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Reviews of what you should be reading next.

Month: December 2016

Splintrod by D. Gordon Tyson

splintrod

A young Betsey Stratfork is enjoying her childhood when she is involved in a tragic auto accident that destroys her legs. Despite her handicap and the lack of compassion from the driver, she excels in school and earns her medical degree. She pursues a career in a new field of medicine known as bone manipulation. Now, as Dr. Stratfork, she develops groundbreaking devices and procedures that improve the lives of many patients. In the course of her life, living in constant pain, she is subjected to repeated instances of discrimination. Learning of a life-threatening event, she snaps. In her anger-fueled psychosis, she turns to the dark-side and uses her SplintRod invention to inflict horrific pain and suffering.

 

 

Thanks to Word Slinger Publicity for offering this book in exchange for a review!

SPLINTROD is a wildly uneven but gripping tale about a doctor who loses her mind and seeks revenge on those who have wronged her. I alternately felt sorry for, then despised Dr Wilfork for her actions. Towards the end of the story I decided that my dominant emotion was pity, as long as I didn’t think too hard about the victims.

The fact that this is the author’s first book is evident: the writing style is a bit rough around the edges, he spends just a tad too much time describing the many characters, and some of the transitions between scenes are awkward. Some of the characters are one dimensional, and even Dr Wilfork could have been fleshed out a bit more.

The storyline and action is edge-of-your-seat wonderful, however. Once you get past the unpolished writing style, the drama grabs you and keeps you reading, because you just don’t know what is going to happen next. Medical thrillers are the best, because you know you will encounter depraved people and intense procedures, plus lots of blood. The creation of the Splintrod device is devilish genius – and the perfect way for the good doctor to torture and maim the innocent. The author’s descriptions of how the machine is misused are cringeworthy and totally believable.

The plot brings up an interesting moral point – was the revenge proper? Were the victims selected correctly? Some may say no, that the actual perpetrators of pain upon Dr Wilfork should have been the ones feeling the pain. However, there is mental pain and physical pain; both kinds are visited upon the innocent and the guilty alike.

The author’s strength lies in his ability to manipulate the reader’s emotions. As I mentioned before, I would vacillate between disgust and vicarious pleasure as the victims were tortured. There was disgust because of the maiming and killing that occurred. However, the victims were also portrayed to be arrogant and self-centered, with some of their actions bearing that out. At times it became easy to despise them and all that they stood for. But strip all that away, and at the end they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

With the proper editing, SPLINTROD could be a five star book. The author has a great capacity for plot development; he just needs to smooth out the bumps in the road. I did enjoy this book, and I’d love to know what you think about it. You can pick up your copy here.

Friday Nights Don’t Last Forever by Caleb Pirtle III

friday-nights

The dream of college football propels Casey Clinton into the best and worst times of his life. On Friday nights in Avalon, Alabama, football reigns supreme. Quarterback Casey Clinton’s magic arm drives recruiters and his opponents wild. Girls worship him. A preacher’s wife seduces him. Life can’t be any better. But when slick college football recruiters offer the small-town high school player the chance for fame and glory, it’s no longer a game. It’s business. And it’s brutal. Lavish promises of money, women, and a spot at the top of the football world take Casey into a violent world he could never imagine. Temptation is great. His life spirals out of control. His world crumbles out from under him. Football is no longer a sport. It’s a fight for survival in a game where everyone but Casey knows how to play.

Many thanks to All Reviews Matter for gifting me this book for review!

Many things make this book a winner.

The first is the authentic Southern atmosphere that pervades every word and scene of FRIDAY NIGHTS. You can hear the drawl in the voices, and sense the underlying desperation of the players as they worship the only god they know – football.

Second is the multi layered character development – of Casey, Chelsea, Lucas, and the attitudes and actions of the rest of the townspeople. The pressure that is put on these confused teenagers is immense, and is echoed all over the South on any given Friday. The author knows this, and uses it to his advantage to create a deeply moving story that uses contrasting backgrounds to spin the plot forward.

