Tag Archives: authors

Interview with Jonathan R. Rose, author of the new horror novel Carrion

My Video Skype interview with Jonathan R. Rose, author of the grimmest book I’ve read in a while, Carrion, a post-apocalyptic zombie scenario told from the perspective of the zombie.

He talks at length about the aspects of his home in Mexico that made their way into the book and his deeper message in the book about what it really means to be human…

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An Amazon Reviewer’s Advice to Self Published Authors

Last night I was harangued by an author who vehemently disliked the fact that I gave him a negative review on his book. ┬áLet’s go over the basics of how Amazon reviewing works in the publishing world, shall we?

 

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Reviews: Killing His Fear

Click the photo to visit the review on Amazon

As usual I received this book for free at the hands of the generous author. Also as usual, despite that great kindness, I give my candid opinions below.

On the positive side, the author has a keen grasp of psychopathic behavior and understands well the inner workings of the mind of someone suffering from schizophrenia. The narrative is also reasonably interesting and has a circumspect style told from the viewpoint of both the killer and the police who pursue him.

Sadly, the negatives far outweigh the positives of the storyline. At the simplest level, the grammar and typography is in need of a good, sound editing. Punctuation is misplaced, words are misspelled or misused, and most amusing of all there are two chapter 39s. The whole thing just seems rather slap-dash and it completely ruins the effect of story. Further, the dialog is unrealistic and childlike as characters go through stiff and unrealistic interactions with each other that just don’t sound like natural verbal discourse at all. The author seems to go through phases in which he will use a particular word (one jarring example was the word ‘gonna’ as a form of ‘going to’) 7 times in the space of one and a half pages and then never uses it again in the entire rest of the book. In another case he seems to decide that contractions are bad and just stops using them for several chapters resulting in almost robotic dialog.

In summary, the author knows his subject matter but his mode of connecting the pieces is just a shambles. His strength is portraying the mind of the mentally deranged but anything outside that realm just turns to improbable plot points that come to conclusions that are far too easy and predictable. At the heart of this novel there’s a real talent but it’s buried under rather a dark and murky bushel.

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Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield

Bellman and BlackBellman and Black by Diane Setterfield

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As usual, I received this book not through actually purchasing it but because someone gave it to me for review. In this case the book came from a galley giveaway on ShelfAwareness. Despite that kind consideration I’m still not afraid to roast even a free book with a scathing review. Luckily in this case, no such conflagration is necessary.

Firstly, it should be noted that I religiously avoid reading the back jackets of books, so going into this one I had only the cover and the subtitle “A ghost story” to go on. Because of that I spent a fair amount of time looking for the literal ghost only to find that the ghosts that haunt William Bellman are of a completely different sort than one generally expects from children’s literature.

On the positive side of things, this book is a deliciously subtle story of one man’s haunted life. Setterfield weaves her story and her characters together with a sagacious and haunting assiduousness that pulls the reader gently along from one short chapter to the next. This is an acutely wrought novel with a tenacious grip on realism while still washing the entire scene in an afterglow of the supernatural. I’ve not read anything this well written in quite some time. Our author brings us a tale as unhurried and as natural as life itself.

The only real negative I can put forth is really more of a warning to potential readers. This is a great book but it’s likely not for everyone. For those accustomed to the pablum of easy modern literature, I suggest humbly that you look elsewhere. For those reading by the pool in the joyous light of day, perhaps your time is better spent between other pages. But if you find yourself in a darkened room listening to the rumble of far-away thunder, then this may be the book for just that setting. It is not a gripping thrill ride, but it does take you gently by the hand and pull you quietly into another world where the sky harbors a thousand watching eyes and time does not undo all wrongs nor heal all wrongs.

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Reviews: God’s Eye by A.J. Scudiere

God's EyeGod’s Eye by A.J. Scudiere

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First things first as always. I received this book via a GoodReads drawing and therefore didn’t pay anything for it. Despite that kind consideration I’ll give you my honest assessment as always.

In general I find it rather distasteful to say much of anything about the plot but in this case I will make a very slight exception. At a very high level the book shows us a woman of privileged background who is being ‘courted’ by an angel and a demon come to Earth in human form and her choice of one of them will determine her eventual fate. The only reason this tidbit is at all important is to clarify for potential readers that this book is in no way a religious one. It deals with eternal moral questions but not in any way that’s directly religious. Or, to put it more bluntly, at no time is the reader preached at. Not a religious book at all.

Double preambles now complete, we get along to the assessment of the novel. Stylistically Scudiere’s writing is very solid. Reading pace is swift and easy and the author’s intent is clearly transmitted. The story is mildly cliche but it’s rather impossible to be otherwise when dealing with any topic so basic. Overall I’d rate the book as mildly amusing but sadly not worth the time it took to consume it. The same story could be covered in half the time and deliver much more punch. Lastly, the novel’s ending, after so much gritty darkness, is sappily and inanely sweet. When cutting the novel down to a reasonable size the first thing to be eliminated should be the last 30 pages.

Editorially I think the book suffers from some unskillful excisions. In several places the text refers to past events that never occurred in a manner that makes me think we were supposed to know about them. I also wonder if the ending was cobbled on at the request of some early reviewer who thought the original ending too dark.

In summary, this is a great idea for a story but there’s just too much of it. At times the author’s rendering of events is dramatic and gripping but one must tread water for far too long to get where the author’s taking you.

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