TABITHA BOOKS

from author Graham Sclater

Too Big To Cry - Review 

Too Big to Cry

By Graham Sclater ©2013

 Too Big to Cry is fiction at its most potent, creating an electrical line of high-powered tension that delivers its energy throughout the book. The effects of the story are so profound, because they resonate with owners of small and medium sized businesses today, not only in the UK, but also in America, Australia, and across the world in the aftermath of global recession.  

 Set in 2010, this story seems straight out of the nightly news media. It is relevant to consumers, job seekers, and small business owners alike. The demise of a single business stemming from customers who are unable to pay their bills removes the livelihood of dozens of people. These newly unemployed will have a hard job of finding other work in the economic downturn.  Meanwhile, inside intrigue accelerates the corporate death as embezzlement and disloyalty drain the company assets.

 The collapse of each small business and resultant loss of products, services, and jobs might lead to national economic collapse; but what of the business owner and his family?

 The home front crumbles into devastation as if from a major earthquake event.

CEO Brian Chapman struggles to maintain his business and family, but tension fills his face and his voice becomes more strident by the day. Employees fairly screech at one another in anticipation of financial breakdown with its possible homelessness and starvation, even in a Western economy. The Apocalypse is coming. The threads of Mrs. Chapman’s sanity begin to unravel. 

At the beginning of the book, we see the one influential CEO Chapman reduced to old clothing and a rattletrap car as he drives to the auction of his business assets. Inside, he finds scraps of his former life in photos and clippings fallen beneath furniture. Former employees have been smashing company vehicles in a rage, making threatening phone calls, and attacking his house.

We read the story of the decline of Brian’s family business and gasp at a runaway train of financial ruin that is unstoppable. Banks and other lenders actually fuel the decline of businesses with loan gimmicks. We wonder at these events, know they have occurred in several countries, yet sit in shock, reminded of the swath of their obliteration. Many individuals have committed suicide in the light of financial ruin that destroyed their families and companies. Scores more have become inmates in mental health facilitates, unable to cope with immense losses. 

 As things fall apart, Brian Chapman takes his dilapidated car and faithful dog on a journey to gain back his losses. He confronts bankers, embezzlers, hostile employees, false friends, and decompensating family members, determined to gain a measure of justice. At least his dog is still by his side and mentally fit, with no evil tricks held in waiting for his master. What man and dog can accomplish together may be surprising.

 Too Big to Cry is a roller coaster experience that seems to be all quickly and powerfully downhill from a great height. It is difficult to close the book before reaching the end, because one does not want to be stuck on that sharp slope, but certainly wants to find an upswing and a safe landing. The story is too big and too true not to be read by all of us.

 Too Big to Cry is available worldwide from Amazon, Kindle and signed copies in the UK and Europe from the publisher www.TabithaBooks.webs.com

 Review by Patty Inglish USA

Word Press review 2010

Graham Sclater's scintillating new book "Hatred is the key" tells about the aftermath of the little publicised war where 10,000 American prisoners-of -war were held in a freezing stone prison in England for years. Four months after the war ended they were still prisoners.
 
U.S. Navy men, boys, merchants, slaves and ex-slaves were tortured and starved to death and the Englishmen in charge suffered their own consequences in the War of 1812 that no one won.
 
This book could be the basis of  award winning essays and reports in American schools and may well become the basis of a fine film in the future.
 
Word Press 2010 
 
"We're gonna be famous" review 2011
 Young sisters Hannah and Abi are faced with a dilemma that would not be wished on anyone. How do they help their seriously ill mother who is in desperate need of life-saving and expensive treatment in America when all they have is their pocket money?

Perhaps their love of music will help them but can they do anything in time?

First off, I’ll come clean and say that Graham Sclater is a writing friend of mine and we’ve even at one point in our careers shared a publisher. Nonetheless at the start of January when I read this, I was in the mood for some fun reading matter and this very much fitted the bill. Yes, it’s a children’s book but none the worse for it. I enjoyed meeting Hannah and Abi, their family and friends, and seeing them through their trials and tribulations as they try to work out how best to help their seriously ailing mother.

The book is not afraid to give us multiple viewpoints too, but it’s subtly done and in a manner which deepens and enhances the story. I particularly liked the fact that we get an occasional adult-eye view also, from Hannah’s and Abi’s father, and also from the father of their best friend, Rosie. This helps to cement the fact that the book does deal with the big issues of life, such as illness, the possibility of death, and the issues adults have in conveying bad news to children. I thought that was a brave choice and it worked.

There are also several interesting glimpses into the music world, a world the author knows very well as he works as a music publisher and songwriter, and was himself a touring musician for many years. I enjoyed the way modern music is a key aspect of the plot, as the two sisters embark on a mission to write an award-winning song in order to pay for their mother’s medical fees.

Speaking of the plot, it’s a little slow at the start but once it gets going, I was keen to know how Hannah and Abi resolved their problems, especially when faced with the deviousness of Rosie’s brother Josh. I was up in arms about him on their behalf (the cad! The bounder!), especially as the difficulties continued for some time, thus cleverly adding to the tension. That said, Josh is quite funny when we first meet him and this brotherly view of his sister and her friends made me smile:

One girl in the house was bad enough and he was glad to be rid of his younger sister for a few weeks. But no sooner had she gone, the very next day two more arrived uninvited.

Lovely, and so true!

I would have preferred however a greater emphasis on some of the key plot twists and felt we could well have spent more time on the developing relationship between Hannah, Abi and Rosie. I also thought we didn’t quite finish dealing with Josh at the end, though I appreciate it’s a children book and thus the emphasis will be different. That said, the resolution is neat and more than appropriate, with music unfailingly at its heart, and what could be nicer or more satisfying? It was fun, lively and gave me a great deal of pleasure.