These characters could have been easily written as a stereotype – but Pirtle makes them so much more. He makes them earnest and believable, easy to root for and to hate. Some characters, like Lucas, force you to vacillate between emotions: sadness because of his upbringing, scorn because of how he treats others.

Third is the fascinating backdrop of the cutthroat world of college football. Reading about Casey getting call after call from colleges promising him everything while denigrating other schools in the same breath made me realize just how much manipulation is done in the name of a winning season.

The author’s writing style is clean, yet raw – no extra words or filler here, just emotion, suffering and hope. It didn’t take me long to become immersed in the microcosm of Avalon, Alabama.

Especially cringe-worthy is the scene where Casey meets the great Alabama coach Frank Hatchett at the airport, thinking he is always at the forefront of Hatchett’s mind. The coach’s asides to his traveling companions show just how far from the truth his (and other coaches’) machinations can be. I felt truly naïve after reading this – and will never be able to watch college football again without thinking of this book.

Think of this as a companion to the classic movie ANY GIVEN SUNDAY, and likewise the classic novel FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. Life can be excruciating when you see only one chance to make your life matter – and the choices you make in order for that to happen can be unforgiving.

This book was thoroughly enjoyable – you can grab your copy here.

Tales of Greed, Scandal & Mayhem from Colin Goodwin

dont-get-mad

Don’t Get Mad Get Even

“Really enjoyed this book. If you like the ‘Agatha Raisin’ series by M. C Beaton then you’ll love this series too. Can’t wait for the next one.” – Wendy Taylor 5/5 on Amazon
As the cricket season starts, so do the shenanigans…

Life is tranquil in the quintessentially English village of Throttle – until the local cricket team receives a devilish demand.

When industrialist and landowner Sir Alfred Bullock is laid up, his devious son Roland, devises a get-rich-quick scheme. He gives an ultimatum to the cricket club: win a trophy by the end of the season or we take back the ground you play on and sell it for development.

In a desperate attempt to win games and hold on to the pitch, the club enlists the help of a professional whose skills – to the delight of the local ladies – extend far beyond the cricket Field.

Roland, together with an unscrupulous estate agent and two dodgy builders, hatches malicious plans to ensure the team loses its games. Meanwhile, village residents whose houses are devalued by being on the perimeter of the pitch take matters into their own hands to ‘fix’ the club’s failure…

Greed, scandal, tragedy and farce ensue as the cricket club fights for survival against increasingly dangerous sabotage…

Click here to purchase!

 

when-in-holeWhen in a Hole, Stop Digging

An ordinary day in a sleepy village deteriorates into chaos.

Livid boat owner Albert vows revenge after a humiliating event, and shocked residents of a brand new housing estate mysteriously find fish in the plumbing.

A heartless double murderer on the loose and a gun-toting farmer send shivers through the town of Throttle as two amateur sleuths try to make sense of it all.

Meanwhile a pair of sixties throwback detectives attempt to piece it all together, but in reality make matters worse.

The local free press needs a story fast, but the novice reporters get a shock as they enter a world far beyond their capability.

Finally, one resident, pushed to the edge by a marital issue, sinks to a new low.

The mayhem continues…..

Click here to purchase!

Author bio

Colin Goodwin enjoyed a successful career as a welding and fabrication engineer, working in the aircraft industry and welder training for the oil industry.  For the past twenty years he worked in further education, where he also taught stained glass window making.

In the late 80’s he built and fitted out a 40 foot steel narrow-boat, but sold it because it was not fast enough.  He maintains an active lifestyle and has completed London marathons and Great North Runs.  Both Colin and his wife now prefer to go on long distance cycling holidays. Retired 6 years ago, Colin continues to indulge his creative side by repairing anything mechanical, motorbikes (Harley Davidson, BSA, Royal Enfield), cars (1951 Ford Anglia) and model steam engines. The books are available through Amazon, all good book shops and from under the counter at The Hardware Store, in Padiham. The last in the trilogy ‘A Likely Story’ is currently nearing completion.

