Saturday, 21 March 2015

Top Banana by Kath Middleton

I finished reading Top Banana a few days ago and I'm still laughing. The book has a serious side but it's carried along by some very funny scenes.

I know that Kath Middleton is an accomplished writer of shorter pieces having enjoyed both her novellas: Ravenfold and Message in a Bottle. However, Top Banana, Kath Middleton's first novel, demonstrates that she can extend her range and sustain it into a much larger work.

Steven Oliver Stanley (note the initials) is a twenty five years old young man who seems to be locked into a teenage Saturday job and life style. He's basically a decent type and when he stumbles over wrong-doing his first instinct, which he follows up straightaway, is to go to the police. The consequence of his right action is a series of events that are transformational and by the end of the book Steven has come-of-age and embarked upon a happy-ever-after life journey.

Top Banana really is a feel-good book. There are several instances of the triumph of right over wrong; there are the laugh-aloud funny events that are interspersed throughout the story from beginning to end; and there is a wonderful Mr Pollyish theme that emerges as the story unfolds where Steven takes responsibility for his life and takes actions to change it.

Steven himself is a wonderful character. He is so endearing despite his daft ideas and extraordinary fascination for fruit and veg. His mother is a nightmare of pursed lips, rolled eyes and acidic comments; Steven's long suffering dad is a quiet, formidable force who holds the little family together. Steven's first boss is an Ealing comedy villain while the second is a paradigm of human resources best practice. And when Steven eventually meets the love of his life, she turns out to be the sweetest, kindest, most grounded character that either he or the reader could wish for.

Beneath the comedy, Top Banana is a novel about relationships and these are explored wisely and with sensitivity. The book is ultimately positive and uplifting; it leaves behind a strong sense of the power of humankind to change for the better and this lasts even longer than the laughter.

I look forward to reading whatever Kath Middleton writes next and highly recommend Top Banana. You can find details of Top Banana and all her other books on Kath Middleton's Author Page at or at

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Search for the Golden Serpent (Servant of the Gods Book 1) by Luciana Cavallaro

I've already read Accursed Women by Luciana Cavallaro and found all the stories in the collection to be very well written, entertaining, informative and highly original. You can read my full review of Accursed Women here if you missed it.

Recently the author agreed to answer some questions for Indie Bookworm in an Interview with Luciana Cavallaro. When I read that she was going to publish a series of novels titled Servant of the Gods I knew I would want to read them.

Search for the Golden Serpent is the first book in the series and you can imagine how delighted I was when Luciana Cavallaro invited me to be an early reader and sent me a copy of the book to download.

[Full disclosure: The author provided me with a copy of Search for the Golden Serpent in exchange for an honest review.]

Search for the Golden Serpent is an historical, mythological, fantasy quest on an epic scale.

Evan Chronis is a present day architect with a fascination for ancient buildings, civilisations and cultures. When his life unexpectedly involves him with the ancient Greek gods the reader is taken with Evan (or Evandros as he is known in ancient times) on a quest to rescue crucial artefacts that are needed by the gods to save their mythological civilisation.

The plot is completely plausible. Fantasy and reality meld seamlessly with mythology until the reader is immersed in a world of times long past urging Evandros to step up, take command and do what is necessary to save the day.

I was confident that Search for the Golden Serpent would be well written. Luciana Cavallaro has already demonstrated in Accursed Women her ability to tell a tale, sustain the reader's engagement from start to finish and keep the pages turning. However I did wonder how she would get on with a full length novel after writing shorts. The answer is she gets on really well and she's brought all her talent as a writer of short stories into this her first full length novel. The complex plotting, the fully developed characterisation and the beautiful descriptions of places, people and cultures are a delight to read.

Evan / Evandros is an intriguing main character who provides a commentary on the narrative as the story unfolds which helps the reader to know him better but also contributes to the evolving acceptance of this fantastical tale. There is also a Greek chorus of commentary from the lesser gods as the relationship between Evan / Evandros and top god Zeus plays out.

The cast of supporting characters are drawn from the present day, from ancient history and from mythology. Right from the start the reader is drawn to the characters and wants to know them better. The author has the ability to make the reader care what happens to the characters and the epic scale of this novel means that there's plenty of scope for the development of relationships and for those relationships to be put to the test.

Search for the Golden Serpent is a thoroughly enjoyable fantasy quest novel which really works but the novel is made extra special by the wonderful background detail that the author has woven throughout the story. As the reader accompanies Evan / Evandros and the other characters from one ancient place to another their world comes alive. Luciana Cavallaro's passion for Ancient History and Mythology permeates every page of this book and she paints verbal pictures of the changing scenes that are vivid and detailed.

If you've already read and enjoyed any of the stories in Accursed Women you're sure to love this new book from Luciana Cavallaro. I really enjoyed reading Search for the Golden Serpent and recommend it highly. It will be published on March 27th 2015 and is available to pre-order now. There are details at

and at the author's website