Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Another Place to die by Sam North
Publisher: London, UK.
Published (6 Feb 2007)
Language English
ISBN-10: 1847538991
ISBN-13: 978-1847538994Prices: UK: £13.50 US: $18.00 CAN: £20.00

A powerful portrayal of an underestimated threat.

The invisible killer. We’ve all seen the media frenzy over the latest deadly outbreaks: SARs, Avian flu…. We’ve all been gripped with fear as they sensationalize the story, only to have it disappear soon after; leaving us to wonder if this was just another scare story. Yet history is riddled with stories of deadly plagues and killer viruses ravaging populations and wiping out civilizations. What makes us think that it could not happen again?

Sam North’s latest novel is not a work of Science Fiction. It’s not even a work of fiction. It is potential fact!

Set in Vancouver, this is the tale of a world ravaged by a mutated version of the avian flu virus. People are dropping dead in the thousands, society has broken down and anarchy is slowly ensuing. In the midst of all this turmoil are three sets of characters, Fen and her dog Red who, along with her family, flee to a remote island in an attempt to wait out the epidemic. Arno flies from Toronto to Vancouver to find Rachel, the woman he loves, and together they try to outrun the virus. Finally there’s Deka, a cab driver whose good friend Dr Borov somehow helps them both to survive the virus with his own medicinal cocktail. The so-called experts have failed to develop an effective vaccine and now most of these experts are also dead. People are afraid of people. No-one knows who to trust. The government are no longer able to protect you. The economy is all but destroyed. The world seems doomed.

Yet out of the ashes emerge these three sets of characters who prove that all is not lost. When all is said and done it’s the ordinary people who save the day. Through all the doom and seeming despair, hope remains alive with some. When you’ve hit rock bottom and survived, the only way is up.

What makes this book so much more compelling is Sam’s easygoing and free-flowing style of writing. Rarely have I discovered a new author who can draw you into his world so easily. His writing is alive and engaging, and the dialogue is so down to earth that you feel like the people are next to you acting it out. Sam has the enviable ability to create a diverse group of characters that the reader is able to vividly picture and instantly like or dislike; something that should be commonplace, but is sadly lacking in many of today’s books.

Fascinating, frightening and compelling, Another Place to Die is the ultimate page-turner which I guarantee will result in many late nights under the bedside light with you uttering, ‘just one more chapter!!’

Reviewed by Ian Middleton: Travel Writer and photographer, and author of Mysterious World: Ireland.

Friday, 23 March 2007

Review of The Rough Guide to Slovenia by Norm Longley

The Rough Guide to Slovenia - Edition 2
By Norm Longley
Paperback: 366 pages
Publisher: Rough Guides; 2 Rev Ed edition (25 Jan 2007)
Language English
ISBN-10: 1843537257
ISBN-13: 978-1843537250

Insightful and informative, Rough Guide to Slovenia is an essential part of anyone’s Slovenia travel kit!

As a seasoned traveller, having an accurate and useful travel guide is an essential part of my kit. Recently I have grown tired of mainstream and established guides leaning more towards database listings of where to go and what to do. I want insight. I want to know about a place, its history, culture and the author’s personal views. I want to feel inspired to visit a place by the writing. So it’s refreshing to see that the Rough Guides still manage to maintain an acceptable balance between information and insight.

The Rough Guide to Slovenia is now in its second edition and there have been many improvements. The most obvious is the new glossy cover; a full page photo with a translucent band across help to make the book much more aesthetically appealing to the eye, which is a vast improvement from the bland cover of the previous edition.

The colour intro contains a useful quick reference guide to the country’s highlights, and scattered throughout the book you’ll also find two new colour inserts that help to give more emphasis on the two things the country is most famous for: caves and outdoor activities.

More importantly though, is the content. The author manages to maintain an easygoing style which almost makes you feel like he is actually talking to you. Whilst striving to provide accurate information he is also not afraid to give blatantly honest reviews of places and accommodation. His description of a place in Bled where I have personally stayed is right on the button:

“This popular lakeside place has a convivial atmosphere despite the rooms being dated and cramped.”

It’s for this kind of honesty that people buy a travel guide. If we just wanted a simple list of places to stay and go we would ask at the tourist office, or read the brochures. But independent travellers who want to plan their own itinerary want to know what the place is really like, so they can make an informed decision as to where to go and stay.