 
 Anne Brooke 2011
 
 
 

American book review by Patty Inglish 

Hatred is the Key - American/English Holocaust

August 2, 1812

 Hatred is the Key

 Graham Sclater

Tabitha Books

ISBN 978-0956397713

Published in the USA and available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in the UK or copies signed by the author from the publisher Tabitha Books

Reviewer Rating ♦♦♦♦♦ out of 5 

Heartfelt thanks to the Internet for connecting writers with audiences in the far flung corners of the world!

The web led me to UK author Graham Sclater and Hatred is the Key, an unexpected and brilliant focus on the hatred rampant between early 19th Century English and Americans in the War of 1812-1814. The book presents a vividly painted world that surrounds and centers on England’s Dartmoor Depot and its sinister role for America during the devastating war in the Atlantic Ocean. Hatred extended to American-held slaves, freedmen, Métis, Caribbean Islanders, and First Nation/Native Americans that became involved as well.  Irrational hatred criss-crossed among these subgroups, as you will read first hand in this novel.

 Even with at least one ancestor in the Siege of Fort Pitt and the later War of 1812-1814, I knew little of the latter war and less of Dartmoor Depot or Dartmoor prison as it was later renamed. Thanks to Graham Sclater, I now know the rest of the story - the consequences on a personal level to all sides in the War of 1812.

 Dartmoor Depot took a bloody grasp of over 10,000 American prisoners of war: sailors and merchants; freemen, slaves and children. Those operating the prison were likely not much better off, particularly in the toll such operations took on these individuals mentally, inhabiting their nightmares for decades in the style those infesting the Vietnam conflict. Not only this, but Dartmoor was built to house only 3,000 prisoners, the overcrowding horrific in its consequences.

 Usual American histories of the War of 1812 show nothing of the Dartmoor Depot. Perhaps USA did not wish to publicize the plight of their period POW'S, but it was a Holocaust of proportions that Cecil B. DeMille would have depicted with fervor and drawn many crowds. Picasso’s Guernica in its exquisite agonies does not do the image of Dartmoor justice. Graham Sclater does so in Hatred is the Key.

Hatred is the Key is a work of engaging historical fiction that accurately portrays the aftermath of American losses on the Atlantic Ocean to the English fleet. Much like springtime television cliffhangers, one cannot stop “watching” this story, continuing to read and re-read the novel at great length.

This was likely the wish of many captains like Captain Sleep and Captain Coombes in the seagoing war, but neither received their shared wish. Captain Shortland as well had no such reward in his assignment as commander of Dartmoor Depot, a UK facility still operating, full of the ghostly habitations of three years and over 10,000 tortured men and boys. The images of capture, the forced march to the prison, and the tumultuous hell on the inside will keep you awake at night, just as they did the prisoners you will meet in the story. Fictional, but hard-wired in fact, the characters and the events will burn into your memory.

 Read this book and you will know what most Americans and most people do not yet know about the horrors of the War of 1812-1814. Yet, despite circumstances, these prisoners held onto their personalities and many, to solid character as well. Read and you will see victory in the middle of hell.

HM Prison Dartmoor is an active men's prison in Princeton, on Dartmoor in Devon, England. Designed by Andrew A. Alexander, it was built from 1806 - 1809 with high stone walls of cold granite. Currently owned by the Duchy of Cornwall and run through Her Majesty's Prison Service, it was built to house 3,000 (French) men captured by Britain in the Napoleonic Wars, but held many more from 1812 - 1815. It held over triple its limit, in squalor and the coldest winter in a hundred years. Disease, cold, hunger, lack of sanitation, and a horde of insects and other vermin killed many and nearly drove the rest mad. Prolonged solitary confinement and "disappearing" also took a toll of lives and sanity - even months after the war ended.    

 English restrictions and interference imposed against US-French trade resulted in an American declaration of war on Canada and Britain in June, 1812. This filled the North Atlantic and the Great Lakes with battles in which America lost many ships and men who were jailed in Dartmoor Depot. After the war was over in December 1814, Americans were held overtime in Dartmoor prison and tortured, until finally they gained their release after an uprising on April 6, 1815, in which many more of them were killed.

 Neither British nor Americans lost or gained any lands in this war and they lost many lives as well as their peace of mind and parts of their souls; but the First Nations and Native Americans lost everything, including lands promised by the British. Freed slaves and some American boys as young as 13 or younger lost their lives in the prison as well. It was much like the Holocaust of a later war.

 Recommended Reading

This novel describes seagoing battles in the Atlantic in realistic fashion and fills out characters into people to whom we as readers can relate. Captains Coombes, Hawkins, Sleep, and Shortland are so substantial and similar - all British stock or descendant - that one can forget which side they’re on. Members of the opposing navy crews and the civilians are likable or despicable by turns. It seems that real people die as many of them succumb to wounds or disease. This all makes a greater case against war and prejudice in the end.

 Americans slaves are as intelligent as their master, the sharp merchant Dylan Chipp, and more likeable, though Chipp is immensely entertaining as he is taken among POW'S from the ship on which he was just a passenger. Just as entertaining are scenes in the local farmers' and merchants’ market days in the prison yard with a variety of products and services obtainable from sellers' stalls. The gypsy-type healers have a stall as well and dispense medicine and cures, but tend to whoever summons them in an emergency. They are held in seemingly low esteem, but are well patronized by prisoners, the British military, dignitaries, and others. Physical suffering trumps prejudicial hatred. Additional scenes portray relationships of all sorts between Americans and British people and are particularly poignant and memorable.

 Aside from some good lessons in the uselessness of hatred, Mr. Sclater’s book provides some good history of the prison, its construction and operation, the war, and the aftermath for all sides.

 "It is a good read and would make a riveting film" -- Patty Inglish © 2010