The Pharaoh’s Cat by Maria Luisa Lang

Published: 16th May 2015Goodreads badge
 Self Published
Pages: 182
Format: Paperback
Genre: Humour/Fantasy
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

The Pharaoh’s Cat, narrated in the present tense by the cat himself, is the story of a free-spirited, quick-witted stray in ancient Egypt who suddenly finds himself with human powers joined to his feline nature. 

The cat immediately captures the attention of the seventeen-year-old Pharaoh, making him laugh for the first time since his parents’ death, and is brought to live with him at the royal palace.
The cat also becomes friends with the High Priest of the god Amun-Ra and seeks his help in solving the mystery of his human powers and the supernatural manifestations that later plague him.

He has an enemy in the Vizier—the Pharaoh’s uncle and the second most powerful man in Egypt. The Vizier hates him for himself and even more for his relationship with the Pharaoh.
The cat participates in festivities at the royal palace, developing an insatiable appetite for good food, wine, and gossip. He later accompanies the Pharaoh on a trip through his kingdom, all the while renewing the Pharaoh’s ability to enjoy life and inspiring him to become a stronger leader. 

Between the cat and the Pharaoh a bond of love gradually forms which will determine Egypt’s destiny.

The Pharaoh’s Cat imaginatively blends Egyptology with comedy, drama, and even time travel–the cat and the High Priest will meet Elena, a resident of the twenty-first century and the daughter of a renowned Egyptologist. 

Note: I was provided with a copy of this book from the author for review.

Lang’s story is imaginative and unique, certainly quirky and a fun read. It is a sweet story filled with myth and magic and science fiction. There is time travel coupled with the mysticism of ancient Egyptian belief and practice and after you get used to the writing style and narrator you find yourself easily caught up in the story.

Told from the present tense point of view of Wrappa-Hamen, a cat, there is a strange perspective given initially which alludes to some things and describes different aspects of another based on how a cat may experience it. When Wrappa-Hamen is given human qualities by the cat goddess Bastet it expands his nature and experiences but Lang keeps his voice simple and instinctive, keeping the cat qualities while combining his new human abilities as well.

Wrappa-Hamen becomes friends and companion to the young Pharaoh and Lang explores the relationship and growing affection he has for the king. The relationship between Wrappa-Hamen and the Pharaoh is touching, and with the gifts bestowed on the cat means another element is provided, and manages to keep the story feeling genuine and not overly fanciful. The explanations provided tie in well with the Ancient Egyptian beliefs and doesn’t require too much explanation to ground it and make it feel valid.

There are many surprises in the story, not just in narrative but in the depth and complexity Lang achieves from a story that is for the most part humorous, light, and whimsical. The connection Wrappa-Hamen has with the Pharaoh, as well as the High Priest, remains wonderful and only improves. There is also a great exploration and expression of some of the roles and practices of the Pharaoh and Lang demonstrates various aspects of the ancient Egyptian culture nicely, while still keeping within the limits of a cat’s perspective.

The characters are rounded, given assessments by Wrappa-Hamen as he interacts with them which helps bring them to life, but there are only a handful of key characters that get a lot of attention. With each adventure and misadventure, the trouble that arises and the strange places Wrappa-Hamen finds himself in demonstrates another side of various characters and at times adds another side to their character.

One things that did surprise me was the ending, for a seemingly short book there is a lot packed into it and it isn’t until the end draws near do you realise how attached you’ve become to these characters. There are many ways in which Lang could have concluded Wrappa-Hamen’s story, some hinted at and others not, but I think she chose the best option. The ending is ideal, it is surprising, bittersweet, highly possible if you choose to believe it, and makes you realise things cannot always be as they were. With a sequel in the works, Lang provides a solid ending while also allowing new adventures to occur.

This is a story filled with comedy, love, hope, despair, loss, and friendship, set against the backdrop of Ancient Egypt and provides a little bit of magic alongside an inventive plot and the desires of a cat.

You can purchase The Pharaoh’s Cat via the following


Amazon UK



McCall & Company: Workman’s Complication (#1) by Rich Leder

Published: 7th September 2014Goodreads badge
 Laugh Riot Press
Pages: 394
Format: Ebook
Genre: Mystery/Humour
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Off-off-off-off Broadway actress Kate McCall inherits her father’s New York private investigations business after he’s a whole lot of murdered in a life insurance company elevator.

A concrete-carrying, ballroom-dancing construction mule says he fell off the scaffolding, can never work—or dance—again, and sues the contractor for a whole lot of money.

Kate assembles the eccentric tenants of her brownstone and her histrionic acting troupe to help her crack the cases, and they stir up a whole lot of trouble.

But not as much as Kate, who sticks her nose in the middle of the multi-million-dollar life-insurance scam her father was investigating and gets a whole lot of arrested for murdering a medical examiner.