The Automation by Anonymous

automation

The capital-A Automatons of Greco-Roman myth aren’t clockwork. Their design is much more divine. They’re more intricate than robots or androids or anything else mortal humans could invent. Their windup keys are their human Masters. They aren’t mindless; they have infinite storage space. And, because they have more than one form, they’re more versatile and portable than, say, your cell phone—and much more useful too. The only thing these god-forged beings share in common with those lowercase-A automatons is their pre-programmed existence. They have a function—a function their creator put into place—a function that was questionable from the start…

Odys (no, not short for Odysseus, thank you) finds his hermetic lifestyle falling apart after a stranger commits suicide to free his soul-attached Automaton slave. The humanoid Automaton uses Odys’s soul to “reactivate” herself. Odys must learn to accept that the female Automaton is an extension of his body—that they are the same person—and that her creator-god is forging a new purpose for all with Automatons…

The novel calls itself a “Prose Epic,” but is otherwise a purposeful implosion of literary clichés and gimmicks: A Narrator and an Editor (named Gabbler) frame the novel. Gabbler’s pompous commentary (as footnotes) on the nameless Narrator’s story grounds the novel in reality. Gabbler is a stereotypical academic who likes the story only for its so-called “literary” qualities, but otherwise contradicts the Narrator’s claim that the story is true.
THE AUTOMATION is a this-world fantasy that reboots mythical characters and alchemical concepts. Its ideal place would be on the same bookshelf as Wilson’s ALIF THE UNSEEN and Gaiman’s AMERICAN GODS—though it wouldn’t mind bookending Homer, Virgil, and Milton, to be specific.
And, yes, “B.L.A. and G.B. Gabbler” are really just a pen name.

Thanks to the author for providing this review copy!

THE AUTOMATION will polarize its readers. Those who expect their books to deliver a story with a plot, who enjoy stories and plots, and who believe that novels ought to be constructed of stories and plots – those people will be repelled by THE AUTOMATION. Yes, the book does have a story to tell. There are plot lines. However, the plot lines are layered on top of one-another, and not side-by-side. The “author” is an unreliable narrator named B.L.A.. The story B.L.A. tells is contradicted throughout by annotations provided by an editor named “GB Gabbler,” who invites the reader to doubt the truthfulness of B.L.A.’s story with annotations that correct B.L.A.’s statements. GB often invites the reader to interpret the elements of the story as allegory, as symbolism, as anything but literal.

The two editorial forces at work in this title (both, for clarity’s sake, produced by the same anonymous author), will quickly leave many readers confused. Some will complain that they’ve read 100 pages, and not knowing what the facts are, can’t follow the story. The story itself, however, is not really the point. Just as the automaton around which the story revolves hoists an unfair responsibility on its human, and complicates its human’s ability to reckon with his own identity by complicating his ability to make an account of himself, the editorial voice in THE AUTOMATION hoists the very same responsibility upon its storytelling voice. B.L.A. could not share this story but for the existence of the editor, but this dependence complicates the very act of constructing that story. What the deity is for the humans and their automata, you become for the author and editor.

The point is not for you to enjoy a story. The point is for you to come out the other end of this book finding yourself in a unique position to consider questions about the ethics of editorial authority, the ethics of literary criticism, and the deep connection between our identities and our ability to make an account of our existence, and how that accounting is at the mercy of influences outside of our control. The allegory of author and editor, which asks you to consider that the story itself may be only an allegory, is itself the allegory.

As I suggested before, this book will not be a way for your mind to escape from the rigors of life. If taken seriously, it will thrust your mind more deeply into them, and then far below them, down to where lots of uncomfortable questions linger. The anonymous author leaves it to the reader to answer them.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up here/easyazon_link].

 

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