Patient Zero: Short stories from the Project Renova series by Terry Tyler #NewRelease

Patient Zero

The short stories in Patient Zero are part of Terry Tyler’s Project Renova series.  They add to the two books “Tipping Point” and “Lindisfarne” but they can successfully be read without knowledge of, or before reading one or both of the novels.


A deadly virus, nicknamed Bat Fever has appeared in 2024.  Despite vaccination gradually being offered around the country, many people have died, though some seem immune.  For several years, an underground group known as Unicorn have been suspicious of the government and now they believe that the virus may have been deliberately spread.


The unfair way in which the vaccination is distributed is highlighted in the first story when Jared is given a vial by his uncle who works for a drug company.  He is also given a spare vial.  Should he give it to his girlfriend Angelina even though he suspects she may be unfaithful to him?  Later in the book, in the story of Evie, we meet her boyfriend Nick Greenaway, a high achieving, non-stop socialite who proudly displays his wristband to prove he has been vaccinated on social media.  Does he deserve Evie’s devotion?


One character, Jeff was well prepared for an apocalypse.  He had a bunker built and well stocked away from civilisation and finally when he was 65, the epidemic arrived.  He planned to live alone but two of the underground group Unicorn joined him.  When they moved on, he decided to seek out other survivors and this is when his life really began.  In total contrast, Flora or Princess Snowflake, her more apt name, has been brought up as a chosen child.  Spoilt and isolated by her “Christian,” kind parents, their character changes as civilisation breaks down.  She is totally unable to cope on her own, but she maintains her positive attitude.


There are other stories of disparate characters, all subject to fate and their own actions.  There is no right way to deal with a country in chaos, but their beliefs and habits dictate how they react.  This fascinating book of stories has one fault.  It isn’t long enough to tell even more individual stories.  If you haven’t read the other two books, “Patient Zero” would make a good introduction.  If you have read them then you mustn’t miss these stories.

You can purchase Patient Zero on Amazon UK and on Amazon US


Silent Night by Wendy Clarke #RBRT #BookReview #Christmas

Silent Night


As a teenager I loved staying with my Gran in Scotland so that I could read her People’s Friend Annual.  The stories had a feel-good theme which made me look forward to being one of the young women in the tales.  A few years ago, my mother was passing on copies of the magazine and I discovered the stories had moved with the times.  Nowadays they deal with single parents, caring grandparents and the problems of divorce.  So, I had an inkling that Wendy Clarke’s book of Christmas stories which have already been published in the People’s Friend and Women’s Weekly would be a rewarding experience.


There are 13 stories of which two take us back to the twentieth century.  The characters are children, young couples, middle-aged men and women stuck in their ways and old people with sad stories but wisdom to pass on.  Some try to recreate happy Christmas gatherings from the past while others try to escape the traditions and family problems of a conventional day.


Bella’s Christmas, “On my Own,” particularly appeals to me personally and promises a change in her future life, while “Project Christmas”, “A Christmas Present called Abbie,” and “A Song for Christmas,” are heartening accounts of how young men come to terms with looking after a family they love at Christmas.


“Cancelling Christmas,” and “Together for Christmas,” reminded me that friendship is worth celebrating at this time and “Finding Santa,” shows how strangers will rally round to make Christmas special when disaster strikes.


“Christmas Strike” is a lesson for us all about making assumptions about others while “The Greatest Gift” is a touching story about love, although I did feel that Lindsay was almost too perfect, in her happiness to receive only a small gift from her partner.


The two historical stories are sad and moving but perhaps the most unusual is “The Memory Purse” where Tracy’s attempt to give all the residents of a Retirement Village what they wish for, results in a surprise gift for her personally.  This lovely book would make an excellent present or a relaxing read for yourself over the festive season.

You can find Silent Night on Amazon UK

Wendy Clarke

Wendy Clarke

Wendy Clarke is a full time writer of women’s fiction. She started writing when the primary school she taught in closed down and after completing two creative writing courses, began writing short fiction for magazines. Since then, she has sold over two hundred short stories and her work regularly appears in national women’s magazines such as The People’s Friend, Take a Break Fiction Feast and Woman’s Weekly. She has also written serials and a number of non-fiction magazine articles.

Wendy lives with her husband, cat and step-dog in Sussex and when not writing is usually dancing, singing or watching any programme that involves food!


