Two children’s books by Maggie M. Larche

Review: Charlie Bingham Gets Clocked

Charlie Bingham Gets Clocked is a great example of a tale spun from small charliebinghambeginnings. Nothing much happens, but you’d never know it. Fast-paced and funny, it takes place during a school day in the life of hero Charlie. The story revolves around a lizard and an antique alarm clock, the kind with bells on the top. The kind that makes a noise. Speculation surrounding the origins of that clock, which belongs to Charlie’s teacher, is part of the fun.

This is a new series by Maggie M Larche, and judging by the first book, it will be a great success. Highly recommended. I look forward to more stories about Charlie and his friends.

My rating: 5 stars

On Amazon

Review: Striker Jones: Elementary Economics For Elementary Detectives

When he’s not doing his homework, Striker Jones solves mysteries. There arestrikerjones other boy detectives, of course, but what makes this series unusual is the economics element. Striker has an understanding of basic economics and that helps him to recognize motives, which in turn leads to identifying the culprits in each escapade.

This first book runs through the school year, from August summer holidays to Christmas, Easter and the summer again, as Striker and his friends Bill, Sheila and Amy solve crimes. Who stole the school donation funds? Who is their teacher, Miss Harper, in love with? Why did the kid nobody likes win the school election?

The series is a timely reminder that “economics” is the study of basic human needs and wants. Fun to read, Striker’s cases also help kids to understand why they—like all of us—behave the way they do.

My rating: 4 stars

On Amazon


Review: Life After Life –By Kate Atkinson

Life After Life by Kate AtkinsonWhat if you could keep reliving your life until you got it right? That’s the premise of Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. Set in England in the early 20th century, it’s the story of Ursula Todd and her family: parents, brothers, sisters, servants and dotty aunt. Ursula has difficulty getting through day one, as the dangers of childbirth take their toll. Eventually she gets past her baby years and enters her teens. Here, choice begins to play a part and she takes several different paths that end badly.

The London Blitz plays a role in Ursula’s story, and I enjoyed learning something of the civilian wardens who directed the search and rescue efforts after each wretched bombing attack. Burrowing into collapsed houses is not for the faint of heart and the stories range from tragic to gruesome. I don’t know whether these civilian rescuers were honoured but they were every bit as courageous as soldiers on the front lines, so I’d like to think they were.

Each of her past bad experiences leaves a wraith of memory in Ursula’s mind, something like deja vu, though often not nearly that strong. Nevertheless, she uses her hunches and a recurring sense of impending danger to chart a new course in her life, a course with a world-changing goal. I’ve got to say this was less important to me than to see her find some happiness, but the story is told so artfully that both come together in the end.

The characters are well-drawn. I couldn’t quite fathom Sylvie, the mother, but Ursula’s father was sweet and supportive, and she had an interesting and close relationship with her sister. I’ve heard her brother Teddy is the central character of a sequel, so I’ll be looking out for that.

Life After Life is a wonderful book, and manages to avoid most modern idiomatic lapses. It is not really a period piece; in fact it seemed to me to be timeless, oddly so given the plot. The author has written several other novels, and I’m looking forward to reading them.

My rating: five stars

On Amazon

Cover Sketch for A Knock at the Door

knock-cover2Here’s a sketch by artist Ivan Zanchetta of the front cover for my collection of stories from the world of letters. To see a larger version, just click on the image.

A Knock at the Door will be out in paperback and e-book in November 2015. Ivan provided the cover for Return to Kaitlin, earlier this year. I love his work.

Included in this volume:

  • The Story of NIGHT
  • The HALF-Trained L
  • The QUIET Strangers
  • PIGEON Panic
  • The Beginning of BOUGH

Any thoughts on this cover? I’d appreciate your feedback! It might help in finalizing the cover design.

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November 4: read an excerpt here.