After Me Comes the Flood: Read it if…



So it has come to this. My final review of 2014.  I wish I had something more epic for you, but unfortunately it’s just a plain old read-it-if.  Let’s get on with it quickly so you can get back to planning what incredible activities you’re going to get up to tonight to ring in the new year.  I’ll be in bed by 8, in case you were wondering.

Today’s book is one for the grown-ups – After Me Comes the Flood by Sarah Perry.  Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

One hot summer’s day, John Cole decides to leave his life behind.  He shuts up the bookshop no one ever comes to and drives out of London. When his car breaks down and he becomes lost on an isolated road, he goes looking for help, and stumbles into the grounds of a grand but dilapidated house.

Its residents welcome him with open arms – but there’s more to this strange community than meets the eye. They all know him by name, they’ve prepared a room for him, and claim to have been waiting for him all along.  As nights and days pass John finds himself drawn into a baffling menagerie. There is Hester, their matriarchal, controlling host; Alex and Claire, siblings full of child-like wonder and delusions; the mercurial Eve; Elijah – a faithless former preacher haunted by the Bible; and chain-smoking Walker, wreathed in smoke and hostility. Who are these people? And what do they intend for John?

after me comes the flood

Read it if:

* you like your literary fiction very literary indeed

* you enjoy novels based on characters with mysterious pasts, who are not very forthcoming about their motivations

* you don’t really mind when the blurb doesn’t give an accurate feel for what the story will be about

* you really, really like literary fiction

The keen-eyed observer may well detect a little bit of apathy in my read-it-if dot points today.  It must be said, that despite having very high hopes for this book, it just didn’t do it for me in the end.  About half way through I started getting the feeling that I had been seriously mislead by the blurb as to the goings-on in the story.  To me the blurb hinted at some sinister plot revolving around the main character – in reality, the characters don’t seem to have any particular intentions for John, the main character.  Well, apart from that of involving him in long, meandering conversations and cups of tea.  I think because I was expecting something very different from what was delivered, I felt much more disappointment with this book than had my expectations been otherwise.

Unfortunately, instead of finding the characters deep, mysterious and fascinating, I found all of them to be reasonably tedious.  An exception to this was Elijah, the ex-preacher who has lost his faith – I did eventually tire of him too, but of all of them, he was the one I felt least antagonistic towards, mostly because he seemed to actually have a backstory that had some depth.

If you enjoy books in which characters have (supposedly) deep philosophical conversations and an atmosphere that hints of events being stopped in time, then you may enjoy this book more than I did.  For me however, it was all just a bit airy-fairy.

I received a digital copy of this title from the publisher via Netgalley.

So that’s it for 2014. Thanks for sticking with me this far, those of you who have, and stay tuned for Friday – I’ve got an absolutely ripping little collection of short stories to share with you to kick off 2015.

Until next time,



Fi50 December Challenge: Into the Great Beyond…



Well, it’s the last one for the year – Fiction in 50, the perfect antidote for those still hung over from NaNoWriMo.  To participate, all you have to do is create a piece of fiction or poetry or a very short play with a maximum of 50 words.  Then post it and pop a link in the comments, so others can survey your genius.  For a longer explanation of the rules and to see the new prompts for the first half of 2015 just click on the challenge image at the top of the page.

So this month the prompt is …

into the great beyondAnd my contribution is titled…

On Hold

Even as a confirmed atheist, my posthumous experience so far had been fairly unexpected.  I picked up the courtesy phone.

“Welcome to Purgatory.  To petition your chosen deity, please press one.  For all other enquiries, please press two.”

Hanging up the receiver, I sat.

I needed time to think.

So that wraps up my efforts for this year.  I look forward to reading everyone else’s take on this prompt.  I often share your contributions on twitter, using the hashtag #Fi50 so feel free to do the same if you frequent that particular social media platform.  For those keen beans who want to get straight into it, January’s prompt will be…

dawning realisation button jan2015

Enjoy the last few days of 2014 and I’ll see all you mini-narrativeers again in the New Year!

Until next time,


A Post-Festivity Chance to Get Creative: An Fi50 Reminder…



Looking for a post-Christmas-binge workout? A chance to burn off those festive calories?

No, neither are we.

Instead, why not hunker down in the air conditioning or central heating, depending on your hemisphere of residence, and put the kibosh on thoughts of food-related guilt by participating in December’s Fiction in 50 challenge?  I know, it’s a genius idea.