Rosie's Book Review team 1


Donkey Boy and other stories by Mary Smith #amreading


Donkey Boy and other stories is a pot-pourri of tales that could accompany you on a journey to pick up and read in instalments, or you might find, like me, that you end up reading one story after another, late into the night.

Each tale introduces a character, either from home or abroad, with whom the reader can empathise. Their concerns may be amusing or distressing but they all concern human nature, good and bad.

I was particularly taken by two stories which have been performed; Trouble with Socks and Asylum Seekers. The latter, an ironic monologue of prejudice, pertinent to the world we live in today and Trouble with Socks expressing the feelings of the delightful George who is patronised by a “caring” auxiliary. The last story The Thing in Your Eye was a surprise and I am still unsure of my response. I think I need to re-read it.

There is great sadness in some of the early tales but also determination to walk away from grief, but for me Donkey Boy, about Ali, who drives a donkey cart for his father, deserves its place as the title story. It shows the contrast between different values; in the first and third world, between men and women and between youthful hope and cynicism. These stories are easy to read quickly, but they stay in your mind to mull over for some time.


You can buy Donkey Boy and other stories on Amazon UK


Mary Smith has always loved writing. As a child she wrote stories in homemade books made from wallpaper trimmings – but she never thought people could grow up and become real writers. She spent a year working in a bank, which she hated – all numbers, very few words – ten years with Oxfam in the UK, followed by ten years working in Pakistan and Afghanistan. She wanted others to share her amazing, life-changing experiences so she wrote about them – fiction, non-fiction, poetry and journalism. And she discovered the little girl who wrote stories had become a real writer after all.

Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women is an account of her time in Afghanistan and her debut novel No More Mulberries is also set in Afghanistan.

Mary loves interacting with her readers and her website is


My review of Mary’s book No More Mulberries is here



Rosie's Book Review team 1


What Tim Knows and other stories by Wendy Janes


The short stories in this book are connected to significant moments in the lives of a group of people who feature in Wendy Janes’ novel What Jennifer Knows. There is no need to have read the novel first but it certainly gave an added dimension to me.
The first story, Beauty, describes the paramount need for beauty to surround Rollo, an Art Gallery owner. When he parts company with one of his exhibitors, the “empty plinths,” are reduced, “to totem poles with no message,” so it is essential that he finds beauty elsewhere. Never-Ending Day struck a chord with me as it reminded me so well of those awful first weeks, as a new mother, when you realise that you know nothing about babies and that you are making a terrible mess of trying to care for this one. Similarly, Perfect Family made me aware of the contrast between my home life as an only child and that of lively families with several siblings which seemed to have such fun together.
What Tim Knows contrasts completely with What Jennifer Knows. Jennifer knew too much, but Tim knows too little, or at least his comprehension of the world is very different to that of the people who surround him. Having taught children on the autistic spectrum, I have been caught out by my inability to state exactly what is a fact and am aware that there are no greys for many. I love the way this story puts us inside Tim’s head and shows us what an inexplicable world we live in!
A refreshing look at life through a wide variety of characters, which is available here

You can read my review of What Jennifer Knows here.


The House with the Lilac Shutters by Gabrielle Barnby


I have mixed feelings about short stories.  In some ways they can be perfectly formed like poems and they can be read in a limited time window but lacking the total commitment to a plot it is unlikely that the reader can be involved with the characters as in a novel.  In Gabrielle Barnby’s book there are connections woven through most of the stories, giving them a unity of place and essence.


The house with the lilac shutters, which drew me to this book, stands opposite the Café Rose in a small town in the south of France.  Most, but not all, of the stories take place there, in the heat of the summer sun.  Some are set in a parallel town in England. The protagonist are old and young, visitor and local and all aspects of life are reflected; birth, death, adultery, love, suicide and desire.


There is an element of, measuring lives in coffee spoons, as many moments in time are described in intense detail,


“Today we are sitting together outside Café Rose.  On our right there is the river, dark and green, bending the light into convex ripples.  I sip my coffee and look onto the square.  I want to add another cube of sugar, but I resist and try to savour the unfamiliar bitter-rich flavour.”


