FAG by Jonathan Hill

Set in a boarding school for boys in the late 1930s the book examines the complex relationships that exist in this microcosmic world. 

The themes are bullying, prejudice, homophobia and personal isolation which are explored through an increasingly perturbing but totally convincing plot. I think the book could also be read as an allegory for emergent fascism and its resonances are dark and disturbing.

Nevertheless, the book is very compelling and once started I found it very difficult to stop reading it. It is a challenging and thought provoking book that is very well written and deals with complex issues with sensitivity and honesty.

Although the content is bleak it is counterpointed with good descriptive writing which softens the harsh realities of the storyline and prevents the book from becoming too depressive.

I've already read most of Jonathan Hill's previous books and was looking forward to reading this his debut novel. He has already demonstrated his abilities as a writer in the 'Maureen' novellas and short story collections. This book goes in a completely different direction but it shares with some of the earlier writing an empathy with the outsider that is explored to a much greater depth here. The author does not shy away from the physical intimacies which are an integral part of the story but this aspect of the writing is not voyeuristic, exploitative or sensationalised.

The final development of the novel is unexpected and poignant with the hint of the possibility of a better future. The author's personal appraisal in the final pages of the book reminds us that complacency in relation to prejudice of all kinds is too easy and too dangerous.

Well deserving of five stars and highly recommended.

Read more about FAG, the fantastic new novel from Jonathan Hill at

Lemon and Lace by Jenny Worstall

I like reading books by Jenny Worstall and I thought I'd read all her currently published titles until I realised I'd downloaded one of her short story collections, Lemon and Lace, and overlooked reading it.

It's a collection of three short stories that, as I've come to expect from Jenny Worstall, explores aspects of relationships within families. 

I think this might be her best collection yet and I really enjoyed reading all three stories.

Forever is a generational story set in the context of caring for an elderly relative. Although very short, I think it was one of the most moving stories I've read for a long time with a perfect happy ending.

The second story in the collection is Waiting which explores the feelings of a woman who has been bereaved and is finding it difficult to move on. An unexpected accident is her emotional turning point which leads on to a lovely happy ending.

Finally, Lemon and Lace explores relationship difficulties in the life of a young couple with a small child in the context of a domestic tiff and its resolution.

The author's personal background in music and music teaching once again shines through these stories giving them their own unique qualities. Jenny Worstall has developed a lovely writing style which conveys deep emotions with elegant simplicity.

Lemon and Lace is a charming set of stories which has a wonderfully optimistic feel and it certainly brightened my day.

I downloaded a free copy of Lemon and Lace from Smashwords and it's also available on Amazon.

If you enjoy elegantly constructed relationship stories you might also like Jubilee Violin by Jenny Worstall.

Owned by Jess C. Scott

Owned by Jess C. Scott is a collection of six psychological crime short stories. I was asked to read the book by the author and downloaded a free copy from Smashwords.

I enjoy reading short stories but some of the subject matter in this collection is outside my usual reading taste.

And that's the great thing about ebooks - especially indie ebooks - you can quite often find yourself reading a new writer; an unfamiliar genre; or a book published in a different country to your own and find that you enjoy reading it and your life is enhanced as a result.

So, back to Owned.

The stories are united by one theme: Revenge. 

And in every case, the reader is on the side of the avenger because the perpetrator is a truly awful person. The abusive father; the rapist; the murderous boyfriend; the cruel animal killer; the untrustworthy therapist; the Internet bully: all get their just desserts, usually in a spectacularly gory manner.

The writing is interesting, almost experimental in places, and the author has explored several contrasting styles to provide a short story collection which is varied, entertaining and sustains the reader's interest. 

However, some of these stories are purposeful with an intrinsic message. I think this works best in Skins which challenges the use of animals in fashion and furnishings and in Owned which addresses the damage that can be done by the cyber-powerful against innocent victims.

The book concludes with a preview of Jess C Scott's Playmates - Book 1 of the Wilde Twins series. 

I would recommend you download a copy of Owned if it's still available for free and see what you think. 

You can find Owned on 
and Smashwords
You can read more about Jess C. Scott and all her other books on her website: http://www.jessink.com/

Ravenfold by Kath Middleton

Ravenfold is an historical novel set in the Middle Ages which tells the story of a beautiful young girl, Romelda Bolt, who is forced into an arranged marriage with the Lord of the Manor for family advantage. 

When Sir Oswald turns out to be a duplicitous brute who gives little advantage to the family and none at all to Romelda, the stage is set for an intriguing tale of Mediaeval brutality, lust and murder.

The construction of the story is fascinating as it evolves as a bed-time story for the grand-children of a later Lord of the Manor in the absence of their parents. The reader shares with the two young children the highs and lows of Romelda's life and times and comes to an understanding, as they do, of the significance of the tale.

The contrast between childhood then and childhood now couldn't be starker and Grandfather pulls no punches in telling the tale in all its gory details. At times you can smell the odours of animals and unwashed humans; see the blood; hear the cries of pain and the juvenile audience is spared none of it. Indeed, some of the principal characters are little more than children before they are pushed into the adult world of power, greed, lust and violence.

I enjoyed reading Ravenfold and particularly liked the way author Kath Middleton created a sense of the era so well. An unusual and gripping historical novel; highly recommended.

You can download Ravenfold for Kindle at Amazon.

If you like historical novels you might also like Cossacks in Paris by Jeffrey Perren.

Welcome back

It's been several weeks since I wrote any reviews for Indie Bookworm so before I post any new ones, time for a re-launch with a new layout, colour scheme and side-bar for the Blog.

If you've visited Indie Bookworm before, thanks for calling back but if it's the first time you've visited I hope you have time to check out some of the fantastic authors and titles I've highlighted here already.

I've been involved in indie publishing for over two years now and have seen many changes. I think one of the most important is the ways attitudes have altered in the U.K. Today readers don't care who has published a book - indie or traditional. They just want good books that are well presented and great value for money.

Happy Reading.