Sprocket, Friends, and Enemies

One of my true joys is reading and sometimes reviewing indie books. I have found there are some really great ones out there—great to the point that they deserve to be picked up by a regular publisher, if in fact they haven’t already. Here are two written by an author I met on the Goodreads site named Bryan Pentelow. Both are adventure stories involving a crazy combination of characters both human and animal. There are protagonists, antagonists, and lots of laughs. I heartily recommend both these books, numbers one and two in the Sprocket saga.

 Sprocket and the Great Northern Forest

I just finished Sprocket and the Great Northern Forest, the second book I have read by Bryan Pentelow.  One dark November night, Blaggard the crow, seated atop a telephone pole, observes a mysterious figure, clad in a black rain cape with a hood, slither along an iron fence.  The figure suddenly thrusts a shoebox through a gap in the fence and then vanishes. The next day, a Mr. Brassroyd, on whose property the shoebox now rests, goes about his normal day at Brassroyd Environmental, essentially a scrap yard adjoining his house.  Working hand and hand with him is his loyal English Bull Terrier, Mrs. Mumbly.  That day, Mrs. Mumbly hears a ticking and a clicking, and discovers the shoebox.  Managing to get the box open, she discovers a large egg, and  transports it to her own basket in the kitchen.  When Mr. Brassroyd heads out for lunch and an ale, Mrs. Mumbly witnesses to her astonishment, the cracking of the egg, and the emergence of a “being”.  I won’t reveal what the being is but suffice it to say the being drives the story to its very satisfying conclusion.  There is a villain too, the unfeeling malevolent, and producer of toxic waste Eurochem International, whose factory is right next door to Brassroyd’s property.

This is really a marvellous fantasy, replete with loveable characters and lush description.  The description covers everything from the characters to the kitchen to the scrap yard to the surrounding area to the local bar.  Everything, including the syntax and the expressions, is very British.  I felt at times that I was back in the day of Dickens and Thomas Hardy.  Mr. Brassroyd’s breakfast of “crispy bacon, biscuits, black pudding, and fried bread” had my mouth watering!  I really appreciated the animals who occupy center stage in this tale, and who are both heroic and hilarious.  This is a story for both children and adults, as it has a basic sweetness to it and it is so well written.  I very strongly recommend it and fortunately for us, there are sequels.

 

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Sprocket and the Great Museum Scam

I just completed the second story in the Sprocket saga, Sprocket and the Great Museum Scam, written by Bryan Pentelow. I enjoyed this story as much or more than the original. For those who remember the first story, it begins by Blaggard the Crow witnessing a mysterious cloaked stranger shoving an egg through a fence at Number Seven Pudding Founders Lane, the location of Brassroyd Environmental, run by the owner Brassroyd.

In one sense, the second story serves as a bit of a prequel as it gives background on this stranger, who is named Septimus P. Thing. Thing is at heart a bad sort who deals in rare eggs and stuffed specimens of rare animals. In his various dealings, it is the acquisition of this egg, which in his possession begins to tick, that his problems begin. He knows he will get into trouble with his landlady should the egg hatch which precipitates his getting rid of the egg and his link to the gang at Founders Lane.

With his accomplices Likely Smalls, thief, and Fauntleroy Pratt his taxidermist, nicknamed ‘Stinker’ due to his malodorous state, they embark on their life of scamming and crime. However, they are up against a formidable combination of humans, dogs, birds, and dragons,in short, the good guys. Readers of the first book will remember Sprocket the dragon, Brassroyd, Blaggard, and Mrs. Mumbly, the English Bull Terrier. New humans, birds, dogs, and dragons are introduced in this saga.

What I found so funny in this saga is the utter ineptness of the bad guys, and how they are foiled time and again. I am sure readers will share in this reaction. I look forward to more stories in the Sprocket saga!

A Vampire Romance for the Ages

I am a member of the Goodreads reading/writing site.  We will often write reviews of each other’s Indie books, of which there are many excellent ones.   I really enjoyed one, entitled  Sebastian: The Life of Sebastian and Hanna Greene, and its sequel, Sebastian Two: Dark Times Arising, both written by Elizabeth Johnson.  They are wonderful stories about an indelible vampire romance.  My reviews of them follow.

Sebastian:  The Life of Sebastian and Hanna Greene

Can you imagine, on your eighteenth birthday, stumbling over your father’s lifeless body in a lonely alley, a father with whom you had had a wretched relationship, no small part of that due to his drunkenness?  Then, mere moments later, a woman grabs you and sinks her teeth into your neck—with the predictable result–and that woman turns out to be your mother, who you thought had died ten years prior??   It gets worse–the mother, who teaches you to live among humans without murdering them, gets killed by a pack of humans seeking revenge, as they stake her through her heart and burn her.  Seeking revenge yourself, you go on a murderous rampage—-but one night you kill a woman carrying a couple of bags–and right after the murder you hear from one of the bags, a baby’s cry—and you discover a baby girl, only days old with big beautiful blue eyes.  You name her Hanna, after your mother.

I just completed Sebastian: The Life of Sebastian and Hanna Greene.  This was actually the first work I have read in this genre.  I’ve never read Anne Rice, nor have I been a devotee of the many vampire movies which engulf us now—so I confess to having a little resistance to this novel going in.  However, that resistance was quickly swept away as I embarked on this absolutely masterful tale about Sebastian and Hanna.  It is a work that takes place in England, New York, South America, Italy, and France, and contains humans, vampires, wolves, and dogs.  It beautifully describes the passions, the tenderness, and the love between Sebastian and Hanna—-but also the secrets and the deceits.  I felt there was a constant struggle going on within Sebastian—a struggle between his head (what he should do) and his heart (what his gut compels him to do), and, due to his life and circumstances, that heart can turn black.  Danger lurks at every turn and this book contains wonderfully frightening and hideous villains.  The author takes us on this journey with a straightforward writing style, without pretence, which perfectly matches the story being told.  I strongly recommend this book to all readers, even those like myself who would not normally gravitate to a book in this genre.  Fortunately for us, I believe we have a sequel coming.

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Sebastian Two:  Dark Times Arising

I just completed Sebastian Two: Dark Times Arising, the second in a series of books about a bizarre vampire world by author Elizabeth Johnson. I will reiterate what I said in my review of the first book, which is that this is hardly my favorite genre of book, in fact far from it. However, Ms. Johnson weaves such an incredible tale, with such great characterizations, that I could not put it down.

The book starts where the first book ended, with Hanna Greene, upon learning that Sebastian had earlier killed her birth mother (or did he?), decides she must leave the very charismatic hero, who is her passionate boyfriend/lover. This sets in motion a chain of events involving many of the characters from the first book—of course, Sebastian and Hanna, the omniscient head vampire Mason Benedict, and the two separate sets of three malevolent vampire brothers.

New characters are either brought into the story or given greater emphasis. They include Hanna’s birth mother Hope Lane, the powerful Hilda Denali, the ultra-deceitful witch Ruth, and the deceased Isobel’s beautiful mother, Margret. The action in this book spreads further afield to Mexico, Nigeria, Pacific islands, and Japan.

I don’t want to give away any of the story but I will add there is one great kick-ass vampire battle near the end of the book you won’t want to miss. And of course, it ends unresolved, which means we need to see the next book! I strongly recommend this book, even to non-vampire fans, as I did the first one entitled Sebastian: The Secret Life of Sebastian and Hanna Greene. You won’t be disappointed.