Archive - December 2017

1
The Books I Read in 2017
2
My Top 6 Most Disturbing Books
3
Sepultura Front Cover Reveal
4
Sepultura Blurb Reveal
5
6 Books with Morbid Subject Matters

The Books I Read in 2017

As is my custom at year end I am dedicating this blog post to the books I read this year. I have been busy in 2017 working on my fourth novel, the black comedy Sepultura (Release date January 11th). However, I did find some time to read. Here are the 20 books that I read this year. Click on the links to read my reviews. They are presented in the order in which I read them:

Stalin’s Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess by Andrew Lownie (2015) – This well written biography of the notorious spy Guy Burgess recounts his life from birth through to premature death in Moscow.

Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones (2015) – Composed of short, engaging chapters, Dreamland is an award winning account of America’s opiate epidemic. 

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (1932) – This overrated satirical work lampoons the romanticised, often doom-laden ‘loam and lovechild’ novels of the 19th and early 20th century.

On the Beach by Nevil Shute (1957) – A timeless post-apocalyptic novel whose central theme is an exploration of how people confront imminent death. This reader was impressed by the adept characterisation.

I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe (2004) –  An amusing satire about campus life. Though prone to verbosity the author is a capable humourist and an ever-enthusiastic social commentator.

Newspaper Diapers by M. T. Johnson (2012) – This is a series of loosely connected vignettes about child abuse and group homes. The deeply disturbing content left an indelible mark on this reader’s mind.

Race To The Bottom by Chris Rhatigan (2016) –  Replete with humour and employing a visceral prose style, this light transgressive novella’s prevailing theme is menial work.

Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck (1935) – Hapless yet noble characters populate this allegorical and didactic work that extols friendship and virtue over capitalism and materialism.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1938) – Imbibed with a sense of impending doom, Rebecca is a slow-moving, haunting and atmospheric literary masterpiece.

A Stain In The Blood by Joe Moshenska (2016) – This is the story of unheralded 17th century English hero and adventurer Kenelm Digby. This reader found the lengthy historical discourse and description tedious.

The Adventures of George by Blair Gowrie (2009) – This satirical poem (38,606 words) takes the form of a series of connected short stories, which revolve around a restaurant whose chef is a parody of George W. Bush.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (2003) – This non-fiction work investigates the more unfamiliar scenarios involving our dead bodies. It will intrigue those with an interest in the macabre.

Born Bad by Heather Burnside (2017) – Set in 1970s and 80s Manchester, Born Bad is the eminently readable first instalment in a proposed Manchester-based crime trilogy.

Rashōmon and Seventeen Other Stories by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa (2006) –A sense of doom and despair permeates this somewhat disparate assemblage. Its cynicism, dark humour and tormented, fin-de-siécle tone appealed to this reader.

POP.1280 by Jim Thompson (1964) – POP.1280 is a seedy, first person work of noir fiction set in a sordid, rural Texas backwater. It features a highly manipulative sheriff.

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee (2015) – The book compares unfavourably with the prequel, To Kill A Mockingbird. This reader grew weary of the endless reminiscing and esoteric discourses.

Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford (2008) – Despite some of the themes not resonating with him, this reader found plenty to like about this curious and clever coming-of-age novel.

My GRL by John W. Howell (2013) – My GRL is a maritime thriller whose themes are terrorism and patriotism. This was John W. Howell’s debut novel.

Rat Stew by George Derringer (2017) – A mildly humorous if confusing work of Transgressive Fiction set in a dilapidated town in Northern England.

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (2002) – Time and reality are flexible and uncertain states in this mystical novel that infuses realism with ethereal elements.

Happy New Year.

 

My Top 6 Most Disturbing Books

This week’s post is dedicated to the 6 most disturbing books I have ever read. Click on the links to read my reviews.

 

6 – Haunted

Haunted is a series of short stories, in which the author succeeds in not only horrifying his readers, but also skilfully exploring a variety of themes, including the media-obsessed nature of society.

My Review: Haunted is about a group of writers, who have been assembled by the conniving Mr Whittier to attend a writers group. The location of the retreat is in an isolated theatre with no access … (more)

 

5 – In Cold Blood 

Capote’s seminal work is a blend of narrative and journalism. Its vivid characters and detailed descriptions allow the reader to be transported back in time to the location of a horrifying crime.

My Review: The story reconstructs the real life murders of a Kansas farmer, his wife and teenaged children. The Clutters, as they are referred to in the book, are a popular family who reside near the town of …(more)

 

4 – American Psycho 

American Psycho

American Psycho is a satire of the yuppies culture of the 1980s. The book caused outrage when it was published due to its explicit violent and sexual content, as well as its perceived misogynistic elements.

My Review: American Psycho is a highly controversial novel that brought its young author Bret Easton Ellis instant fame. The book is written from the perspective of a young Wall Street financier, Patrick Bateman …(more)

 

 3 – Lolita

The book is about a man’s infatuation with a twelve-year-old girl. Lolita was regarded as so scandalous that it was rejected by a number of major publishers before its eventual publication in 1955.

My Review: The protagonist, Humbert Humbert, is an intellectual with an all-consuming craving for young girls, or nymphets as he refers to them.  After his wife leaves him for …(more)

 

2 – Newspaper Diapers 

What this book lacks in length it more than compensates for in disturbing, child abuse themed content. This harrowing work is one of the darkest books I have read to date.