Will Kate bust the insurance scam, prove who really killed the examiner—and her father—and get out of jail in time to pull off the ballroom sting of the decade? She might, but it’s going to be a whole lot of hilarious.

Note: I was provided with a copy of this book from the publisher for review.

Leder toes the line between absurd and realistic with this novel with wonderful balance, displaying the right set of circumstances and components that pull off the strange events in this story and make it work smoothly and effectively. The narrative is easy to read and the story is engaging and captivating, making it compelling to read and very hard to put down.

From early on the humour is evident but it never stands out awkwardly, nor does Leder try too hard. The combination of unique and eccentric characters and an intriguing storyline makes the story light while not taking away the serious elements of the story and it gives it a feeling of genuineness. Leder is skilled at saying a lot without saying much and he uses the narrative and dialogue remarkably well to provide information without breaking the flow of the story. The dialogue and character interactions are also excellent and they demonstrate character personalities and show relationships nicely.

Kate is a likeable narrator, she is witty and quick, but she is real and honest with herself which is admirable. Being a PI means Kate is a good surmise of people, she isn’t too judgemental, she is just very observant. I liked that Kate was older; it changes the feel of the story and allows for a different type of story with different people and different interactions.

What I also liked about Kate was that she is proud of herself, but this didn’t make her arrogant; she knows what she is capable of and when to ask for help, and isn’t afraid to push the boundaries. There is no doubt she is clever, resourceful, and brave, but she is also passionate and she knows what she wants from her life which may make her idealistic to some, but it makes her happy.

The residents at the Brownstone are a quirky and peculiar bunch that is worthy of Hey Arnold and their uniqueness and interactions with one another make you smile and provide immense joy as you read. Even in their limited roles Leder brings the characters to life offering up their whole personality and life on the page, aided by Kate’s explanations but also by their interactions with one another. Other characters are developed and enjoyable and through Kate’s assessments and Leder’s minimal expression, getting a sense of who each character is is easy.

There are a few crazy and adventurous moments that can seem a tad outlandish but these moments are not without consequence and Kate’s knowledge as a PI and skills as an actress come in handy though not always with favourable results. I loved that everything was not perfect and there are real mistakes and consequences, it allowed the story to have surprises, danger, and excitement all the while maintaining a realistic feel to the story.

There are multiple points of interest to retain your attention and with surprises big and small Leder keeps it fun while being mysterious and filling you with anticipation. The humour makes you smile while the mystery pulls you in and the realness keeps you reading to the last page. It is a wonderful and surprising read.

You can purchase Workman’s Complication via the following

Amazon | Amazon Aust


Call of the Jersey Devil by Aurelio Voltaire

Published: May 28th 2013
Goodreads badgePublisher: Spence City
Pages: 248
Format: Book
Genre: Horror/Paranormal/Humour Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Five suburban mall rats and a washed up Goth singer find themselves stranded in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey where they discover two horrifying truths: The Jersey Devil, hellspawn of folklore and legend, is real; and New Jersey (as many already suspected) is the gateway to Hell!

With the help of one lone witch, this small group must face off against their deepest fears and the most unholy monsters in a battle where their very souls, the world they live in, and any chance of returning to Hot Topic in one piece is at stake!

I was given an ARC copy of this book by the publisher.

The idea that the gateway to hell is in a forest in New Jersey is a pretty enticing way to base a novel. As soon as we begin the story we are thrown into the world of a mysterious creature and what it is capable of doing, then as we move on to a different world entirely we know it is just a matter of time before two worlds collide and creates the trouble this causes for those involved.

Call of the Jersey Devil tells the story of five “mall rat” teenagers who travel to the New Jersey Pine Barrens to see Gothic singer Villy Bats, however things are not all they seem, and when all hell starts to break loose (I love that this has become a literal phrase), they are soon faced with an entire underworld itching to get out through the gates of hell. Enlisting the help of a witch the teens and Villy must fight to stop the gates from opening further, and flooding the world with demonic incarnations, one of which is the legendary figure known as the Jersey Devil.
Being a fan of Voltaire’s work and having watched him provide updates on the book’s development for months, I sat here patiently waiting to finally get a chance to read it. After given the chance to read an Advanced Reader Copy I jumped at the opportunity. Having now finished it, almost unable to put down unless I had to, I am so glad it lived up to my expectations and went beyond what I ever thought it would be. It seems wrong to seemingly praise Voltaire for somehow writing such an excellent book as a first time novelist, almost as if it were unexpected, but not only do I know many first time authors who write excellent books, but Voltaire has a long successful creative and storytelling history behind him, this time it has simply descended on the page rather than in a graphic novel, a song, or a film.

