Book Review – Wake up Call by Jonas Eriksson

When I read the blurb for this book and the reviews on Amazon, I thought it’d be another reworking of Alfie, but gave it a go anyway. Wrong.

This book has a great main character whom you like and shake your head at in equal doses, engaging dialogue, great character-development and is enhanced by the irreverent and very contemporary writing style of the author.

Jonas manages to make the transition of his character from outright rogue to something a little more civilsed without employing the heavy-handed and cliched moralistic overtones of some lesser writers. Without being spectacularly original, A good solid, entertaining read.

Book Review – Deadfolk by Charlie Williams

This book annoyed me so much in the first couple of chapters that I put it down and didn’t return to it until I was hard up for a read a few weeks later.

The narrative (first person by Blake the main character) seemed like a constant stream of consciousness rather than a proper story, but once I got over that and slipped into the thought process and constant colloquialisms, I started to enjoy the story.

The thing that made this book enjoyable for me overall, despite some elements I couldn’t like, including the main character, was the excellent supporting cast that the author uses to effectively flesh out and humanise a pretty poor Main character in Blake. These supporting characters brought the book alive for me.

The main character and the overall story reminds me a little of Irvine Welsh’s “Filth” but a bit less interesting. I might revisit Blake and Mangle in future, and would definitely give a different type of story from the author a go as his writing is funny, touching and engaging at times. I think that Charlie Williams is capable of producing a lot better quality novel than this and look forward to reading it.


Book Review – Thrift by Phil Church

Teacher writing a book, oh god not another one, except this guys actually got something fresh and insightful to add to the usual parade of “aren’t kids so funny” and “isn’t this a cringeworthy situation” books that teachers and ex-teachers tend to shite out.
Two things made this book enjoyable for me:
Firstly; Phil Chruch’s characters reflect The reality of some schools wonderfully. Ineptitude, poverty, alcoholism, failure, apathy, the need to appear interested/functional/competent. These things make his characters come alive in a way that most writers fail to do when basing a novel in their workplace.
Secondly; Phil can write. He doesn’t try to ingratiate his characters with the reader he has no real hero in this book, in fact I didn’t like any of them, instead he presents us with a very funny, very human cast and story, filled with great examples of  triumph (when maybe failure would be just), failings, the ability and desire to BS through a tricky spot,  and a good solid look at the life of a school through the eyes of the worlds worst teacher.
I agree with another reviewer’s assertion that the book was more a diary of events than a plot-driven story, but really, it’s kind of obvious from the product description that this would be the case.
I’d like to see Phil stretch his legs a bit on his next project and graduate from school. He has the skill and insight to write about something a bit further outside his comfort zone and I for one will happily spend money on  his next novel.


Book Review – High Stakes by Joel Betancourt

Let me start by saying that I don’t generally buy horror books or short story collections. I picked up this collection on a whim after swapping a few comments with the author on WordPress (nice guy). I avoid these kind of tales because I have enough in the way of dark places in my mind that I actively avoid and don’t need to introduce others’ foibles into an already overcrowded place.  Short stories also usually irritate me as I just get comfortable with the concept or characters then they end and I have to start over again

Yeah, I’m not easily pleased I know.
As I read these stories I found myself continuously uneasy and creeped out, which I suppose is the point of horror stories. I didn’t like a lot of the characters but was sucked into their stories quickly. I had too many questions, most of which I didn’t fully want to know the answers to. All of these effects are what i usually experience reading horror books, which is why i dont.
The author of this book however has a way of fleshing out his characters and making their humanity shine in inhuman situations. Joel’s descriptions are vivd, engaging and make you care, love, hate, and fear his characters. He understands precisely what makes people connect with characters.. Their strengths, weaknesses, desires, faults and virtues…He exposes them quickly and with an artist’s rendering to lay bare characters that we as the reader only have a short but creepy/sad/fearful encounter with.

The author of this collection has left me wanting more from him, has creeped me out and stoked a little of my interest in the genre by giving real, flawed characters to read about. Only Jonathan Mayeberry has managed this for me in the horror genre before now.
Give it a go, you won’t regret it.