This month’s prompt is….

into the great beyond

To participate, just come up with a piece of fiction or poetry in 50 words or less and come back on Monday to add your link to my Fi50 post.  For more information on the challenge, just click on that big attractive picture at the start of this post.

Stay tuned on Monday for the next six months of Fi50 prompts – for those who like to prepare in advance 😉

Until next time,


Bruce’s Reading Round-Up: The “Quick! The Year’s Ending!” Edition…



Welcome one and all to my pre-Christmas reading round-up! Today’s books run the gamut from charming picture book to sci-fi adult fiction and much in between, so pull on your finest holiday cowboy hat and tinsel-encrusted lasso and let’s round ’em up in ascending order of audience age!

999 Frogs and a Little Brother (Ken Kimura)

999 FrogsTwo Sentence Synopsis:

The littlest frog in the litter (or whatever a bunch of baby frogs is called) is left behind by his siblings.  An encounter with a snake teaches him that family is what you make it.

Muster up the motivation because:

The illustrations in this one make wonderful use of white space and the little characters are too cute for words.  The story is simple for the little ones to follow and shows how blood bonds can come into force when one needs them most.  This is a gentle tale with a heartwarming ending.

Brand it with:

siblinghood, crayfish, safety around snakes

Read my Goodreads review here!

I received a digital copy of this title from the publisher via Netgalley.  999 Frogs and a Little Brother is due for publication in March 2015.

Scarecrows (Berin Tuzlic)

Two Sentence Synopsis:Scarecrows

In a world controlled by fearsome technology scarecrows, a little girl is looking for a friend.  When she finds a boy in danger of being taken by the scarecrows, she knows she has to act fast.

Muster up the motivation because:

This certainly is a unique picture book in everything from concept to art style.  The overall reading experience itself would probably best suit a middle-grade or YA audience due to the complex themes relating to the influence of technology and media on our everyday lives, and in that capacity, the book raises some very discussion-worthy points.  The book is a strange juxtaposition of child-like emotion and worldly manipulation.

Brand it with:

picture books for big kids, technological natives, big brother is watching

Find out more about the book and its successful kickstarter here!

I received a digital copy of this title for review from the publisher, Komic Brew.

Scaedu (Prashant Pinge)

Two Sentence Synopsis:  sceadu

Matilda discovers an old book that shows the way into the world beyond the human shadow.  When she successfully travels to Sceadu, her brother and cousins must also find a way in to save her…and the world they left behind.

Muster up the motivation because:

The story is full of danger, deceit and mythological creatures of sinister motivation.  The world of Sceadu is at once original and familiar, and the story has definite echoes of children’s high fantasy greats like the Narnia chronicles and The Dark is Rising sequence.  If you are looking for a book in which the characters have to find the solutions by making some tough decisions, then the shadow world of Sceadu might be for you.

Brand it with:

Scary shadow play, meddling kids, library cast-offs, mythical mysteries

Read my Goodreads review here!

I received a digital copy of this title for review from the author.

Snail and Boy (Gal Kleinman)

snail and boyTwo Sentence Synopsis:

Boy’s life has been punctuated by war and violence. When he meets Snail, the two work together to live a life filled with peace.

Muster up the motivation because:

This is a little story with a big heart.  The themes explored here are challenging to those of us who live in a world filled with images of violence, and provide the perfect launching point for discussions with young ones about the consequences of violent action.  This story is a very quick read for its intended middle grade/YA audience, but the subject matter provokes thought long after the narrative is finished.

Brand it with:

war and peace, be the change, anthropomorphic snails, ethics in action

Read my Goodreads review here!

I received a copy of this title from the author for review.

Mind the Gap (Tim Richards)

mind the gapTwo Sentence Synopsis:

While riding on the train one day in London, Darius sees some weird stuff go down.  Then he finds himself inexplicably and instantaneously in Melbourne.

Muster up the motivation because:

This is your standard, sci fi, timey-wimey, alternate universe, space jump scenario played out over a number of major cities around the world.  It’s got trains, Egyptian deities, alien hybrid people and judo-fighting baristas, and they all (well, except for the trains) want a piece of Darius because of his mysterious (to him, anyway) power.  This is one for those who like a mystery that has more than one layer of weirdness to it.

Brand it with:

saviour of the universe, tricky talents, you think you’ve had a bad day

Read my Goodreads review here!

I received a digital copy of this title from the publisher via Netgalley.

