something of the quality of a catherine wheel that's not been adequately nailed to the fence. You do not know where or how she will explode next. Despite this larger-than-life quality, she is eminently believable, as is her older sister, the serious and faintly pompous Violet. There's no false sentiment here - they are depicted with ruthless honesty and a deep understanding of what childhood is really like. Violet may or may not be fat and smelly. We do not really know whether her little sister's gibes are fair comment, or merely the taunting of a pre-pubescent sibling. Similarly, we do not really know what Marcus looks like, and yet he is unmistakably there, a massive, sighing, philosophical houndish presence. This was one of the things I particularly appreciated about Wright's work; very seldom is anything really described in any detail, yet the entire book has a richly visual quality. The reader is allowed to supply. To do this, and do it well, requires a sureness, a lightness of touch and a mastery of language that is rare in any case, but extremely rare in a first novel. There's a madness to the sequence of events, a dreamlike inevitability that tells us that of course a cake left on the window sill to cool will be knocked out of window; what else? Wright has demonstrated, not only a fertile brain and the ability to produce a richly satisfying story, but a command of his craft that makes every sentence a joy. I cannot wait for more.
  • The Old Dog and the Doorstep on June 04, 2017

    This little gem was far too short to suit me, although in literary terms it was exactly the right length. But, having become addicted to this author with my first dose, I was hoping for a bigger hit. Still, what it lacks in length it more than makes up in quality, and in wit, subtlety, and skill. I shan't say more lest I give away a spoiler, but if you don't read this you are denying yourself a great pleasure.
  • French for Girls on March 05, 2018

    From the creator of Home Economics for Girls comes another episode in the life of the beleaguered Violet Tickham. This time, Violet is encountering the joys and tragedies of First Love. It's a great big roller coaster of a book. The opening section had me literally screaming with laughter; one of Wright's particular strengths is his lightness of touch, and the schoolgirl French and schoolboy English were so beautifully done, so completely authentic and at the same time hilarious, that I found myself slowing right down to a crawl, to savour every sentence. It's not all mad hilarity, though; there's a darkness in this book, with hints dropped throughout foreshadowing the terrible disappointment that is in store for Violet, although nothing, I think, could prepare the reader for what actually happens. Very much in evidence is also Wright's masterful command of language, and this is given free rein in the lyrical passages where first love meets Nature. Some of it is so beautiful it will bring tears to your eyes. Never let it be thought, though, that this writer could allow himself to descend into sloppy sentiment. A constant leaven of sharp humour bubbles through the work like yeast in a bun, and with much the same effect. I particularly loved the sly tribute to Geoffrey Willans, in which Violet's school's brother school is St Custard's. The ending is tragic, in the traditional sense of the word, and this, too, is handled with elan and the sure lightness of touch that distinguishes the capital W writer. I cannot recommend this writer enough.
  • Crows on March 13, 2018

    Part fantasy, part detective fiction, this book moves excitingly through a series of incidents so strange, so bizarre that one feels almost as if one were dreaming, rather than reading it. Often in fiction one can predict the outcome, but that certainly wasn't the case for me with this little gem! Strangeness layers upon strangeness, and even at the end, although the story is resolved, one isn't quite sure what has happened. In these days when so many writers explain every tiny little detail, I found the mystery-drenched atmosphere of of Crows quite enchanting. Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for the purpose of an honest review.
  • Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels on May 25, 2020

    Skylar Robbins is back, unstoppable as ever. From facing down evil bikies to asking a boy out on their first date, nothing is too scary for her. I love this feisty character. And the reason I love this character so much is that she is, ultimately, acceptable. She's not some super-hero type who gets away with being smugly rude to adults and behaves like a world-beating superstar. Outside her detective activities she's a normal young girl with a normal girl's concerns - her troubles are real ones, she worries about the school bully, about whether That Boy really likes her, she worries about her friend's learning difficulty and about when she'll get her period. She's eminently believable, and because of that, we can accept her detective abilities. And what a role model! She's respectful to her parents, she never whines or sulks, and she likes to keep her room nice, and even in the middle of her important detective activities, she finds time to research a way to help her dyslexic friend overcome her reading difficulties. Speaking of that dyslexic best friend, I also really liked the way the author empowered the dyslexic child. All too often these kids are written off, dismissed as 'stupid', and it was great to see Alexa celebrated for her intelligence and problem-solving ability, not just for being a good sidekick. As for the story, it was fast-paced, exciting and a thundering good read. The ending was beautifully resolved, and while a strong hook was placed for the next book in the series, this could in no way be described as a cliff-hanger. The writing is smooth, professional and a pleasure to read. I look forward to more in the series.
  • Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Missing Heiress on May 27, 2020

    I loved this new episode of Skylar's adventures. In particular with this book, I loved the way that not everything was sugar-coated. I found the missing heiress, Xandra Collins, when we did finally meet her, very creepy and sinister. Her story didn't seem convincing to me, and I felt it was just a little more far-fetched than I was comfortable with. She was not a person with whom I would like my own children to be familiar. That, for me, prevented the wonderfully satisfying denouement from being cloyingly Disneyish. More generally, the book is a wonderful read, and the detailed and so-believable tales of early teenage life, and the preoccupations and concerns of a young girl at that age, are just the epitome of realism. It is the gift of the true writer to be able to think herself so deeply into a character's head that this is possible, and Cross certainly has that gift. All of the elements of a great novel are here - the moral element, the development and learning of the principal character through the events of the book, the swift and sure establishing of the reader's total sympathy with that character - I would certainly buy this book for my child if he were in that age group. It has just the right level of moral content, and that content well wrapped in exciting fiction so that the didactic element doesn't put one's back up, as do all of the really great children's books. Although the subject matter is very different, I was a little reminded of Sewell's Black Beauty.