But while Voltaire is a good storyteller, there is no doubt he is also a good writer. There are sentences and phrases in this book that are wonderful, all nestled in amongst the joking and the teenagers, and the whole ordeal of this demonic spawn and an opening underworld. The descriptions are excellent as well, whether they are of people, demons, or the environment around them. The way Voltaire writes you can immediately conjure up images and feeling of people and events; especially the scenes in the woods, not to mention the ominous feeling of uncertain darkness and the monsters it hides.

Along with descriptions there are also some very insightful moments in this book, as well as evoking one-liners and entire ideas expressed eloquently, often needing very few words attached to them. Voltaire has a way with words that is very beautiful; perhaps this is the long established creator within, or simply an observant and insightful personality coming through on the page, or perhaps both. Whatever the case it is certainly a talent to create a compelling and engaging story that can make you think, feel, as well as be fearful and grossed out all at the same time.

What I enjoyed about Call of the Jersey Devil is the fact that is has so much in it, but it never seems crowded, nor does it jump and feel fractured as you read. The opening of the book and early chapters are definitely designed to set up our characters and lead us into the oncoming events that connect you to the title. This beginning I feel is needed because it impacts on the remainder of the story, as well as how you perceive and assess the characters themselves.

Whether this was my own over thinking or not, but I felt that we were introduced to these “mall rats” as we were to give us a chance at creating our own preconceptions and assessments on them as people. Certainly other characters and they themselves fed this opinion, but in doing so it gives a lot of power to the rest of the novel which then begins to break down these initial judgements.

Voltaire changes point of view throughout and we are able to see the unfolding events through almost every characters eyes and thoughts. In doing so we are also given the opportunity to gain an insight into their history and back story to show you who they are and how they came to be that way. Aside from providing histories, it is interesting to see how each character treats the circumstances they are in, some relish it, some fear it, while others hate it.

Villy was an interesting character, if not complex. I enjoyed his character more I think because of his complexities and imperfections, that is what makes him real. The same can  be said for the others; these characters, especially the mall rats: Stuey, Prudence, Ari, AJ, and Aleister, are portrayed as real people, all with the quirky, obnoxious, selfish, vain and adoring aspects that is within anybody. Voltaire is very good at showing the readers that there is certainly a ‘group persona’ that is separate from who someone really is. This is why having alternating points of view and providing back stories helps you understand these characters a lot more, you see them as who they are, not only as the face they put on for the public.

You do get to see these characters behave separately from their group persona. This helps you not to instantly dismiss them as selfish teenagers who are loud and obnoxious and rude to one another, they all have a reason and Voltaire shows us, giving us a little more understanding, and yet almost not enough to excuse everything that they do, more to show how it has shaped who they became. This doesn’t always change any opinions or add much sympathy, but we are given an explanation.

Towards the middle of the book the story settles in nicely and it is now that everything begins to unravel, and it isn’t long before it is strange, and is possibly grotesque to some, but it is brilliant. There is a strange absurdness about it that is compelling and wonderful. You can certainly see where the influences came from of the genre films, and yet it does not read as cliché and over done either. The additional elements Voltaire added makes it humorous, and yet still terrifying and clever at the same time.

While it is grotesque in some parts, you cannot ignore the humour, this almost balances out the unpleasant details and descriptions Voltaire gives to the demonic faction within the woods. There is snarky sarcasm, and amusing moments that sit either side of the ‘horror’ aspect, but there is also some that cuts through the horror and breaks up the unpleasant scenes.

There were events in this book that took me by surprise in some cases, and not in others, but all were engaging, and in some cases saddening, all contrasting within a single chapter at times. There are also some very heartfelt moments in this book which was certainly a surprise, but certainly well placed and executed. There is the correct balance between the parody, the horror, and the realism to make it work very well. It isn’t even an equal balance, that is not what the story requires, but where these moments happen and by whom are perfectly placed to suit the character and the narrative.

I loved the ending of this book; I thought it was perfect for where the story began and how it played out. I think the way Voltaire established his characters and how we get to know them, not to mention the situations they get themselves in, helped explain and make the ending scenes and epilogue ideal. What was wonderful was the fact that Voltaire keeps you engaged and laughing throughout and until the end, which is very hard when you have demons, teenagers, witches, and the paranormal to contend with. There is also amazing and detailed artworks that accompany this story, certainly not required as the descriptions do them justice, but by having a startling sketch to illustrate a scene create an impressive impact on the mind when you continue reading. And entire idea can be captured in one of those drawings, there are just the right amount to suit just the right needs.

In his interview Voltaire said he was a storyteller, and he is; but there is also novel here. Within this story there are glimpses and hints of beauty and art, hiding amongst this “storytelling”. So while when you hear storyteller you may think casual conversational tone, there will be a lot that will surprise you with this book. For someone who does not read, Voltaire can write. But we already knew that. You only need to look at his songs or his films, or his other works to know he is talented, and know that reading does not always equate to talent or skill in writing.

You still have time for pre-orders before Call of the Jersey Devil is released on May 28th.