Had enough yet?  Yes, me too.  We’ve rounded them up, so let’s bring them into the shelf for a cup of tea and a good lie down in preparation for another crazy day tomorrow.

Allow me to wish you all, on behalf of the denizens of the shelf, a relaxing Christmas (whether or not you celebrate the actual event) and an overabundance of bookish gifting.

Until next time,




A Seasonally Spooky Haiku Review: A Christmas Horror Story…



It’s Mad Martha with you today ready to scare the pants (and other assorted items of clothing) off you readers with the spine-tingle-inducing creepy novella that is A Christmas Horror Story by Sebastian Gregory.  At only 160ish pages, this is the perfect antidote to cutesy seasonal cheer for all you Grumpy Cats out there.  I received a digital copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley.  As I’m a bit pushed for time at the moment, busy, as I am, spreading cutesy seasonal cheer (in 30+ degree heat) I have used the blurb from Goodreads.  Allow yourself to be drawn in, my little pretties….

On the night before Christmas, lock the doors to the house…

Forget the jolly old man in his red, big-buttoned suit. Because another creature is up on the roof, preparing for his annual visit to little children everywhere.

With a belt of knives round his waist, a writhing bag on his back and a Santa-sized appetite, he’s a little…different to the St Nick you might be expecting.

And you can leave out all the carrots and mince pies you like…but it’s you he’s after.

A horrid Christmas to all, and a terrible night.
christmas horror story

Coal in your stocking?

He’s coming for YOU my dear

Take your last mince pie

I love a good seasonal terror-fest as much as the next monster – remember we brought you Chris Priestley’s Christmas Tales of Terror last year? – but this little gem really ups the ante in the look-over-your-shoulder-because-that’s-not-Santa-behind-you stakes.  I thoroughly enjoyed this atmospheric little tale about three siblings, who, being left alone on Christmas Eve due to their mother’s working schedule, come under threat of the Child Eater – a festive imposter of legend who (rather obviously) eats children while calling out (less obviously) in German in a sinister monster voice.

I won’t go into too much detail because the story is so short to begin with, but the two best parts of this for me were the very ambiguous ending and the continuation of the Child Eater’s legend throughout history.  If you are a fan of things that eat children – and let’s face it, we are all acquainted with at least one little pill who we would happily see swallowed up by a Christmas monster – then this little tale will be the perfect bite-sized festive horror experience.

I was unaware while I was reading this that I had very recently attempted another of Sebastian Gregory’s works, which I abandoned for reasons that will become obvious if you read my Goodreads review, but if you read this one and enjoy his style, you may want to check out The Boy in the Cemetery also.

Until we meet again, may all the fat guys coming down your chimney be benign in intent,

Mad Martha


MidWinter’s Eve Giveaway Hop…in Summer!


imageGiven that the temperature hit 35 degrees yesterday, it’s a bit weird to be participating in this hop, but regardless, welcome to my sunny stop on the Midwinter’s Eve Giveaway Hop, hosted by Bookhounds and I Am A Reader. The hop runs from December 21st to 31st and there are more than 150 blogs participating, so don’t forget to hop around after you’ve entered here and do some more holiday winning.

I am offering ONE winner their choice of book from the Book Depository to the value of $15 Australian.  This giveaway is open internationally as long as the BD ships to your country for free. Other Ts & Cs are contained in the rafflecopter. To enter, click the link below – good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

While I have your undivided attention, perhaps I can interest you in a fun reading challenge for next year? I can? Well that’s wonderful! Just click on the delightful button to find out more and join in.


Now hop along and enter the other giveaways!

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Until next time,



Deja Vu Blogfest: A Second Bite at the Apple!




So I stumbled across this ripper idea for a blog hop: the Déjà Vu Blogfest! The idea is to repost a post from earlier in the year, to both take the heat off creating original content at this busy time of year and to give an overlooked post or old favourite a second airing.  The hosts of the Deja Vu Blogfest are DL Hammons and Nicole Zoltack – three cheers for a great pre-holiday blog party!  At the end of this post you can find the linky with all the other participants – it’s a great opportunity to hop around and find some new bloggers to connect with.

So I have chosen a Fiction in 50 that I particularly enjoyed writing.  In fact, it was a close call between this one and my entry for the February 2014 challenge, Love in the Time of Palindromes.  The Fi50 I have chosen however is one in which I was heartily pleased with my wordplay.  Without further ado, I give you my contribution for the January 2014 Fiction in 50 challenge, on the prompt “The Best of Intentions”.

