Mapping the Future


Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

The Cartographer’s Apprentice by Jim Webster is a collection of four short stories that according to one reviewer serves as an introduction to the writings of Jim Webster. I stumbled across another of his works, Deep Water and Other Stories, got completely lost in the first thirty pages, and decided to find out more about this author and his stories. There are many novels in which an author gets praise for effective and complete world building. Jim Webster is the equal of any writer I’ve read. The world building element all by itself is on a level with Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, and the fantasy novels of J. K. Rowling. The storytelling can become confusing for readers either not familiar with or unwilling to follow British English. This is writing that requires a reader to pay attention. Readers will not be sanctioned for the inattentiveness, but neither will they receive the full rewards of this excellent writing.

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Absurd Over-the-Top British Humor


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Scoundrels was so hilariously unique and funny, I looked at the Amazon page to see what the advance reviews were. I don’t read the reviews of other readers until I write mine. Sometimes it is interesting to see how other reader reviews refute or support the early or promotional reviews. Because I looked at the Amazon page after reading 50% of the novel, I had a good idea of what I would agree with. There were some descriptions so accurate I wanted to note them in my post. Not a fan of posts that only copy other posts, I will confine my copying only to the following comment from the novel’s Amazon page.

“Historically accurate, morally questionable and absolutely true, SCOUNDRELS is one part Flashman to two parts Mordecai Trilogy stirred vigorously and dashed in the face of Ian Fleming. It will leave you with a nasty taste in your mouth, and horribly hungover.”

Classic True Crime Stories


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Vintage True Crime Stories published by Historical Crime Detective Publishing is almost as interesting in its organization and compilation of stories as is the content of the stories themselves. The work reviewed here is Volume I: An Illustrated Anthology of Forgotten Cases of Murder & Mayhem. There are two primary historical sources for the stories. Refer to the section About This Book to learn about the primary sources as well as contributions made by the publishers. Ten clearly defined publisher actions make this an interesting addition to libraries of crime literature addicts. There is a companion webpage which provides images and additional reading sources for each of the twenty chapters/cases in this volume. For fans of the crime genre, this is a rich resource which will provide much reading for the Amazon price of USD 0.99.

Looking for My Real Daddy


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Book covers attract buyers; there is nothing new about this. We can tell a book by its cover, or at least we think we can. Fourteen by Leslie Johansen Nack communicates several ideas all at once. Fourteen, hmmm, that might be the age of the female on the cover. She is wearing a bikini. The next point that catches reader attention is the subtitle: A Daughter’s Memoir of Adventure, Sailing, and Survival. That last word is a trigger that evokes the possibility of domestic child abuse. Then there are the words “adventure” and “sailing.” Not available on Kindle Unlimited but selling for USD 0.55, I was interested in what this novel is about. I was happy. I discovered a story with meaning on many levels.

A Moveable Feat

Wonder When You’ll Miss Me by Amanda Davis is a richly complex novel with at least three plot arcs. By definition, the arcs are not presented in a linear fashion. The reader is aware that Davis is uncovering all three plots at the same time. Elements of each plot march forth for reader examination at unexpected times. Each plot is complex and invites reader reflection. This means that the novel is not a fast read. As I mulled over each element of a plot and its relation to the entire story, the novel falls short of description as a page-turner. I was happy to read an entertaining story that is also intelligent. All plots deserve a five-star Amazon rating.

Political Horror Show// Highly Recommended

After completing the novel Sedition and writing the review below, I want to emphasize that (IMO) this is a highly recommended five-star Amazon read I label a Political Horror Thriller. At 615 pages, it created havoc with my reading schedule. It was scary enough that I woke up in the middle of the night to continue reading. I will post most of my comments on Amazon, but this paragraph and the final two rant paragraphs below will appear only on my blog. This book affected me more than anything I read last year (2018). I don’t want to make a comparison to this year because it is only February.

Writer Woes

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.

Grunge as Entertainment

A first feature I questioned about The Grunge Narratives: A Rare Horror Collection by Nick Younker was, why Grunge? What…

Tuli Learns to Inhale

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Don’t Bury Me by Nick Younker begins as a dystopian novel, provides a steadily increasing supply of despair and pathos and ends with a twisted presentation of what may be described as social justice. This is not a spoiler because the interesting element of the short story is the process by which it gets there. Plus, there are two rewarding surprises for the reader who has taken the journey through all the negative sludge. To phrase this in a way that is not a spoiler, the reader might find an answer to the problems of income inequality.

Is Laurie Real?

The Colors of Autumn by Jay Lemming is a coming of age very short story. At only fourteen pages, this should take a reader about one-half a cup of coffee (caffeinated) to read. I found this story as I was wandering through some Amazon author pages and stumbled across this sentence: “The Colors of Autumn is the tale of a dying season and of naivete brought to the doorstep of depravity.” It is not fair to put such shiny objects in the path of an eclectic reader.