Introducing author Stephen Pennell who shares a review of his novel ‘Gangsters, Geezers and Mods’.
Book review by Richard Whitehead, formerly of The Times.
I first came across Stephen Pennell’s writing years ago in the Aston Villa fanzine Heroes and Villains and admired his work then – now he has truly delivered on that potential. Gangsters, Geezers and Mods is a slice of tough working-class Brummie life rooted in a love of the Villa, but also with a devotion to Mod culture and a great deal of crime – some shockingly violent and murderous, some reminiscent of Dickens’ Artful Dodger. It is a gritty account of friendship, love, betrayal and revenge, but among those sweeping themes there is an attention to minute detail that engages and absorbs the reader. Starting with a touching tribute to his parents, the protagonist tells the story of his life and loves with wit and honesty, dwelling on his various obsessions with a tinge of nostalgia that will resonate with many. As the narrative evolves into a pacy and suspenseful crime thriller, relationships between the characters are explained in such a way that the consequences seem perfectly natural – inevitable even – and unlikely alliances make just as much sense. In a moral vacuum of inner-city depravity, one fable battles against the odds to triumph – true friendship will overcome football rivalry and racial differences and transcend them all. This book is a remarkable alliance of fiction and memoir, done so skillfully that you are left wondering exactly what is true and what isn’t. Having checked with Steve, I have discovered that much of it is true – he’s certainly had a livelier life than me!
Gangsters, Geezers and Mods is highly recommended for lovers of the second city, the Villa, Paul Weller – and anyone who just likes a really well-written book. The best thing to come out of Birmingham since Jack Grealish.
Consistent Creative Content: A Guide to Authoring and Blogging in the Social Media Age by Lee Hall
Genre:Writing, Non-Fiction. Pages: 135 Publisher:Lee Hall Rating:4.50 stars (Goodreads)
Best-selling indie author and blogger Lee Hall shares his journey of experience in this part-memoir part-guidebook that aims to inspire and inform budding wordsmiths at any level. From the basics of blogging and authoring all the way to advanced social media methods and marketing; this book is filled with good practical advice, top tips and effective strategies. You’ll even find some never before shared resources to help navigate your way to authoring and blogging success in the social media age. Subjects include:
Basic and advanced blogging; Basic authoring and a publishing overview; Social media for authors and bloggers; Book marketing and the art of indirect selling; Book promotion strategies. Including worked examples; Book reviews; Building your own turning…
Very recently on here I mentioned that authors and bloggers should give themselves more credit for what they have achieved. Many of us are out there every day trying to make today better than yesterday and this can cloud our judgement a little to how much we have achieved on this path. To me, its incredibly important to thank those who have supported my efforts because the majority of my success is because of that support.
The concept of authors or creatives supporting each other is something I wholeheartedly believe this world needs more of and you’ll find that is the core message in most of my endeavours on social media. Authors are united by their struggle to find reviews for their works and so when I see another author showing support I am more than happy to showcase that. For this post I would like to share a very recent review of my most recent release Consistent Creative Content by fellow author Ellen Khodakivska.
You might have seen me reblog the written review by Ellen but she has also created a Booktube video review of the book – this is something nobody else has ever done for my work. Her kind words and the effort she has made to create a video is something I very much appreciate and that work deserves to be recognised. You shall find the link to Ellen’s review by clicking on the Tweet below along with a few more things.
If you have recently followed this blog or left a review for one of my works, thank you.
If you need a dynamic, informative, inspiring guide to authoring and blogging, you definitely should read this book.
Genre: A guide to authoring and blogging in the social media age
Release date: 2021
The Plot: The last time I was so obsessed with reading the book about writing was reading “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King. But, truth to be told, Lee Hall managed to stand head and shoulders above my previous read related to writing. This book is not just an ordinary guide to authoring. “Consistent Creative Content” is a multilayered manual for people who can’t imagine their life without writing. The author doesn’t teach you how to write; he gives you brilliant tips on keeping afloat and not giving up in this hectic, competitive bookish world. Revealing his personal writing experience, the writer leaves…
Introducing fantasy author A D Green who reviews ‘Into the Breach’ by Halo Scot.
5/5 stars – A Brutal, visceral Grimdark Horror that will stay with me
I am not a massive Grimdark fan. I have read a few before and most have failed to engage me. Not so Halo Scot’s offering. It grabbed me by my shirt front (okay T-shirt) and did not let go until the last page.