I feel like I’ve outdone myself this month, and I hope you agree.  This is certainly my favourite piece so far!  Although, admittedly, it is 51 words long and therefore fails the challenge, but I could not decide on another word to cull. Editing suggestions are most welcome.  I have titled this piece….

Bob’s Big Break

“What’s your best price Bob?” asks St. Peter.

”We’ll replace this path with patented Good Intentions Pavers, plus eternity-length warranty on cracking and fading, for $9 million per square metre!”

“How much?”

“Okay, $8m. Mate’s rates.”

 “Go to Hell!” sputters Peter.

Bob considers. It’s the break he’s been looking for.

So there you have it.  Join in with your links here:

The linky will remain open for a whole month, so you’ve got plenty of time to play along (and cull that 51st word).  New players welcome! Old players in disguise welcome!

For anyone who happens to be interested in the Fiction in 50 monthly challenge, simply click on the attractive button below!


Now hop along and meet some other posts that are getting a second chance to shine!

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Until next time,


A Small Fry Safari Wrap Up and….The Shelf’s NEW Reading Challenge for 2015!


As we wrap up the year, it’s once again a time of reflection.  On triumphs and troughs. On goals achieved and on those that got away from us. In this vein, I have to acknowledge those who challenged themselves to read in unexpected ways this year by participating in the Small Fry Safari Kid Lit Readers Challenge.

small fry

It was fun, it was feisty and it gave each of us a little thrill when we came across a book that we could manhandle into one of the categories.  All in all, a very worthwhile endeavour.  If you would like to find out more about the challenge (which is still open until December 31st by the way, and therefore still very much achievable!), or see the entries that were hunted and tracked by those on the safari bus, simply click here.

If you were one of the intrepid travellers who managed to finish the challenge, feel free to grab yourself this awesome button for your blog, wall or trophy cabinet.  I will be having mine proudly made into a shelf-sized doona cover.  Feel free also, if you know about photoshop (or the old-fashioned method of literal cutting and pasting) to place an image of your own face over mine. To paste it on your blog, simply copy the code in the box below the image and paste it on your blog.

The Bookshelf Gargoyle
<div align="center"><a href="" title="The Bookshelf Gargoyle"><img src="" alt="The Bookshelf Gargoyle" style="border:none;" /></a></dimageiv>

But enough of Small Fry! Small Fry is soooooo 2014! Today I unveil my new, fresh off the boat, just out of the oven reading challenge for 2015.  It’s called the….wait for it…..


I’m excited! Aren’t you? Of course you are.  This challenge will be a little bit different from the Small Fry Safari in that it will encompass ALL types of literature, not just Kid Lit.  If you are up for the challenge and want to find out more, click on the impressively attractive image above and all your questions will be answered.  Come on! Join in! It’ll be fun!  I’m also going to include some GIVEAWAYS for participants in the challenge in 2015, so share the news around – the more oddness the merrier!

In case you’re wondering, I’m going to attempt the challenge at the Audaciously Odd level.  Bet you’re intrigued now, aren’t you? Go on then, click the challenge button and find out more!

Until next time,





A Timey-Wimey Double Dip: Doctor Who Novellas…




Tardis-worthy snacks at the ready, readers, for a Doctor flavoured double dip! Let’s forego the pleasantries and just rush straight in, shall we?

Doctor Who: The Anti-Hero (Stella Duffy)

From Goodreads:

Arriving at the ancient Musaeum of Alexandria, the Doctor is keen to explore. He might find some new recorder music, and Jamie might discover a new porridge recipe, while Zoe will love the antiquated ideas about astrophysics. But once inside, they all find rather more than they bargained for, and it soon becomes clear they may never leave the Museaum alive…

Dip into it for… image

…a second Doctor story with an Ancient Greek flavour.  There’s comedy, action, cross-dressing, recorder music and all the things we’ve come to expect from a good Who story.  There’s also the obligatory “important piece of human history actually being related to alien activity” theme that we know and love.  If you’re a recent convert to Doctorism, think Pyroviles, but less deadly and more scoldy.

Don’t dip if…

…you aren’t a fan of history-based Doctor episodes.  This is also a fairly benign offering in terms of running, slaying and deadly suspense, so if you’re hoping for a real nail-biter, this probably won’t satisfy.

