Mike Robbins – an update on a new book

Mike Robbins was previously featured on Reading Recommendations in Feb. 2015 and is back now to tell us about a new novella.

Dog cover image

by Mike Robbins
Genre: Fiction, a novella

So you think you know your dog?

Bazza is an easy-going middle-aged college lecturer with a taste for weed, porn, beer and redheads. When he adopts a rescue dog, he sees nothing odd about the animal. Then a Himalayan monk comes to visit, and senses something strange.

Dog is a powerful story of love and loss, sin, redemption and dog mess. You’ll never see your pet the same way again.

For more information about the book see Mike’s blog.

Purchase Mike’s book from:
Amazon US
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble/Nook

Gail Anderson-Dargatz – an update


Playing With Fire
by Gail Anderson-Dargatz

Genre: Playing With Fire is a mystery for literacy learners. Reading level: 2.8 (Part of the Rapid Reads adult literacy series published by Orca Books)

Quick description: Small-town journalist Claire Abbott has a sixth sense, what the fire chief calls a “radar for crime.” When a string of suspicious fires breaks out in town, Claire thinks she knows who the firebug is. Or does she? She finds there is much more to the story than she imagined. Worse, no one will believe her. The firebug is getting bolder, and the fires he sets more dangerous. Claire is now in a race against time to catch the arsonist in the act before he takes a life.

Playing with Fire is the second in a series of mysteries featuring journalist and sleuth Claire Abbott. The first, Search and Rescue, was previously featured on Reading Recommendations in Sept. 2014.

Gail’s book may be purchased from:
Orca Books

About Rapid Reads (from Orca’s website)

Author Ian McEwan once wrote that “the novella is the perfect form of prose fiction.”

In our increasingly fast-paced world we believe there is a need for well-written, well-told books that can be read in one sitting. Rapid Reads are short books for adult readers. They are intended for a diverse audience, including ESL students, reluctant readers, adults who struggle with literacy and anyone who wants a high-interest quick read.

The Rapid Reads series includes titles by best-selling authors Gail Bowen, Reed Farrel Coleman and William Kowalski, among many others. Visit the Authors page for a full list.

Rapid Reads focus first and foremost on strong writing and storytelling.

We are committed to providing books that will help adults achieve their literacy goals in an interesting and accessible way. Each novel in the Rapid Reads series is written between a 2.0 and 6.0 reading level. The plots are contemporary and entertaining, with adult language and themes.

Rapid Reads in the Classroom
Are you an educator? To purchase Rapid Reads titles for your classroom, please contact us at rapidreads@orcabook.com. Reading guides with plot summaries and discussion questions are available for free download.

Mike Robbins

headshotMike Robbins

What is your latest release and what genre is it? Three Seasons is a book of three novellas, unconnected with each other, but all set in the south of England in the 1980s.

Quick description: It is about the Thatcher era in Britain, but it is not about politics. These three stories are portraits of a country and its people on the verge of change.

In Spring, a middle-aged Hull trawler skipper, his great days gone, has one last throw of the dice a South Coast port. In Summer, an ambitious young man makes his way in the booming Thames Valley property market, unconcerned with the damage he does to others. Finally, in Autumn, the Master of an Oxford college welcomes his two sons home, but they awake difficult memories from half a century before.

Like all fiction, Three Seasons will be a success only if its characters involve and move the reader, and I hope they do. But these stories are also about social change – the decline in skilled employment, the rise of the ambitious young suits, the hollowing-out of institutions and their occupation by newcomers with different aims and different, or no, ideals.

Three Seasons cover

Brief biography:
I was born in London in 1957, and brought up in Oxford. I was educated expensively up to the age of 14, at which point I was thrown out of boarding school; this was a good move from everyone’s point of view. I passed through a number of schools and colleges and became a journalist of sorts, and worked in rock music publishing and as a traffic broadcaster. In 1987 I signed on with VSO, the British equivalent of the Peace Corps, and spent two years in the east of Sudan in the wake of the 1984-85 famine. This led to a book, Even the Dead are Coming, which was eventually published in 2009.

I stayed on the road for many years, living in such diverse countries as Ecuador, Bhutan and Syria. My travels inspired another autobiographical book, The Nine Horizons (2014), and a novel, The Lost Baggage of Silvia Guzmán (2014). I am also the author of Crops and Carbon (2011), a scholarly work on climate change. Three Seasons is my fifth book and was published in December 2014. For the last few years I have been working as an editor in New York.

Links to buy Mike’s book:
Three Seasons is available as an e-book or paperback from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Scribd and other online retailers. It can also be ordered from your local bookshop (paperback ISBN 978-0991437450).

Mike’s promo links:
I blog now and then on science, travel and books.

What are you working on now?
Too much, really! Since 2011 I have been working on a novel set in postwar Britain, but the research and the writing have both been tough. But it’s half-written now, and I hope I’ll finish it in 2015. I am also writing a short non-fiction book about 1930s aviation, which I hope to publish in 2015. Further ahead there is a novel set in New York, a collection of “think pieces” and book reviews, and a piece of speculative fiction.

Mike’s reading recommendation:
I very strongly recommend two books I read in 2014: Cloud Storage by Samuel Astbury, and Manannan’s Magic, the first part of the Manannan Trilogy by Michele McGrath. My best-loved novel of all time is J. B. Priestley’s Bright Day. The links are to my reviews of these books.