Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Road Tour of American Song Titles - FlaxFlower Review via

A Road Tour of American Song Titles – From Mendocino to Memphis
by Karl Du Fresne

  Amarillo, Muskogee, San José, Wichita, Galveston ... these American place names are so ingrained in our cultural cache, even here in New Zealand.
   In A Road Tour of American Song Titles – From Mendocino to Memphis, author Karl Du Fresne takes a literal road trip through the towns and cities that feature in some of the most recognisable songs of the last century.
  He asks the question most of us have probably not thought to ask – why are so many songs written about or after places in America? He concludes that it’s three-fold. Firstly, in some casesit’s as simple as the place name rhyming with a key word in the song title – Amarillo, pillow– but also, that some of the places are really quite off the beaten track and therefore lack the glamour of the classic tourist destinations of say, New York and Los Angeles (and indeed, Du Fresne covers five places in the state of California, none of them the expected pitstops). In fact some of the towns evoke a sense of isolation, decay, desolation which make fantastic material for songs. Thirdly, Du Fresne explains that there’s an “indefinable” mystique to these places, perhaps a kind of romance, even though not all of the songs have happy endings.
   The premise of a road-trip travelogue is not new, but what this book offers differs a little from the usual eating-and-drinking travel extravaganza. The author's research is impeccable and it’s hard not to become absorbed in the depth of this even from the first chapter, “Walking to New Orleans”. Here, as an example of that contextualising of the music, the author covers the influence of French and African culture on this city, and its proximity to the Caribbean too. The surprise fact in all of this is that the rock and roll (or thereabouts) music of Fats Domino pre-dates that of Bill Haley, who is widely accepted as the having performed the first rock and roll song. Du Fresne is also able to describe musical styles and instrumentation in some depth, but if that becomes all too much for a reader, he also describes some of the eateries and local fare and there's plenty of historical referencing too. There's also plenty of biographical detail about the artists.
   Du Fresne has given the book a real emotional centre – he loves these songs. He also hooks into the idea that aspects of American culture, and the lowbrow, anti-intellectual nature of the songs, reveals a really attractive, folksy side of an America that we don’t often see promoted.
   Who would like this book? Certainly, music buffs, or budding ones at least. Music, the writers, and musicians are the core of this work. Secondary to that it would appeal to would-be travellers who were keen to stay out of the main centres. It would also appeal to readers who want a fresh perspective on some of the greatest songs ever written. The overarching tone of the book is 'wide-eyed', as the author drinks in what make these songs tick.

Review by Katherine Stewart
Title: A Road Tour of American Song Titles – From Mendocino to Memphis
Author: Karl Du Fresne
Publisher: Bateman
ISBN: 978-1-86953-938-2
Available: bookshops 
FlaxFlower Review via

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Review of Ladder to the Moon by PJ Fry from

Ladder to the Moon
by P J Fry

   This is a love story set around the Arab–Israeli war of 1967. The couple at the centre are Captain John Ferris a New Zealand army captain serving as a UN military observer on the Israeli–Lebanon border, and Leila, a Palestinian woman he meets while rescuing a child from a burning building. 
   Their relationship grows in the midst of the confusion and violence of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, but must remain secret because the UN observers are forbidden to show any bias or favouritism towards either side. They make plans to marry and travel to New Zealand to start a new life together, however the conflict has other plans for them. It is a story that reveals the suffering endured by the Lebanese and Palestinians during the fighting that devastated their country.  It is a tale related by someone who has clearly experienced the region and its difficulties first hand.
    John Ferris risks his military career by continuing to meet Leila, but she takes a far greater risk, as discovery of her relationship by the PLO or her own brothers would mean disaster for her. Her mother also plays a significant role in the story, disapproving at first, but finally accepting that marrying John would mean a much better life for her daughter. However, nothing is easy at that time in Lebanon. The couple are caught up in the confusion of the conflict, and the final outcome is really unexpected.
    The author has been a New Zealand army captain who served the UN as an observer in the Middle East and in East Timor, and this military experience makes the battle sequences seem very realistic and vivid.  One thing it impressed upon me was the danger that the unarmed UN observers were exposed to, and the isolation they experienced while doing their job on the border between Israel and Lebanon. At the time of the Israeli invasion there were only 15 of them in small observation posts stretched out across the whole country. They were in constant danger of attack by Israelis who did not want them there, or PLO soldiers who saw them as a source of money and took every opportunity to rob them at gunpoint.  Being unarmed they had no defence against either side.
    This is a fast-paced book, which captured my attention early on and did not release it until the end. I was grateful for the map at the front of the book and found myself turning to it many times, just to visualise where the action was.
   If there is one criticism, it is that the relationship between the couple develops a little too quickly to be believable. However, I really enjoyed the book and can confidently recommend it to anyone.