Overall Dip Factor

I found this to be a fun, frivolous Doctor story that gave me a good sense of what the second Doctor and his companions are all about.  I’d certainly be interested in reading more of this Doctor’s adventures.  Overall, this was a pleasant, escapist (literally, for e characters!) interlude.

Doctor Who: The Ripple Effect (Malorie Blackman)

From Goodreads:

When the TARDIS lands on Skaro, the Seventh Doctor and Ace are shocked to discover the planet has become the universal centre of learning, populated by a race of peace-loving Daleks. Ever suspicious of his archenemies’ motives, the Doctor learns of a threat that could literally tear the universe apart…

Dip into it for… image

…another in the 50th anniversary series of novellas, this one featuring the seventh Doctor and Ace.  With the intriguing premise of kind, philosophy-loving daleks spreading learning throughout the universe, this quickie gives one a lot to ponder.  The situation gives the Doctor and Ace a chance to chew over their own prejudices and blind-spots and make the decision about whether or not kind daleks have a place in the greater scheme of things.

Don’t dip if…

… You’re sick of dalek episodes (they have been overused in the last few seasons, in my opinion) of you don’t like alternate universe stories.

Overall Dip Factor

Another fun, quick dalliance in the Doctor’s world. The nice dalek premise was intriguing and the minor characters in the story had enough depth to give the overall reading experience the feel of a longer story.  This would be a great introduction to the seventh Doctor for newbies – his character, and that of Ace, seem to have been captured quite faithfully.

So two more Doctorish stories for the ever-growing collection. I must say I’m loving these novellas – there the perfect chance to acquaint ones’ self with Doctors one hasn’t yet encountered, and they’re so quick that you can knock them over in one sitting.  I received the first title from the publisher via Netgalley and I’ve had the second one sitting on my kindle for ages.  I’ve just downloaded the Ten adventure in the 50th anniversary selection, so stay tuned for that one soon enough.

On Wednesday I’ll be unveiling my reading challenge for 2015.  Hold onto your false teeth readers, it’s going to be epic. In a mild, achievable sort of way of course.

Until next time,








Festive Frivolity: Bruce’s Christmas Lucky Dip!



It’s time once again for one of my favourite features – Bruce’s Lucky Dip! If you are unfamiliar with this one, it involves me typing a random word into the search engine of the Book Depository and presenting to you the best and most unexpected results.  Appropriately for the time of year, this lucky dip is focused around Christmas.  So if you are still searching for the perfect present for that hard-to-buy-for character plaguing your Christmas list, sit back and let my festive fossiking provide the solution to all your woes….click on the book covers for more information on each title.

Firstly, for the hardcore crafty crafter:

knits before christmas

For the religious hardcore crafty crafter:


Unsurprisingly enough, these two are by the same author.

For the ungrateful relative of a hardcore crafty crafter (religious or otherwise):

ugly christmas sweater

Remember, it’s the thought that counts.

For the person who just needs a little assistance to manage that carefree, Christmas happy-tude:

funny christmas verse

For the party-pooping Christmas sad sack who needs more than a bit of funny festive poetry to get them in the mood:

christmas therapy

Let those elves psychoanalyse the holiday grumps away…

For the entrepreneur with a desire for wealth untold and rapid upward mobility:

trees for pleasure and profit 4th edition

Scoff if you must, but do note that this book is in its fourth edition, so the author must have made at least a little bit out of this harebrained scheme…

For the animal activist, or that annoying child that keeps begging you for a puppy:

christmas turkeys

Imagine the expression of joy on their little faces when you present this book and then lead them into the back yard, accompanied by the sound of festive gobbling…

For those for whom mulled wine is not enough to spice up the holiday:

affair before christmas

Now it doesn’t happen often, but occasionally I come across a book in one of these searches that makes me do this face:

confused smileyThis time I have found hands down the most inexplicable Christmas title ever.  Clearly, I move in sheltered shelfish circles.  This one certainly has a fun and frivolous vibe to it, but it ain’t my idea of traditional festivities.  And it’s certainly not for children.  If you want to see it on Goodreads though, just click here.


Bet you weren’t expecting that, were you? In fact, I bet you’re making the face right now.

And that’s my festive lucky dip for 2014 – I hope I’ve helped you with those tricky people on your present list….although if you’re buying that last one for anybody I don’t want to know about it.  You weirdie.

Stay tuned next week for a wrap up of the Small Fry Safari Kid Lit Readers Challenge, and a BRAND NEW CHALLENGE for 2015.  It’s going to be real bobby-dazzler!

Until next time,