The story is set thousands of years in earth’s future and it is not a happy one. The planet is scorched and has flipped so that Antarctica is the new north and humankind lives there in a desert wasteland. A rift has opened, a gateway to the seven realms, it seems we are not alone and the gods are revealed. Powers are awakened in humans that mirror the four seasons, summer for mages, winter for shields, autumn for shifters and spring for healers.
Into this backdrop come Kyder (our antihero) and Rune (our hero). One born at the height of the summer solstice, the other the winter. The most powerful of their kind they are two sides of the same coin. One broken by birth, the other broken by death. One a psychopath, the other an empath. One born on the fringes of society the other at the heart.
No story is for everyone (I mean some people don’t like Lord of the Rings if you can believe that!) but this story should come with a health warning. I found it as disturbing as I did fascinating and I could not stop reading it.
The story alternates from each protagonists point of view and moves at a great pace from when they are children to young adults. Halo Scot pulls no punches, is brutal to the point I would have turned away if I watched this on a screen, but reading it I had no choice but to read the words, live the emotion, good and bad. It is morally indecent, a lot, which I found more disturbing than the violence. I mean, violence is a known thing, right? We all watch it and read it and see it happening in our world. But what we think, what we know of as right and wrong, those deep, dark questions that hide in the back of our minds are so much scarier when they are on a page (or maybe that is just me).
Into the Breach is much more than all that though. What really carries the story is the conflict of emotion, the war of the soul. It is a story of love rather than hate and of redemption (yes, that old chestnut we all love). I was sucked into Kyder and Rune’s world and bought into their lives in equal measure.
We love Hannibal Lecter for his intelligence and hate him for his cruelty and he scares the s**t out of us, well Kyder is cut of the same cloth. I wouldn’t say he was my guilty pleasure but he was my guilty something.
Anything I didn’t like? Well not really. Maybe a small bugbear, a gripe, that both protagonists break the fourth wall at times and talk directly the reader. Just a thought here or observation there. Well, I didn’t like this. I didn’t notice it in the first half of the book – only the second but that could just have been due to shock! It was a conscious decision by the author, presumably to engage the reader. Make them feel they were part of the story if only a witness to it and I get that some people will love this (I mean, I liked Deadpool’s fourth wall breakage) but for me, it ruined the spell that had been cast, took me out of rather than into the story. Like I say, potatoes, potatos. Thankfully, for me, it was not overused.
This book will live with me for a long time. It is beautifully written, all the characters feel so alive and uniquely distinctive and oh so very human. I could go on, could probably write an essay on this book but well I won’t, too damn lazy and who would read it!
If you are still intrigued after reading my review then stop procrastinating. Go buy it and read it yourself and go write your own damn review. Halo Scot, I salute you, even though you scare me a little and there is three more books to come. Gulp.
This review first premiered via A D Green’s blog which you can find here. You can also find him over on Twitter and he is part of the #indiebookclub who choose and review a new indie author every month.
A boy with innocent determination can be a dangerous thing in a volatile post-apocalyptic world…
The post apocalyptic world is a popular concept in story-telling right now and some of the themes in Netflix’s ‘Sweet Tooth’ are a little close to home perhaps, but many of us find a strange type of comfort in realism with me included. It wasn’t that long ago when the world seemingly faced the potential brink of collapse but only very briefly – this show capitalises on that concept and takes things a step further after a deadly contagion sweeps across the world. At the same time something extraordinary happens, children are being born partly crossed with animals – fear begins to spread about these ‘hybrids’ being the cause. A totalitarian army rises and we have all the makings of that dystopia . If you can allow your imagination to bend to that initially weird hybrid idea then you’ll probably be immersed by this show after just one episode like me.
And that first episode sets the bar for a strong story told by a strong diverse cast led by child actor Christian Convery who plays ‘Gus’ a half-human half-deer. Whisked away from the apocalyptic clutches as a baby and raised by his father in the woods, he is somewhat protected from what is unfolding. It isn’t until he realises there is a bigger world out beyond those tress that the story begins and our young hero finds out first-hand how dangerous it can be. He meets ‘Big Man’ Tommy Jepperd portrayed perfectly by Nonso Anozie as the rugged and tough drifter who takes the boy under his wing – their chemistry develops as the show unfolds. There are second and third story arcs which all come together by the final episode which I’ll admit choked me up just a little.