Among the many characters are many with secrets, some with regrets or guilt.  Memories are dwelt on but only some find new opportunities.  My favourite character is Angelique, the carer, who dressed in bright colours brings light into the life of Aubrey and makes tasty dishes from her childhood in Cameroon.  One story, Leyla’s Legacy, really troubled me.  It is a tragic tale of cruelty and unhappiness and of the subjugation of women continuing into each generation.


These stories are thought provoking, encompassing many themes and emotions in everyday places.  Gabrielle Barnby is a very talented writer.


You can find the book here and my earlier post about it.


The Joker by Georgia Rose


This short story is a welcome return to Melton Manor for loyal readers of The Grayson Trilogy but it is also a stand-alone story and a delicious taster for anyone tempted to read A Single Step.

Will Carlton, one of the characters from the trilogy, now reveals his innermost thoughts. We knew he was charming and attractive but here is the explanation of his fear of commitment. After a night of passion with an attractive girl he will probably not see again, we learn how service in Iraq has affected his view of life.

This story demonstrates the complete involvement Georgia has in the world of her trilogy. The characters are real human beings with emotional baggage and deep feelings and she cares about each one. As a single short story, The Joker, is perfectly crafted, ending just as you would wish.

For a fuller, superb review go to Barb Taub’s blog.

My review of A Single Step is here



This fun feature is a mini workshop invented by Rosie Amber. We look at book covers just from their thumbnail pictures at online book selling sites and make quick fire buying decisions. We look from a READER’S Point of View and this exercise is very REVEALING.

To join in with the #FridayFiveChallenge please read the rules at the bottom of the page.

Last week Cathy showed us a book Behind Closed Doors and the cover appealed to me so much that I decided to look for other books with doors to open.  This book appeared on Twitter and in fact it isn’t a door but a shutter which needs to be opened.


The House with the Lilac Shutters is a collection of short stories by Gabrielle Barnby

Irma Lagrasse has taught piano to three generations of villagers, whilst slowly twisting the knife of vengeance; Nico knows a secret; and M. Lenoir has discovered a suppressed and dangerous passion.

Revolving around the Café Rose, opposite The House with the Lilac Shutters, this collection of contemporary short stories links a small town in France with a small town in England, traces the unexpected connections between the people of both places and explores the unpredictable influences that the past can have on the present.

Characters weave in and out of each other’s stories, secrets are concealed and new connections are made.

With a keenly observant eye, Barnby illustrates the everyday tragedies, sorrows, hopes and joys of ordinary people in this vividly understated and unsentimental collection.

The book has five customer reviews, three 5 star, one 4 star and one 3 star.

“Set in small towns in both France and England, the stories stand in their own right as beautifully observed descriptions of human jealousy, desire, guilt and love, but they also contribute to a completely satisfying whole.

As the stories progress, hints are dropped like pebbles in a pond so that each story ripples into another, revealing a bit more about a character from an earlier story and helping the reader build up an understanding of why characters are as they are.”

It is evidently not just a happy sunny holiday read:-

“If the town provides the context for these interlinked characters we are invited to zoom in on a particular small café as a prominent hub for their interaction. It happens to face the house with the lilac shutters of the title of this collection, where an attempted suicide took place that casts its shadow over the rest of the stories and is revisited towards the end.”

The Kindle costs £2.99.  Shall I BUY or will I PASS?   I’m going to BUY.  I only occasionally choose short stories but the link between a small French town and a small English town intrigues me, so it’s a BUY for me.

What have others found in today’s #Friday Five Challenge ?

Shelley has found a boldly covered alternative fairy tale.

Rosie‘s choice is a gripping thriller.

Cathy has selected a cute ghost story.

So now it’s your turn.


Get yourself a cuppa and give yourself 5 minutes.

In today’s online shopping age, readers often base their buying decisions from small postage stamp size book covers (Thumb-nails), a quick glance at the book description and the review. How much time do they really spend making that buying decision?

AUTHORS – You often only have seconds to get a reader to buy your book, is your book cover and book bio up to it?

Rosie’s Friday Five Challenge is this….. IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES….

1) Go to any online book supplier.

2) Randomly choose a category.

3) Speed through the book covers, choose one which has instantly appeal.

4) Read the book Bio/ Description for this book, and any other details.

5) If there are reviews, check out a couple,

6) Make an instant decision, would you BUY or PASS?