While boxed sections highlight special events or places of interest, the bulk of the information is neatly woven into sectioned paragraphs each written with a clarity and authority that is indicative of the author’s thorough research and in-depth knowledge of the country. The second edition also contains more detailed maps than the previous edition and its map of the Triglav National Park is the best I’ve seen yet.

Extremely well written and packed with accurate and useful information, the Rough Guide to Slovenia is an essential aid to anyone planning a trip to this beautiful and diverse little country.

Reviewed by Ian Middleton: Travel Writer and photographer, and author of Mysterious World: Ireland.

Author’s Bio:
Ian Middleton is a freelance travel writer and photographer from the UK. He is the author of three travel narrative books and one travel guide to ancient Ireland, Mysterious World: Ireland. Ian has also written for several magazines, including Mysterious World, backpacker Ireland, Walking World Ireland, Take your car UK and the Slovenia Times newspaper. Ian's photography has been published in Mysterious World: Ireland, Masa Acher magazine, Living Abroad, Bradt Travel Guides and the Slovenia Times newspaper.
Visit my websites:
Check out my new travel guide to ancient Ireland:

*The author give permission for the contents of this review to be reproduced in whole or part as long as the party gives full credit to the reviewer, either using the tagline alone or, space permitting, the tagline with author’s bio.*

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Review of The Frugal Book Promoter by Carolyn Howard Johnson

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Star Publish (August 4, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 193299310X
ISBN-13: 978-1932993103

The Author’s promotional bible. Always keep it close it times of need.

What can I say about this book that hundreds of other authors haven’t? As a writer and self-publisher, the onus has always been on me to promote my own books; a task I’ve always found extremely difficult and laborious. I’m a writer and photographer, not a sales and marketing expert. I hate feeling like I’m talking to someone just to sell them something, or boast about my fantastic book. I always imagine them thinking, “Of course you would say it’s good, you wrote it!” And like most writers, I want to write, not be a salesman.

But Carolyn Howard Johnson has shown me a whole new way to not only promote, but make it fun and tie it in with the thing you are passionate about: writing!

The Frugal Book Promoter shows us how you need to brand yourself as an author, and publicise yourself as much as your work. You don’t have to boast about your work, just simply let people know it’s there. If your book is good, others will boast about it for you. Exposure is the word Carolyn uses often. She teaches us that the trick is to simply brand yourself as an author and let people know who you are, and what you write. Carolyn shows us a prolific amount of ways to do this, from writing articles for free to blogging, joining discussions groups, writing book reviews and so much more. It’s so simple, and in most cases completely free. I often hated the thought of writing articles for free, but the book emphasises that although you may write for free, the tagline at the end could well result in book sales, so effectively you are likely to get paid indirectly. Think about it, these publications wouldn’t have paid you anyway, and you would have to pay for advertising, so effectively you are working for your advertising. And of course you are writing, which is what a writer wants to be doing.

This is just one example of the priceless advice offered in the Frugal Book Promoter. This book is an absolute treasure chest of useful information, and not only inspires you to get up off your backside and start promoting, but is also packed full of useful websites for you to get started. I’ve committed the ultimate sin with this book by folding over numerous page corners (something I never do with a book) to bookmark all the useful reference points. The websites listed here, often lead on to other useful sites.

I’d always dreamed of the day when I would snag a major publisher so they could do all the promotion for me, but the Frugal Book Promoter has taught me that even with a major publisher, the onus will still be on me to promote my books; after all, ultimately the author cares more about the book than the publisher. So now I plan to forget about that and march best foot forward into a new world of endless promotional opportunities that this book brings.

If you are an author then this is one book you cannot afford to be without. Written with Carolyn’s free-flowing and easy prose, the Frugal Book Promoter stands out head first above the rest and is the sort of book that you will always want to refer back to.

I don’t know how I ever survived without it.

For more info on Carolyn and her other books, visit her website:

Reviewed by Ian Middleton: Travel Writer & Photographer
Ian is the author and photographer of four books, his latest being a travel guide to Ireland’s ancient myths and legends, Mysterious World: Ireland. Learn more about Ian and his work at