Netfilx continue to lead the charge with television binge-a-bility and Sweet Tooth was a show I consumed in less than a week. The themes throughout range from political to scientific and even to just fitting in, this show carries an iceberg of powerful messages and references to humanity; for that I highly recommend it, but all in all, the story is entertaining and original.
A masterfully written vision and song about the end of time…
Paul Jameson delivers his unique writing style to tell a story laid out much like a song about the end of time. The language and style immediately pulls you in with its classic but modern feel over the many chapters and short verses that keep the pages turning.
Pace and rhythm take centre stage in the seemingly apocalyptic world this story takes place in. We see the events from the view of ‘Maggot’ who is just a boy while chaos unfolds. Just what does the end look like? The author does a fantastic job of capturing this demise through description and visionary language that stirs the imagination by walking readers to the door but we are then given room to fill in the rest – this is story telling in its finest form and alongside that unique style makes for a stand-out reading experience.
“The Monsters, their Respectable, the Commons, all drown in the storm that comes…”
While there are some darker tones there are also brighter moments because this journey is seen through the eyes of a boy who can perhaps see past that darkness. Even when there is Plague, War, Famine and Death there is still magic to be found and perhaps this is something adults forget. No matter what bad is happening there is always hope and ultimately there is some light to be found somewhere. Life of Maggot is a book I highly recommend and served as a wonderful reminder of how awesome reading can be.
5 Stars – Beautifully written and hands down one of the best books I have read in a long time.
A heart-warming and fun story told from a unique perspective…
Ellen Khodakivska tells a unique story from a unique and imaginative perspective, that of a cat named ‘Josef’. We see the big wide world through his eyes and his journey to becoming a writer’s best friend is a heart-warming tale for all ages. The writing style is easy to read and a few pages in I was immersed into the very real world and life that pets have. Although they may only be around for part of our lives, to them we are their lives and that is the deeper meaning to this story which is highlighted at the very start. We do sometimes take things for granted in life and this story reminds us that pets are such an instrumental part of it while they also have a life too.
The sights, the sounds and smells are all captured well making the unique perspective of this story a must-read for anyone looking for originality in story telling because you’ll find it here. ‘Josef’ has a wonderful personality that resonates throughout as he interacts not just with people but with other animals too – a cool concept. I very much enjoyed this and would highly recommend this book, especially to those of the writing persuasion or to anyone who loves animals.
A unique and thought provoking collection of emotion-resonating poetry…
Hearts and Spears is a unique and thought provoking collection of emotion-resonating poetry that covers a multitude of subjects. From deep emotion all the way to politics and even nature Somto Jefferson Uwazie has left no stone unturned while constructing this journey that readers will enjoy every word of. There’s a certain balance of rhythm within these words that stretches across all of the poems – something that resonated with me because many poetry collections feel like they are mashed together but in this book they feel like they are supposed to be there side by side to convey a wide array of emotion.
There are some real moments where our kind poet has shared some life experiences such as losing a beloved pets and even his love for food. So many inputs represent the social element of life from the value of teachers to the wonderful but endangered species of Africa. We see pictures and illustrations throughout that heighten the senses and add value to the journey. Every poem is them crowned with a quote to remember from a famous figure and even some from our host. For anyone looking to take a journey of variety through some wonderfully crafted poetry then this is the one for you!
A twisted, haunting and enjoyable read that dives deep into the shadowy depths of one man’s mind…
‘Don’t Lose Your Head’ is a literal, metaphorical and symbolic title for a unique story that takes readers down the rabbit hole of conscience and repercussion. ‘Alan Burris’ sets his sights on what appears to be a rather easy robbery opportunity which doesn’t go to plan and becomes an encounter that ultimately takes him on a path of torment. On this path we learn of his dark past which he cannot escape while very recent events weigh upon everything he does in the few days after. It seems everywhere he turns this encounter follows and no matter how he tries to bury or hide it there it is beside him. The voice in his head cannot be silenced seemingly and it gets louder and louder.
What’s real and what isn’t blends into one throughout as author Dave Williams delivers these atmospheric visuals with a writing style that keeps you reading. Are we supposed to sympathise with ‘Alan’? Or are his actions condemnable? Questions and the conflict presented like this heightens the already heavily psychological element that’s at play here. With some cool references and even some inspiration from an art exhibition the author once visited this book makes for a twisted, haunting and enjoyable read that dives deep into the shadowy depths of one man’s mind. Will he come out unscathed? You’ll have to read it to find out.
5 Stars – A very enjoyable read that clings to the darker side of things. Reviews via Amazon and Goodreads.