My Review: Newspaper Diapers consists of a series of loosely connected vignettes about child abuse and group homes being recounted by various perverse and narcissistic narrators …(more)

 

 1 – The Killer Inside Me 

The Killer Inside Me is a suspenseful and unrelentingly bleak first person narrative about a psychopath. It is the most disturbing work of fiction this reader has ever read.

My Review: Twenty-nine-year-old Lou Ford is a Deputy Sheriff from the West Texas town of Central City. Lou, who is in a long-term relationship with childhood sweetheart Amy Stanton …(more)

 

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My fourth novel, the black comedy Sepultura, is being released on January 11th.

Sepultura Front Cover Reveal

My fourth novel, Sepultura, is being released on January 11th. Last week I revealed Sepultura’s blurb. Today, I am pleased to unveil the front cover:

I believe it is an accurate reflection of Sepultura’s subject matter. I hope you like the front cover as much as I do. For anyone who missed it last week, here is the blurb.

A sociopath can only keep up a façade for so long.

Dyson Devereux is a busy man, with a challenging new job at Paleham Council and a young son. He would be coping just fine were it not for crass colleagues, banal bureaucracy and contemptible clothes. He is not going to take it lying down.

Because beneath Dyson’s charming, Italian delicacy-consuming veneer lurks something sinister. As his personal and professional lives threaten to spiral out of control, will Dyson’s true nature be revealed?

Compulsive and brimming with satirical wit, Sepultura is a caustic black comedy featuring an unforgettable sociopath.

“My kind of black comedy. You’ll either love Dyson, or love to hate him” Sandra Seymour, Author of Breed: Slayer

“A satirical gem” — Reader

“Sociopathic comedy at its best” — Adam Riley, Comedian

Sepultura (release date: January 11th) is now available for pre-order from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Kobo USA, Kobo UK & Barnes & Noble.

Sepultura Blurb Reveal

My fourth novel, Sepultura, is being released on January 11th. It is the sequel to my satirical black comedy, Necropolis. Today, I am pleased to reveal Sepultura’s blurb:

 

A sociopath can only keep up a façade for so long.

Dyson Devereux is a busy man, with a challenging new job at Paleham Council and a young son. He would be coping just fine were it not for crass colleagues, banal bureaucracy and contemptible clothes. He is not going to take it lying down.

Because beneath Dyson’s charming, Italian delicacy-consuming veneer lurks something sinister. As his personal and professional lives threaten to spiral out of control, will Dyson’s true nature be revealed?

Compulsive and brimming with satirical wit, Sepultura is a caustic black comedy featuring an unforgettable sociopath.

“My kind of black comedy. You’ll either love Dyson, or love to hate him” Sandra Seymour, Author of Breed: Slayer

“A satirical gem” — Reader

“Sociopathic comedy at its best” — Adam Riley, Comedian

Sepultura’s front cover will be unveiled next week.

6 Books with Morbid Subject Matters

This week’s blog post is dedicated to six books with morbid subject matters. Five of them are Fiction and one is non-Fiction. Click on the links to read my reviews.

 

Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol (1842)

Dead Souls is an uncompleted, satirical novel that parodies Imperial Russia and provincial Russian life. Targets for ridicule include the gentry and rural officials.

My Review: Pavel Ivanovich Chichikov is travelling around provincial Russia, visiting landowners. His purpose is to purchase papers relating to their serfs who have died since the last census. By doing so Chichikov relieves…(more)

My Opinion: Ponderous and turgid

 

The Plague by Albert Camus (1947)

The Plague is an existentialist classic that evaluates morality, the role of God and how we react to death. Its narrative tone and poetic prose style will appeal to some.

My Review: In the Algerian coastal town of Oran, an explosion in the rat population has not gone unnoticed. The infestation soon comes to an abrupt halt with the mysterious demise of the rats. When the townsfolk…(more)

My Opinion: Okay

 

Cancer Ward by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1966)

Set in the post-Stalin era, Cancer Ward is an allegorical, semi-autobiographical novel, in which the cancer ward serves as a microcosm of Soviet society.

My Review: Oleg Kostoglotov, whose last name translates as ‘bone-chewer’, has been exiled in perpetuity to a village by the name of Ush-Terek, located on the steppe in Kazakhstan, a long way from home…(more)

My Opinion: Depressing but good

 

Rashōmon and Seventeen Other Stories by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa (2006)

A sense of doom and despair permeates this somewhat disparate assemblage whose cynicism, dark humour and tormented, fin-de-siécle tone appealed to this reader.

My Review: The book, which is divided into four parts, begins with the sinister tale Rashōmon. Set during the Heian era (11th century) it sees a confrontation between an unemployed servant and an old woman…(more)

My Opinion: A worthwhile read

 

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (2003)

The author applies a light approach to explore a taboo subject matter. This book will intrigue those with a healthy interest in the macabre.

My Review: This non-fiction work investigates the more unfamiliar scenarios involving our dead bodies. Topics include human crash test cadavers, bullet-testing cadavers, and the virtually all-encompassing…(more)

My Opinion: Interesting for the most part

 

Pure by Andrew Miller (2011)

Those readers anticipating a tale of the sinister and macabre may well find themselves disappointed by the Costa 2011 prize winner.

My Review: Paris’s oldest cemetery, Les Innocents, is overflowing. The city’s deceased have been piled in there for years, resulting in the surrounding area being permanently permeated by a fetid…(more)

My Opinion: Overrated

 

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