Review by Harold Bernard
Title: Ladder to the Moon
Author: P.J. Fry
Publisher: Longview
ISBN: 978-0-473-33930-2

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

See an Exciting New Suspense/Murder book.

The Forbidden Gene (The Ryxin Trilogy Book Two)
by Genesis Cotterell

A suspense murder mystery involving a PI called Curtis McCoy. The murdered woman is just one on a list to be terminated, and there’s a bounty on each woman’s head.
When a Human is accused of murdering his beautiful Ryxin wife, Curtis McCoy is called on to find the real killer. Curtis, half-blood Ryxin, and his assistant, Janux Lennan, also a half-blood, set out on a dangerous journey to uncover the truth.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Nayxana Alien Woman is no longer available

My book Nayxana Alien Woman is no longer available. It's going to be replaced with The Forbidden Gene which is a revised second edition which will also have a new cover. Thanks to all who advertised it on their social media.
Genesis Cotterell.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Ask Yourself, "What do I love deeply?"

Ask yourself, What do I love 
deeply? What has brought 
me to my knees? What has
totally broken me?" The
combination of these answers
can give you a voice.

(Natalie Goldberg)

Review of When the Roller Coaster Stops (

When the Roller Coaster Stops 
by Susan Tarr

Although it is 29-year-old Bethany who is diagnosed with colorectal cancer, When the Roller Coaster Stops is as much Kate’s story as it is Bethany’s. And yet, Kate is in the story, in Bethany’s life, almost by accident and frequently, at least initially, against her better judgement.
    It is easy enough to sympathise with Bethany as her doctor makes his uncompromising diagnosis, as she rails against her cruel fate and as her health deteriorates. I found it far more difficult to feel any liking for her. For much of the course of her illness – and she is already ill when we meet her in chapter 1 – she is decidedly nasty, catty, manipulative … and vain. Although others tell Kate how kind, funny, intelligent and generous Bethany is, being nice is something that Bethany is forced to learn: a trait that she eventually masters in the novel’s final chapters.

To read the rest of the review go to:

Thursday, August 04, 2016

A Review of Murder on Muritai by Tyler Pike for Amazon Kindle

By Tyler Pike on July 25, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
Murder on Muritai
by Genesis Cotterell

This alien murder mystery was one of the more unique pieces of writing
I have read in recent years. When the author sent me a copy of Murder
on Muritai for an honest review, I saw the word “alien” in the blurb and
expected a book emphasizing technology, gadgetry, all tied together with
a plot based on an otherworldly super-weapon. Instead, I was pleased to
find a solid, character-driven, folksy old-fashioned murder mystery that
happened to involve aliens who openly populated the earth a century ago.

The book’s half alien hero, Curtis McCoy, is a likable, down-to-earth
private eye who plods along trying to solve his first case, while at the
same time he likes whiskey and women, both of which get him in plenty
of trouble. And the trouble he gets into helps him solve his case and get
the girl. Perfect, right?

The book is well-edited and written in a smooth, clear style. My only
complaint is that the suspense does not hold up consistently, as there is a lot
of world-building, some of which seemed repetitious to me. But this will not
 bother genre readers who thrive on the details.

The appeal of this book should extend beyond genre readership; mystery lovers
will appreciate the carefully drawn trail that leads to the capture of the unlikely murderer.

I will most certainly be interested to read the sequel.