Sepultura by Guy Portman is an adventure in writing for Portman. The author bends a lot of rules as far as the mechanics of English. The novel is an adventure in reading as the reader constantly tries to figure out who some of the characters are. In tandem with this, Portman makes liberal use of a street-level British vernacular. This novel offers much to the education of readers without knowledge of this language form. Main character Dyson Devereux is probably immoral and definitely amoral as he goes about justifying his killing of other characters who give him problems. The descriptions of the killings are graphic as are descriptions of sex scenes which are obviously power, not sexually, motivated.
Wayfair Lane by Randi Zeff is an interesting story of three dysfunctional to semi-dysfunctional families. Greg Hosmer used to be the husband of Elizabeth Hosmer. Now divorced, why did he buy a house very near the house he had once lived in with Elizabeth? True, it still took binoculars to see her daily activities clearly, binoculars he had to hide along with the log books in which he recorded her daily activities. Was he a stalker? Elizabeth thought so but for years Greg claimed he only wanted to remain close to his daughter, Kaylee. But she had moved out years ago and was now married and pregnant. Greg kept observing and kept recording.
People who know me are aware that I write every day. Sometimes it is a requirement such as when I am developing resources for classes I teach. Sometimes it is for fun as I try to answer the many writing challenges and prompts that I find online. I believe prolonged exposure to this type of activity will eventually create in the writer (me) a desire to expand writing to short stories, fiction and non-fiction novellas and eventually, a longer manuscript. As I reached this point, and I have, I began to look at and skim or scan books on writing. I didn’t read any of them because I instantly labeled them as not worth my time. They were long on circular, philosophical pronouncements and short on measurable, quantifiable, actionable advice. Then I found Start Writing Your Book Today by Morgan Gist MacDonald. Finally, overall, I am happy. I won’t give it five Amazon stars because I found some minor echoes of books I didn’t like, but I would have given it 4.5 stars if Amazon had a system that allowed such an evaluation.
Welcome to Parkview by Brian Paone is the most complex modern-day novel I have read. I have my own approach to reviewing a novel and it is completely useless in this case. There are more complex novels; many can be found in the classics, but they are complex for different reasons. There are modern day writers artistically popular but “difficult to understand.” This novel is different. It is like a jigsaw puzzle and it is presented in layers of reality. If there is one central question a reader might ask while reading the novel, the question would be: what is real? Giving a reader that question as a guide is no help. Somewhere near the end of the novel, completely new directions and realities emerge. For those who want to look ahead, forget it. The story is difficult to follow when reading in its order of presentation. Flipping to the last few chapters would make no sense at all.
Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse is a novel I purchased on Amazon in December 2018 for USD 0.99. As of the date of this review, the price is US 9.49 and it has just over 300 reviews, 33% of which are five-star reviews. I think the author is good but is writing for a tough audience. Psychological thriller readers want something “never-been-done-before.” Philosophers will argue that is not possible so the author must come up with a different twist on familiar themes. I liked the story and gave it five Amazon stars. Because it had parts where the action was slow, I can see some readers knocking it down to four Amazon stars, but I was willing to give the story a chance. When it picks up the pace is good and is worth waiting (reading) for.
Splintered Courage by J. E. Sawyer is billed as a new adult contemporary romance according to a statement on its cover. I could not get into the story at all. I cannot think of an audience that this would appeal to. The writing is mechanically good; there are no embarrassing grammar goofs, typos, or formatting problems. The story is good, but it just never takes off. It is as bland as an everyday conversation between two interested parties because more than those two would not be interested.
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The House of Twelve by Sean Davies will deceive the reader many times. The idea seems familiar. Twelve people wake up in a house but can’t remember how they got there. They don’t know each other and can’t figure out a connection that will tie them together. It is almost as if they had been drugged, kidnapped, and imprisoned in one house. That they were imprisoned is obvious from many indicators. Doors are steel, reinforced, and locked. Where there should be windows, the glass has been replaced by thick constructions of brick. And on a coffee table in the living room, there is a document with House Rules. The first one says they will never be allowed to escape, the second rations the food and water, and the third relates to their imminent deaths. There is constant background music; think elevator music. Each evening at 2300 the music will stop, and one person must die. The victim can die by suicide or be killed by others. If no selection or volunteer happens before 2400, gas will kill all of them.
Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman is an original story of the dangers that accompany being buried alive. There was a time in the 1700s and 1800s that this was a real fear. Edgar Allen Poe wrote of it and it was such a fear that a minor industry developed that created caskets with ropes which connected with bells above ground so that the inadvertently interred could signal for help. This story expands on that fear and adds a few others to create an entertaining tale of greed, jealousy, perverted criminal activity, and the supernatural. I didn’t read the book but listened to an audiobook from Scribd. The link below is to the book on Amazon. It is USD 12.99 in the Kindle edition, USD 19.60 on Audible.com and is included in my Scribd subscription (USD 8.99 per month).