Slow Horses by Mick Herron

Posted in Books, Netgalley with tags , , , , , , on February 21, 2018 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake


John Murray [First published 2015]

I picked up this one as a ‘Read it Now’ on NetGalley and I am glad I did. ‘Slow Horses’ is the first book in the Slough House series of modern day espionage thrillers based on Jackson Lamb.

Jackson Lamb presides over Slough House, a dumping ground for members of the intelligence service who’ve messed up, be it a terrorist training scenario that went wrong or leaving vital data on a tube train. The book starts off with an agent called Cartwright who’s leading a terrorist training scenario goes wrong and it is only having a retired spook as a grandfather that saves his career, well stops him being dismissed and instead assigned to Slough House. The plot (based around a domestic terror plot to carry out a beheading live on the net) keeps you reading on, maybe not as intricate as a John Le Carre, but certainly with the same page turning ability as a Le Carre. Jackson Lamb is a very much a rogue character and you do get to find out what caused his fall from grace that landed him at Slough House.

Mick Herron should be on your ‘must read’ list for any readers of well written and plotted espionage/spy fiction. Right, now I am off to hunt down book two in the series…

Archive photos of the Theatre Royal, Hanley

Posted in Family life, rocky horror show, Stoke City, theatre, theatre royal hanley with tags , , , , on February 14, 2018 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

The Theatre Royal, Hanley Facebook page has uploaded a whole host of photographs from the pantos of the 1980’s and early 1990’s, along with the other shows and some backstage shots. Well worth a look.

Three Gruff Goats Meet Some Unexpected Visitors: A mashed-up fairytale by David Atkinson

Posted in Books, Family life with tags , , , , on February 12, 2018 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake


The book is loosely based on the Three Billy Goats Gruff, although David Atkinson adds in a few guest appearances from other well known fairy tales. There are a few good puns in the text and Fay Ford’s illustrations enhance the overall book greatly. My nine year old son enjoyed it as much as I did and to be fair he is more the target audience!

The only downside to the book is that it is over too quickly! There is definitely a scope for a series of books like this that shake-up traditional fairy tales. Maybe the Three Little Pigs (who pop-up in this book) with a twist on the wolf…

Glory Hunter by Brian Darling

Posted in Books, Football, Stoke City, Stoke City FC, The Premiership with tags , , , , , on February 12, 2018 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake


Brian Darling is a glory hunter in that he was raised in Rugby and chose to support Stoke as they were going through a purple patch in the early 1970’s when he started supporting Stoke.

His memoir recalls not only watching Stoke, he adds in his career in the banking world which may not be of interest to some, however he gives an interesting insight as to how banking has changed over the years. Fear not though as football is the main focus and Stoke fans will enjoy the highs and lows mentioned in the book. Be it the classy players we have had like Jimmy Greenoff, Mark Stein, Ricardo Fuller, Gordon Banks and Peter Shilton to name but a few to a few donkeys like Keith Scott.

You don’t need to be a Stoke supporter to enjoy this book, as Brian gets onto the printed page the joy of seeing your team win and the abject despair when you get relegated or lose a big cup game (losing to Man City in the FA Cup final still hurts…)

Highly recommended for Stoke fans as a must read and for any lover of football fan memoirs.

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2018 – this weekend 27-29 Jan

Posted in Family life, News, wildlife with tags , , , , on January 26, 2018 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

Get involved in this weekend and you can download a free pack here. You don’t have to have a garden and it is only an hour of your time.


Betrayal by Stewart Binns

Posted in Books, Netgalley with tags , , , , , , , on January 22, 2018 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake


Penguin [Publication date 08.02.18]

I have read the Crusades series by Stewart Binns and enjoyed those. ‘Betrayal’ is a stand-alone novel by him set in Belfast in 1981. It focuses on Jim Dowd and Maureen O’Brien, special forces soldiers, who are ordered to go undercover, infiltrate one of the city’s most dangerous Catholic neighbourhoods the Ardoyne, and carry out orders that will pit them against not only the IRA but members of their own forces and spymasters.

It is a fast paced read, with plenty of action and although it lacks the subtlety of say Le Carre or Deighton, Binns has a decent go at a spy/espionage thriller. The description of Belfast at the height of the Troubles are graphically described, particularly the effects on the day to day life of its citizens. Binns also pops in bits of history throughout the novel to give the reader some background and the glossary gives further details on various organisations and events involved in Northern Ireland.

Another highly readable novel by an author now on my ‘must read’ list.

Kostas Stafylidis Lambert’s first signing?

Posted in Football, football transfers, Stoke City, Stoke City FC with tags , , , , , , on January 17, 2018 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

Paul Lambert is appointing Stuart Taylor as his assistant manager. Taylor has only just been appointed to a job in Rangers academy and he has previously worked with Lambert at Wolves, plus he has managed Limerick Town. The future of Eddie Niedzwiecki is still undecided as he joined with Mark Hughes.

Left-back Kostas Stafylidis could be the first signing by Paul Lambert. He could be joining on a loan deal from Bundesliga side Augsburg and would offer competition and cover for Erik Pieters, who has been injured the past month.

Bojan could be heading back to Stoke if both clubs agree to cancel his current season long loan. However, fellow season long loanees Muniesa and Imbula are unlikely to return until the summer.

Lambert came across very well in his first press conference for the club, showing he was keen to be at the club, had a plan to turn things around and saying how key the fans are in helping the players on the pitch. I doubt he was any fans first choice, however he has the desire and passion to succeed and like Stoke has a point to prove. Here’s hoping he can galvanise the players into action and a winning mentality.